Mimosa pudica is a highly reactive plant, which explains the other names given to it. All the alternative names are focused on the sensitive nature of this plant — touch-me-not, shrinking plant, sensitive plant, sleeping plant, etc.
Indeed, when touched, the plant’s leaves will immediately close together. Once the physical stimulus is stopped, in a couple of minutes, the plant will reopen its leaves again.
Despite its name and touch sensitivity, the shame plant is not a sensitive plant in terms of plant care requirements, and as you’ll see from my tips below, it’s in fact easy to grow.
I’ll also discuss the reason why this plant is sensitive to touch, but some other stimuli as well.
Shameplant Care Tips
Below you’ll find useful information related to the growing requirements of this plant.
Mimosa pudica plants can reach a height of 5 feet, but usually, the average size is around 1-3 feet. In width, shameplants can spread to 3 feet.
Shameplants grow quickly, needing repotting when the roots start overflowing from the pot. They enjoy an evenly and constantly moist soil, therefore, they can be potted in self-watering pots as well.
The pot should absolutely have draining holes. Even though the plant enjoys moist soil, soggy soil is going to be damaging to it, causing root rot.
Because of its quick growth pattern, some pruning may be in order, especially if you want to keep it at a neat size or shape.
Shameplants have high light requirements but may adapt to partial shade too. However, if you want it to bloom, make sure it’s exposed to enough direct light, otherwise you may not be able to enjoy the pom-pom like flowers the plant can produce.
I keep my shameplant in a south-facing window, a few feet away from the window. A west-facing window will also work with the same recommendation to keep it a bit back from the window. You’ll need to check which of your windows gets the most sunlight and keep your mimosa pudica in close proximity.
Mimosa pudica will grow under artificial lighting as well, provided that it’s full spectrum lighting.
Mimosa pudica is a moisture loving plant, which means you should water it thoroughly, allowing the excess water to dry. You want to achieve constant soil moisture, but without drowning the plant in water all the time.
Between waterings, allow the soil to dry just a little, then water again. Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely, and always keep an eye on the soil to prevent overwatering.
Despite enjoying soil moisture and high humidity, overwatering will cause the same issues as it does for many other houseplants.
Temperature & Humidity
The typical temperature of most homes will offer mimosa pudica plants an ideal environment. Put in numbers, the range that works best for these plants is between 60-85 F.
One of the reasons I recommended backing the plant from the window by a few feet is to avoid that temperature contrast that happens between daytime and nighttime temperature.
This contrast can do a number on the health of your shameplant, especially when it comes to the plant’s blooming capacity.
When it comes to humidity, shameplants will enjoy high humidity levels. While the temperatures in our homes or offices do align with the needs of this plant, the humidity levels usually don’t.
To compensate for the lack of enough humidity, you may need to invest in a humidifier, or use DIY humidifying methods such as occasionally misting the plant or placing the pot on a tray of pebbles that are partially immersed in water.
If you’re going down the tray of pebbles route, you need to make sure that the bottom of the pot is above the water level.
The potting medium for mimosa pudica should have the following characteristics:
- Retain some water to provide consistently moist soil
- Provide aeration and drainage
Look for a potting mix that has loamy soil, perlite, peat moss, or sand. Proportions should be as follows:
- 2 part peat moss, 2 part loamy soil, 1 part perlite or builder’s sand.
This is a mixture that will retain moisture but not excessively, while providing good drainage and aeration.
Mimosa pudica does not live in nutrient-rich soil, therefore, it’s enough to feed the plant only during the growing season, once every two weeks with half-strength fertilizer.
The fertilizer should contain potassium, because potassium along with nitrogen are needed as key nutrients in the movement of its leaves.
The nitrogen fixation that the plant is capable of allows it to convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia and other compounds to be used by the plant.
Potting & Repotting
I already mentioned that shameplants will grow rather fast and require multiple repottings if they outgrow their pot. When you notice the roots poking out of the drainage holes, it’s your cue that you should transplant the plant.
Don’t panic if you see the leaves drooping after repotting, give it some time, the plant will bounce back.
However, after blooming, the plant may deteriorate to a point where it’s no longer salvageable. If this happens, simply discard the plant but not without saving the seeds, which you can use to grow new mimosa pudica plants.
Mimosa Pudica Plant Propagation
The easiest way to propagate mimosa pudica plants is from seeds. Propagation from stem cuttings is also an option, but seed propagation is the preferred method.
You can either order mimosa pudica seeds online or remove dried pods from a plant. You should soak the seeds in warm water before planting to kick-start the germination process.
You can use a potting mix containing compost, coconut coir, perlite or sand to germinate the seeds. Make sure to water the potting mix thoroughly before planting the seeds.
Keep the soil constantly moist, but don’t go overboard with the watering. Ensure warmth and light, and if you have viable seeds, you can expect germination to happen in one to four weeks.
A Note on Mimosa Pudica Nastic Movement
It’s not entirely clear why the mimosa pudica is sensitive to touch. In fact, touch isn’t the only thing that can trigger the plant to close its leaves. Temperature, light, and motion all have the same effect.
The leaves have tiny hairs on their surfaces, which act like sensors that detect touch or motion, resulting in the plant closing up its leaves fast enough for us to notice.
Botanists are not sure why the plant does this in the presence of these stimuli, theocratizing that it may be a defense mechanism against pests and predators.
You’ll find the shameplant under different names, but you can quickly test if it’s the mimosa pudica by doing a touch test to see if the leaves of the plant close.
Mimosa pudica plants are a bit of a mystery to botanists. That said, here are some frequently asked questions about the shameplant that we do know the answers to:
What is the Lifespan of Shameplants?
In nature, shameplants are considered perennial, but indoors, they deteriorate after blooming, and it may be difficult to get them back into shape.
Since they’re so easily propagated from seed, simply save the pods, germinate them and enjoy a new shameplant.
Is the Shameplant Toxic to Pets?
No, shameplants are not toxic. You can safely keep shameplants without worrying about toxicity to pets.
Are Shameplants an Invasive Species?
If you don’t live in a tropical climate, you don’t need to worry about this plant being an invasive species, simply because you won’t be able to grow it outside.
In climates that are suitable for growing shameplants, this shrub is considered an invasive species, and you may not be allowed to grow it outside.
Are Shameplants Prone to Diseases and Pests?
No, shameplants are resistant to most pests and diseases. Spider mites may appear from time to time, and you’ll be able to detect them by checking the leaves for small red dots. Usually, wiping the leaves with a moist cloth will help remove spider mites.
Fungal diseases can also affect shameplants because of the high humidity levels they require. Therefore, ensuring good ventilation around the plant is just as important as ensuring high humidity.
Mimosa pudica is an interesting plant that’s known for its dramatic reaction to touch and other stimuli like motion and changes in temperature and light.
Its flowers are also unique, showcasing a light pink color, and have a globular shape with fine filaments. Once the blooming period is over, these flowers turn into flat pods that contain 1-6 seeds.
The plant is not difficult to grow, but it doesn’t have a very long lifespan if grown indoors. Growing the plant outdoors is not always possible either because of nonoptimal climate conditions or because of restrictions in areas in which it’s considered as an invasive species.
Shameplants require very little maintenance, although you may need to repot the plant more frequently than other houseplants. A little pruning may also be required to keep the plant at the desired shape and size.