- Mimosa: How to grow
- Mimosa – The Wonderful, Awful Weed
- Mimosa Trees, A Pretty Pest In Portugal
- Mimosa as an invasive species
- Mimosa, a super self-propogator
- Acacia Tree Care: Information About Acacia Tree Types
- Acacia Tree Facts
- Acacia Tree Growing Conditions
- Acacia Tree Care
- Acacia Tree Types
- Acacia Dealbata Mimosa
Mimosa: How to grow
Acacias, so rare and desirable for those in the Northern Hemisphere, are native plants of Australia, where they are called silver wattle (because their pliable wood was used for the wattle and daub houses built by early settlers). There they grow to 30m (100ft) and are classed as an invasive species. But 6m (20ft) is more likely here and there is currently no risk of a mimosa invasion.
They are also common Mediterranean types and, even if they will not flower, they provide leaves of such beauty that florists use them as backing for bouquets all year round.
Acacia dealbata will survive a couple of bursts of frost of up to -10C but it does not thrive in cold places. The variety subalpina is hardier than the type. If the mimosa is cut down by cold weather, it should regrow from the base as a multi-stem.
This can be useful in places where there is not enough room for a full size tree. All new growth is more susceptible to cold weather than old, so protecting the plant for the first two years will help it to survive. Protection is also needed for the regrowth after the mimosa has been cut to the ground.
The ideal soil for a mimosa is neutral to acid, which is why the leaves on my tree grown in limy conditions are often yellow. This can be remedied with doses of the iron tonic Sequestrene, to keep the leaves bluey grey.
Old specimens prefer not to be pruned but Acacia dealbata is fast-growing. Thus, if the plant outgrows its position (or is frozen to death), it will not be too long before a replacement grows to a respectable size. Like all tender shrubs, the mimosa is best planted in the spring, after all danger of frosts has passed, so as to give its wood the longest possible ripening period before the first winter.
Mimosas make good conservatory plants for large pots, but they should be watered very sparingly in winter.
Acacia dealbata can be raised from seed but, because this is a seed triggered by fire in its native habitat, boiling water has to do the trick here. Pour the water over the seeds and leave them to soak for a day, until they have softened and plumped up.
Cuttings also root easily. It is worth taking some of the hardier form subalpina, if you are lucky enough to obtain it, as this will not come true from seed.
It might be time for a revival of greys and silvers. Groups of these were a fashionable choice in the 1960s when Mrs Desmond Underwood sold nothing else.
A well-drained sunny corner of a town garden (helped by the addition of plenty of grit) would look very classy with the following: a bush of mimosa behind long flowering lavenders from Lanzarote; Lavandula x christiana ‘Sky’; plenty of Iris pallida subsp. pallida; one or two rosemary ‘Severn Sea’; some Dianthus ‘Haytor White’; and a few Senecio cineraria ‘Cirrus’.
Underplanted with tender narcissus and Gladiolus murielae, the scent would be heavenly too. Cold-country gardeners would kill for such a scheme.
Where to buy
Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, Lostwithiel, Cornwall (01208 872668, www.duchyofcornwallnursery.co.uk) can supply A. dealbata.
Mimosa – The Wonderful, Awful Weed
When anyone asks me what’s the best time to prune a mimosa, my instinctive response is, “Any time you can find a chainsaw.”
That’s very judgmental of me, I know, but heck, that’s pretty much my job. And mimosa is one of those plants you either love or you hate. I hate it now. But I used to love it.
Why, when I was a kid, at the nadir of sensibility and good taste, I thought mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) was the prettiest tree in the world. Its leaves were like ferns. Its flowers were pink puffballs. And it bloomed in summer, when few other trees did.
A Miracle — My Wife Agrees!
Judy, who notices very few plants, has fond childhood memories of mimosa too. She remembers climbing up in her neighbors trees to smell the flowers. I think they smell faintly of gardenias — not like my son’s socks, which would actually cause you to faint.
How It all Began
Native to the Middle East and Asia, mimosa was brought to this country in 1785 by the famous French botanist Andre Michaux, who planted it in his botanic garden in Charleston, South Carolina. It grew quickly into a vase-shaped, flat-topped tree, 30 to 40 feet tall, and it loved the Southern climate. The flowers, attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and colonial gardeners, ranged in color from nearly red to deep pink to flesh-pink to white. On one road-side near my home, there is a row of them, each a different color. Here’s the usual pink.
And here’s a white one. I really like the white, but I’ve never seen it for sale. The various colors are due to genetic variation, with pink being dominant. Where I live in Alabama, the trees usually start blooming in June and continue for several weeks into July.
