Mimosa Tree: The Fascinating Shade Provider
Summer is almost here. For us gardeners, this is great news. July is a month during which we can enjoy the multitude of colors, flavors and smells of our gardens. One can enjoy this environment and make it even brighter under a 100% natural parasol thanks to the mimosa tree.
This majestic tree flourishes during summer and offers more volume and lovely fragrance to every backyard. Provided you have enough space, I highly recommend you to go for the “silky tree” (the other name of it) as it can be planted everywhere and only needs minimal care.
When learning about all in its fantastic attributes, many of us get really interested in the silky tree but keep wondering if they are able to raise it the right way. If this is also your case, let me tell you: this is not rocket science. You will not need any prerequisite knowledge as I will provide a complete and straightforward guidance on all aspects related to planting and taking care of the tree. I hope this will help you perform these activities in a cost effective, time saving and enjoyable way.
The mimosa tree belongs to the Albizia genus and is also called Albizia julibrissin. The trees of the Albizia genus are well known for their fluffy and finely cut foliage. This elegant plant is a superb alternative to other less rustic mimosas.
The silky tree originated in North Africa, in parts of the Middle East and in Asia. In general, the Albizia genus appreciates tropical environment but the species of interest to us is an exception. The Albizia julibrissin is quite rustic and grows pretty much everywhere. It can thus resist extremely cold North American winters as it can handle temperatures as low as -20C°.
The mimosa tree is easily recognized by its green or purple bi-pinnate foliage, its pink melliferous flowers and its flexible branches. Thanks to its tall and straight trunk and its graceful foliage, the mimosa tree is very decorative in all seasons, particularly during summer when its bee attractive pompom like flowers bloom and give spectacular stamens.
From your local garden center, get bare-rooted or potted Albizia plants. You can then graft them in three easy steps:
- Dig a 20 inches diameter and deep hole.
- If your soil is somewhat poor, put enough fertilizer or compost.
- Be sure to keep a 15 feet distance between plants.
As our Albizia doesn’t do well in pots, I would recommend to plant it in a well-drained soil in a sunny location. Try to avoid overly heavy and overly fresh soils. Also, wind protection allows the tree to keep its leaves. As for grafting timing, you should of course avoid freeze times.
You can also sow seeds. This will allow you to get more plants that would grow faster than grafted ones. However, you would not necessarily obtain the exact plant variety you are hoping for. Before sowing them, let the seeds soak in water for about 24 hours. This will fasten the process as the hard shell starts to germinate.
The tree can easily propagate through seeding. Propagation from cuttings or through suckering (formation of a new stem and root system from a bud) are more difficult. As a result, grafting becomes essential.
As growth through seeding is somewhat spontaneous, this can make the tree quite invasive. To perform sowing, get seeds in autumn, while pods are still dry. Keep them in a cool, dry and dark room. In the following spring, when soil temperature is between 20 C° and 25 C°, sow the seeds. I would suggest the temperature reaches these level in May or June (this will depend on your specific area).
As seeding doesn’t always produce the same plant variety, you might want to try shield grafting on young rootstocks for which the bark is still light brown. This is a technique of grafting used to change tree varieties. To perform shield grafting, follow these simple steps:
- Water the rootstock during 2 to 3 days before you plant it in order to make the bark more flexible and more easily removable.
- Avoid very hot days and make sure that the bud used as a graft doesn’t dry out in the meanwhile.
- After grafting, protect your young plant from the sun until it starts to sprout.
I as mentioned before, the mimosa tree is quite rustic and thus is rarely thirsty. For that, you would need to water it only on extremely hot days or if you notice flowers yellowing.
As the tree flourishes in summer, do the pruning in the beginning of spring, preferably in March. There are many pruning methods. I would recommend the cleaning method as it is the simplest of them and is more suitable to our case. All that you would have to do is to remove the intersecting shoots and to cut the dead, diseased and broken branches. This will reduce decay movement and keep the tree healthy.
Diseases, Pests And Parasites
The silky tree resists well to diseases and pests. However, it sometimes undergoes psyllid and cochineal attacks. This can rapidly cause the apparition of sooty mold.
To cope with psyllids, simply cut the damaged parts. As for cochineals, prepare a mix of some vegetable oil and liquid detergent. Dilute a coffee spoon of this mix in 150 ml of water. Finally, spray the liquid over the diseased parts.
You can sometimes notice the formation of fusarium (a type of fungus). Here again, all you can do is to cut the damaged parts.
I guess there is no better way for me to conclude than to cite more of this wonderful tree’s benefits. Besides being a fantastic ornament and a generous shade provider, the mimosa tree is great for soil. As it belongs to Fabaceae family, it is excellent in keeping your soil's nitrogen at the maximum level. In pastures, the rapidly growing shrub is also a perfect canopy for animals of all heights. So even for farmers, the mimosa tree is the perfect match.
Guest post by Marvin Delany: I'm 21 years old from Pennsylvania. Backyard farming and gardening are my lifelong passion. I'm a veterinary medicine student and an author at FarmingStyle.