mimosa pudica sensitive plant care wayward vixen
Lifestyle

Touch Me Not: The Sensitive Plant

Since I began my indoor garden I have developed a much deeper love for all sorts of strange plants I never thought I would like. I have begun a small list of plants I would like to grow and on that is was Mimosa Pudica.

Mimosa Pudica is actually a known as an invasive weed in South America (it’s native habitat) and has begun taking over in Central America and in some parts of Asia. They can be found on road sides and growing under trees.

040518_1

I know what you’re thinking, why would anyone want to grow a weed in their home? Especially one that takes over so easily. Well, that’s because of one special little feature that makes this plant unique and fun: it moves.

While there are plenty of plants that move habitually (prayer plant and morning glory come to mind), you don’t often get to see it real time because it’s a fairly slow process. This isn’t the case with Mimosa Pudica which is how it earned it’s many nicknames: the sensitive plant, the shy plant, touch-me-not, and etc.

040518
Tiny “hairs” can be seen on the leaves.

When this plant is shaken or touched its leaves fold up (as seen in the photo above) within seconds as a sort of defense mechanism. Unlike the Venus Flytrap whos traps will dye off if triggered too many times, the Mimosa Pudica will reopen shortly after the leaves are triggered and will continue on. This makes them quite fun to play with (especially for children).

040518_3

As its name implies, care for this plant is also quite touchy. They do like a lot of sunlight and they won’t reopen unless they get some good lighting. Their lives do tend to close up at night time too. I have found mixed sources as to whether they like direct or indirect light, so I have been trying a mixture of both. So far I have better results from indirect lighting in a very sunny south facing window.

They like don’t tend to do very well in pots because of their watering requirements. Like many other plants, they are prone to root rot so over-watering the sensitive plant is surely death. That being said, they also will dry out quite easily.

040518_2

A couple of the greenhouse workers I talked to all said that this plant is more of a perennial when kept in a pot, and it is a temporary plant (annuals). Though, it does produce lovely round purple flowers and seeds which can be easily germinated and replanted!

If, like me, you place some of your plants under grow lights, do be careful that the leaves do not get too close to the light when they close up. Sadly a few leaves on mine have burned because I did not account for this. (The plant has been moved to remedy the situation.)

To summarize:

Light: Mimosa Pudica likes bright light and needs periods of high light and darkness. A very bright (preferably south facing) window should be just fine, though it may benefit from some outdoor direct sunlight.

Water: Do not over water and do not let it completely dry out. If the soil looks visibly dry, wait about a day then water. Or if the top of the soil feels dry, water the plant.

Growth: This is a fast grower that actually gets rather tall (up to 5 feet) and spreads like crazy! New seeds are easy to germinate. In pots they are considered an annual, though they can be grown outdoors as ground cover in warmer climates.

Soil: They seem to prefer nutrient poor soils.

Temperatures: It is very sensitive to cold weather and will die off in colder temperatures.

Pets: Spider mites love this plant.

Movement: Mimosa Pudica is one of a couple plants that display rapid plant movement. It will close up at night time and reopen during the day. It should be noted that the closing of the leaves does interrupt photosynthesis and requires a lot of energy from the plant so keeping the plant somewhere it will not be disturbed too often will be beneficial.

Toxicity: There seems to be some debate online if this plant is toxic to pets or not. A Google search relieved that the toxic chemical mimosine is extracted from this plant, so while the plant itself might be non-toxic I still would not risk it. I recommend keeping this plant away from pets and small children who might be inclined to put it in their mouths.

**EDIT** I took a short video of my Mimosa Pudica closing up but I didn’t get time to film more than that. After returning home from Hawaii it seems this plant did not survive under the care of my plant sitter (looked to be from a lack of water). Because of this, I am unable to do further filming of this plant and its care. I do not plan on buying another Mimosa Pudica.

Leave a Reply