If you’re looking for a guide on how to grow mimosa hostilis from seed, then you’re in the right place!
Mimosa hostilis is a warm-weather perennial plant that grows as a shrub or tree. In favorable conditions, the fern-like leaves of the fast-growing plant can shoot up to heights of 25 feet or more. It blooms small white flowers that produce fruits in the form of tiny seed pods.
Mimosa hostilis is native to temperate regions, notably the state of Chiapas in Mexico. However, it can also be found growing naturally in regions of El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil.
Alternative names for our towering tree friend are Mimosa tenuiflora, tepezcohuite, carbonal, or jump.
But because it’s often kept as an ornamental houseplant, we will tell you how to get this heat-loving, flowering legume started from seed.
Hopefully, this brief on the tree’s background will prove relevant as we learn how the seeds should be planted, raised, and cared for.
Now, on to the fun part!
Start Your Own Mimosa Hostilis From Seed
Mimosa hostilis is a unique plant that requires specific conditions for optimal germination. Effective seed-starting methods lead to a vibrant, healthy life. If only it were as easy as tossing a few seeds into some dirt and watching them spring to life!
But we’ve got you covered with all the particulars so you can plant them with confidence on the first try.
A good place to begin is the medium in which your future tree will be growing. After all, it will serve as the foundation of your mimosa’s healthy start.
Using the Proper Medium
Mimosa Hostilis is well-acclimated to drought and desert-like conditions. Therefore it’s going to need a soil that drains efficiently. Your mimosa plant won’t tolerate standing water or wet roots. Proper drainage should be a priority at every stage of the plant’s life.
A store-bought succulent/cactus potting mix will work fine for these purposes. An extra scoop of perlite, coarse sand, pumice or lava rock added to the mix will further improve the drainage capacity of the growing medium. The most important factor is that water drains effectively and the medium dries out quickly after watering.
If you have a DIY personality or just want the best quality potting mix for your mimosa, consider making your own blend.
Find the ingredients and ratios below:
- ⅓ Standard soil, loam or compost
- ⅓ Grit or drainage (Perlite, vermiculite, pumice, lava rock, fine pebbles)
- ⅓ Horticultural sand
This mix is sure to efficiently wick away excess moisture after watering.
Next, we’ll discuss how to achieve the best germination rate through seed preparation.
Preparing the Seeds
I mentioned previously that mimosa hostilis is a unique plant. It’s similar to others in that its seed has a tough exterior hull. In order to penetrate this outer shell and encourage the seed to sprout, it will require scarification.
Scarification is the process of softening the seed coating or to rupturing it by physical means. The tough outer shell acts as a defense mechanism that protects against poorly timed sprouting. The dense coat prevents seeds from germinating in less-than-ideal conditions. The need for scarification is typical of hard-coated seeds, but in the case of mimosa hostilis the method is uncommon.
Scarifying Your Mimosa Seeds
Get the best results by following these steps.
- Take all the seeds you wish to start (and maybe some extra) and put them into a jar or pot that has a lid.
- Heat a separate pot of water and pour it over the seeds after it comes to a boil.
- Make sure all the seeds are covered by at least an inch of water.
- Cover your container with its lid to trap in humidity and prevent water from evaporating.
- Put the container into a dark place for 1 day. A closet or pantry works fine.
After 24 hours of soaking, the hot water has penetrated and softened the hulls. The seeds are now ready to plant.
Another way to prepare your seeds for planting is to pre-sprout them. This can be useful for saving time and resources. You’ll be able to tell in advance what seeds don’t sprout. The duds can be discarded.
- Soak seeds in hot water for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Remove the seeds from the water, wrap them in damp paper towels and seal them in an airtight bag or container.
- Store the wrapped, soaked seeds in a dark place and monitor them over the next few days.
- Within a week, seeds should start sprouting the beginnings of their root system.
When you see this initial root growth (called the radicle), remove the seeds and get ready to plant!
Planting the Seeds
The first step to planting is preparing your growing container. Mimosa hostilis seeds can be started in a nursery flat or in their own separate containers. If you start seeds in individual pots, use small 2-3 inch containers. This will give you greater control over the specific conditions required by your seeds.
If you’re starting seeds in a flat, make sure they’re spaced at least 2 inches apart.
