Sensitive Plant Plant Care

Table of Contents

Some plants are quite shy they’d literally close their leaves once you touch them. Such sensitivity is the same reason why it’s called Sensitive plant. I remember when I was young how I’d get fascinated each time I poke my fingers on those leaves. My playmates and I would even go hunting for this extraordinary plant just so we could have fun tickling the foliage.

What is Sensitive Plant?

Plants are so diverse that they always surprise us with wonderful features. The Mimosa pudica, commonly known as Sensitive plant, is among those species that are naturally astonishing. A native of South and Central America, it’s a creeping herbaceous herb that has fern-like leaves.

sensitive plantAside from being sensitive to physical stimuli, this plant also responds to the onset of darkness. It closes its leaves during the night and reopens them when daylight sets in. This occurrence is also known as nyctinasty.

Sounds cool? Now, let’s dive deeper and learn new things about this Mimosa plant.

Scientific Name: Mimosa pudica

Common Name: Sensitive plant, sleepy plant, action plant, action plant; dead-and-awake; humble plant; live-and-die; mimosa; shame bush; shame plant; touch-me-not

Plant Type: Creeping herbaceous shrub, perennial

Native to: Central and South America

Shape: Fern-like leaves with pom-poms shaped flowers

Maximum Size: 30 cm (1 foot)

Watering Requirements: Medium to high

Light Requirements: Full, partial shade

Preferred Humidity: High

Preferred Temperature: 60-85oF (16-30oC)

Soil or Potting Medium: Well-draining, loamy with acidic to neutral (5.0-7.5) pH

Fertilizer: Diluted high-potassium liquid fertilizer every two weeks

Propagation Method: Seeds, Stem cuttings

Toxicity: Toxic to people, toxic to pets

Vulnerable to: Underwatering

Sensitive Plant Care Basics

We know it’s kind of fascinating to hear about Mimosa pudica for the first time. And by now, you’re probably interested to own one. Good news for you because this plant is relatively easy to care for and maintain.

sensitive plant

Read ahead and take note of the basic things you have to remember when it comes to Sensitive plants. Let’s start.

Provide the right potting mix

Different plants have varying tastes for a potting medium. For Mimosa pudica, a mixture of perlite, peat moss, and loamy soil (1:2:2) is already sufficient. You don’t have to worry when this mix gets a little acidic. Your plant can tolerate even a low pH of 5.0.

Additionally, it prefers to have moist soil. That’s why it’s important to ensure good drainage so it won’t end up getting soggy. We don’t want our soil to be holding excess moisture that could lead to root rot. Providing the right potting mix helps balance the soil’s water-holding capacity and drainage.

Keep it well-watered

Like most tropical species, Mimosa pudica loves to be well-watered. Depending on the prevailing season, its water requirement can range from medium to high. You have to water this one regularly especially once you notice that the soil is starting to dry.

Sensitive plant isn’t drought tolerant. With inconsistent watering, it could easily dry out and lose vigor. If you’re someone who’s always away home, we don’t recommend having this houseplant. That is if you don’t want to come home to a wilting Mimosa.

Make sure it receives ample light

Earlier, we’ve mentioned that Mimosa pudica closes its leaves once it senses the environment getting darker. In short, it isn’t suitable in areas with low light conditions. It should receive full or partial sunlight for at least eight hours a day.

A sunny window is the best spot if your Sensitive plant is grown indoors. If you have a balcony that receives bright light, take your Sensitive plant out there for sunbathing. Your houseplant would surely enjoy that. It helps them make enough food for themselves.

Locations with partial shade will also do. But if the leaves start to partially close, you’d have to find a much brighter area.

Watch out for the temperature

Places like Central America and South America have a tropical climate. Being a native of these areas, Mimosa pudica also prefers such a condition. It’s critical to maintain the temperature to a range of 60-75o Fahrenheit (16-30oC).

Remember to keep your Sensitive plant warm. It isn’t tolerable to chilly and frosty conditions. Make sure to watch out for a sudden drop in temperatures especially during the night. If placed outdoors, we recommend bringing it in when it’s below 60o Fahrenheit (30oC).

Generally, USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11 suit well in growing Mimosa pudica.

Maintain a high humidity level

Sensitive plant is a sucker for high humidity. So if you’re living in an arid location where humidity is almost always low, you can give this plant a pass. However, if you’re place has medium humidity, that’s tolerable. There are a few tricks you can pull off to make it work.

The first tip is to group your Mimosa pudica with other tropical plants. Since they all love high humidity, they can benefit from the extra moisture they’d receive from each other. It would also be easier to mist around them when they’re together.

Minimize fertilizer application

In its natural habitat, Mimosa pudica is used to growing in soil with a lesser amount of nutrients. It wouldn’t hurt if you choose not to fertilize regularly. This houseplant would still thrive.

