Can plants feel? Well, there are a few plants in existence that you can plant in your garden or grow in your home that are sensitive to touch and move their leaves to achieve the best angle for direct sunlight. Some are also ideal for attracting wildlife if that is what you want. These plants include:
· Mimosa Pudica. The leaves of this plant fold and the branches droop when touched of if they are exposed to heat. They reopen within 10 to 15 minutes after closing. The leaves also fold at night and appear as though they are sleeping. In addition, seedlings react when they are watered. The plant features pale pink or purple flower heads when bloomed and includes fruit clusters of two to eight pods that are 1cm to 2cm long. The plant is native to tropical America. It blooms in mid to late summer. The plant requires a rich moist soil and a location where there is full sunlight to partial shade. The plant thrives in a soil mixture of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1part sand or perlite. Make sure that the soil is kept moist, but not saturated. Fertilizing during the growing season should take place weekly. The fertilizer mixture should be diluted to one-quarter the strength recommended on the label. Fertilize monthly during winter. Winter temperatures should not fall below 65°F. If the plant gets too chilled, its leaves and stem will turn yellow. Mimosa Pudica propagates from seed that germinate in 14 to 21 days when temperatures are 70°F.
· Mimosa Scabrella. The giant plant on this tree is sensitive to touch. The tree grows to around 15 meters to 20 meters tall and 50cm in diameter. The leaves include pairs of small, narrow leaflets that react to touch. The tree produces small white to yellow flower heads and small narrow flat pods when bloomed. The tree is native to the cool, subtropical plateaus of southeastern Brazil. The seeds are coated with a hard substance that restricts germination. In order to achieve rapid and uniform germination, you need to pour boiling water over the seeds and stir them gently. Let them soak overnight, then plant in soil 5mm to 7mm deep. The tree thrives in temperatures of 53°F – 64°F (12°C – 18°C) and can tolerate infrequent frosts. Humidity should be high. Locate where it can get full sunlight. Keep soil evenly moist and try to prevent the drying of the soil between watering. Fertilize every two weeks during the spring and summer with a water-soluble fertilizer.
· Biophytum Sensitivum. The plant resembles a miniature palm and grows to only about 25cm high. It features a woody stem from which the leaves and flowers grow. It folds its leaves together when touched. The flowers are about 1cm in diameter and normally are yellow, with a red or orange streak in the center of each of its five petals. They are popular terrarium plants and require temperatures of 68°F – 86°F (20°C – 30°C) and humid ambience. It is suggested that a regular misting is applied. The plant will survive temperatures down to 70°F (16°C) in winter. The plant prospers in rich slightly acidic soil. Since they don’t like wet or dry soil, it is suggested that you add sand to the soil mix and water regularly to keep damp. Soil mixture suggested is 2 parts general-purpose garden center soil, 1 part washed sand or perlite, 2 parts leaf mold and 1 part peat. Grow in a 15cm diameter container and don’t repot the adult plant because the root system is very delicate. Reduce watering in the winter, but don’t let it go dry. Locate in bright indirect sunlight. Too much direct sun can cause the leaflets to curl and shrivel. Too little light results in a dwarfed plant with few leaves. A good location for placement in a home is at a north-facing window or in a well-lit terrarium.
· Codariocalyx Motorius. Known as the dancing plant, the Codariocalyx Motorius rotates its small lateral leaflets within a period of about 3 to 5 minutes. Each large leaf also moves, but use a lot of energy doing so. As a result, the plant moves the lateral leaflets to sample sunlight intensity and then moves the larger leaves into direct sunlight. The flowers are purple when the plant blooms. Soak seeds before planting for 24 to 48 hours in warm water, then plant at a depth of 1cm. Best germination temperatures are around 75°F – 80°F (24°C to 27°C). It does best in ambient temperatures of 68°F – 95°F (20°C – 35°C) in medium humidity and in bright sunlight. Keep soil evenly moist and monitor to assure that it doesn’t dry out between watering. Grow in sandy loam soil and fertilize every two weeks during the spring and summer with a water-soluble fertilizer.