No matter what you plant your seeds in, make sure the container has drainage holes.
Fill the containers with your potting mix and lightly tamp the surface. The soil should be loose, in order to aerate and drain well.
After your containers are prepared, take the soaked seeds or sprouts and plant them one inch deep. Cover the seeds with soil and heavily mist the entire surface.
It’s imperative that the seeds remain consistently moist during this period. Check them a couple times a day to be sure they don’t dry out. Give them a good misting once or twice a day, it’s almost impossible to overwater this way.
Move your seeds to a sunny or brightly lit area to aid the germination process. Ambient temperatures of 75 degrees or higher are ideal. Use heating mats if you’re struggling to maintain a suitable climate. Warm soil will lead to quicker sprouting and better germination rates. It could take up to six weeks for germination, but under ideal conditions expect to see them sprout in 2-4 weeks.
Caring for Seedlings
A warm, bright space is the perfect location to welcome your new mimosa hostilis sprouts. Keep them well-watered, and well-drained, as they grow larger. Even as a seedling, mimosa hostilis is not fussy. You won’t need to fertilize it at any point in its early life.
Seedlings will grow happily under their preferred conditions. Once they get to be about five inches tall, it’s time to consider transplanting into a larger container. A one-gallon size pot should give it plenty of space to grow, while still being small enough to maneuver easily.
Gently squeeze the sides of the original pot, working your way around the container. This will loosen the soil and free the roots from the sides. Then, carefully tip the pot and slide out all of its contents. The bigger pot should be prepared with the custom potting mix and waiting for the transplant. Fill the soil up to the appropriate level so the young seedling can be planted at the same depth.
If you started your seeds in a flat, use a spoon to individually scoop out plants with as much of their roots as possible.
Plant your seedling, gently firm the soil around it and water in well. Fresh transplants should be kept moist in order to give the roots a chance to get used to their new home without experiencing too much shock. It’s a good idea to keep the transplant out of direct sun and bright light for a couple days as it adapts to the new container.
The plant should recover quickly after being transplanted and can be returned to normal conditions. Water infrequently, but deeply. Give the plant water until it starts to run out of the bottom of the pot. When the top couple inches of soil dries out, it’s time to water again.
Mimosa Hostilis Conditions, Care and Maintenance
Expect your freshly transplanted mimosa hostilis to grow rapidly. As it gets bigger and bigger, the ideal conditions and maintenance it receives change slightly.
Given that mimosa hostilis is a desert plant, it will accept as much sunlight as it can get. Keep it in a south-facing window or outdoors where it receives full sun. If you’ve started your plants indoors be sure to gradually harden them off, exposing them little by little to direct sun and the outdoor elements.
Mimosa hostilis will require more water as it grows, but the same principle applies. Water it deeply, then let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering again. This will encourage the root system to grow stronger and deeper in search of moisture.
A temperate year-round climate is mandatory if you want your mimosa plant to thrive. It will grow best in steady 80-degree weather. If growing indoors, try to avoid drafty locations where it could be exposed to gusts of wind and cold air. Drastic swings in temperature could interrupt the robust growth of mimosa hostilis.
Mimosa hostilis will grow vigorously without any special attention if provided with the right conditions. Maintenance requirements are minimal, yet there are a few tasks that will help your plant thrive.
A once-yearly feeding will meet the fertilizing needs of mimosa hostilis. Look for an organic fertilizer that has balanced levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. A granular, slow-release formula works well, as it will gradually feed the tree throughout the year. Fertilize in the spring, while the tree is in bloom and before it gets too hot. Spread it around the base of the tree and water it in well.
In following years, as the tree grows distribute the fertilizer out further from the trunk in order to accommodate the expanding shallow feeder roots. The location of the feeder roots typically corresponds with the width of the tree’s canopy.
Mimosa hostilis should be pruned once a year. Make it a point to prune after the blooming period so you’re able to fully enjoy the beautiful flowers. Using sterilized cutting tools, pruning shears, loppers or a saw, remove all dead, diseased and broken limbs. This keeps the plant’s energy focused on the existing healthy branches and generating new growth.
Planting Mimosa Hostilis in the Garden
Mimosa hostilis will live comfortably outside as a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 9 -11. Only in tropical regions will it survive outdoors through the winter.
