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Brighten Your Back Yard In Summer With a Colorful Mimosa Tree

by Stark Bro's on 07/31/2012
Mimosa (Silk Tree) Blooms

Spring is the season when trees come to life in vibrant colors. In fall, the foliage takes on a rich, fiery palette. Winter brings crisp, austere hues. But what about summer? Things might be green and productive, but colors can be in short supply. If you want to brighten your outdoor space this time of year, try a colorful Mimosa tree.

A Mimosa, also called a silk tree (Albizia julibrissin), has a unique, almost tropical look. This appearance is fitting, since it thrives in warm, southern climates — it’s even heat-tolerant up to zone 10! These attractive flowering trees, like our E H Wilson Mimosa, are fast-growing and drought-tolerant. Even this year, during an intense drought in most of the country, people who have an E H Wilson Mimosa growing in their yard have been delighted by inflorescence (showy pink flower clusters) dotted along the bipinnate (fern-like) leaves of this tree.

The tree’s broad canopy, dappled with silky flowers, is a haven for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, which are attracted to its sweet fragrance. Plus, as an additional point of interest, the leaves fold closed in the evenings and when it rains — quite a sight to see!

For additional information about growing your own E H Wilson Mimosa tree, check out our Growing Guide.

Mimosa Canopy Mimosa or Silk Tree Growing Next to a House Mimosa Flowers & Leaves Mimosa Summer Blooms

Note: In some areas, particularly in the south, the Mimosa tree (or silk tree) responds well to the climate and can be more reproductive than in northern areas. The tendency for new trees to sprout up in unintended, and sometimes disruptive, locations has landed these trees on an “invasive” list in certain areas. Please check with your local county extension service or other tree professionals for advice before planting. As always, avoid planting near septic systems, sidewalks, and other structures.

Topics → Planting & Growing

37 Comments

  1. Hi, I am in NW Wyoming. Zone 4, I think. We have deer year round in our yard. I really want a butterfly bush, and that Mimosa tree looks awsome, but Im pretty sure the deer will eat it. :( They eat the Lilac like it’s candy, and they aren’t supposed to like it. NO deer repellant works either.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your deer issue, Cathy! Have you tried using a repellent like Bonide® Shotgun® Repels-All® around your lilacs and other landscape plants? These granules actually irritate the nasal passages of deer and other critters and it triggers the “fight or flight” instinct to keep them away. :)

      • I use soap tied on with twine the deer don’t like the twine or the soap just any old smelly soap I have been using Ivory. Just drill a hole thru it and tie with a piece of baler twine or any string.

        • I have heard this method works for many people, Betty! I am grateful to hear from someone who has personally tried this with success — thank you!

          • Michael O. Christensen permalink

            MO used to provide gallon jugs of lion urine from the zoos to orchardists. Hung in tree with wick out top hole to carry the scent.

    • Mary Sergent permalink

      I live in Zone 5B (just south of Lake Ontario), and there is a Mimosa – quite mature – that I pass in a local town. I keep looking at it and wondering if I could get some of the seeds to plant and give it a try. Why not one more in this part of the country?

      • It would be worth looking into, Mary! You could try asking locally to see if anyone has any advice on your seed-planting endeavor. :)

  2. Ben Grossman permalink

    As an ISA certified arborist, I would highly recommend NOT planting the mimosa in Missouri. This plant is invasive, we have found it growing in many of our natural communities. It also has fairly weak wood, shedding numerous limbs when mature and will eventually fall apart. Very suseptible to cold winter in northern Missouri and a variety of insects and disease.

    • Thank you for your experienced input on the invasiveness of this tree, Ben! :)

      • Rena permalink

        I beg to differ. I have grown up in central Missouri with Mimosa trees and they do very well and are so beautiful! There are times when they loses limbs, but that is typical. I have never seen one fall apart. It must have been very old! Just my 2 cents!

        • Rena, thank you for sharing your personal experience with this tree — useful as a reminder that not every planting site should be considered the same. :)

        • manuela de lima permalink

          Hi! I live in Concord, CA and I am in area 8. I have a Mimosa that I grew from seed. It is beautiful and it grows fast. Yes, it is invasive but just keep on pruning it when needed. Just follow the safe advise and enjoy their beauty!I do!

