Persian silk tree, mimosa

Hard to find a tree as beautiful as the Persian silk tree: Its delicate leaves begin to dance at the slightest breeze and the pink tufts of flowers exude an exotic holiday atmosphere. This is how you plant and care for this exceptional ornamental tree.

Apr 09, 2021 02:26 pm
readtime icon 6 Minutes
Growth type
  • small tree
  • shrub
Growth height (from)
from 300 cm to 600 cm
Growth characteristics
  • umbrella-shaped
  • upright
Flower color
  • pink
Flowering time (month)
  • July to August
Flower shape
  • Bundles
  • terminal
  • brains
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • double feathered
  • sickle-shaped
Fruit color
  • green
Fruit shape
  • pod
  • sunny to semi-shade
Soil type
  • sandy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to fresh
ph value
  • neutral to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • low in nutrients
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Leaf ornaments
  • picturesque growth
Winter Hardness
  • conditionally hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 7
  • Single position
  • house tree
  • Planters
  • Winter garden
  • Warm House
Garden style
  • Mediterranean garden
  • Pot garden

Like the related acacias, the silk tree belongs to the mimosa family (Mimosaceae) and is also known as the silk acacia. Its natural habitat extends from Iran over the Himalayas to Japan. However, it is now also commonly found in the southeastern USA. For a long time, this tree, which is sensitive to cold, could only be planted as a container plant, but, now you will see it increasingly as a garden tree — a winner of climate change and the rising temperatures. The silk tree has long been popular and widespread as a garden plant in the Mediterranean region.


The deciduous Persian silk tree somewhat resembles the Robinia in its growth and leaves as well as fruits, however, it is definitely more delicate in appearance. The sleeping tree can be classified in the shrub and small tree categories. It forms a broad, flat arched crown. Its shoots are angular and bare. It is usually 9.84 to 19.86, rarely up to 26.24 feet high. Annual growth is between 7.87 und 15.74 inches.


The crescent-shaped leaves of the silk tree are gloriously delicate and move at the slightest breeze. They are bipinnate and 7.87 to 11.81 inches long. The special ability of the leaves to fold up in the dark or dry and to take a kind of "sleeping position" has earned the silk tree the nickname "sleeping tree".


The flowering period lasts from July to August. During this time, the silk tree truly attracts everyone's attention! Its flowers resemble fine, light pink airy paintbrushes. Numerous flowers in spherical tufts measuring 0.98 to 1.18 inches can be found at the branch ends.

Persian silk tree
The silk tree is particularly eyecatching when it is in bloom

The fruit of the silk acacia is shaped like a pod, which can be up to 5.90 inches long.


The silk tree should be planted in location that receives full sunlight or partial shade in the garden. Be it in a container or in the garden: The sleeping tree is best protected from the wind: such as the south wall of the house.


The soil or the substrate for the silk acacia should be well drained and rich in humus. The plants are more frost-resistant in light, sandy subsoil than in nutrient-rich, moist loamy soil. The sleeping tree tolerates temporary drought very well.


Good drainage is essential when planting the silk tree. Put some sand at the bottom of the planting hole in the garden; a layer of expanded clay is recommended for potting. The root ball should have enough space. The soil must be pressed firmly and the silk tree watered thoroughly.


Like all plants sensitive to cold, the silk tree becomes frost-hardy with advancing age. Winter protection is recommended in the first few years: The root area should be covered with a layer of leaves, and the trunk should be wrapped with fleece or a mat, such as a coconut mat. Otherwise frost splits might appear. If the silk tree freezes, however, it usually recovers quickly. If the sleeping tree is kept as a container plant, it is best to overwinter in an unheated winter garden or in greenhouse. As a potted plant, it is also important that you manually water regularly. Planted out in the garden, it needs to be watered only during long dry periods.


The Persian silk tree is quite undemanding. It forms a beautiful crown without pruning, but can be cut back if necessary.


The silk tree is usually planted as a single tree. Be it in a pot on the terrace or as an attention-grabber in the middle of the lawn: Its splendid appearance is highlighted when it is a stand-alone tree. Many hobby gardeners consciously plant the sleeping tree near a seating, so as to enjoy the tree shade and the beautiful view. Besides, it creates a holiday atmosphere with its exotic appearance. The silk tree is quite common in Mediterranean gardens or in conservatories.


Some varieties of the silk tree are commercially available. Albizia julibrissin “Ernest Wilson” resembles the species in its habitus, but is much more frost hardy. The “Summer Chocolate” variety has dark purple-red leaves, to which the light pink flowers form an interesting contrast. “Ombrella”, formerly known as “Boubri”, forms numerous tiny leaves. The flowers are monochrome pink. A popular form of the silk tree is Albizia julibrissin fo. rosea: It is also very hardy, its flowers are pink.

Legumes of the Persian silk tree
To obtain seeds, you can simply harvest the legumes of the Persian silk tree

The Persian silk tree can be propagated in two ways. Cut out terminal cuttings at the beginning of the shoot and put them in a warm place. The warmer the soil temperature (ideally 77 degrees Fahrenheit), the better they root. Sowing is also possible, since the silk tree usually forms seeds here as well. Tip: Roughen the seed coat slightly, this increases the chances of germination. The sleeping tree seedlings also prefer warm temperatures.

Diseases and Pests

The Persian silk tree is barely affected by plant diseases and pests. An exposed, windy location is problematic because the tree is extremely vulnerable to damage by strong winds. The wounds heal very slowly and make the silk tree susceptible to red pustular disease.