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



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.>>>>


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).


>>>>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.



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!

Miss Mimosa, my Mimosa pudica ‘Sensitive Plant,’ has been outside all summer. And thriving.

People in other parts of the world curse Mimosas for being an invasive species.

I can see what they mean.

Miss Mimosa is in no danger of taking over the yard, because she’s still in a container, but she’s an enthusiastic grower nonetheless.

And now all those summer blooms are producing seeds like crazy:

Here’s a closer look at the seed pods, the seeds are tucked inside:


With that many seeds, it’s easy to see why this plant has earned the wrath of people around the globe. But as a houseplant, Mimosas are great. They grow fast, they have adorable blossoms, and their leaves move when you touch them. You won’t find a more interactive houseplant.

Anyone want some seeds? I have plenty to share!

Mimosa plants are especially fun in classrooms, because kids love how the leaves open and close. So if you’re a teacher and want some seeds, just holler.

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

Hey, look, good news – someone is showing off! Check out Miss Mimosa (Mimosa pudica, ‘Sensitive plant’):

Not only does she have lots of new leaves, but she’s also busting out bunches of flower buds. She hasn’t bloomed in ages! I missed those furry pink blossoms. I know it’s hard to see against the adobe wall, but take a look at one of them:

Back in May, Miss Mimosa was in my foyer, and not doing well. She was unhappy, losing leaves and definitely not blooming. I considered what to do with her. I’d read that Mimosas only last about a year or so as houseplants. (Outdoors in certain parts of the world, Mimosas are considered invasive weeds. That’s not the case for the houseplants – Miss Mimosa doesn’t have the capability to take over the living room, nor would I let her.)

My friend (and Expert) Tina suggested that I plant her outside. I can’t decide where to plant her, so instead, I moved her outside of my back door, alongside my flower and veggie container garden, still in her original pot. She’d probably be happier in the ground, but it’s hard to tell since she’s thriving in her new locale. She gets watered every day, sometimes twice a day.

So she’s happy, I’m happy. It’s all good!

I’m going to be off manana for the holiday, possibly Thursday as well. I hope you all have a great Fourth of July celebration!

She lives! She lives!

She has 17 blooms today. No leaves (except tiny new ones), but 17 blooms. That’s a world record for her – her previous best was 13.

I can see why Mimosa plants are invasive in the wild. A few days ago I thought I’d given the plant a lethal dose of insecticide, and now it’s a mess of pretty pink puffs.

So cute!

She sure knows how to charm her way into taking over my house.

What a difference a week makes.

Remember how just last Tuesday I was talking about the Mimosa pudica that sits on my kitchen windowsill? About how happy she was? About how many blooms she was producing?

In a stunning reversal of fortune, she’s now knocking on death’s door. Here, look for yourself:

Poor baby, she’s so unhappy!

And it’s my fault – I killed her. Not on purpose or anything, but still. I feel terrible!

Last Wednesday, I spotted a mealy bug on her. Not surprising – I found mealy bugs on a Columnea cutting, which also sits on the windowsill, and they spread to all the plants on the windowsill. I hoped the Mimosa would be more resistant than the other plants, but she wasn’t. I dabbed that mealy bug with a rubbing alcohol soaked q-tip and fried it. (Miss Mimosa sits in the foyer now, and has avoided the mealy bugs thus far.)

On Thursday, I took several houseplants outside for another round of rubbing alcohol treatments. The Colunmea, the two Sempervivums, Sam the Aloe, and the Mimosa.

The Mimosa was last. When I got her outside, I could see that there were mealy bugs everywhere. Every leaf joint had one. I dabbed and dabbed with q-tips for awhile, and I’m not proud of this, but I lost it.

I ran up the steps, grabbed the Neem Oil sprayer from the back hall, then went back outside and doused the plant.

By Saturday, all the leaves had turned curly and crunchy.

The Neem oil apparently was too strong for the Sensitive plant. I should’ve done a better job spraying it only on the bugs, not the whole plant. I had no patience, so I sprayed all over. I didn’t realize it would be a death sentence for the plant. Mealy bugs suck!

The plant managed to open one raggedy looking blossom yesterday:

Aw. There are still dozens of flower buds on the plant. I’ll give the plant a few days to see if any of them open. After that, I’m going to have to notify her next of kin.

I’m sorry little gal!

I’ll be back manana, hopefully with no more houseplant deaths on my hands. If you leave your condolences in the comments section, I’ll forward them to her family. Thanks, everyone!

UPDATE, Monday evening: 

She’s very much alive and blooming, but looks pretty ridiculous:

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!


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

Recently I was contacted by a gentleman named Larry about my Mimosa pudica plant, (I call her Miss Mimosa). Mimosas are nicknamed Sensitive plants because their leaves close when you touch them, and they close at night, too. Larry saw one of my posts about Miss Mimosa and thought I’d be interested in a product, a Mimosa growing kit, that he and his brother created. They call their Mimosas “TickleMe Plants.”

Larry at wrote, “As a science teacher for over 30 years my brother has been sharing his love of the plant each year in the classroom. I have been growing the plant since I was a child and later joined forces with my brother and created the TickleMe Plant brand with the goal of exciting children and those young at heart about nature, gardening, plants and science.”

Excellent work, Larry. If it were up to me, there would be a Mimosa in every classroom across the country.

Larry was kind enough to send me a sample, so let me walk you through how easy it is to grow these cute little plants. The kit came with seeds, instructions, a tiny pot and a mini greenhouse.

The first step was to soak the seeds in hot or boiling water for at least 24 hours. I ended up leaving these soaking for several days:

I filled the pot with soil, watered it, then placed the seeds in the wet soil. Then I put the pot in its new home, the greenhouse.

Next I put the greenhouse on my kitchen windowsill so I could watch the action. There were sprouts within a day.

They started growing like crazy:

In only a few weeks, it was time to repot them into roomier digs. I planned to use these little plants as gifts, so I sealed and painted some more clay pots so they’d look nicer.

Of course, as soon as I moved the pot of Mimosas, they collapsed from all the drama:

Cracks me up every time they move.

The little baby plants had grown some sturdy roots in a short amount of time. Good job babies!

I separated the roots gently:

And put a few plants into each pot (three total). You can see they are still collapsed immediately after planting:

But they were fine 20 minutes later:

So thanks, Larry. I think TickleMe Plants are a great name, great idea. I wish you continued success. Readers, if you have questions for Larry or would like to order classroom kits for your school, you can reach him at or by calling 845-350-4800.

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

Hi pies, happy Monday. I’m not sure why I said I would be back today, seeing that it’s Labor Day and all. I don’t have a special holiday blog post lined up for you or anything like that. I do have lots of houseplant maintenance planned for this morning that will translate into posts in the future, though.

For now, just some photos of Miss Mimosa (Mimosa pudica). She hasn’t stopped blooming in months…usually one bloom a day, sometimes two or three at a time. Each bloom lasts one day. Adorable, right?

I don’t want you feeling sorry for me or anything – I’m not working the whole day. Just a little work before pool and grill time this afternoon.

I hope you’re making the most of your last day of the long weekend. If you have a moment, leave a comment and let me know what you’re doing today. I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.

What’s blooming in and around my house?

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for suggesting we post photos of pretty flowers on the 15thish of each month.

I’ll be back manana with an all-new Plant Lady Chronicles, hope to see you back 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 Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

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

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

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.