          • Thank you for sharing your experience with the Mimosa tree, Manuela. In some areas, particularly warmer climates, this tree tends to reproduce whether the grower wants it to or not. ;) Being aware of this will allow a grower to enjoy the beauty and benefits to birds and bees without too many little surprises!

  3. Jeanmarie Zirger permalink

    In my experiece the “invasive” qualities of Mimosa are a fair trade off for their other redeming qualities. They aren’t sending up shoots from the roots like the locost, They are shedding viable seed. One can easily spot the seedlings as they emerge and pluck them up for disposal or transplanting. The Mimosa is a nitrogen fixer and its open canopy allows understory growth of shade tollerant species. The redeming qualities have been mentioned in the original post…bee and humingbird support in addition to the AWESOME heady fragrance of the blooms. This is an incredible specimin tree for most landscape architecture designs and it invites people as well as the birds’n bees to sit in its shade.

    • Excellent points, Jeanmarie. A tree that is not native to a certain area may grow rapidly and choke out the native plants, which affects the natural environment. This is an invasive characteristic. But it is in a tree’s nature to reproduce itself. If it’s simply too much work to keep an area clean of seedlings, then that’s not necessarily invasive. :)

  4. Vanessa permalink

    I hate to say this but these trees are painfully invasive!
    There are no mimosas in or near my yard, the nearest tree is a quarter mile away at the bottom of a hill and I pull dozens of seedlings all summer long.
    The leaves fold-up making them difficult to find when weeding too. I was shocked to see this plant offered in the promo email I received today. There are better fast growing ornamental trees that do not invade, like the chaste berry. Your not so nearby neighbors will not appreciate a summer of difficult weeding created by this productive and invasive tree!

    • This tree does what nature intended it to: reproduce! Thank you for sharing your concerns with growing this tree in your area. Where are you located, so that other people can get an idea of how this tree grows there? :)

      • Alice permalink

        As I drive along highways in southwest Missouri I see Mimosa trees taking over areas where beneficial and beautiful native trees once grew. The native trees fed the wildlife and contributed to the food chain for wildlife and humans. These mimosa trees provide nothing but eye candy. Sure they may be beautiful to look at, but so is the junk food in the candy shop. I recommend reading the book Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy. I cannot believe that a reputable company such as yours would sell such a plant.

        • It’s true that some trees are invasive in some areas, and it’s always best to know about the trees you plant *before* planting them. I’m glad you recommended a book that will hopefully address this issue! Thank you, Alice. :)

  5. Vanessa permalink

    My garden is located in Zone 7b, Raleigh NC, where this plant is deemed invasive.

    Please see the map from invasive.org to check your area; the majority of the Eastern & Southern United States is fertile ground for this invasive species http://www.invasive.org/eastern/species/3004.html

    I would advise folks to read the following entry spotlighting the mimosa from Dave’s Garden as part of 2011 National Invasive Species Awareness Week:
    http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/254/#b

    The issue is not merely about a plant reproducing; it is about rampant invasive reproduction of tree outside of the property owner’s yard in many locations as well.

    • Thank you very much for sharing that information, Vanessa! That link has made it into my bookmarks, for sure.

  6. Johnnie Tschosik permalink

    I live in zone 8 B, they are extremely invasive here, are lovely in early spring when they bloom here.

  7. emcgrail permalink

    I agree that the mimosa you are advertising is invasive here in zone 6a in my neighborhood. There are 9 mature mimosa trees in a 3 house area that have developed from seeds (in a matter 3 years) of a tree quite a distance away. The seed pods continue to drop of the tree through out the winter and the seeds have the capability of remaining dormant in the soil for 2-3 seasons before sprouting. I have 4 mature trees on other peoples properties surrounding my property and I spend a great deal of time pulling up hundreds of seedlings. The root systems are also a problem in that they grow shallow and deep which use up all the water and nutrients in the soil. If you cut the roots they only put out branching roots from the cut ones. These trees have killed off my 40 year old rhododendron and other shrubs.These trees are a worse invasive in our area than the Norway maple and are crowding out native shrubs and trees. It should not be sold in eastern US.

    • I appreciate and applaud your in-depth understanding of an invasive tree! Did you happen to see the link Vanessa shared earlier?

