This tree with lacy, graceful leaves is the E.H. Wilson Mimosa Tree

April 25, 2018

Its very name came to mean luxury. The Hotel Ritz of Paris was one of the first hotels in Europe with electricity and a telephone in each room, and a private bathroom en suite. Guests included King George VII, Marcel Proust, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel. Legend has it that the Hotel Ritz is the birthplace of a cocktail made of equal parts champagne and orange juice, the mimosa. Brunch has never been the same since.

So why not a whole tree of mimosas? Ernest Henry Wilson brought seeds from Korea to the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, and only one tree survived. This garden tree with lacy, graceful leaves and fluffy, bottlebrush bright-pink flowers is the E.H. Wilson Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin 'EH Wilson'). This tree is cold hardy in USDA zones 5-10, and can live through freezing temperatures down to -10 or -15 degrees. These tropical-looking trees bloom in June with clusters of delicate pink flowers that last all summer into September. The multiple long stamens on the flowers earn the mimosa tree its nickname, “Silk Tree.”

The flowers are a magnet for butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinating insects. The hardy mimosa tree is almost carefree as it grows to a mature height of 30-40 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Trees are available from specialty nurseries such as Stark Brothers (online at, or phone 800-325-4180), or ask a local nursery to order one for you.

Don't let the tropical, delicate-looking tree fool you; it is actually very tough, heat- and drought-tolerant with few problems. Because of its relatively small size, E.H. Wilson mimosa tree can fit into even small yards. The thick canopy foliage adds welcome shade during the summer. Plant E.H. Wilson mimosa tree in full or partial sunlight. They adapt to almost any soil, but prefer highly acidic soil with a pH of 4.6 to 5.0.

For best results, soak the tree roots in water for at least two hours, but not more than six hours. Dig the planting hole deep enough so the roots aren't bent when planting. Set the tree at the same depth as it grew in the pot. To prevent air pockets around the roots, firmly tamp down the soil and water well.

This fast-growing tree will bloom within a few years after planting. You can easily propagate mimosa trees from seed. Just let the seedpods dry on the tree, collect the pods, and break them open to save the seeds. Plant the seeds directly into the garden in the fall. They will sprout the following spring and should be well on their way to speedy growth.

Plant a cold-hardy E.H. Wilson mimosa tree, and in a few years you too can enjoy its tropical foliage and exotic blooms, perhaps while sipping a mimosa. Your garden may just as well be puttin' on the Ritz.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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