Mimosa pudica - The Sensitive Plant
The Plant: There are many different varieties of Mimosa, some are annuals, others large trees or shrubs. The Mimosa pudica is most often grown as a houseplant and it has feathery fronds which respond, when touched, by folding up. The leaflets re-open after about half an hour. The fronds naturally close up at night. The flowers resemble tiny pink baubles, and the shrub is treated as an annual, its straggly growth habit rarely exceeds 60cm tall.
Its Needs: A warm winter temperature not lower than 16C is important, some misting of the leaves will help maintain humidity. Good light is important but avoid direct sun in summer.
Care: Water and feed regularly through the growing season, use rainwater if possible, water sparingly during winter. The Mimosa can be re-potted in spring but it is more common to raise new plants from seed. The flowers are a little hit or miss! Feed with high potash feed such as general Tomato Feed for best results.
Good for: An attractive foliage plant which people will not be able to resist touching once they know it is responsive.
Be aware that repeated touching and 'activating' the leaves can weaken the plant, so whilst it is good as a party feature, the sensitive plant should be treated as its name implies - Sensitively!
By David Hughes - firstname.lastname@example.org