Growing Mimosa Trees
Pink Mimosa (Botanical Name: Albizia julibrissin)
Starting from Seed
Mimosa trees are beautiful, drought resistant, and are delightful to observe in their sensitivity. The leaves fold when touched, at night, or when exposed to extreme cold or heat. The blossoms are puffy, and attract hummingbirds with the bright color and aroma.
Purchasing the trees at various heights is usually fairly affordable, but there are several trees near our home, that I decided to pick up some of the dropped seed pods and try growing some from scratch.
I first made sure the pods were thoroughly dried out, fallen from the tree to ensure they were ready to plant. There were two methods to start the seeds that I tried.
Open the seed pod which houses several seeds. Separate and place in a folded wet paper towel. Place in a dark cool place. Keep the paper towel damp but not too wet. In a few days the seeds will begin to open up with sprouts. Plant in starting soil about 1/2 inch deep, and place in sunny window, or outdoors if the weather is warm.
My results: Two seedlings came up but turned yellow and withered in about a week.
Making sure seeds are dry, plant in moistened seed starter soil about 1/2 inch deep. Place in sunny window, or outdoors in direct sunlight when temperatures are above 50 degrees. Keep soil barely damp (over watering can lead to fungus or mold growth). I allowed the soil to dry a little before wetting it again.
My results: Seedlings began to appear within the first week, and continue to grow, keeping them indoors at night and placing them in the sun during the day in temperatures over 50 degrees.
As seen in the photograph above, there can be quite a few seeds in one pod. On the other hand, I have picked up pods under a Mimosa Tree that only had one seed inside. I still planted those single seeds in hopes it was not a genetic issue that would cause a weakness in the resulting tree.
The pods are thin, so be careful when opening them to get the seeds. A paper plate was used here to have a 'catcher' while opening the pods, and to have a good light background for the photograph of the seeds. (Next photo).
The best way to start seeds, I believe through experience, is to use peat starter pots using seed starter soil. Make sure there is enough soil in each pot to cover the seed well leaving space for new roots to develop. Plant the seed 1/2 inch deep in moistened starter soil. Place in a sunny window if the temperatures are still below 50 outside, or cloudy. Otherwise, set the pots outside in the direct sun during the day, and bring into the house at night.
Use a spray bottle to moisten the soil if there is fear of over watering. I am using a small water bottle, dripping water on the soil away from seedlings so they are not disturbed. Over watering can also 'float' the seedling and dislodge the new roots. Dislodging the roots at this time can put the plant into shock and it will wither away.
After the seeds sprout, there will be a two leaf bud that opens followed by two leaf limbs that develop a fern look with several leaves on each side. Continue to carefully water the plant until it reaches about 2 inches in height.
When the plant is 2 inches high, the pot can be separated from the cluster by using scissors to cut it away. Prepare a large, deep pot with more seed starting soil, and moisten thoroughly. Make a hole as deep as the peat pot in the middle of the large pot and place the entire peat pot into the hole, pressing it down slightly. Move a small amount of the new soil over the top of the peat pot all the way to the base of the plant.
Proceed to continue watering lightly, keeping the new soil damp but not too wet.
Large Deep Pots
The reason for larger, deep pots is that new growth of the new seedling will develop rapidly, so there needs to be room for the base to grow, root systems to spread, and new growth of limbs and leaves on the top. If there is limited space the plant will stay small and could die, also if there are too many plants in one pot.
The seedling can be contained in the large pot until it is up to 2 feet high, then transplant to an even larger pot would be necessary. When the plant is 3 to 4 feet high it can be safely transplanted into a sunny area in the ground. To prepare the dirt for transplanting the tree from container to ground, dig a hole the same depth as the container, but twice as wide. Add just a handful of growing soil, or fertilizer and mix with the dirt at the bottom, water until moist. Let the ground absorb the moisture for an hour or so before transplanting.
Carefully use a spatula, or table knife to cut around the inside edge of the pot, loosening the tree and root system from the container. Lean on one side next to the hole that has been readied for the plant. Do not use the stem of the tree to pull it out of the pot, this will damage the plant and possibly kill it. Loosen the plant from the container enough that when laid on one side and tipped, the entire plant and potted soil around roots basically fall out of the pot.
