Flamingo Crossing

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Care of Mimosa pudica -- the bashful plant

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mimosa pudica
If you are looking for an unusual plant to try, consider the "bashful plant". Its unique feature of closing its leaves make it irresistible for both children and adults who are interested in gardening. It's difficult to walk by a bashful plant without giving it a poke to watch the leaves close.

What is a bashful plant?

The bashful plant (Mimosa pudica) is a grass native to Hawaii. There it is termed "sleeping grass". Its distinguishing feature is that its multi-lobed leaves fold closed when the plant is touched. It will even close when a strong breeze goes past! This folding action exposes the sharp spikes on the stems of the plant, which makes it not so fun for anyone who accidentally steps on it.

mimosa pudica The leaves close at night and reopen in the morning -- and this plant sets its own schedule irrelevant of whether there is daylight or not.

Why the bashful plant leaves close

The process by which Mimosa pudica closes its leaves is called "thigmonasty". This means when pressure is applied to a particular spot on the plant, certain chemicals within the plant cause the plant's internal water pressure to drop. The result is the plant folding up its leaves.

Care of your bashful plant

mimosa pudica Germinating bashful plant seeds

For this plant, you will need to grow it from seeds as it doesn't produce offsets. Soak your seeds in water for 24 hours, then plant your seeds in a small pot fill with coconut coir. They should be planted just below the surface.

Place the pot of seeds in a warm place (70 to 80 deg F), and keep the coconut coir moist but not wet. If the pot has drainage holes, put a small tray underneath it. The seeds should germinate in about 7 to 10 days.

Note: These seeds tend to have a low germination rate. I recommend having at least ten seeds to try.

Once your seedlings have a second set of leaves, transplant them from the coconut coir to an all-purpose potting mix. As they grow, they will need a bigger pot with good drainage.

Care of bashful plants

mimosa pudica  plant Keep your bashful plant out of the cold. Unless you live in the tropics (Zone 11), they will need to stay indoors most of the year.

They prefer bright indirect light since they grow underneath trees in their native environment. Their potting mix should dry out slightly between waterings.

When mature, the plant will be a small shrub approximately three feet tall. A mature Mimosa pudica produces fluffy pink flowers similar to that of the "silk tree" Albizia julibrissin.

Help, my bashful plant's leaves are turning yellow!

If the leaves are yellowing and dropping off, it is generally an overwatering issue.

Place a small bamboo skewer into the pot. Check it before watering. If the skewer is damp, don't water the plant yet.

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