How to Grow a Mimosa Tree
Also known as silk tree, mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) is a fast-growing deciduous member of the bean family that can grow up to 3 feet per year, eventually reaching heights up to 40 feet. Mimosa tree is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions, requiring little to no care to produce an attractive canopy of fernlike leaves and fluffy, fragrant blooms. The tree may not be suitable for Florida gardens, as the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council lists mimosa tree as an invasive exotic plant.
Plant in Full Sunlight
Mimosa tree is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 to 9, where it will produce its best growth in full sunlight. The tree will also tolerate partial or light shade. Because sun can penetrate the tree's open canopy -- which may spread 20 to 50 feet -- grass can grow right up to the trunk of the tree, making mimosa tree an excellent lawn accent. However, when planted near a home or walkway, dropped flowers, seed pods and leaves can become a hassle to clean up.
Tolerant of Poor Soils
A mimosa tree will grow in a wide range of soil types, including poor, alkaline soils. A well-draining soil enhanced with 2 to 4 inches of organic matter such as shredded leaves, peat moss or dehydrated manure is ideal. Mimosa tree tolerates salty soils but will suffer if planted in a garden with direct maritime exposure. The tree does well in high summer temperatures and will tolerate drought, though weekly waterings during dry periods will boost growth. Fertilizer is not necessary for this tree:some experts advise that in highly fertile soils, the tree produces soft growth which is susceptible to frost damage.
Watch for Wilt Disease
Verticillium wilt is a common mimosa tree disease that causes symptoms such as faded, wilted foliage, branch dieback and, occasionally, the death of the entire tree. Removing bark on infected branches may showcase wet-looking dark spots. Help prevent the disease by irrigating your tree during long dry periods, as stressed trees are more likely to develop problems. Prune out dead branches, disinfecting your pruning equipment with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to avoid spreading the disease. Do not plant mimosa tree in areas where verticillium wilt has been a problem in the past.
Propagation with Mimosa Tree Seeds
A mimosa tree may be propagated by seed. Propagation with mimosa tree seeds is the easiest way to grow a mimosa tree because you'll have control over the conditions of the tree's life from the very beginning. To aid in germination, scratch the surface of the hard seed with a file or knife and soak in boiling water or sulfuric acid. Let the seed cool for 24 hours, then plant directly in a sunny area of the garden during the growing season. You will need to ensure that the seedling gets a significant amount of water early on, and enough sunlight to sustain it. Established mimosa trees often self-seed, sometimes to the point of becoming a nuisance. Saplings flower in about three years.
Mimosa Tree Propagation by Cutting
Mimosa tree propagation by cutting is a popular method, especially for indoor gardeners. To propagate a mimosa tree by cutting, you will first need access to a mimosa tree that is hardy enough to withstand a clipping. It is best to take the cuttings in the spring or the summertime. Take a two-inch long side-shoot as your cutting, making sure that you have some area beneath the bottom leaves. Pluck off the bottom leaves and plant your cut in pot of moist peat moss. Place the put in a plastic bag and tie it shut. As long as the bag maintains a temperature of about 75 degrees, roots should begin to sprout and new growth should start to appear. Once that happens, you can remove the bag. To grow a mimosa tree indoors, simply transfer the soil to a larger pot. To grow a mimosa tree outdoors, plant outside in the soil.
- Floridata: Albizia Julibrissin
- Royal Horticultural Society: Albizia Julibrissin F. Rosea
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Albizia Julibrissin
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Verticillium Wilt—Verticillium Spp.
- Plants for a Future: Albizia Julibrissin
- University of Idaho Extension: Pruning Tools
- University of Missouri Extension: Tree Placement on Home Grounds