So Why Do I Hate Mimosa Now?
Two reasons, First, like most all fast-growing trees, mimosa is notoriously short-lived, subject to many pests, and will die on you in a heartbeat. When people ask me the best way to get rid of a mimosa, I tell them to make it the focal point of their landscape and it will be gone momentarily.
Second, after the flowers fade, the tree grows hundreds of 6-inch long, bean-like, brown seedpods which hang from every branch. The seedpods persist all winter, even after the tree has dropped its leaves. Few trees look as ugly or more forlorn.
But wait! It gets worse! Each of those pods is filled with seeds and each and every one of them germinates somewhere, even in cracks in the pavement. Plant one mimosa in the yard and soon every house in the neighborhood has two or three mimosas. coming up in the fence, the middle of a bush, or by the silver propane tank.
Mimosa adapts to almost any well-drained soil, laughs at heat and drought, and does not mind if you spray-paint the trunk white, hang tires from the branches, or park your pickup on top of its roots. In hort class, we called it a “pioneer species,” because if you disturb the land, remove native vegetation, and open the tree canopy to light, it’s one of the first trees to appear. That’s why you see it growing along just about every highway and country road in the South. Northerners be glad it doesn’t like your cold winters, but with global warming, who knows how much longer you’ll be free?
Not Fooling Me
Recently, a new kind of mimosa was introduced to the gardening world, a purplish-bronze leaf selection called ‘Summer Chocolate.’ The hype over its undeniably pretty foliage and pink flowers was overwhelming. Probably many of you bought one and are enjoying it right now. But not me.
See, any mimosa that flowers is going to produce seeds and lots of them. And if a thousand seedlings come up in my yard, I don’t care if they have green leaves or purple leaves. They need to be eliminated with extreme prejudice.
So my advice about when to prune a mimosa remains the same — whenever you can find a chainsaw.
Tell Me More About the Mimosa
Okay. Here’s a little crash course. The pink “powder puffs” of mimosa flowers appear in early June throughout the South. Fernlike leaves give the tree a lacy, graceful appearance.
A common problem are mimosa webworms. Silken webs wrap clusters of leaves together. The caterpillars inside those webs eat the leaves.
The solution: If possible, prune out and destroy webbing and damaged leaves. Thoroughly spray the tree trunk with horticultural oil in early March to suffocate pupating larvae. Rake and destroy leaf debris. Replace mulch under the tree each fall. Spray the tree with Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Dipel, Thuricide, Javelin). For serious infestations, spray with carbaryl (Sevin), diazinon, or malathion.
Another problem you may encounter with mimosa is wilting. Leaves yellow and droop in early to midsummer. Many drop. Tree branches die over a period of several months.
The solution is that there is no control for the soilborne disease that enters through the tree roots. Discovered in the 1930s, it has now spread throughout the South. Remove infected trees. Do not plant new mimosas in the same spot.
Trees. Think About Trees.
No matter where you live or what garden style you prefer, the first questions you should ask when developing your garden’s design are, “Where are my existing trees?” and “What new trees would I like to add and where do I want them to go?”
As your garden’s largest living element, trees have an enormous impact, both practical and aesthetic. On the practical side, they offer shade and shelter from the wind, enhancing your comfort and often considerably reducing your home’s energy consumption. As design elements, trees can frame the house, establish scale, sport colorful blooms and foliage, conceal unsightly features, or draw the eye toward attractive vistas.
Among the most important contributions trees make to a garden is to lend an air permanence. While a hollyhock may give up the ghost after a year or two, an oak can live for centuries. A stately tree that forms the centerpiece of your garden may well have been the legacy of a farsighted gardener from many years earlier.
Choosing the Right Tree
When selecting trees for your garden, ask first what you want the tree to do. Should it shade the yard? Pick a tall-growing species that develops a sizable canopy. Should it hide a neighboring property? That may call for an evergreen tree with foliage all the way to the ground. Perhaps you’d like a focal point. Look for a tree with striking flowers, foliage, bark, or form. Once you have decided on the tree’s purpose, you can narrow your selection.
The most basic distinction between trees is whether they are deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous trees sprout new leaves in spring and carry them throughout the summer. In fall, the leaves may turn brilliant colors before dropping for the winter. Evergreen trees, on the other hand, retain their foliage year-round, making them ideal for screens or as points of interest during winter months. Broad-leafed evergreens, such as Southern magnolias and hollies, have wide leaves similar to many deciduous trees. Needle-leafed evergreens, such as pines and cedars, sport narrow, needlelike leaves.
