Mimosa is the flower that symbolizes Women’s Day, and everyone knows that.
But perhaps you don’t know that mimosa can be easily grown in the garden, or even on a pot on the terrace.
Mimosa is a plant native to the Australian continent, arrived in Europe in the early 1800s and adapted very well to our Mediterranean climate, soon becoming part of the natural landscape of our peninsula and announcing the spring with its bright yellow color.
The mimosa belongs to the botanical family of Fabaceae, which includes more than 700 species. There are mainly two species cultivated in our country:
- Acacia Dealbata, known as common mimosa.
- the Mimosa Retinoides, also called mimosa of the four seasons.
The mimosa is an evergreen tree, with fast growth, which can reach even 15 m in height.
The branches, of green colour, have a finely velvety surface and are formed by several small leaves, placed perpendicularly to the main nervation. These have the characteristic of being open and full during the day, and then close and fold during the night hours.
It blooms from the end of January and lasts until the end of March. The mimosa flowers are certainly the most characteristic part of this plant and are composed of a set of globular heads, a deep yellow color, from which depart many stamens.
Mimosa and Women’s Day
Why are they giving out mimosas for Women’s Day?
If March 8th is the world day in which women are celebrated, the custom of giving mimosas as a symbol is an all-Italian tradition.
Three women from the UDI (Union of Italian Women), namely Rita Montagnana, wife of Palmiro Togliatti, Teresa Noce and Teresa Mattei, proposed in 1946, immediately after the end of the war, to adopt mimosa as a flower to be given to women, on the occasion of their feast. In fact, initially the choice had fallen on the violet, flower symbol of the European left.
But the violets were difficult to find and, above all, very expensive. While the mimosa flourished at that time and was easily available and cheap. Furthermore, mimosa was the flower that the partisans spontaneously collected in the fields and gave to the relays that, with courage, helped them in their fight against the enemy.
To this was added the fact that a sprig of mimosa is composed of many nearby dots, perfect to symbolize the individuality that gives body and substance to the community.
And, again, mimosa is a rustic flower, which grows even on difficult terrain, just like the woman, who with her tenacity and firmness is able to overcome difficulties.
The mimosa is a vigorous shrub and its cultivation is not difficult.
However, there are a few precautions to keep in mind in order to obtain a lush flowering and always have a strong and healthy tree.
- Mimosa prefers a mild climate and does not tolerate prolonged frost. Temperatures below 10° compromise their survival. For this reason it is best to place it in a sunny place and, in cold areas is recommended to grow in pots, so that you can move it indoors or cover it accurately.
- It wants an acidic, light and sandy soil and does not tolerate clay soils or soils with a high concentration of calcium.
- In the warmer months, it should be watered every 2 weeks, while in the winter months, the amount of water should be reduced to once a month. Water stagnation, which is lethal for this plant, should be avoided.
Mimosa in the Ground
The planting of the mimosa plant is done from autumn to spring, however when there is no risk of frost, which could irreparably compromise the growth of the young tree.
- Dig a hole wide and deep at least twice as deep as the brick of earth.
- Arrange on the bottom a thick draining layer of gravel or expanded clay.
- If the soil is too calcareous, mix it with river sand and a little peat.
- Soak the roots of the mimosa in water for a few minutes, so that the earth clod is well hydrated.
- Now, place the plant in the hole together with a strong guardian, about 30 cm away from the foot, but at the same depth. This is because the mimosa has a very superficial root system and the young tree could be uprooted by the wind or the trunk could break.
- It fills the hole with soil and ties the plant to its guardian.
- Water in moderation.
Mimosa in a Pot
If you live in an area where temperatures drop a lot in winter, you can choose to grow mimosa in pots, choosing a variety with a more limited development.
Choose a large container at least 50 cm deep.
Place a thick layer of expanded clay on the bottom and create a mix of soil with peat and normal garden soil, to which you can add a handful of coarse sand.
Always keep the soil slightly moist and never excessively wet, especially from spring to summer. Mimosa grown in pots, in fact, needs more water, but you must, however, always avoid water stagnation, very dangerous for the plant.
The transplantation in a bigger pot can be done every two years, increasing of little the diameter of the new pot.
In the first year of life of the mimosa tree, it is necessary to carry out a formation pruning, in order to give the plant the desired shape. You can decide to give the tree a bush shape, and then you will leave more space to the central branches, or a pyramid, leaving the branches below much longer.
Then, annually, and precisely in spring, at the end of the flowering, a maintenance pruning is to be done, in order to keep the plant harmonious. The longest branches are shortened, the jets coming from the foot, which weaken the foliage, are eliminated, and the dry branches, damaged by the winter or malformed, are removed.
Shears can be used because they allow a clean cut without crushing. In fact, poorly cut or frayed branches can become an ideal refuge for many pests, which could infect the plant and prevent its flowering, which is why using the right gardening tools is very important.
Mimosa: Last Curiosity
According to a legend that comes directly from the island of Tasmania, the mimosa flower was born from the transformation of the young queen Azar, who was repudiated by her husband and had to leave the palace and her children. In order to remove her from the kingdom, she was then married to a prince from faraway lands.
Then she asked for a veil as a wedding gift that would allow her to cover her face and body, so as not to be recognized when she passed through her old lands. But during the journey, when she passed in front of the palace that had been hers, her children ran to meet her and asked her to return to them, but were immediately called back by their father. Then the sweet Asan fell to the ground destroyed by pain, completely covered by the veil.
And when they lifted the veil, to force the woman to continue her journey, they found a shrub of mimosa, clinging tenaciously to the ground, where the strong Asan had decided to stay forever.