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Past Articles Library | Trees | How to Grow a Mimosa Tree

A mimosa tree is an easy tree to grow that looks wonderful in any type of landscape.  The feathery leaves add a wonderful texture that is needed in many landscapes, especially those that are mostly grass.  The nearly red to pink and even white flowers not only attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds but they also create a fragrant environment that can be enjoyed anytime you are outside.  But before you go out and start planting this wonderful tree, do a little research.  In many areas especially the south, the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) is an invasive species and in doing so discouraged.

Mimosa Tree Propagation-Seeds

Mimosa trees can be easily found in nursery around the country.  Since this tree grows from seeds, many volunteer mimosas can be found in many fields and abandon yards.   If you decide to go with this approach, make sure that the hole you dig is larger than what you feel.  Nothing beats the feeling of digging for awhile and then discovering that you have cut through the taproot of the tree.  But if you are looking for an easier way of getting your mimosa tree, then consider starting some seeds.  

In general, trying to grow a tree from seed is challenging and the success rate is normally low but this is not the case with the mimosa.  The mimosa tree is easy to start from seed and this process begins with the collection of the seed.  This needs to occur in the fall after the seed pods have turned dark brown.  Once that happens, cut off the pod from the tree with a pair of long handled pruning shears.  Once removed, gently open the pods and place the flat, dark seeds inside a paper bag.  Do not store in a plastic bag.   This will cause the seeds to sweat and in turn the seeds will rot since the plastic bag cannot breathe.  For this reason, you will need to use a paper bag.

Once all the seeds are in the paper bag, tie the top off and hand in a cool, dry area away from the sun, which can cause heat to build up and make the seeds unviable. 

In the early spring after the last frost, the seeds will need to be scarified.  What this means is that the seed coat will need to be roughed up a little bit.  In nature, squirrels, rabbits, and even mice will nibble on the seeds naturally roughing up the coat.  In horticulture, this needs to be done artificially.  In this example, the seed will need to be filed down with a nail file along the sides until a pale spot appears on the hull.  Once that is done, soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting.  If the seed is very large or the seed coat is extremely hard, the seed may need to soak up to a week.

Once the seeds have soaked, the next step is to plant them in a flat or small container.  Prior to doing this, one will need to first clean the chosen container and then create the soil.  Creating a special soil for seed germination is very important and will increase the chances of seed germination.  Seed germination soil consists of one part of each ingredient, which includes peat moss, potting soil, and compost.   Once the soil has been mixed, add water to it until the soil is evenly moist.  Then, add it to your chosen container.  If using individual pots, simply place one seed per container at a depth of ¼ inch.  Cover with soil and place in a clear plastic bag.  Seal off and place in a warm location that receives indirect sunlight. 

After the seedlings have reached 5 inches in height and have 3 sets of leaves, it is time to transplant.  Plant each seedling in its own deep pot that has been filled with a soil mixture that consists of equal parts of potting soil and sand.   Place on a sunny windowsill and only water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry.

Once the seedlings have settled in their new for 3 weeks, it is time to fertilize them.  Feed your seedling with a 10-10-10 fertilizer that has been diluted in half. 

Move your seedlings to your landscaped area, once they have reached a foot in height. 

Mimosa Tree Propagation-Cuttings

Another technique to use when it comes to propagating mimosa is the cutting method.  This is a better approach compared to trying to dig one up since the mimosa does not do well when its roots are disturbed.  To begin the cutting process; one must start in the early spring before the tree has bloomed.   The cutting needs to be 4 to 6 inches in length and made at an angle.  This creates a better surface for rooting and prevents the limb by which the cutting was taken from rotting.  This rotting occurs when water sits on top of a flat surface.  The angle causes the rain to run off and in doing so reduces the chances of rotting.

Once the cutting has been taken, remove all the leaves from the cutting except the top 2 to 3.  After that is done, dip the cut end in water and coat with a commercially made rooting hormone.  If you do not have one, do not worry.  Honey can be used in its place.  If you plan to use this later approach skip the water step.

Next, moisten potting soil and fill a container.  Push the cutting down into the soil until the cut end is completely covered with soil making sure that no leaves touch the soil.  Once that is done, place the container inside a clear, plastic bag and tie off.  Place on a windowsill that receives indirect sunlight.  Every other day, open the bag and check the soil moisture.  Water only if the soil is dry.

In 3 weeks, you will need to check the cuttings by gently pulling on them.  If there is resistance, the cuttings have rooted.  If not, close the bag up and check a few weeks later.

Once the cuttings have rooted, it is time to transplant.  This is easily done, by filling a 1-gallon container with potting soil, moistening, and placing the cutting into the soil.  Place in a sheltered but sunny location in the home or greenhouse.  Continue to care for your transplanted cutting for a year before planting outdoors. 

If you do not have room for the above process but would like to try your hand at starting a mimosa from a cutting, give this alternative technique a try.

To begin this process, pick a branch that is about ½-inch in diameter.  Cut the branch at an angle with branch pruners.  Once that has been completed, take a large piece of cellophane wrap and place a large amount of soil on it.  Then, place the cut end of the branch on this soil and wrap the cellophane wrap around the cut.  When doing this process, make sure that the cut is covered in soil.  Once that is done, secure with a rubber band making sure that the cellophane wrap is tight but not restricting.  After that is complete, place the cut branch in a bucket of water making sure the soil is covered.  Leave in the water for 6 to 8 weeks.

After the time period mentioned above, remove the cellophane wrap from the branch.  Check to make sure that roots have formed, if not rewrap and place in the bucket of water.

Once roots have formed, dig a hole that is the same depth as the roots and twice the width.  Place the branch in the center of the hole, fill in and gently tap down the soil.  Water in to remove air pockets and fill in as needed.  Keep the seedling watered until the tree is established. 

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