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Yesterday, I presented you with this email for your consideration:

READER QUESTION:

>>>>Hello!

I Have a sensitive plant with yellow leaves! I found your blog online and saw that you had a similar situation. She was green and fine yesterday and now a bunch of her leaves are yellow! Do you think it’s from overwatering? How often am I supposed to water one of these plants? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Should I leave the yellow leaves? Will they turn green again?<

I responded with a request for more information, including a photo.

>>>>This is what it looks like now, it was totally green yesterday. How often should i water it? Thank you for any help you have to offer!
>>>>

The leaves are falling off! Is it too late? I’ve had this plant for about 6 days, I can’t believe I’m killing it already.>>>>

IMAG1034

Let’s see how you answered:

Joseph Brenner wrote, “I’m going to hazard a guess, and say overwatering is her problem. If that is the case, it may be too late, at the leaf drop stage. However, I would try allowing the soil to dry before giving up hope.”

Ginny Burton of Burton Optician in DC wrote, “I’m baffled. It happened overnight and she’s had it only for six days, so maybe it was already sick? Or it got sprayed with some chemical? In the background shot I see something that looks like maybe some hand sanitizer, so maybe that’s it.

It’s hard to believe that she could be overwatering it in just six days, especially since it doesn’t look overpotted. I’ve overwatered many a plant and I’ve never had it turn yellow overnight.

Can’t wait to hear your diagnosis!”

It was a tricky one. In some ways, they’re all tricky questions because it’s hard to diagnose a problem when you haven’t seen the conditions that led to the problem. That’s why I always ask for more information and photos – I need to know if the plant is indoors or outdoors, what size pot, whether it experienced a temperature change or shock of some kind, how often the person waters the plant – the list goes on and on to get closer at the cause.

In this case, I didn’t get much information except the photo and the fact that she’s only had the plant for six days.

This was my actual response (afterward, I’ll show you how I should’ve answered).

ME:

>>>>You’re probably not killing it. There’s a delay between when a plant has a problem and when the plant shows the problem.

Whatever problem there is probably happened before you brought the plant home. Maybe it was stressed at the nursery. Maybe someone overwatered it. It’s hard to tell.

Usually, when the leaves look like yours, it’s from overwatering. If the plant had been thirsty, the yellow would look more solid yellow, not mixed with green like yours are. I would snip all those off because they won’t go back to green.

If you remove the damaged leaves, you’ll be able to see new problems when they come up.

Mimosas drink a lot of water, and they like heat. So if you have a sunny window, it will grow better.

Let me know if that helps. And good luck!>>>>

I never did hear back from her so I don’t know what ended up happening with it.

In hindsight, I should’ve taken a little more time to talk to her about the Mimosa’s water needs. She had asked, but who knows, maybe I was feeling rushed back then. Or it could be that I zeroed in on the “I’m killing it” refrain and got a little bugged by it. (I hear that all the time in the plant biz – a plant will get one yellow leaf and suddenly it’s in the throes of a wretched death with people freaking out all over the place. It’s annoying.)

I should’ve also taken into account that with Mimosas, she could actually kill the plant practically overnight. They grow so fast, it’s conceivable that her plant could be overwatered one day and have yellow leaves the next. So maybe she did drown it. Overwatering can kill some plants very, very quickly. Once the roots, particularly if they are small roots, are deprived of air, plants can go downhill fast.

At the time, though, I’m pretty sure I was focused on what may have happened to the poor plant before she got it, since she’d only had it a short time. Maybe it was stressed from the drive, or from its time at the nursery.

It’s next to impossible to say with any certainty. But I do stand by my diagnosis of overwatering – that’s a classic look that plants get when they have too much water.  Who did the overwatering is anyone’s guess.

Hmmm, looking over all this, it’s not terribly satisfying, is it? C’est la vie. I tried to help with the info provided and with whatever knowledge I had at that moment.

Joseph, I agree with your overwatered assessment. Ginny, yeah, I think something probably happened before she got the plant. Thanks to both of you for playing along!

I’ll be back tomorrow with an all-new Ask the Experts post, and a new puzzler. If you haven’t guessed the current puzzler, you still have time to do so. Just leave your best guess in the comments section. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) tomorrow. Hope to see you back here.

Since 2001, I’ve owned a small plant care business in Albuquerque called Good To Grow. Since 2009, I’ve maintained this indoor and outdoor gardening blog.

Each Wednesday, I’ve been posting emails from readers who had questions about their houseplants. Most of the letters came from people who are not regular readers, but who stumbled across this blog because they had a specific houseplant question. When I could, I wrote them back with advice tailored to their specific question. I saved all these emails in a file.

Since my regular readers are so sophisticated with their houseplant knowledge, and because everyone has their own take on caring for plants, I wanted to turn the emails over to them and see what their advice would’ve been had the email come to them. On Wednesdays, I’ll post the original question, and on Thursdays, I’ll reveal the advice from the regulars, as well as my response, so we can see how we match up. It’s been an interesting experiment so far, I hope you enjoy. If you have advice, please leave it in the comment section or on my facebook wall.

Mimosa pudica plants, or Sensitive Plants, have been a favorite of mine for a long time. I love how their leaves fold when you touch them, and how the whole plant “sleeps” at night. I can’t help it – they make me giggle!

I wouldn’t recommend planting Mimosas outdoors, because they’ll take over everything. But maintaining a cute little plant in a pot is totally cool.

Since I like Mimosas in containers so much, I’ve blogged about them a bunch of times. Which means that sometimes people searching for Mimosa information find me and email me their questions.

Here’s an exchange from last year. Names have been withheld for their privacy.

