Small evergreen shrub, usually hanging or erect, native to South America. It has thin stems of reddish brown color, poorly branched, which bear long pinnate leaves, made up of small oval-elliptic, flattened leaflets; the particularity of the mimosa pudica is that during the night hours, or in case of contact, the foliage folds back on itself, from this characteristic derives the Latin name and the common names in the various languages of the world. The leaves are delicate in appearance, reminiscent of light green, slightly pruinose ferns; on the stems there are some thorns and small fine hairs. All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested.
In late spring it produces small roundish flowers, similar to small pompoms, of a lilac pink color; the flowers are followed by small roundish pods, gathered in clusters, of a light brown color.
These plants are widespread in most of the globe, in areas with tropical climate they can become weeds.
Family and gender Fabaceae, gen. MimosaType of plant Semi-woody perennial or annualExposure Bright, no direct lightRustic Not very rusticGround Of medium texturecolors Lilac, pinkIrrigation Abundant, lots of environmental humidityFlowering summerPropagation Talea, seedComposting Every 15 daysPests and diseases Red spider miteThey are placed in a sunny or semi-shaded place; they do not fear the frost, if of slight entity and of short duration, in the places with rigid winters it is cultivated in pot, so that it can be sheltered from the cold during the cold months; instead it is often cultivated as an annual, given the speed with which it develops and the fact that over the years it tends to weaken. The exhibition, both indoors and out, must always be well lit. However, direct light should be avoided because it could damage the leaves and cause burns. The ideal is to expose it to a strong indirect light, perhaps filtered by a light curtain, for at least 6 hours a day.If the light is too weak it can happen that the leaves close, as happens during the night.watering
From March to October water regularly, keeping the soil slightly damp, but avoiding excesses; during the cold months we thin the waterings; if the plants are grown outdoors we can avoid providing water. During the vegetative period, provide fertilizer for flowering plants, every 15-20 days, mixed with the water used for watering. Mimosa pudica needs frequent watering. It is important to intervene whenever the soil is dry in depth. To ensure a good method is to insert a finger in the substrate and assessing whether it is really totally dry, especially in the area below 2.5 cm. Let us irrigate abundantly, but without leaving stagnant water because it could damage the root system.
In winter the irrigations must be reduced and it is necessary to give a little water only to prevent the soil from becoming totally dry.
It is very important to always irrigate with warm water. In fact, water that is too cold could cause the leaves to yellow and the plant to lose its beauty.
Of vital importance for the health and aesthetics of the mimosa is to always maintain, especially when the plant lives in the apartment, a very high environmental humidity. This can be achieved by often vaporizing the leaves, using humidifiers to be applied to radiators (or electric) and also leaving under the plant a saucer full of marbles or expanded clay and filled with water. The important thing is that the liquid is not in contact with the roots.
An excellent environment can also be created by combining many different plants. This helps increase the humidity of the room.
Mimosa pudica has no special needs in terms of soil. However, it prefers a light, but rich and well-drained substratum. It is very important to create a thick draining layer made of gravel or expanded clay at the bottom of the vase. Inert material of this type can also be mixed, in small quantities, with the substrate so that it is well ventilated. In this way the stagnation and the danger of radical asphyxia will be avoided.
This herbaceous plant, if grown in the right conditions, is often very vigorous and, even from seed, it quickly occupies all the space that is destined for it. It is thus possible that repotting is necessary even two or three times during the year.
We proceed without delay when we see that the container is no longer able to contain the plant or we can see the roots sprouting from the drain holes or from the surface of the substrate. However, containers with diameters greater than 12 centimeters are rarely used.
Sensory plants prefer soft and loose soils, not too fertile, well-drained; generally they tend to adapt even in poor or stony soils. A mixture consisting of two parts of peat, two parts of universal soil and a part of sand is generally used to increase drainage.
The multiplication of the psychic occurs by seed, in spring; young plants should be handled with caution, because the roots are quite delicate; they grow quite quickly and have been flowering since the first year. In summer it is possible to practice semi-woody cuttings.