Once you’ve decided between deciduous or evergreen, consider the tree’s growth rate and ultimate size. A desire for quick shade or instant privacy may tempt you to buy a fast-growing species such as silver maple or cottonwood, but such a vigorous tree can crack sidewalks, invade water lines, or quickly overwhelm the house, calling for replacement at a later date.
Consider, too, a tree’s mature shape (above)*referring to illustration*, which may not be obvious when you buy a small sapling at the nursery. A vase-shaped type, such as a Japanese zelkova, makes a good choice for a lawn or street tree, because its ascending branches leave plenty of headroom underneath. Rounded, spreading trees, such as live oaks and Norway maples, need lots of space to extend their branches. Columnar or conical trees, such as eastern red cedar and Arizona cypress, work well in closer quarters.
Many trees offer a spectacular burst of color in the fall, but consider their summer and winter foliage tones as well. Deciduous trees with golden, bronze, red, or bluish summer foliage should be treated as accents and used sparingly to avoid a jumble of colors. Likewise, use caution when selecting evergreens with colored foliage, such as many cedars and cypresses.
CARING FOR TREES (each section has an accompanying illustration)
Limbing up. Gradually removing a tree’s lower branches reveals the structure of the tree. This practice also increases the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, making it easier to grow grass and flowers around the tree. And it gives more headroom under the tree’s canopy. As a general rule, don’t limb up more than half of a tree’s height, less if possible.
Thinning. Selectively thin the branches of a shade tree to reduce the likelihood of wind damage, open up views, and prevent the tree from forming an overly dense canopy. Remove weak limbs and vertical water sprouts first, and any branches that rub or cross each other. Clear out branches growing toward the center of the tree. Then you can prune selectively along the main limbs, leaving a natural-looking, broad, and bushy top.
Preserving the roots. To keep a tree healthy, start at the bottom. If you build a patio or walkway around the base of a tree, avoid solid materials such as concrete, which prevent air and water from reaching the roots. Select paving that leaves as much open soil as possible around the trunk, use loose materials, or set bricks or paving stones in sand or gravel rather than cement.
If removing soil near a tree to construct a retaining wall or for some other purpose, try to preserve the existing grade around the tree by making any elevation changes beyond the branch spread. For soil-level changes over 2 feet deep, consult an arborist.
It seems obvious, but the easiest way to avoid disappointment with a tree is by selecting one well suited to your climate and soil. Don’t try to plant trees that are not reliably cold-hardy in your area or those that need more rainfall than you receive. Sooner or later Mother Nature will get even, and the trees will suffer from cold or drought stress, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Other trees to avoid include those that are prone to pests; those with weak wood that can lose limbs in storms; those that drop messy fruit, seedlings (such as chinaberry above)*in picture*, or more leaves than you are willing to rake; and those with invasive roots. In addition to the trees listed at right *below*, your local nursery or garden center should be able to advise you on trees that are problematic in your region.
Ten Troublesome Trees
Think twice (or even thrice) about planting the following:
Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina)
Weak wood; invasive roots
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Messy fruit; pest-prone
Box Elder (Acer negundo)
Lots of seedlings; pest-prone
Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora)
Messy seeds; weak wood
Chinaberry (Melia azedarach)
Messy fruit; lots of seedlings
Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
Weak wood; invasive roots
Hybrid Poplar (Populus)
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Pest-prone; lots of seedlings
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
Weak wood; invasive roots
White Mulberry (Morus alba)
Messy Fruit; lots of seedlings
Why Not Top?
Topping — reducing the height of a mature tree by lopping off its top limbs — is the quickest way to ruin a tree forever. What’s more, it doesn’t even reduce the height of a tree for very long. Unlike a bushy hedge that soon sprouts new growth after being sheared severely, an older tree does not grow back in a natural-looking way when the trunk leaders or top branches are pruned to stubs. Instead, the tree sends out scores of weak shoots from the cutoff points; often these shoots are taller, coarser and denser than the natural top. Topped trees often develop heart rot, eventually resulting in hollow trunks. This makes them susceptible to storm damage.
Some topped trees might eventually regain their beauty, but the recovery can take decades. A good professional arborist will not top a tree, but will try other techniques to scale it back.
Mimosa Trees, A Pretty Pest In Portugal
It’s mid-February and the mimosa trees are about to blossom, signalling the start of Portuguese spring in my eyes. Pretty soon, the hills around me will be covered with bright yellow splodges, as though someone has dipped a sponge in yellow paint and dabbed the landscape. Already, the mimosa trees seem to be covered in a furry yellow mould as the buds begin to open.
In another week, clouds of tiny yellow puff-ball flowers will dominate the silver-green feathery leaves underneath them. My drive into Coimbra will be studded with lemon-coloured trees. One of my walking routes will take me through a golden arch formed from the mimosas that grow either side of the track.
