Plants have played a significant role in maintaining the environment and human health over the decades. Everyone loves having plants in their home or environment. We react to how plants enact with our world. Imagine a plant reacting to you! The touch me not plant, also known as Mimosa Pudica, is such a neat plant that reacts to human touch. The plant, when being stimulated or touched, will close up in a retraction movement- just like saying, please don’t touch me.
The touch me not plant is a fern like type of plant. This shy plant does not require an excessive amount maintenance or care and thrives in the home environment with bright light. This mimosa pudica plant makes a wonderful addition to most any home and is really cool to interact with due to it’s unique touch mechanism reaction.
Why Are Plants So Valuable
Initiatives such as Green Movements or Going Green advice on how to avoid using substances that would harm the environment, especially plants. Some people have stood up against the cutting down of trees and instead encouraged the world to plant at least a single tree for each tree that goes down.
Plants have a huge part in ensuring that there is a safe balance in the ecosystem. Being a source of food for most living organisms, this resource is something we must take care of and keep safe even in the changing climatic conditions.
Aside from providing food, plants have for centuries been a source of medicine for animals and human beings, a constituent of food and beverage seasoning, cosmetics, and dye. Plants have also been used to add an aesthetic look to space, beautify a home with a front-facing garden of flowers and herbs and a natural air conditioner.
When you think of how the world we live in would look without any green plant on-site, it would be bare and the climate and environment very harsh. How would the air outside feel like without plants to naturally reduce the carbon emitted from the daily activities?
These are rhetorical questions that we need to ask ourselves as we admire the green scenery that nature has been so kind as to provide.
How Plants Grow
Some plants are naturally occurring and will grow anywhere if they get soil, food, and water. These plants do not ask for any care; they sprout and keep growing. In most cases, these are weeds that thrive against all odds. In regions where a lot of farming occurs, you are likely to find several weed species that keep growing even when they were not intentionally planted.
However, some plants must be planted intentionally from seed, and care is taken to ensure they grow to maturity. This is not to say that weeds occur magically, no. Weeds, just like corn, sprout from seeds or roots that are native to that soil or have been transferred from another region and found thriving grounds in the place they are growing.
Plants like corn, eucalyptus, fruity trees, vegetables, and others that we cultivate nowadays may have been wild vegetation centuries ago, but now, we need seeds, fertile grounds, and climatic conditions suitable for these plants to cultivate them.
The art of planting within cities and farming regions is taking momentum, with many people choosing to have small gardens in and around their homes. Planting alone will not be enough if the planters do not care for the plant’s well being. There are plants that need sensitive care for them to grow. And that care may not be rubbing the leaves; some plants shy away from touch.
Some well-known plants that tend to shy away from touch are the Venus flytrap and Mimosa Pudica. This article discusses Mimosa Pudica, the things you should know about planting it, and the frequently asked questions around the plant. The plant carries several interesting characteristics and uses, as we are going to see below.
Overview on Mimosa Pudica
Mimosa Pudica is a plant that originates from S. America and southern Central America, commonly occurring as a weed and intentionally planted. The plant is also found in India, tropical and subtropical areas today, with several local names under its identity wing. The plant has been introduced in other regions like Tanzania, South and Eastern Asia, and many Pacific Islands as an invasive species. You will mostly find the touch me not plant growing in disturbed areas, pastures, gardens, near roads, parks and orchards.
Mimosa Pudica, is a leguminous family plant that thrives annually and perennially. Mimosa Pudica gets its names from Latin words ‘Mimosa’ which means to allude, and ‘Pudica’ which means bashful. The result is a name that means a shy plant.
Several names are used to refer to Mimosa Pudica from different localities in the world. The following are some examples:
- Sanskrit – Namaskari
- Ayurveda – Lajjalu: The names means a sensitive plant or a humble plant
- Chinese – Limemeihr: The name means shyness grass
- Philippines – Makahiya: ‘Maka’ refers to the state of being, and ‘Hiya’ means shy
- Spanish – Mori-vivi: The name stands for ‘I died, I lived.’
- Central America – Dormilona: The name means ‘Sleepy Head.’
- Indonesia – Putri malu: The name means ‘Shy Princess.’
- Tanzania – Kifyauwongo
- Italy – Erba casta; sensitiva
- Hawaii – Hilahila: The name means ‘Sleeping grass.’
These are just a few native names used to describe the shy plant. You might come across other common names: sensitive plant, shameful plant, Chuimui, Amourette Herbe, Lojjaboti, Prayer plant, and action plant.