READER QUESTION:

>>>>Hello!

I Have a sensitive plant with yellow leaves! I found your blog online and saw that you had a similar situation. She was green and fine yesterday and now a bunch of her leaves are yellow! Do you think it’s from overwatering? How often am I supposed to water one of these plants? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Should I leave the yellow leaves? Will they turn green again?<

I asked for a photo, and she responded:>>>>This is what it looks like now, it was totally green yesterday. How often should i water it? Thank you for any help you have to offer!
>>>>

The leaves are falling off! Is it too late? I’ve had this plant for about 6 days, I can’t believe I’m killing it already.>>>>

IMAG1034Hmmmm…tricky, eh?

I’ll give you a hint: I don’t think you need to have direct experience with a Mimosa pudica to be able to correctly assess the damage to this plant, or to suggest a remedy.

What do you think? What would your advice be?

Leave your suggestions in the comments section, and tomorrow I’ll post your thoughts. Then I’ll reveal my actual response to her and we’ll see how we match up. See ya then!

I am such a sucker. Another Mimosa pudica (Sensitive Plant) has been plotting against me.

Look at her! She looks ridiculous.

This durn Mimosa plant did the same thing Miss Mimosa did – once she started sprouting flower buds, she distracted me from pruning her.

See how she’s nice and full down by the pot? That’s because I’ve cut her back several times. One day, she started throwing out leaves accompanied by buds, and after that, I couldn’t bear the thought of cutting them off.

She knows my weakness, that’s how she’s going to take over my entire house.

How am I supposed to resist those cute little blooms? No really, how? Please help me before she grows long enough to strangle me in my sleep!

Update:

This morning she has 13 blooms – the most in her tiny career. 13!!!

Hey there turtles. Happy Tuesday!

Miss Mimosa, the Mimosa pudica that sits on my kitchen windowsill, is showing off again:

Messy little pink blossoms, each lasts one day.

I’ve been doing some research into Mimosa plants, how to care for them, what they need, and so forth. There is very little information out there. What info is out there is suspect. For example, just about every site I visited said they’re summer bloomers. Which, clearly, they’re not. Yet anyway.

Some of the info out there is just plain weird.

Several sites that said that Mimosas don’t age well, and should be thrown away after a year and replaced with seedlings.

Whaaaaaat?

Only a year? I’ve had her since September, and she was a couple of months old already…so if they’re right, Miss Mimosa is at death’s door! The twilight of her life!

So what do you think? Should I tell her?

Hi buttercups, and happy Monday!

Over the winter, I bought some Mimosa pudica ‘Sensitive Plant’ seeds. Then the search began to find a greenhouse in which to grow them.

Who would’ve thought I’d find exactly what I was looking for at the grocery store? Check out these awesome egg cartons:

You may see ordinary plastic egg cartons. I see a way to leverage over-packaging to my advantage, by turning one of the cartons into a mini greenhouse.

I’m not sure what possessed me to buy Mimosa seeds, given how temperamental Miss Mimosa, who sits on my kitchen windowsill, is. But I did anyway. I guess I’m just a sucker for plants that move – so adorable!

For those of you not familiar, Mimosa plants are called Sensitive plants because they move when touched, and they also close and “wilt” at night. Since houseplants can’t talk, or bark, it’s easy for some people to forget they’re alive. When Mimosa plants move, they make it abundantly clear that they are living, breathing creatures – I love it!

Starting them was easy. A little potting mixture went into the “greenhouse.”

The seeds, not surprisingly for the delicate plants, were tiny!

I’m not very diligent about placing seeds – I figure they’re going to move all around once I water, so why bother trying to plant them methodically and in equal distance to each other? I prefer to just throw them in there and let them fend for themselves:

Once planted and watered, I found a home for them in a sunny southern exposure window:

The egg carton leaked a bit, so I put a tray underneath to catch the excess water. Then I watched as the seeds took off, starting just a few days after planting:

Less than a month after planting, the sprouts are healthy and moving around. Every time I open the carton to check on them, they all collapse. Which makes me laugh every time.

I captured their silliness on video, but I’m having a little trouble figuring out how to post the video. WordPress will let me post video, but it’s easiest if I use an outside source, in this case, flickr.

So if you’d like to see them collapse when I open the carton, please click here and you’ll be directed to the flickr page. It’s pretty funny. I held back on laughing on the video so I wouldn’t be even more of a dork than I already am (believe me, I’m laughing on the inside – they’re like fainting goats!).

I’ll keep trying to see if there’s a better way to embed the video right here in this post, but in the meantime, I thought you’d enjoy meeting the babies. Even if they are nearly frightened to death to meet you, haha! Enjoy!

I’ll be back manana with a special St. Patrick’s Day post. Hope to see you here.

Look! An interloper in Miss Mimosa’s pot!

A pretty intruder, who began blooming a few weeks ago.

When the seedling first sprouted, I thought, oh, it’s a weed, but since it’s pretty, I’ll watch it grow. Then I wondered if it wasn’t a weed – the Mimosa (Mimosa pudica) started out in the greenhouse, maybe this was a volunteer from another plant that Kathi was growing.

It began to grow fast.

When it got to be about half as big as Miss Mimosa, I decided it had to go.

About that same time, I got an email from Kathi confirming that it was a weed. She said to make sure I get all the roots so it couldn’t return.

I thought Miss Mimosa’s root growth was pretty impressive for a youngster. She didn’t get a bigger pot this time, but she did get new soil and now stands upright.

Here she is on a recent morning:

Aaaahhhhh, much better.

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in the beautiful Land of Enchantment, Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have a plant care business here in town called Good To Grow. I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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