Mimosa pudica has many common names. In Hawaii, the locals call it “sleeping grass” because its small, ferny leaves curl up and “sleep” when you touch them. Many people know it as “sensitive plant” for the same reason. This tropical plant is often considered a weed in frost-free climates. Some Central American people toast Mimosa’s leaves, grind them to a powder and sprinkle them over the day’s last meal to induce sleep. Although it is thorny and you wouldn’t want to walk on it barefoot, it can serve as a groundcover in USDA climate zone 10 and higher.
Using Mimosa as a Groundcover
Start seeds or cuttings several weeks before you plan to plant Mimosa as a groundcover. Soak seeds in warm water for 12 hours and then pick out the seeds that swell. If you prefer to start your Mimosa from cuttings, cut numerous 4-inch long ends from existing plants, dip them in a rooting hormone and then insert them into holes in a flat filled with moist potting soil. Keep cuttings moist and in an area without hot, direct sun until signs of new growth appear.
Plant swollen seeds ¼ inch deep in a flat you have filled with standard potting soil. Water the flat well and keep it in an area that receives direct sun most of each day.
Prepare your planting area by digging compost into the soil in a sunny area. Any type of compost is fine—it can be well-rotted manure, leaf compost or any other type. You needn’t dig deeply because this is a small plant that seems able to grow out of solid rock.
Dig small planting holes every 6 to 8 inches. Insert one rooted cutting or one young plant about 3 to 4 inches long into each hole. In time, it will spread and will drop its seeds, creating a thicker carpet of plants.
Water your new planting area thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out before you water again. Because Mimosa is considered a weed in environments that are conducive to its needs, you needn’t fertilize it. If it likes where you planted it, it will do well.