Mimosa pudica in bloom
image by Eric Hunt:commons.wikimedia.org
Mimosa pudica, known colloquially as the tickle me plant, shame plant or touch-me-not, is a flowering groundcover or low shrub native to South America. It is a unique plant in that its foliage physically recoils and goes limp when touched. It grows as an annual or perennial depending on the climate and is widely considered a naturalized weed in tropical and temperate landscapes.
Collect fresh seed for Mimosa pudica from dried seedpods in the summer, fall and winter. After the plant blooms, fruit with segmented seedpods develops and begins to desiccate. When dry, the pods can be broken open to release tiny golden brown seeds.
Prepare seeds for germination by soaking them in hot water for 10 to 24 hours or until they swell. Start the plants indoors by burying the conditioned seeds immediately afterward in a commercial potting mix. Cover the seeds with a half-inch of soil. Keep the soil uniformly moist around the seeds and place the pots in a location with bright indirect light. Pale shoots should be seen within a week. Move seedlings outdoors when temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees.
Select an outdoor location for your Mimosa that receives full daily sun and has fertile, well-drained soil. Till the soil to assist the new roots in penetrating it. Plant the seedlings by keeping the top of the rootball level with the new surrounding soil. Water the plant well and keep the soil uniformly moist throughout the growing season. Scale back watering in the winter.
Prune the plant in early spring to control shape, size and spread. Remove any dead, diseased or damaged foliage or runners throughout the year to keep the plant healthy and looking neat.