Mimosa trees — friend or foe?

BY DOLLY SICKLES, The Optimistic Gardener
Posted 6/26/20

Most gardeners will tell you they’ve got a love/hate relationship with mimosas. On the one hand, these deciduous trees are quite lovely, with their flamingo-pink flowers and airy, multi-stemmed, …

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Mimosa trees — friend or foe?

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Most gardeners will tell you they’ve got a love/hate relationship with mimosas. On the one hand, these deciduous trees are quite lovely, with their flamingo-pink flowers and airy, multi-stemmed, vase-like branches. On the other, they’re volunteers. Unwanted acquaintances. Giant, overgrown, bullies staking their claim in your landscape whether you want them or not.

If you research them through the Chatham County Extension Gardening site, mimosa trees are labelled as “Known Invasive Plants.” If you combine them with a handful of other plants listed on the site — Japanese Barberry, Russian Olive, Princess Tree, and the Oregon Grape — you can see they’re practically an organized mob of “known associates” in the garden. A veritable checklist of plants to clear out.

Mimosa trees (Albizia julibrissin) are hearty. They like full sun and a range of soil types. They’re also drought and wind tolerant, which means if you’ve got a bunch of wide-open space, they’ll fill it in quickly and efficiently. But then you’ve got a mimosa tree. Or, gasp, a mimosa forest. Let me assure you: this is not the Tinder date you’re looking for. So let’s look at the pros and cons.

PROS: Even invasive plants can be helpful. Mimosa trees provide great shade, they grow quickly, they’ve got pretty cotton candy-like blooms, and they’re nostalgic. They attract hummingbirds, are a food source for wildlife, and reseed themselves.

CONS: They’re invasive. They die quickly and pop up in unwanted beds. They wilt and they harbor mimosa webworms. They form dense thickets that prevent other plants from growing.

Danny and Robin Bergeron inherited half a dozen mimosa trees when they moved to Pittsboro a year ago. Danny said, “Even though the mimosa produces pretty pink flowers, it’s the seedpods that become the issue. They’re filled with seeds that can germinate anywhere.” And even though the Bergeron’s have substantially thinned out the herd, they kept two mammoth mimosas because they actually are pretty. It’s a good thing they’re hyper-vigilant about taking out any volunteers brave enough to try and take root.

One truth I’ve learned from two and a half decades of gardening is that Mother Nature always wins, regardless of how diligent you are in the garden. I think I’ll reserve my mimosas for Sunday brunch. Cheers, y’all.

 

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