When your mimosa hostilis has reached about a foot in height or turns a year old, it is ready to be planted outdoors. By now the trunk should be strong and beginning to get woody. (If you can’t plant your mimosa outside, be sure to transplant it into a larger pot with some fresh soil once a year.)
Choose a site that receives full sun with soil that drains extremely well. The planting plot can be amended with some of the ingredients listed above to increase the drainage.
Dig a hole 3-5 times bigger than your mimosa’s current container. The size of the planting hole can always be customized to suit the desired size of the tree. The bigger the hole, the more space roots have to grow leading to a taller trunk with more limbs and foliage.
Be aware that the shallow roots of mimosa hostilis grow aggressively. For this reason, it shouldn’t be planted near foundations, garden beds, walkways, driveways or property lines.
With its ability to grow over 30 feet tall, the planting site of mimosa hostilis should be seriously considered before putting it in the ground. Be prepared to watch the tree shoot up soon after it’s planted. Mimosa hostilis has been known to double in size within months of being transplanted into the ground.
Enjoying Your Mature Mimosa Hostilis
A well-established mimosa hostilis plant is truly a sight to behold. The cylinder-shaped spikes of fragrant white flowers garner the entire tree for a good portion of the year. Typically, blossoms appear in November and can endure all the way until June.
The tree will produce small fruits that are round and brittle. These seedpods easily travel on the wind, scattering and wildly reseeding in the landscape. They can also be collected, saved and used to grow more mimosa hostilis plants.
Your mimosa hostilis even makes a worthy companion plant. The fern-like leaflets are constantly dropping to the earth. The falling foliage builds up a layer of leaf litter and eventually break down, forming a natural mulch of compost.
Collect freshly fallen leaves and apply them directly to garden beds as a mulch. They decompose quickly and will effectively feed other plants on your property.
On top of the free mulch and compost, like its other legume relatives, mimosa hostilis takes nitrogen from the air and converts it into a bioavailable form in the soil. Plantlife surrounding the tree will certainly experience a boost in growth as they tap into this sustainable nitrogen source.
The Many Uses of Mimosa Hostilis
- Used medicinally for its antifungal, antibacterial, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Helps to treat and heal wounds and burns.
- Premium quality Mimosa Hostilis Root Bark is a common ingredient in popular skincare products.
- The seed pods and leaves are nutritionally dense, making a fine animal feed, especially during the dry season.
- The long-standing flowers provide critical food for local pollinators.
- A friend to the ecosystem, mimosa hostilis helps prevent erosion and is especially useful in reforestation, due to its rapid and tenacious growth habit.
- The strong, dense trunk and limbs are used for firewood and as lumber in construction projects.
- MHRB is used as a natural dye because of its high tannin content.
- Makes an excellent shade tree for animals and other plants during the dry season.
Where Can I Buy Mimosa Hostilis Seeds?
Mimosa hostilis seeds can be bought from a multitude of seed companies online. They are also sold through popular sites like Amazon and Etsy. The seeds will commonly be listed as Mimosa hostilis, tepezcohuite, or juremea preta.
Top Tips for Growing Mimosa Hostilis
- Scarify the seeds by soaking them in hot water for a day before planting.
- Use a potting mix (see above) and containers that drain well.
- Pamper mimosa hostilis seedlings by keeping them properly watered, at a steady warm temperature and under bright light.
- Water deeply and infrequently; always allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again.
- Transplant mimosa hostilis when it reaches about six inches in height and again when it’s about a foot tall. Repot once a year after that.
- Keep mimosa hostilis as an indoor plant if you live outside of USDA zones 9-11. Transplant it into the ground in tropical regions to experience its full majesty.
It’s not a difficult process, but a few tidbits of knowledge along with some useful insights and advice can go a long way when it comes to getting your seedlings off to the strongest start possible.
When it comes down to it, seed starting is a fun and exciting process. I get a certain sense of joy watching vibrant green life burst from its hull, unfolding into dainty leaves that reach for the light, hungry for life and growth.
No doubt there’s a feeling of pride and accomplishment that come along with starting a seed and bringing it all the way to maturity.
And when your little seeds, over time, turn into a giant, splendid tree covered in beautiful flowers, it’s nothing short of miraculous.