Pests and diseases
they fear root rot; particularly cold winters can cause the leaves to yellow and even the entire plant to die. Mimosa pudica can be affected by root rot caused by water stagnation. In winter, moreover, you can see the yellowing of the leaves and the drying out of the entire plant. In fact, this species is extremely afraid of cold and frost. Possible attacks by insect pests. Mimosa pudica is most frequently affected by aphids and scale insects. The latter are fought with specific insecticides. Fungal diseases are prevented by avoiding water stagnation. Cold and frost damage, on the other hand, can be avoided by moving the vessel to a covered area or by mulching the substrate. For this operation you can use straw or dry leaves to be placed at the foot of the plant until the following spring. The attacks of the parasitic insects, on the other hand, are avoided by previously giving pyrethrum-based products ... The only parasite that can give you some discomfort is the red spider that you can reveal if there has been an exaggerated exposure to light and heat . It can be fought by increasing humidity, moving the individual and, ultimately, with specific acaricides.
Mimosa pudica is a unique plant of its kind. It is distinguished from the others by the particular behavior of the leaves, which in fact contract as soon as they are touched. This peculiarity caused so many common names to be attributed to the plant. Among these: sensitive plant, humble plant, shy plant, dormant plant and do not touch me. Even the botanical name derives from the plant's behavior. In fact, botanically speaking, pudica mimosa is simply called "sensitive", an English word that means 'sensitive'. In our language, that is to say in Italian, mimosa pudica is simply called sensitive or mimosa sensitive.
Demotic or sensitive mimosa is not a plant that needs pruning. Generally, the dried or damaged parts are removed. Interventions should be performed after flowering. The flowers of mimosa pudica develop indicatively from July to September. Pruning can therefore be done in October. In this period, apical buds can also be trimmed to favor the emission of lateral and basal branches.
There is no specific time to repot pudic mimosa. Generally we proceed when the roots are no longer able to stay in the container. In the specimens that grow quickly the repotting can also be carried out immediately after the purchase of the plant. All subsequent repottings must always take into account the growth of the roots. The new container must be only slightly larger than the previous one. The substrate of the repotting must be composed of peat, perlite and a good quantity of universal soil.
Mimosa pudica is an evergreen and deciduous herbaceous shrub plant. The growth habit and the vegetative cycle of the plant depend on the area in which it is cultivated and on the climate. Mimosa pudica, in fact, thrives in warm and temperate climates. In these conditions it behaves like a perennial and evergreen plant, in colder areas, like a deciduous species, that is, deciduous. The areas of origin of mimosa pudica are Brazil and Oceania. The plant belongs to the Fabaceae family, ie leguminous plants.
For some botanists, the mimosa pudica would be the true mimosa plant, the one that should be given as a gift on Women's Day. On this occasion, instead, the mimosa is used with yellow flowers, which according to experts would not, in fact, be the true Mimosa.
In nature there are different varieties of mimosas. These belong to the genus Acacia and are mainly native to Tasmania. Among the most famous we remember acacia baileyana, acacia dealbata, acacia retinoides, acacia cultriformis and acacia howittii Clair de lune. The first two are composite leaves, while the other three are full-leaved.
Mimosa pudica embodies all the meanings of the other varieties of mimosa. This plant, in fact, indicates the passage from darkness to light, or from death to life. In particular, the mimosa pudica indicates precisely modesty and shyness. This meaning depends on the particular behavior of the plant. As already mentioned, the leaves, if touched, shrink and fold over one another, the petiole is lowered and the movement is transferred quickly to all the leaves of the same branch.
Mimosa pudica in the oriental tradition
In the East, pudica mimosa is called Lajia. The plant is appreciated for its sensitivity and the beauty of the flowers. According to the Ayurvedic tradition, the sensitivity of the plant can be transferred to the human being, making it more wise and calmer. According to this "science", whoever touches the plant can develop greater tactile sensitivity and sharpen his perceptions at the touch of things. Due to its characteristics, the mimosa pudica is also included among the plants that lead to happiness.
