Early spring through summer blooms, drought tolerant after establishment, low nutrient requirements, can be mowed and take some light foot traffic, spreads fast and far and creates a thick mat. These are just some of the desirable traits of Florida native Sunshine Mimosa. Sunshine Mimosa is also the larval host plant for the Little Sulphur (Pyrisitia lisa) butterfly. The blooms are pollinated by bees such as the non-native Honey Bee and native Bumble Bees (Bombus species).
According to Atlas of Florida Plants Institute for Systematic Botany, Sunshine Mimosa occurs throughout the state north from Walton County and south to Miami-Dade with a possible spread to Timbuktu. This ground cover spreads by rhizomes that produce long tap roots at the nodes. Mimosa strigillosa is a legume (plant family: Fabaceae) and its roots can produce small knots associated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that in turn, adds nitrogen to the soil. Because this plant spreads fast and forms a thick covering with long taproots that anchor themselves into the soil, it is an excellent choice for erosion control.
Choose wisely when deciding to add Sunshine mimosa to your landscape. It is best used away from flower beds because its many long taproots make it difficult to eradicate and will require frequent maintenance. Trying to pull out a taproot, you might find yourself in a tug-of-war match with a gardener from China on the other end. However, Sunshine Mimosa is not overly competitive when planted with grasses, shrubs and trees that are already established. Plant sunshine mimosa where it can freely spread and cover a large area or use it as a lawn alternative. Keep in mind that Sunshine Mimosa can spread several hundred feet in a short amount of time, possibly in one growing season.
Sunshine mimosa will go dormant late fall into spring and can leave the ground looking bare. Even in South Florida, the leaves can become yellow and look sparce. For this reason, we have intermingled native grasses throughout, such as Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and Elliott’s Lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii).
Mimosa strigillosa is easily propagated by taking tip cuttings and rooting them in a glass of water or placing them directly into potting soil. It is not difficult to find sections that have begun to set roots at the nodes in early summer or anytime during its growing season. These can also be potted up for some weeks until they are ready to transplant. Propagating by seed takes a little more patience. The seeds will turn an olive to brown color when they are ready to harvest. The seed coating is impervious to water so it should be scarified (rubbed using a nail file or lightly rubbed with sandpaper) to ensure germination.
Sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa) seeds may be purchased at Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative. Locating plants is not difficult and they are usually available at most Florida native plant nurseries. Find a nursery in your area at Florida Association of Native Nurseries.