      Invasive Plants of the Eastern US:
      http://www.invasive.org/eastern/species/3004.html

      As it was mentioned earlier, it is best to understand your particular growing area so that planting invasive species can be avoided. Knowledge and experience like yours is a useful tool for a grower to have. :)

  8. Todd York permalink

    I have one Mimosa tree in my backyard and I love it -especially the hummingbirds that come by. The seedling that I have to pull up is not something that bothers me, but I admit I never thought it trouble for my neighbors; I live out in the country and am 200′ from the nearest one so hopefully that’s ok. I think I actually want another one. lol

    • It is thoughtful of you to consider your neighbors, Todd — even after the fact! If they are bothered by any seedlings sprouting up they might have come to you first. In any case, if you want another tree and are concerned about what might end up in your neighbor’s yard, you might consider chatting with your neighbor and see how they feel. It could turn out to be a nice conversation! :)

  9. Lisa permalink

    I live in San Antonio, Texas, and there are several beautiful mimosa trees here. My grandmother had one in her yard, and I personally have had one at a prior house we owned and our current home. It is a beautiful tree with many positive attributes, and I haven’t had anyone mention problems with it being invasive in this area.

    For beauty, shade and attracting wildlife (hummingbirds, butterflies, etc), I would recommend this tree highly.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Lisa. :) It is interesting to consider how different trees act in different environments. I bet the wildlife and passersby have enjoyed your Mimosa trees. ;)

  10. Kerry permalink

    I wish the mimosa would grow well here in the Houston area. Too many that I have seen die from the many borer type insect attacks. Collected seed never sprout due to insect infestation. Talk about an invasive tree, try our Chinese Tallow trees.

    • Wow, I hadn’t heard about this, Kerry! Not many people plant a flowering tree, like the Mimosa tree, expecting to have to keep pests out of it. I knew it attracted insects, but I’ve only really seen butterflies and bees and the occasional ant. I thank you for sharing your informative insight. :)

  11. Josee Allen permalink

    When I moved to Arlington, Texas, 32 years ago there were Mimosa trees on just about every lot. Now it is hard to find one. Is it the age at which these trees die or is it that people do not understand how pretty they are? There are not many native Texans here now – or even Southerners, so perhaps that acccounts for the decline in popularity. I am imtrigued that they can be sown from seed – perhaps i should go round with a pocketful of seeds like Johnny Appleseed!

    • I’m willing to bet there is an issue with this tree being invasive around there, Josee. I can’t imagine that all the trees are coming to the end of their life at the same time but, especially if there are environmental activists around, this tree might have been strategically removed. It’s worth checking into before you take on the role of Josee Mimosaseed! ;)

  12. I bought 2 Mimosa trees 2 yrs. ago. I live Monroe Mich. south of Detroit in the country & mine haven’t grown very much. I’m just wondreing if I need to do something extra to help them along. Also< I have recently rescued a horse which gave birth to a colt in March. We will be building them a stable in the spring, my question would be, could these trees present a problem for them? will I need to move the trees? I think these trees are just beautiful & can hardly wait for mine to start growing. Should I prune them? THX for all the input from others. Joyce

    • Great questions, Joyce! Mimosa trees are often fast-growing so, if yours has not grown much, it could be an issue with the location it is planted. Its root system may be restricted by the soil (if it is heavy clay or very rocky) or it may not be getting necessary nutrients for fast growth — usually nitrogen, which could be lacking in some places. Mimosa trees don’t require much in the way of pruning except for damaged/diseased limbs and other small maintenance needs.

      As for being problematic to your horse and new colt, the mimosa tree is not considered a noxious plant to Michigan, but there are reports of the tree’s seeds being harmful to horses if consumed. I would have to recommend playing it safe in this case and moving the trees, ideally in the late fall/winter, when they’re dormant. This could also help with the growth of the plants if the location happens to be the reason they weren’t growing much! :)

  13. The beautiful Mimosa is not envasive in Oklahoma that I’ve found. Loved the one we had in the backyard when I was a kid. Would love to see it grown more often!!

  14. Tonya permalink

    Here in Western Kentucky these trees thrive well and come up all over our property. I love the hummingbirds and butterflies they attract. We live on an older farm and have them come up between concrete circles that grain bins used to sit on. My husband is wanting to cut several smaller ones down and I am in agreement about that since there is alot of poision ivy growing there as well. There was also only 1 tree here about 8 years ago and now I have lost count!

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