Sensitive Plant – Mimosa pudica

The Sensitive Plant has delicate, fern-like foliage and produces pretty, ball-shaped pink flowers from August to October.

The Sensitive Plant comes from Brazil where it forms thick bushes on the plains.

It has a curious way of deterring would-be predators: when the leaves are touched they curl up to reveal spiky thorns—enough to scare off any passing animal that might take a liking to the juicy leaves. After they have been touched, the leaves open up again after 30 minutes or so. This folding mechanism is so delicate that the plant sometimes collapses its leaves when sunlight is too bright. The plant should therefore be kept out of direct sunlight, especially if sited in a window. At night, the leaves fold automatically.

Although Sensitive Plant grows into substantial bushes in the wild, it is more modest in temperate climates. Given good conditions, the leaf fronds can grow to a height of 45cm (18in) or more and the plant is best grown in 15cm (bin) pots. During the summer, the plant bears clusters of small, ball-like flowers that are pink or violet in colour. These flowers have little or no fragrance.

Although Sensitive Plant is a perennial, it is usually grown as an annual in temperate climates because it is difficult to overwinter successfully. It is possible to propagate by taking cuttings but sowing seeds is the more common method. Sensitive Plant - Mimosa pudica

It grows starry, porn-porn shaped flowers from August to October.

It is an attractive plant from Brazil that is usually grown as an annual in cooler areas.

Growing from cuttings

Sensitive Plant can be successfully propagated by taking stem cuttings.

1 Take 10cm (4in) cuttings in late summer or early autumn.

2 Pare off the leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings and dip the cut ends in hormone rooting powder.

3 Plant the cuttings in rooting compost.

Growing from seed

1 Before sowing seeds, pour hot water over them — this process acts as a stimulant.

2 Sow the seeds in a tray full of seed compost. Place the tray in a warm site and keep the compost moist.

3 Thin out the plantlets to give more room when they germinate.

4 When they are large enough to handle, transfer the young plants to 15cm (bin) pots — two or three plants to a pot.

5 Place young plants in a sunny spot and, two or three weeks after potting, start feeding with a dilute liquid fertilizer.

6 Stop feeding Sensitive Plant in autumn. To overwinter plants, place them in a cool, bright position until spring.

Pests And Diseases

Yellow blotches on the leaves, which then fall prematurely, are caused by red spider mites.

Prevention: Spider mites flourish in warm, dry conditions, so mist the leaves frequently to increase humidity.

Treatment: Spray infected plants regularly with a suitable insecticide.

Leaves sometimes turn yellow it the water temperature is too cold. Prevention: Use tepid water when you feed and nourish the plant.

PLANT CARE

Sensitive Plant is easy to grow but it needs plenty of light and moisture. No grooming is necessary as plants are usually discarded in the autumn, although you can propagate with cuttings.

  • Potting: Seeds are best sown in a seed compost and cuttings in an open cutting compost. Adult plants thrive in a rich, peat-based compost.
  • Water moderately during the spring and summer; mist the leaves frequently during warm, dry spells. Plants to be kept through the winter should be watered sparingly, just enough to prevent the compost from drying out.
  • Feeding: During the spring and summer, feed the plant weekly with a liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Sensitive Plant flourishes in a bright spot on a windowsill but it needs protection from direct sunlight, as this will cause the narrow leaves to fold and the branches to droop.
  • Temperature: During the summer, normal room temperatures are fine. If you want to overwinter your plant, the temperature should be around 15°C (60°F).

The Sensitive Plant is well named — when its feathery leaves are touched, they fold up to reveal sharp thorns. It is usually grown as an attractive annual.

Buying Tips

  • Small plants are sold by nurseries and garden centres throughout spring and summer. Seeds are available all year round.
  • Plants from nurseries are frequently put into tiny pots, so only pick a plant that has healthy leaf growth and be wary of plants that look sad or debilitated. Seed packets should be dated.
  • Although this plant is a perennial, it is usually grown as an annual.

28. April 2011 by Rupert Foxton-Smythe
Categories: Flowering House Plants | Tags: , | Leave a comment