Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): 

TickleMe Plants Grow All Year Indoors….even in WINTER!

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FAQ (10)

“Want to find out more about plant movements?”

Scientists call the reaction of the TickleMe Plant to touch, “Thigmonasty.”

*The following information was obtained from Wikipedia (and updated by visitors to our site):

Mimosa pudica is well known for its rapid plant movement. The leaves close up and droop when touched. However, this is not a form of tropism but a nastic movement, a similar phenomenon. The difference is that tropisms are influenced by the direction of their stimulus, while nastic movements are not.

The leaves of Mimosa have the capability to display thigmonasty (touch-induced movement). In the TickleMe Plant or sensitive plant, the leaves respond to being touched, shaken, heated or rapidly cooled. The speed of the response depends on the magnitude of the stimulus. Hitting the leaf hard with the flick of a finger will cause the leaf to close in the blink of an eye whereas a gentle touch or modest heat source applied to leaflets at the tip of a leaf will result in a slower response and the propagation of the stimulus along the leaf can be observed. In Mimosa, the mechanical or heat stimulus induces an electrical signal, similar to the electrical potentials in nerve cells, that can move from cell to cell at a high rate. When the electrical potential reaches specialized “motor cells” in pulvini at the base of each leaflet, the folding is caused by a rapid efflux of potassium followed by rapid water transport out of the motor cells.

Thigmonasty or seismonasty is the nastic response of a plant or fungus to touch or vibration. It differs from thigmotropism in that it is independent of the direction of the stimulus. For example, tendrils from a climbing plant are thigmotropic because they twine around any support they touch. However, the shutting of a venus fly trap is thigmonastic. The time scale of thigmonastic responses tends to be faster than thigmotropism because thigmonasty depends on turgor and bistable mechanisms rather than growth or cell division. Certain dramatic examples such as the sudden drooping of Mimosa pudica are fast enough to observe without time lapse photography.

Mimosa pudica is a plant with compound leaves that has attracted detailed investigation. It appears that contact or injury causes leaflet deformation that in turn triggers an action potential. The action potential travels through the plant until it reaches a pulvinus at the base of the leaflet or petiole.

Thigmotropism is a movement in which an organism moves or grows in response to touch or contact stimuli. The prefix thigmo- comes from the Greek for “touch”. Usually thigmotropism occurs when plants grow around a surface, such as a wall, pot, or trellis. Climbing plants, such as vines, develop tendrils that coil around supporting objects. Touched cells produce auxin and transport it to untouched cells. Some untouched cells will then elongate faster so growth bends around the object. Some seedlings also inhibit triple response, caused by pulses of ethylene which cause the stem to thicken (grow slower and stronger) and curve to start growing horizontally.

““Why does my TickleMe Plant move when I tickle it?”

TickleMe Plants move when they are tickled. When tickled, their leaflets fold together quickly and the stalk on which these leaflets are located often droop down. The closing of leaflets and lowering of the stalks can occur like a wave, with one stalk drooping down onto another, causing the entire TickleMe Plant to fold down. The TickleMe Plant moves in response to being tickled because of the loss of turgor pressure in the leaflets. Turgor pressure is the force of the water and plant cell contents against the wall of cell in the plant.. This turgor pressure gives the plant the ability to stand up straight without wilting. When a leaf is tickled, chemicals in the plant cause water to move out of some of the plant’s cells. When water moves out of some of the cells, this reduces the turgor pressure in the cells and causes the leaflets and stalks to wilt. Some scientists think the TickleMe Plant’s movements may be a way that the plant protects itself from animals that attempt to eat it. When the TickleMe Plant moves, this may scare the animals, causing the animals to move on to a less active plant. No one knows for sure why the TickleMe Plant moves. Share your own ideas, with others as to why the TickleMe Plant moves.

“My five month old TickleMe Plant is developing thorns. Is this normal?”

Yes, as TickleMe Plants mature and may be about to flower, they develop some thorns. If this concerns you, the thorns can easily be removed with a nail clipper (with adult supervision).

“How long does a TickleMe Plant live?”

The life of a TickleMe Plant can vary from a few months to many years.

“Will it harm my TickleMe Plant if I tickle it too much?”

It shouldn’t harm them if you are gentle, however, too much tickling may make them less ticklish over time.

“Will my TickleMe Plant flower?”

Under the right conditions (enough light, correct temperatures, etc.) your TickleMe Plant should grow pretty pink puffy flowers during the spring and summer!

“Do the leaves only move when touched by a finger?”

NO, and great question! See the EXPERIMENTS page for other ideas!

“How tall does the TickleMe Plant grow?”

After about 2 months your baby pet TickleMe Plant will be about 5 inches tall. Some can even grow a few feet under the proper conditions. See how tall your TickleMe Plant can grow!

“How long does it take before I can tickle the leaves?”

The first leaves will appear in about a week, however, the first leaves are NOT TickleMe leaves and will not move. About 3 weeks later TickleMe leaves will appear and close when tickled!

“It has been several days, why aren’t my TickleMe Plants growing?”

Your TickleMe Plant can begin growing in as little as three days, if growing conditions are right. If the temperature is too cold (below 70°F), some TickleMe Plants may take up to 30 days to begin growing.