I recommend that you add fertilizer only when it’s deemed necessary. Timing the application during the growing season. You can apply high-potassium fertilizer that’s diluted to half its original strength. Do this every few weeks depending on the need of your Sensitive plant.

Save seeds for propagation

During mid to late summer, Mimosa pudica is producing flowers that look like pom-poms. They’re pink to light purple in color. Once you notice them, try saving the seeds from spent flowers. You could use the seeds to propagate new Sensitive plants.

{Images: Propagation – Sensitive plant seeds}

Sow the seeds in a planting medium and keep them moist. Wait for the seeds to germinate. It would take around two to four weeks. I know the waiting period is long but don’t fret if you haven’t seen progress yet. Just be patient.

However, if you want a faster method, using stem cuttings is the way to go. Cut a healthy stem with at least one leaf node and insert the cut potion into the planting medium. Keep the soil moist. Such cutting will develop its own root system in just a few weeks.

Repot as regularly as possible

It’s amazing how fast the Sensitive plant can grow. They spread a lot faster when planted in the ground. And even in pots, they’d easily grow to almost a foot in size, forming a bushy appearance.

There’s a need to regularly repot this houseplant. Once you see roots coming out of the pot’s drainage holes, repot your Sensitive plant right away. Use the recommended potting mixture that we’ve discussed earlier.

I do not recommend leaving this plant pot-bound. It’s going to be difficult repotting your Sensitive plant when its growth has already been massive.

Make pruning a habit

Because of its creeping nature, it’s important that you prune your Mimosa pudica consistently. You can trim off excess growth to keep it to a desirable size. Pruning also encourages lateral growth preventing the plant from getting leggy.

Just be very careful when pruning. The stems of this houseplant are protected with thorns. Always use your hand gloves to avoid getting pricked. And of course, don’t forget to sterilize your pruning shears before and after use.

pruning shears

This is also the best time to save some mature and healthy stems cuttings from the Mimosa pudica. You could use those for propagation.

Other Similar Species

There are various types of sensitive plants out there. Under this genus, there are three popular species that are similar to our Mimosa pudica. Here, we’ll introduce and describe each one.

Mimosa pigra

mimosa pigraAnother member of the Sensitive plants club is the Mimosa pigra. It’s also known as the Giant Sensitive plant. It’s a prickly, small shrub that can grow up to 2 meters tall. This plant, however, is considered an agricultural weed.Mimosa pigra has invasive tendencies and is considered a threat to local biodiversity.

 

Mimosa diplotricha var. diplotricha

mimosa diplotricha plantAnother species is the Mimosa diplotricha, also known as a creeping sensitive plant. It’s a small shrub with numerous branched leaves. It can easily spread when planted in the ground. Like Mimosa pudica, it also produces small pods. However, it produces more seeds per pod.

Although these species differ in their sizes and appearance, they all produce the same pom-pom-like flowers. These pink blooms are produced in clusters. Plus, these plants are all thorny and sensitive to touch.

Sensitive Plant Diseases & Pests

The good thing about the Sensitive plant is that it has a mechanism to protect itself. The stems are hairy and thorny, making them less vulnerable to pests. Occasionally, spider mites and mealybugs can attack the leaves. Nothing much to worry about, though, as this plant can definitely survive.

spider mites

Diseases aren’t much of a concern either. However, underwatering is quite a common dilemma. Since Mumosa pudica thrives best in moist soil, there’s a need to regularly water. If not, it could easily wilt especially with scorching heat during summer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my Sensitive plant leaves falling off?

Even though this plant loves consistent watering, it isn’t advisable to let it stand in a pool of water. Such conditions could lead to overwatering problems like yellowing and falling off of those hypersensitive leaves.

We always advise potting your Sensitive plant in well-draining soil. Use containers that have enough drainage holes.

Why is my Sensitive plant not closing?

When you tickle a Sensitive plant, the signal forces the pulvinus to force out the water in its cells. Pulvinus is the enlarged portion at the base of a leaf. This leads the plant to reduce its turgor pressure. And in turn, the leaflets fold up as if they’re wilted.

One reason why leaves aren’t closing when touched is when it’s not well-hydrated. Without enough fluid, turgor pressure is already low. Thus, the plant’s response to touch would be minimal.

Is it bad to touch a Sensitive plant?

Since this houseplant isn’t toxic, touching its leaves wouldn’t be a threat. Just be extra careful when doing so because Mimosa pudica is hairy and thorny. It will certainly hurt to get pierced by these prickly plants.

Don’t forget to wear your gloves. And please keep it away from the reach of your children and pets. Don’t ever let them play with your Mimosa pudica.

Where to buy a Sensitive plant?

To catch this intriguing plant, check out our plant collection here at Plantly. We have numerous partners from all over the US. Shop now!

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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