How to Grow a Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica)

Two Parts:Planting Mimosa PudicaCaring for the Plant

Have you ever seen a plant that moves when you tickle it? Mimosa pudica, also known as a sensitive plant, TickleMe Plant, touch-me-not, or shy plant, folds its leaves together when you touch it. Unlike most other fast-moving plants, this plant is not carnivorous.[1] Growing sensitive plants is fairly easy if you start with a warm indoor space and plenty of seeds. Be careful: even though this is a tropical plant, it can invade gardens and fields in much cooler climates.

Part 1
Planting Mimosa Pudica

  1. 1
    Choose a planting time. Plant Mimosa pudica seeds indoors in spring, at any time before the last frost.[2] If you have growing lights and good temperature control, you may plant them indoors at any time of year.[3]
  2. Image titled Grow a TickleMe Plant Step 2
    Prepare your potting mix. Mimosa pudica can grow in most well-drained soil, even if low in nutrients.[4] For best results, however, try a mix of loam and dry, aerating materials, such as two parts loam, two parts peat moss, and one part sand or perlite.[5] If you don't want to make your own mix, most all-purpose commercial potting mixes have similar ratios, and should work well enough.
  3. 3
    Soak the seeds (optional). The seeds are more likely to germinate if you weaken the tough outer seed coat first. Soak the seeds in bowl of hot water for 30 minutes — or up to 24 hours if you want to play it safe.[6] (You may let the water cool as the seeds soak.)
  4. 4
    Plant two or three seeds in each small flower pot. Place each seed just barely below the surface of the soil, about 3mm (⅛ in.) down.[7] It's likely that most of your seeds won't germinate, so these extra seeds will minimize wasted effort.
    • You can start the seeds in a seed tray or in 7 cm (3 in.) pots.[8]
  5. 5
    Water the soil. Water until the soil is slightly moist, but not soggy. Water again whenever the soil is about to dry out.[9]
    • If you're worried about getting the right amount of water, place the flowerpot in a shallow dish of water. Let sit ten minutes or until the top of the soil feels damp, then discard the excess water.[10]
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    Provide plenty of sunlight. If sensitive plants do not get enough sun, they may close their leaves. Put them in a location where they receive full sun for most of the day, or partial shade if you live in a very hot region.[11] In ideal conditions with temperatures around 70ºF (21ºC), the seeds may germinate in under a week. In less ideal conditions, or if you didn't soak the seeds, this may take two to four weeks.[12]
    • Some of your seeds may survive colder nighttime temperatures, but they may end up slow-growing or fragile. Never expose the seeds to frost.
    • If the room is too cool or too dry, cover the pot with plastic wrap to trap heat and moisture. Remove this as soon as the first seedling appears.[13]

Part 2
Caring for the Plant

  1. 1
    Transplant to other pots when necessary. If more than one seedling sprouts in the same pot, move the smallest ones to another pot once they are a few centimeters (1–2 inches) high. Once your plant reaches maturity, transplant it to a larger pot whenever the roots come out the drainage hole or press against the sides of the container.
  2. Image titled Grow a TickleMe Plant Step 3
    Keep the soil moist. The soil should remain moist at all times, but never soggy.[14] If the sensitive plant is in a dry room, mist it with room temperature occasionally, or place it on a humidity tray.[15]
  3. 3
    Keep the plant indoors (recommended). Sensitive plants are an invasive weed in many areas. Unless you are in one of their native habitats in tropical America, you may want to grow sensitive plants indoors. Gardeners worldwide report the plant taking over their lawns.[16]
    • In Australia, you are legally required to minimize the spread of mimosa pudica seeds off your property.[17]
  4. 4
    Fertilize regularly. Dilute a balanced fertilizer to half the strength recommended on the label. Apply to the soil once a week during the growing season, and once a month during winter.[18] Avoid direct contact with the roots.
  5. 5
    Protect against cold. Since it is a tropical plant, Mimosa pudica will grow best if nighttime temperatures are 70ºF (21ºC) or higher.[19] If temperatures fall below 65ºF (18ºC), move the plant to a warmer room or keep the plant warm in other ways.[20]
    • Adult plants can survive temperatures as low as 40ºF (4.5 °C), but are at risk of damage or death. Keep an eye out for yellow leaves and stems, which are signs of possible cold damage.[21]
  6. 6
    Provide space for the plant to grow. It's normal for the stem to fall over and creep along the ground once the plant matures.[22] Provide a trellis or sturdy plant to support it, or allow enough horizontal space for it to grow. Some sensitive plants grow more than 1 meter (3 ft) high or 2 meters (6.6 ft) horizontally, but in temperate zones they will more likely reach half this size.[23]
  7. 7
    Watch its lifespan. Mimosa pudica can survive for at least two years in tropical climates, but are usually annual plants in temperate zones.[24][25] Even if your plant survives after its first bloom (usually in summer), you may have better results letting it die and collecting its seeds for next spring.
    • To collect seeds, let the pods dry on the plant, then break them open and collect the seeds.[26]


  • The "sensitive plant" gets its name from its ability to close its leaves together when touched or exposed to heat. The first leaves that appear are not "ticklish." Once the plant is mature, try touching the tip of the leaves and watch the leaves along the whole branch close together. The plant usually closes its leaves at night as well.
  • Sensitive plants produce a chemical which likely inhibits fungus growth in the soil, protecting them against infection.[27]
  • You do not need to prune the sensitive plants, but you may cut them back with clean garden shears if they take on a leggy appearance with little foliage.


  • Several types of insects feed on Mimosa pudica, and soap sprays — a common all-purpose treatment — may blacken the plant's leaves.[28] This is another good reason to keep the plant indoors and away from any infected plants.
  • Mimosa pudica is a noxious weed in countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Extreme care should be taken in Australia and New Zealand to ensure that all plant material is contained within your property, and when pruning, discard all matter responsibly to prevent inadvertent release into the local environment.
  • Experts consider Mimosa pudica safe to grow around pets and children.[29] However, the plant could theoretically cause health issues if eaten in large quantities.[30] Most plants also have small thorns which are painful to touch.

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Categories: Indoor and Patio Plants