Mimosa as an invasive species
I’d never heard of or seen mimosa, aka Acacia dealbata, before I came to live in Portugal. Now that I’m here, there’s no escaping it. Much as I love the delicate, unusual flowers, I can see why this species has become a serious problem in this country.
Mimosa was first introduced to Portugal from Australia over a hundred years ago precisely because it’s so pretty. Before people realised the damage it could do, it was even cultivated and used to help prevent soil erosion.
It readily adapted to conditions in Portugal and grows extremely quickly, producing lots of seeds. The trouble is, Mimosa grows so well that it’s taken over and destroyed a lot of the natural plant life.
It’s also a bugger to get rid of once it’s established. If you don’t destroy all of the roots, you’ll just make the problem worse as new shoots will sprout up all over the place.
Mimosa is probably the most aggressive invasive species of tree in Portugal. It’s become such a problem that it’s now against the law to cultivate it, sell it, or keep it for ornamental purposes. So bang goes my idea of digging some young plants up and growing them in pots in the garden.
In some areas of the country, groups of school children and volunteers go out into the forests to pull up the saplings by the roots to try and prevent the mimosa population from getting any bigger.
Mimosa, however, isn’t giving up the fight easily.
Mimosa, a super self-propogator
Once the yellow flowers have come and gone, they are replaced by thousands of seed pods which dangle from the branches. These pods mature from pea green to a rusty brown then fall to the ground, creating a crinkly copper carpet.
Each pod contains about eight tiny black seeds so it’s no wonder that each year, new seedlings appear and take over disused forest tracks or fill any gaps between existing trees.
Mimosa buds, leaves and seed pods below
So it looks as though the start of spring in Portugal will continue to be heralded by sprays of yellow for many years to come. If you want to see this for yourself, you need to be in Portugal around February to mid-March.
This post forms part of my Personal A to Z of Portugal.
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Acacia Tree Care: Information About Acacia Tree Types
Acacias are graceful trees that grow in warm climates such as Hawaii, Mexico and the southwestern United States. The foliage is typically bright green or bluish-green and the small blooms may be creamy white, pale yellow or bright yellow. Acacia may be evergreen or deciduous.
Acacia Tree Facts
Most acacia tree types are fast growers, but they usually live only 20 to 30 years. Many varieties are valued for their long roots which help stabilize the soil in areas threatened by erosion. The sturdy roots reach deep for underground water, which explains why the tree tolerates extreme drought conditions.
Many types of acacia are protected by long, sharp thorns and an extremely unpleasant flavor that discourages animals from eating the leaves and bark.
Acacia Tree and Ants
Interestingly, stinging ants and acacia trees have a mutually beneficial relationship. Ants create cozy living quarters by hollowing out the thorns, then survive by eating the sweet nectar produced by the tree. In turn, the ants protect the tree
by stinging any animals that attempt to munch on the leaves.
Acacia Tree Growing Conditions
Acacia requires full sunlight and grows in nearly any type of soil, including sand, clay, or soil that is highly alkaline or acidic. Although acacia prefers well-drained soil, it tolerates muddy soil for short periods of time.
Acacia Tree Care
Acacia is basically a plant-it-and-forget-it type of tree, although a young tree may need protection from wildlife while it develops its defense system.
During the first year, the tree benefits from an orchid fertilizer every three to four weeks. After that time, you can feed the tree a general purpose fertilizer once every year, but it isn’t an absolute requirement. Acacia requires little or no water.
Acacia may need occasional pruning during the dry months. Avoid pruning leafy, green areas and trim only dead growth.
Although the tree is disease-resistant, it can sometimes be affected by a fungal disease known as anthracnose. Additionally, watch for pests such as aphids, thrips, mites and scale.
Acacia Tree Types
Acacia trees preferred by most gardeners are varieties that burst out with yellow blooms in the winter or early spring. Popular types include:
- Bailey acacia, a hardy Australian variety that reaches heights of 20 to 30 feet. Bailey acacia displays feathery, bluish-gray foliage and bright yellow wintertime blooms.
- Also known as Texas acacia, Guajillo is an extremely heat-tolerant tree that hales from southern Texas and Mexico. It is a shrubby plant that reaches heights of 5 to 12 feet. This species produces clusters of fragrant white flowers in early spring.
- Knifeleaf acacia is named for its silvery-gray, knife-shaped leaves. Mature height for this tree is 10 to 15 feet. Sweet-smelling yellow flowers appear in early spring.
- Koa is a fast-growing acacia native to Hawaii. This tree, which eventually reaches heights and widths of up to 60 feet, displaying pale yellow blooms in spring.