Characteristics of Mimosa Pudica
This sensitive plant is a staple in home gardens because of its physical features. Mimosa Pudica has fern-like leaves made up of pairs of tiny leaflets with hairs on their surface. The plant also has clusters of delicate pale pink or lavender flowers that resemble fluffy pompoms. The combination of the cluster of fern-like leaflets and these beautiful pompom flower balls is the reason why the touch me not plant is a staple in potted house plants.
The flowers balls develop into flat pods, which contain at least 1 to 6 sees each. The shy plant is a spiny shrub that grows to a height of 1-3 feet in a garden but can go up to 5 feet. The plant has an erect stem, but this becomes trailing with age.
Touch Me Not Plant Reactions
Mimosa Pudica, The touch me not plant, finds its name from its rapid folding of leaves in response to touch. The plant also closes its leaves at night and opens them up during the day. This mechanism is controlled by a biological clock that has rhythmic periods called nyctinastic movements. However, the sensitivity touch is triggered by the plant’s numerous hairs on the surface of leaves.
These hairs are sensitive to temperature, motion, and other physical or chemical stimuli, such that, when stimulated, they trigger a reaction within the leaflet, prompting them to close together and reopen in minutes. The plant leaves closes to protect it and does this by forcing out water from cells located at the base of leaflets and leaf stalks. This causes a drop in cell turgor at the leave’s center, causing the whole leaf to collapse. This phenomenon is called seismonastic movement.
While the plant grows as perennial in nature, it is treated as an annual plant when grown as a potted houseplant. This is because the plant depreciates after blooming. However, it is quick and easy to regrow it if you harvest the seeds after a full cycle.
According to Hutchinson, there are three recognized varieties of Mimosa Pudica; two of these occur in West Africa is, var. hispida with 8-14mm long stipules and var. unijunga with 4-8mm long stipules.
Touch My Not Plant Care Requirements
The Touch Me Not plant has often been cultivated as a wonder plant out of curiosity for its touch mechanism reaction. More and more people include this shy plant in their home gardens and their office potted plants for their amazing looks and characteristics. Caring for this plant is not difficult; just like any other plant, it requires some key factors to help it grow and thrive. Basically, just like we need basic needs to thrive, plants also require necessities to grow.
Certain requirements are specific to growing and caring for the Mimosa Pudica indoors and outdoors. Below are some key requirements that we will look at in details:
Plant Soil Requirements
Mimosa Pudica requires soil that can hold water enough to keep the plant well hydrated and with good aeration and drainage. Soggy soil caused root rot, and this is not recommended for leguminous plants. If you are going for a potting mix, coming up with the plant’s ideal soil composition is not hard.
To make the ideal potting soil for Mimosa Pudica, mix two parts loamy soil, two parts peat moss, and one-part perlite or builder sand. If you can’t mix the proportions yourself, you can look for commercially available potting soil with similar proportions. This mixture is supposed to provide the right conditions for hydration and aeration that is not too compacted for sensitive plants. You can place a layer of pebbles at the bottom of your container to increase drainage capabilities.
The plant occurs as a weed in roads and parks because of the loamy and well-drained soil. Therefore, if you are plating it outside, consider if your garden’s soil type matches the requirements of the soil that is moist and one that the Mimosa Pudica thrives in.
Mimosa Pudica is sensitive to moisture; Therefore, knowing when and how to water the plants is an essential care routine. Because soil drainage is a crucial factor, it means the plants require excellent hydration during their growth phase.
Deep watering a mimosa plant is essential to keep it moist; keep watering until water drains out the bottom.
Watering needs fluctuate depending on factors such as soil moisture and climatic conditions. For example, soil dries fasters in hot weather than in mild weather. In hot conditions, the mimosa plant will need frequent watering. Check if the soil is partly dry before watering again.
You can also hold back frequent watering in winter because the soil is still moist, but actively mist the leaves to keep them hydrated. Your pot’s position should allow the soil to drain effectively; this means that your pot should not stand in a pool of water, and if it’s a garden, it should not be placed in a swampy area.
Sensitive plants thrive in bright light; that is why they tend to fold up in the dark. You should place your plant in an area where they receive plenty of light. If your shy plant is indoor, it is recommended that you place it near a source of bright light like an east-facing window. If the light source is a west-facing window, placing that plant 1-3 feet back from the window is an excellent exposure to proper lighting.
A south-facing window will provide plenty of sunlight too. However, it would be best if you avoid exposing the plants to excessive lighting. If you notice yellowing of the leaves, move your pot a few feet from the windows. As much as these sensitive plants thrive in light, they also grow well in partial shade. The persistence of yellow leaves even when balancing light exposure could be due to moisture levels.
