Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Mimosa strigillosa

What better way to start off the new year than a conversation on native plants. Why natives? Plants indigenous to your region are more resilient to local conditions and provide a wide range of forage and habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects who are the heroes of our ecosystem.

Since 90% of insects require a native plant to complete their life cycle (host plant), it is critical now more than ever that gardeners include natives in their landscape design if for no other reason than to improve the function of the local ecosystem. Gail over at Clay and Limestone is a pioneer of planting for pollinators and encouraging others through her once a month meme, Wildflower Wednesday.  One of my goals this year is to participate each month, profiling plants that perform well in my Ecoregion (see sidebar to find your Ecoregion details).

While the garden is resting, it's a good time to look back at last year and evaluate which plants performed well, which did not and decide what areas of the garden need revitalizing.

A ground cover added to our landscape two years ago (and more last year) is Mimosa strigillosa, commonly known as powderpuff, sunshine mimosa, or sensitive plant. It has performed exceptionally well in well drained areas our garden.

Southern Meadows

This mat forming perennial grows well in sunny spots and can withstand foot traffic and mowing, growing about 3 to 4 inches tall. It spreads by fast growing criss-crossing rhizomes, which we had to trim periodically when it got a little carried away growing over our stone steps. We added this mimosa in several hillside areas, for texture and color, while aiding in erosion control.

Southern Meadows

Mimosa strigillosa is in the legume family and like other members in this family, the roots have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria found in soils. The plant's roots produce small nodules that aide in adding the nitrogen back into the soil. It grows very well in poor soil and is drought tolerant.

Southern Meadows

This native trailing plant puts out new blooms each day to the delight of the pollinators. Bees are especially attracted to the showy flowers but butterflies and flies also visited the blooms frequently. Mimosa strigillosa does double duty as a host plant for the little sulphur butterfly.

Southern Meadows

So if you are in need of a ground cover for a sunny situation, which will improve your soil and assist in erosion control all while supporting pollinators, this plant is for you. For more details and native range see USDA Plant Fact Sheet.

Click here to see more Wildflower Wednesday celebrations across the globe.

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I hope you will consider supporting your local ecosystem by
  • growing more native plants to support pollinators,
  • using more organic gardening practices that make use of beneficial insects,
  • get to know your soil and all the ground dwelling microorganisms that create magic in your garden,
  • appreciate the role of wildlife in your ecosystem. It's not just the cute and beautiful critters that work hard to keep a healthy and diverse environment, and
  • stop planting invasive species and/or remove invasive plants from your garden.