Lift the plant by cupping the root system with both hands and lower into the hole. Make sure the plant stays centered by filling in around the edges and press down slightly, so there is a shallow bowl effect surrounding the stem, or trunk of the tree. Water immediately.
A video on how to transplant a tree is provided, however, it is showing how to move a store purchased tree from a container to the ground. Just follow the steps on digging the hole, how to fill it in, and watering. I hope it helps.
How To Properly Transplant a Tree From Container - Treeland Nurseries (October, 25, 2010)
Planting Zone Map
Mimosa Trees—4 Months Old
This small tree shown in the photo above is now 5 feet high and doing well after the winter. It is amazing how resilient they are! I also transplanted two very small ones in our front yard in full sun, and they are doing very well also.
These trees take a lot less care than I thought at first, lending to mostly watering and I have only fertilized them one time. I now have 7 trees growning, 2 that are five feet high or a little over, three that are about 3 feet high, and 2 that are about 1 1/2 foot tall.
I am using bamboo poles to prop the tree until the trunk fills out. Trimming the very top of the tree off helps to fill out more branches, promotes flowering, and helps the trunk develop more. It is actually a good idea to trim the top off when the plant is about two to three feet tall, that way the trunk fills out as it grows.
Winter comes, plants lose their leaves, go dormant and regenerate in the spring. One way to keep them healthy during the winter months is to keep them hydrated. Plants do not go completely dormant, the roots are still alive and in need of water, and periodic fertilization. This keeps the ground warmer, especially if you surround the base of the plants with mulch, or wood chips.
If your plants are in large pots, I suggest wood chips around the base, on top of the soil, and wrap the bottom of the planter in plastic or Burlap. A friend also suggested to wrap a string of Christmas lights around the plant to provide a subtle warmth.
This winter has been a merry-go-round with weather here in Las Vegas, with temperatures in the mid and high 70's until a few days ago (February 15th), now the temperatures dipped to the mid 30's at night, and low 50's for the daytime.
Many plants thought spring was here blossoming, budding new leaves, but now the cold temperatures have destabilized them. Hopefully, with the wraps, wood chips, mulch, fertilizer and water, they will survive.
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Summary and List
To grow a Mimosa Tree from seed, it is necessary to purchase seeds from a seed company, or if there is a nearby Mimosa Tree, ask the neighbor if he or she would allow you to pick up some of the fallen seed pods.
This is what is necessary to start the seeds.
- Seed Pods
- Peat pots (when transplanted these will disintegrate into the soil)
When the seedling grows to about 2 inches high, transplant the Mimosa and peat pot into a larger pot, and continue to water without over watering. When the plant grows to 2 to 3 feet, it will be time to transplant into the ground. Items necessary for this last process:
- Table knife or spatula to loosen plant roots from pot.
- Fertilizer - or mulch
- Gloves - To protect hands during transplant process
The trees grow best in warmer temperatures, are drought resistant, and love sunlight. Grow at least 10 to 15 feet away from buildings. Be aware when seeds fall many seedlings may grow in the surrounding area if not cleaned up right away, however, the tiny leaves fall off during the fall and disintegrate, so there is no leaf clean up necessary.
Water periodically, and enjoy watching beautiful growth, pink blossoms, and hummingbird visits!
Mimosa Seed Pods, Marilyn Fritz (2015)
New Seeds, Marilyn Fritz (2015)
Peat Pots, Marilyn Fritz (2015)
Transplanting, Marilyn Fritz (2015)
How To Properly Transplant a Tree From Container - Treeland Nurseries(October, 25, 2010).
Planting Zone Map, National Arbor Day Foundation, (2002).
Questions & Answers
Will a mimosa grow from a clipping?
Mimosa trees grow quickly from the seed. They are very sensitive, so I am sure a cutting would wither. I haven't tried, but maybe if you have a "green thumb" it might work for you. My best suggestion is the easiest way is to grow them from seed.