The Mimosa Pudica leaves close in the evening, which is a natural characteristic. But if you notice your plant always looking shy and humble during daylight hours, it is probably not getting enough light. In areas where natural light is scarce, full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs can provide lighting to the plants.
Location and Temperature Requirements
The Mimosa Pudica plant thrives in warm temperatures of between 60-85 F to germinate, sustain growth, and produce healthy flowers. These temperatures match typical indoor temperatures in most areas and outdoor temperatures in the tropics.
If you are growing the plants outside, the ideal area is Zone 11, with a safe range of 7-13 USDA zones. Don’t leave the plants in the cold under 65 F because the leaves will yellow, and the plant will slow growth or stop completely. If you live in temperate climates, do not place the potted plant on a windowsill because the differences in day and night temperatures will stress the plant.
Sensitive plants require high humidity levels to grow well both indoors and outdoors. Excellent humidity helps the leaves sprout, look healthy ad green. There are ways you can ensure the humidity level for your indoor plants is perfect by spraying a mist on your leaves once or twice a day, using a humidifier inside the house, and placing your put on a tray with pebbles and water.
If you like decorating your pots with pebbles around the top of the soil, this could hinder moisture from reaching your leaves. And if you are using a humidity tray, the pot should sit on the pebbles and not the water to prevent the soil from absorbing extra moisture. With the right humidity levels, your plant should respond to touch as a sign of a healthy, sensitive mimosa plant.
Great humidity goes hand in hand with excellent aeration. While your plant’s leaves thrive from the surrounding humid environment, your roots should also get excellent airflow to use oxygen for fixing and breaking down food. Using self-watering pots with holes will help maintain airflow in and out of your soil.
Fertilizer for Touch Me Not Plant- aka Mimosa Pudica
Since Mimosa Pudica is a leguminous plant, it can convert nitrogen available in the atmosphere into ammonia and other nitrogen forms that it can use. While naturally occurring in nutrient-poor solid, the ability to fix nitrogen means that the touch me not plant only requires half-strength liquid fertilizer to promote its growth.
Applying a high-potassium fertilizer like tomato plant fertilizer once a month or biweekly in the growing season is ideal. Dilute the fertilizer to the appropriate proportion as guided and feed the plants throughout the spring-summer season. Potassium is an essential nutrient for the movement and storage of carbohydrates in the plant, fuel for plant activity. Potassium ions are also the chemicals that Mimosa Pudica uses to trigger the closing of its leaflets.
It is vital to note that overfeeding a plant is just as bad as not feeding it at all. Therefore, always flush out the buildup of minerals salts every month by pouring plenty of water through the soil and letting it drain before you feed the plant again.
Other Additional Tips
To plant, soak seeds in a warm water container for a few hours to weaken the tough coat. Afterward, transfer them from the water to potting soil, preferably a porous container, and cover them with a sheet to provide a humid environment. After a week, you can see your young plants sprouting. Spring is the most convenient time to plant; always ensure the soil is moist but not soggy.
If you want to grow new plants from mature ones, it is still possible. You only need to find a shoot from the mature, sensitive plant with at least one node on it between 10-12cm. Place the shoot inside a hole in the potting mixture and cover the hole with soil. Cover the pot with a plastic sheet for humidity and wait for the short to sprout.
After the plants flower, remove the dried stems and cut off the long parts to allow room for fresh growth.
Diseases and Pest
Mimosa Pudica is usually unbothered by common pests but spider mites. Keep an eye out for these small insects, which usually appear as red dots. High humidity also makes the plants susceptible to fungal diseases, which can be prevented by ensuring proper air circulation near the plant.
Leaves turning yellow is a sign of little or too much water. Water toxicity and buildup of nutrients are the common toxic issues the plants face. Water the plants precisely when the soil is partly dry and flushes out the soil every month before feeding the plant again.
Since the plant is an annual houseplant replanting, it is not necessary. All you need is to harvest the seed and plant them again in the next growing season.
Frequently Asked Question
• Is Mimosa Pudica poisonous? The answer is no. According to the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Sources the sensitive plant is both safe for people and pets.
• Can the plant be grown outdoors? Mimosa Pudica can be grown outdoors, but this is not recommended because, in some regions, scientists have described it as a weed that is invasive and difficult to control. The recommendation is to grow it as an indoor houseplant since it does not perform well outdoors unless the climate is topical or sub tropical.
• Why do plant leaves close? The leaves close due to turgor pressure and permeability of the membrane in the leaflets pulvini cells.