Albizia Julibrissin [al-BIZ-ee-uh, joo-lih-BRISS-in] is a species of deciduous trees native to eastern and southwestern Asia.
The plant has a few common names:
- Silk tree
- Persian silk tree
The “Summer Chocolate” variety has dark burgundy foliage and is commonly called the Chocolate Mimosa Tree.
These plants belong to the Fabaceae family and can reach more than 20′ feet tall.
It’s also tolerant of poor soil and drought, making it an easy plant to grow.
Chocolate Mimosa Tree Care
Size and Growth
Albizia julibrissin “Summer Chocolate” is a fast-growing deciduous tree.
It’s considered the fastest-growing tree in the world, able to grow over an inch each day.
It features a vase-shaped trunk and reaches 20′ to 40′ feet tall in ideal conditions.
The branches and foliage create an umbrella-like canopy.
The “Summer Chocolate” cultivar has deep burgundy leaves instead of the dark green leaves found on standard mimosa plants.
Each leaf contains 10 to 25 pinnae and can reach up to 20″ inches long.
The pinnae contain 40 to 60 small leaflets with a fern-like appearance.
Flowering and Fragrance
The chocolate mimosa tree blooms in the summer and produces white or bright pink flowers.
The flowers are fluffy and fragrant, attracting bees and other insects.
After the flowers drop, the plant produces large seed pods measuring up to 7″ inches long.
The pods last into winter.
Light and Temperature
Albizia julibrissin needs full sun or partial shade.
Place it in a sunny area receiving direct sunlight for at least a few hours each day.
The chocolate mimosa tree can survive outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9.
Keep in mind it may reach up to 40′ feet tall and spread up to 40′ feet, requiring lots of space.
Avoid planting in an open area exposed to strong winds.
Weak limbs may break from heavy winds, limiting the stability and longevity of the plant.
Watering and Feeding
The chocolate mimosa tree doesn’t need frequent watering.
Overwatering may limit the health of the plant, resulting in weakened limbs.
Water sparingly. Once established, the plant only needs water during a dry spell.
If the area doesn’t receive water for a couple of weeks, water the plant thoroughly for several minutes.
For mature plants, use general-purpose plant fertilizer just before the start of spring.
Place the fertilizer around the base of the plant.
Soil and Transplanting
Plant in any soil.
The mimosa tree adapts to any soil if it receives good drainage.
Due to the size of the plant, it’s not suitable for planting in containers.
It grows outdoors where it becomes a large tree, eliminating the need for transplanting.
Prune branches in the early spring to control the shape and growth of the fast-growing chocolate mimosa tree.
Trimming in the early spring gives the plant a lot of time to heal its branches before it goes dormant in the winter.
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How to Propagate Albizia Julibrissin
Propagate by seed or branch cutting.
Plant mimosa tree seeds outdoors after the threat of frost.
To propagate using a cutting, take a cutting from a section which did not bloom.
- The branch should also contain healthy leaves.
- Prepare a 4″ inch pot with a standard potting mix.
- Water the soil until water starts to pour from the drainage holes.
- Remove the lower leaves from the cutting and dip the end in a glass of water.
- Stick the tip in rooting hormone powder before placing the cutting in the 4″ inch pot.
- Place a plastic bag over the pot and remove it daily to avoid excessive humidity levels.
- After several weeks, the cutting should take root.
- Transplant it outdoors, ensuring it has enough space to grow.
Albizia Julibrissin Pest or Disease Problems
Common pests include webworms. To treat a webworm infestation, trim the tree back in spring and apply a commercial webworm treatment.
Spraying the plant with lime-sulfur may also stop the infestation.
Albizia julibrissin is also susceptible to wilt. The most common cause of wilt is dehydration.
While the plant tolerates drought, extreme dry spells may cause the leaves to drop and the plant to wilt.
Water the plant more frequently and try improving the water retention of the soil by adding clay or peat moss.
While the plant doesn’t have many threats, it may pose a threat to animals.
The seeds and seed pods contain toxic alkaloids which may cause breathing difficulties and convulsions when ingested.
The alkaloids are more of a threat to animals, but may also cause discomfort when ingested by humans.
Keep the plant away from animals and small children.
The chocolate mimosa tree also has an invasive root system.
While the plant won’t spread and overtake large areas, the roots can lift and eventually crack concrete sidewalks and driveways.
The roots may even damage the structure of a property when planted too close to the foundation.
Suggested Chocolate Mimosa Tree Uses
The chocolate mimosa tree is an attractive plant for landscaping and suitable for growth in areas with poor soil.
Use it as a lawn accent in spots where other plants may not thrive.