Mimosa pudica contains calcium, mimosine and some adrenaline-like substances. According to oriental culture it is precisely these substances that enhance the tactile and sensory capacities of human beings. In Ayurvedic medicine, aphrodisiac properties are also attributed to the mimosa pudica root. The root tastes sweet. According to the Orientals, its consumption helps to achieve inner harmony and to restore emotional balance. However, it is not recommended to consume plant parts without the advice of a specialized doctor. Many uses in fact date back to ancient traditions that are not always practicable.
The movement of the mimosa pudica
This plant is not generally cultivated for its beauty, but mostly for the curiosity that arouses in the beholder. He behaves like a shy and fearful person. If you touch it, or even get close to it, the leaves crumple and let themselves go hanging as if they were dead. The plant then takes on the appearance of a withered branch to then recover and return to normal. However, it has been observed that this movement occurs more quickly when the temperature is around 25 ° C during the day. This suggests that it is a defense mechanism against herbivorous animals that usually roam in search of food during the afternoon. Another hypothesis however links the movement to the desire to drop phytophagous insects without wings. Let's deepen this movement, however, from the scientific point of view. Like a number of other plants (some oxalis or desmodium gyrans) in various circumstances there is a movement called "tigmonastia"
The leaflets have the particularity to fold back on themselves to the minimum shock immediately (wind, rain, touch). It is due to small swellings at their base. They are composed of specialized motor cells and are full of water. At the slightest touch this water moves into nearby tissues. The reaction in the leaves begins within a second after contact and takes place in two times depending on the intensity of the contact. At first the leaflets touched bend and disappear from view, in all in about 3-4 seconds. A stronger touch induces folding even in the neighboring leaves. If the touch is very strong, the event is transmitted to all the leaves on that side of the plant. Then the ones on the other side also fold. Ultimately it has come to the conclusion that there are two distinct transmissions: the first propagates at a speed of 2 meters per minute. Later the folding also reaches all the other leaves, but at a speed 4 times slower. The transmission line passes in order for the leaves, the leaves and then the whole plant. However, this movement is not realized only as a consequence of a movement, but also for example in periods of long dryness or darkness.
It is an absolutely non-rustic plant and in Italy it can be grown and maintained for several years only if it is grown in an apartment, especially during the winter months. From October to April it is good to keep it indoors with temperatures that never fall below 15 ° degrees. Under this limit, in fact, the plant could be heavily damaged. The first sign of suffering is evident in the leaves that tend to become yellow. Starting from May, however, we can begin to keep it outside, especially if we live in the central-southern regions of the peninsula. However, it can also be safely considered an annual plant, leaving it to die in the autumn and then risininating it with the arrival of the warm season.
In order for the plant to grow vigorously and flourish well, it is important to administer a fertilizer for flowering plants every ten to fifteen days, possibly with a high content of phosphorus and potassium and with little nitrogen. This is because mimosa, a fabacea, usually needs very little nitrogen as it is already able to fix the present air in the ground.
Tomato fertilizers are excellent. However, we can always choose whether to administer a liquid product or rely on a slow release granular that usually performs its function for about three months.
Sensitive - Mimosa pudica: Propagation
Multiplication can take place through cuttings or by seed.
The first takes place at the end of summer or early autumn. Stem segments about 10 cm long are removed. The leaves at the base must be removed and the cut must be immersed in a root or powder product. They are inserted in a mixture of sand and peat, or agriperlite, moistened. The ideal container has a diameter of about 8 cm covered with transparent pierced plastic. It must be kept at about 21 ° C and in partial shade. The rooting takes place in about 4 weeks. At that moment the bag can be removed and the plant exposed to a stronger light. In the spring you can proceed with repotting. Sowing is also very easy. Proceed with the beginning of the warm season. Two or three seeds, previously scarified, are placed in the same 8 cm jar with a compound for sowing. The containers are exposed to intense light and water is lightly sprayed. Germination occurs in about 2 or 3 weeks. The plants that are too weak will be eliminated and when the others have reached 4 cm in height they can be moved to a larger pot with normal growing media. Proceed with some topping.