The Southern flowering mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) was brought into the United States in 1745. It quickly became a popular ornamental yard tree due to its outstandingly fragrant, pom-pom shaped blossoms. The tree offers non-stop blooming from April to July each summer. A mimosa tree commonly grows 40 feet in height.
Flowering and Foliage
The foliage of the mimosa tree appears a soft green in color and is fern like in appearance. During the night the trees foliage actually folds itself up. The flowers are produced in long clusters. Flowers grow on the new years growth only. Each blossom measures from 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches across. The pom-pom flowers have spikes of soft pink that taper to a pure white.
Following flowering seed pods are produced. Each seed pod measures 6 inches in length and contains several 1/2 inch seeds. The seeds require stratificiation to germinate. It is not unusual for the seeds to lay dormant for up to five years before germinating. Seeds are widely spread by water and wildlife. The seed pods hang on the tree through the winter months and into spring.
The mimosa tree occurs in colonies due to its easy seed production and also the tree reproduces by sending out abundant suckers off its root system. The suckers quickly form tiny trees under and around the parent mimosa tree. For homeowners who wish to enjoy the fragrant blossoms it is suggested that the tree be planted in large containers as a patio tree to contain the tree's spread.
The southern flowering mimosa tree is considered to be noxious in its behavior. The tree spreads easily and grows along roadsides, in pastureland, along bodies of water and also in woodlands. The trees fast growth easily overshadows the surrounding native plants and can easily result in their death or poor growth.
The U.S. National Park Service advices no longer planting the mimosa tree in the home landscape due to its threat to native plant life. They suggest planting alternative tree species such as the fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) or the sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Despite these government suggestions the trees are still widely sold in nurseries and home gardeners continue to add them to the landscape for their unique, fragrant blossoms.
The southern flowering mimosa tree prefer to grow in full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade. Partial shade will cause the tree to produce fewer flowers each season. The tree enjoys well-draining soil but can tolerate growing beside ponds, riverbanks and streams. Once established the tree is quite drought tolerant. Plant the mimosa tree away from concrete walkways and drives because the trees large root system will often heave upwards.