Mimosa pudica, commonly known as the sensitive plant, is a wonder of nature. While it has a lot to offer as a houseplant, with its feathery compound leaves and pretty powder puff flowers, it’s the amazing leaf action that makes this tropical plant so intriguing: At the slightest touch, the leaflets will quickly close together. Native to tropical South and Central America, the sensitive plant is a creeping herb or shrub with thorny stems and branches that belongs to the Leguminosae family of plants, which means it’s related to peas, beans, and legumes. The plant’s dainty fern-like leaves are made up of matching pairs of oblong-shaped leaflets that have tiny hairs on their surfaces as well as along the margins. These hairs are very sensitive to touch, motion, and temperature, and when stimulated, each pair of leaflets close together in a fan-like motion. The sensitive plant produces clusters of delicate, pale pink or lavender flowers in mid-summer to early autumn that resemble fluffy pom poms, due to hundreds of fine filaments that make up these small, globular blooms. These develop into flat pods containing between one and six seeds each. While the sensitive plant often grows as a perennial in nature, it’s usually treated as an annual when grown as a houseplant.
The seeds can be sown on the ground in the spring or summer or they can be planted in pots at any time of the year.
- Soak the seed in water for several hours.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.