How to take care of a Mimosa pudica

Written by sarah morse
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How to take care of a Mimosa pudica
The Mimosa pudica's leaves fold up when the plant is touched. (Wikimedia Commons)

Mimosa pudica, also called the sensitive plant or touch-me-not, grows 30 to 90 cm (12 to 36 inches) in height and has fernlike leaves with a thorny stem. When the leaves are touched, or even if there is a heavy wind, rain or direct sun, they curl up quickly, exposing the thorny stem. In the wild, this mechanism protects it from predators. Mimosa pudica is a tropical plant and only a perennial when you plant it in a pot indoors. It is preferable to always plant the Mimosa pudica in a pot, because once established in the ground it becomes extremely difficult to remove and is even considered invasive in some areas.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small pot
  • Peat
  • Perlite
  • Drainage tray
  • Pebbles or gravel
  • Water
  • Fertiliser
  • Larger pot

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  1. 1

    Fill a small pot with a potting medium consisting of half peat and half perlite. This will create a solid but well-draining base for the plant.

  2. 2

    Fill a drainage tray with bits of gravel or pebbles that are roughly the same size and place the potted Mimosa pudica on top. Pour water into the tray and replenish it as the pebbles begin to dry. Since the sensitive plant is tropical, it needs humidity, and this will create a little greenhouse effect for the plant.

  3. 3

    Place the plant and drainage tray in a warm area, above 15.6 degrees C (60 degrees F), in filtered sunlight. A south-facing window with sheer curtains will do this job well.

  4. 4

    Water the plant, keeping the soil moist but not soaked. Do not overwater the plant or it will begin to rot. If the soil is soaked, hold off watering for a few days. Decrease watering in the winter, doing so only sparingly when it seems that the plant is particularly dry.

  5. 5

    Fertilise regularly with a liquid fertiliser high in potassium. A tomato plant fertiliser works best for this. Follow the directions on the package for application and safety instructions.

  6. 6

    Transplant the Mimosa pudica to a larger pot when its growth noticeably slows. This means the plant needs more space to extend its roots. Use the same potting medium and follow the same instructions after repotting.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not touch the leaves too often, or it will weaken the plant. The plants will stop reacting if touched too often.

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