House Plants/mimosa pudica with no leaves
QUESTION: Hi Will,
I have a question about my sensitive plant, I started growing one last year in sumer time (now I live in Calgary, Albeta, Canada) and just before the winter hit it dropped all of it's leaves and branches just when it started to grow flowers. I kept watering it now and then, but now I look at 2 little sticks in my pot and feel that I have failed. I would love to know what I should do, I have attached some pictures of the plant (what is left of it) to see if you can give me some advice. I could alway try again but love to save this little guy.
ANSWER: Hi Marloes,
Your Mimosa pudica is in a pot that is at least double the size that it should be. Overly large pots have a large quantity of soil relative to the small root system. That means the soil retains moisture far too long and the roots very gradually start to rot. That is what has happened to yours.
I see that it still has some life in it so it probably can be salvaged. Very carefully remove all of tha soil from the pot and let all the loose soil not in contact with the roots fall away. Do not try to remove all of the soil as you will damage the tiny root hairs that do most of the work. You should end up with a small root system and a small quantity of surrounding soil. Carefully place this into the smallest pot that it will fit into snugly. Fill in the spaces with a porous potting mix that will dry out quickly after watering.
Move the newly potted plant to a warm, sunny location and water only when the top quarter of the soil feels dry.
Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.
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---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks you so much, I have repotted the plant and just misted the soil instead of watering it.
When I took the plant out, because the soil was really dry, the soil just fell away. I added some photo's to show you how it looks. Should I water the plant, when the soil is dry, on the out side rim of the plant or where the roots are?
Thanks for the photos. That allows me to be more specific.
As you have discovered, the root system is very small. Plants do best when they are kept quite potbound. That means the new pot is still too large. It appears that the proper sized pot should be 2 or 3 inches in diameter. As I mentioned previously, it should be just barely large enough for the roots to fit into snugly.
A small pot with a minimum amount of soil will allow you to water thoroughly knowing that the soil will dry out again within about a week's time. Misting is not an effective way to water as it only dampens the surface while depriving the lower roots of any moisture.
So, it all starts with the proper sized pot and that is one that fits the root system snugly. That is true for any plant of any size.