Mimosa is a plant made up of many varieties; today, there is a total of 1200 known species of mimosa. They are growing in Asia, South America and Central America. Approximately 700 species come from Australia. Species grown in France are originally from Australia, and were first brought in Europe in the nineteenth century. The Riviera region is ideal for planting these mimosas, especially for cut flowers. 

The mimosa is usually sold in the form of buds in January. The plant can be used to give fragrance to houses. Apart from its decorative and fragrant qualities, mimosa can fulfill multiple functions in gardening. This includes the ability to stabilize the ground, the creation of shade for young trees planted at its base, and providing protection from winter winds.

Overview of the mimosa 

Mimosa is a winter plant that brings warmth and decoration to homes and gardens in the winter. Generally planted in a container, it is mainly grown in gardens in the Mediterranean regions. Mimosa belongs to the Mimosaceae family. Its scientific name is Acacia dealbata. Mimosa comes in several types and species. The plant can thus take the shape of a tree, a shrub or a vine. Generally, species sold in stores can measure between 13 and 33 feet high, while the mimosa growing in the wild can reach a height up to 80 feet. The plant also spreads over 6.5 to 13 feet. There are two species of mimosa that can be distinguished by the shape of their leaves. Plants with flat leaf stems, or phyllodes can withstand temperatures as low as of 17 ° F. These are called Acacia retinodes. They produce small fragrant flowers, generally bearing 5 petals, of white or yellow orange colour. Plants with compound leaves and broken up into separate leaflets are resistant to 14 °F. These leaves, of bluish grey tending to dark green colour, are wide and elongated and fold during hot weather to reduce water loss. Mimosas have a theoretical 50-year lifespan and a rapid growth, from 12 to 24 inches per year. The plant’s bark is dark-coloured. It starts out grey and turns black as the plant ages.

Good planting conditions for a mimosa 

Suitable time periods for planting mimosa are in autumn or spring, especially in cold regions. The mimosa requires a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 6. Planting is best achieved in sandy environments, in dunes or on saline soil. Mimosa does not like moisture and develops much better with heat and sunlight, both of which are very much present on the Mediterranean coasts. The plant requires about three hours of sunshine daily. Its growth is generally promising on light and draining ground. For planting seedlings in containers, dig a hole three times larger than the rootball and add a drainage layer at the bottom of the planting hole consisting of sand or pebbles. You can also put gravel or one-inch clay beads. In the case of a grafted plant, do not bury the graft point of union. On a terrace or a balcony, mimosa must be placed in a location exposed to sunlight.

Maintaining a mimosa 

To sustain your mimosa through the seasons and to preserve its beauty and health, you must follow some rules of plant maintenance, especially in regard to irrigation techniques. Mimosa, which does not like moisture, only requires minimum irrigation except during the first 2 years. We must respect the mimosa’s natural cycle regarding its water needs; from June to September, the plant requires little watering, but much more during flowering. Avoid calcareous water that causes leaf yellowing and weakening of the tree. Mimosa does not require additional fertilizer except during periods of growth. During that time, choose liquid fertilizer enriched in potassium. From March to September, you can use rose fertilizer. After the flowering period, the flowers wither, and it is essential to prune the plant. Each year, the stems need to be slightly trimmed and the shoots on the ground removed. Any diseased leaf could weaken the rest of the plant if it is not removed or treated. If you want to prevent the growth of new branches, the removal of seeds can be helpful. The pot size must always be adapted to the size of the plant. Ideally, the pot should be large enough and should be changed every 2 years. Remember to provide good drainage when watering. Finally, the mimosa should be especially cared for during the winter. To protect the plant from the cold and frost, you can place a 12 to 20 inch layer of straw on surface roots and graft points of union, or resort to winter protection when the temperature drops to 23 °. The trunks can die due to frost if the plant is not properly protected.

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Published in Flowering shrubs by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011