Drive around the South of France in February / March time and you will keep noticing the gorgeous yellow flowers of the Mimosa trees. Open your window and you will notice their delicious perfume as well. Just when you are sick of winter and can’t wait for the first signs of spring these trees burst into bloom and add instant brightness to the days.
If you are down on the Mediterranean coast there is even a Mimosa route – La Route des Mimosas. This is a 130 km drive and includes eight villages starting at Bormes-les-Mimosas and continuing to Grasse. During the period 15 January to 15 March there are many events celebrating the Mimosa flowers in this region.
The Mimosa tree belongs to the Acacia spp. Acacia dealbata is the most commonly seen but there are over 1000 species worldwide. The Mimosa was introduced to the South of France from Australia in the 19th century by wealth English with homes on the Cote d’Azur. It quickly escaped from the gardens and grew prolifically in the area. It is much loved be the French and appears in many French gardens.
Gorgeous yellow flowers cover the Mimosa trees in February/March time
If you live in a Mediterranean climate Mimosas are easy but elsewhere you will need to grow these in a pot and shelter them in the winter unless you have a very sheltered spot in your garden somewhere.
It needs to be planted in a sunny spot in well-drained and fairly light soil.
The flowering period is within the February to April period and varies from year to year with weather conditions when planted outside. Flowers are yellow and deliciously perfumed.
Acacia dealbata can grow quite tall but is usually seen as a smallish tree of 10m or less.
If your tree suffers badly from frost one year and the leaves all turn black cut back to ground level and it will re-grow. (Though new growth will be more shrubby and less tree-like).
Acacia Dealbata Mimosa
Available Sizes to buy online All Prices Include VAT Height Excluding Pot:
1.75-2m (5ft 8-6ft 6)
Pot size: 7 Litres
Plant ID: 7889 64
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Height Excluding Pot:
2.75-3m (9ft 0-9ft 10)
Trunk height: 1.4-1.5 m
Trunk girth: 8-10 cm
Pot size: 20 Litres
Plant ID: 6917 B 64
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Height Excluding Pot:
4.5-4.75m (14ft 9-15ft 7)
Trunk height: 1.7-1.8 m
Trunk girth: 10-12 cm
Pot size: 25 Litres
Plant ID: 8139 B 64
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Height Excluding Pot:
2.5-3m (8ft 2-9ft 10)
Plant shape: Multi-stemmed
Pot size: 55 Litres
Plant ID: 5186 B 64
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Acacia Dealbata, also known as Mimosa, is an evergreen tree native to Tasmania. If you’ve ever noticed a tall dramatic shrub with feathery foliage and a spray of pom-pom yellow flowers it’s likely to be a Mimosa.
Acacia Dealbata can grow to a height of ten metres but it’s easily pruned if you have a smaller garden. Its leaves are fern-like grey-green individual feathers that are evergreen and look attractive even without its dramatic flowers. In late winter or early spring fluffy yellow balls appear on the branch tips from January to April. They are highly scented and attractive to early-waking pollinators. The RHS has given Acacia Dealbata the Award of Garden Merit AGM for its attractive nature and reliability.
How Hardy Is Acacia Dealbata
Acacia Dealbata is hardy in warmer parts of the UK such as coastal areas. It will not thrive in consistently colder winds or more northern areas of the UK. In very cold winters Mimosa will hold off flowering until late spring.
Container grown Acacia Dealbata can be moved to a frost-free environment for protection in cooler climates whilst younger garden planted specimens benefit from cover during frosts.
How To Use Acacia Dealbata
Acacia Dealbata can grow to ten metres over twenty years, so it does need space. It suits the back of a flower bed against a south-facing wall, or as a specimen tree in the lawn.
You can grow a Mimosa in a container if you re-pot it as it grows in size. Alternatively you can grow an Acacia Dealbata in the conservatory.
How To Care For Acacia Dealbata
Acacia Dealbata will grow outdoors in neutral to acid well-drained soil. A sheltered location with full sun is best for bright blooms and healthiest growth.
As they grow Mimosa becomes hardier, but young specimen will require frost protection.
You can prune a mimosa lightly at the end of the flowering season, but do not leave it years before cutting back heavily as this can prevent flowering and damage the shrub.
Dig well-rotted manure around it roots in the winter and water young specimens in hot spells. Mature Mimosas rarely need watering as they are drought tolerant.
Acacia Dealbata shrubs are garden show-stoppers in bloom. If you want a shrub that will mature into an attractive evergreen tree and provide a glorious burst of bright yellow after a dull winter Mimosa is for you.
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