La Mimosa - Acacia dealbata

La Mimosa - Acacia dealbata

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Mimosas in the garden

Always a symbol of Women's Day, the Mimosa is also one of the first plants to bloom towards the end of winter, and therefore heralds spring, with its sunny yellow color, which also cheers up in the colder and more rainy March.
Acacia dealbata is a shrub that in nature reaches 3-4 meters in height, in Italy it is now present in many areas even in the wild, especially in Sicily, where it escaped cultivation, in Sardinia and Liguria.
The stems are thin and very well branched, and the shrub takes on a dense habit, but very disordered; generally the plants of this species tend to get up quickly, without developing a wide system of horizontal branches, giving rise to elongated and quite ungainly shrubs, often with most of the branches arched at the apex.
The foliage is pinnate, with small oval leaflets, very pretty and delicate, light green; at the end of winter it produces, at the apex of the stems at the leaf axil, small inflorescences at the head, gathered in small panicles. The color and scent of mimosa flowers are very typical and known, given the diffusion of this flower as a cut flower, the golden yellow is very intense, and the aroma is very characteristic.

How to grow it

In most of Italy the climate forces us to grow our mimosa in pots, as it fears the cold enough, especially the very intense and prolonged frosts; in areas with fairly mild winters it certainly finds a place in the garden, in a sunny place, and sheltered from the wind, which could damage the thinnest branches.
For an optimal development it prefers slightly acid soils, it is then buried with universal soil mixed with peat or soil for acidophilic plants; if the soil tends to become basic with time, changing its pH due to the calcareous water of the watering, we will notice that the plant will tend to bloom less and less and the leaves will gradually yellow; in this case, if the plant is in pot, we can repot it with new soil for acidophilic plants, or we can supply a good soothing fertilizer.
The ideal soil is also very well drained, these plants fear water stagnation, which can quickly lead to the presence of harmful rots, which ruin the root system; also remember that the mimosas prefer deep and fresh, clay-free, not very compact soils.
The waterings will be regular, from when the plant presents the first buds, until the autumn, avoiding however to water if we notice that the ground is still wet. We intensify watering in the summer, when the climate is very hot and dry. Especially for plants grown in pots, we avoid that the soil remains completely without water for long periods of time, in fact the mimosas do not tolerate prolonged drought.
These are evergreen plants, which in winter do not have a period of complete vegetative rest, so if we stop watering throughout the bad season, in spring we will easily find ourselves with a dried mimosa; so let's remember to leave our acacia dealbata completely exposed to the elements, which will guarantee sporadic watering even in winter.
If we live in an area with very cold winters, and we are forced to shelter the mimosa in a cold greenhouse or in the shelter of a balcony or a terrace, starting from autumn, remember to water the plant sporadically even in winter, avoiding but to soak the soil or water too often.
As soon as the plant begins to swell the buds remember to add to the soil at the base of slow release granular fertilizer, specific for flowering plants. At the end of the flowering we remove all the withered flowers and we cimulate the outermost branches, or that they have been ruined by the cold or by the bad weather.

A plant with a long history

The mimosas have been cultivated for such a long time in Italy, and throughout the Mediterranean, to be now considered Mediterranean plants by many people; in reality the journey of the mimosa starts from very far away, it is in fact a plant of the family of the Acacias, Acacia dealbata, native to the Isle of Tasman, in australia.
The particular flowers and the bearing of the shrub impressed European botanists so much that in the nineteenth century the acacia dealbata was successfully cultivated in most of Europe, often as a greenhouse plant. Rapid cultivation also spread to areas where cut flowers are produced, like most of the Mediterranean coasts, where the plant became part of the natural landscape.
The common name of the plant derives from the fact that the inflorescences have the same shape of the inflorescences of many species of acacia dealbata, botanical name of some shrubs widespread in Asia and in Europe, with small spherical inflorescences, of pink color.
The acacia genus has many species, most of which are widespread in Australia and Africa, all produce the characteristic yellow spherical inflorescences; in fact, in addition to acacia dealbata in Europe, few other species are also cultivated, with larger foliage or larger flowers, with cultivation characteristics very similar to those of the best-known acacia.

La Mimosa - Acacia dealbata: Winter watering

often we happen to want to cultivate a plant with particular climatic needs, not entirely adaptable to the climate of the area in which we live; acacias, lemons, citrus fruits of various species, Mandevilla, botanical geraniums; even if we live in the darkest and coldest valley in northern Italy, we are hardly discouraged by the "strange" needs of the beautiful plant we saw in the nursery.
often the result is a beautiful plant until October, which is closed in a cold greenhouse, or is covered with makeshift greenhouses, and which in spring we bring to the light of the sun completely dry and without leaves.
Unfortunately, often the origin in places with mild winters also means that some of these plants, such as the mimosa, do not go into complete vegetative rest during the winter, and therefore need watering.
The very harsh climate, however, does not allow us to water the plants at random, when we remember; even in a cold greenhouse the temperatures can drop a lot and a dry soil allows the plants to better shelter from the cold.
When to water?
To prevent the plant from drying up we will still have to water it, even if we have covered it under layers and layers of non-woven or polypropylene.
To decide when it is the right time to water, let us rely on nature: when it rains we water.
We avoid watering with large amounts of water, but we also avoid watering the plants on sunny winter days; in fact if the sun is particularly hot it will cause the rapid evaporation of water from the ground, making our waterings vain; if instead the sun is dull, as often happens in winter, it will lead to strong night frosts, often more intense when the day has been sunny, which will greatly reduce the temperatures even in cold greenhouses, often causing damage to our plants.
When it rains, even in winter, it means that the climate is quite mild, and not below zero, otherwise it would snow.