help my lucky pachira is dying, how do I rescue it?

konniFebruary 9, 2013


I have a 5' braided pachira/money tree that I have had for a couple of years. I have moved with it, repotted it to a large pot in June (which it loved, sprouted like crazy!) and haven't had any problems until about December when I accidently overwatered it over and over again due to a broken water "meter" I got from the nursery - it kept telling me that the tree was dry.
The leaves are turning brown and dropping off, I haven't watered it for weeks - since I found out the meter was broken. All the old large leaves are gone.
The tree is looking pretty sad without all the leaves, it is however sprouting lots of new leaves but they turn yellow and eventually fall of as well. 1 of the 5 trunks have always been dry without sprouts, it's not soft, but another is getting soft, however I don't see any black roots. It actually barely have any roots, just little white and yellow ones.
I'm heading over to get new potting soil, I have been using miracle grow as that was recommended by home depot, I will try peat moss mixed with perlite and put pebbles in the bottom of the pot, I will put it in a smaller pot as well.
Any suggestions on how to rescue this tree? It means the world to me and it is a lucky one that gives 7 LEAVES here and there, so I can't just get a new one. Should I try to propagate it or will it kill it? It has 2 thin 24' sprouts on the side of the truck with leaves, some are turning yellow...
Should I try to give it SuperThrive liquid to see if it will come back, do I need to mist it. It gets lots of indirect light, it is facing 3 large floor to ceiling windows.
I will post more pictures
HELP PLEASE - I appreciate any suggestions
Thank you

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here's the root

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:21PM
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close up

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:24PM
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close up

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:25PM
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what it used to look like :(

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:26PM
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what it used to look like :(

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:28PM
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Hey, Konni, let me stop you before you run to the NOT buy peat moss, just mix the perlite into the potting soil you have now at at least a 50/50 ratio, or, go heavier on the perlite. Forget about the pebbles at the bottom of the pot. If you must use them, mix them in with the rest of the mix. Does your pot have drainage holes? Others will chime in soon....


    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Thank you Nancy!
I did not buy the peat moss, I got cactus, palm and citrus soil (fast draining) instead, they said it was better than perlite as apparently a pachira is a palm..?
I haven't potted it yet, it has been sitting on newspapers in a paperbag all day drying. I'm really worried and wonder if I should try to propagate, I bought root grow in case you guys say it's okay and it won't kill the tree.
I did get a smaller plastic pot with holes for drainage to put inside the ceramic pot.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:53AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

A Pachira is not a palm.

Nancy is right - go real heavy on the Perlite, if you must use that type of potting mix,
and no pebbles at the bottom of the pot.

This isn't the best time of year to re-pot. The plant might sulk for a long time.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:08AM
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AsarumGreenPanda(z6 MA)

Hi Konni,

I wanted to add that I think your idea to propagate might be a good one, for insurance, in case your plant doesn't recover well. In my experience, Pachira cuttings hold very well in water over the winter. I would take a few cuttings from the young/green-colored stems. Water-rooting isn't the most efficient way to start plants, but, again in my experience only, it's the easiest way, with this plant, at this time of year.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:42PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Also wanted to add:
do not let roots on a Pachira dry out. Re-potting should be done as quickly as possible,
out of direct sun or wind, on a cool or cloudy day. Bare-root with water, and spritz the roots
if the process takes longer than a minute or two. Get those roots tucked back into the mix pronto,
then stabilize the tree so the roots aren't moving in the mix.

This plant may be set back considerably at this point.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 3:14PM
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thank you Josh and Amanda!
I planted the tree in a smaller pot with lots of perlite, the roots weren't dried out yet.
I did take a stem and put in root grow and in a tiny pot with the same soil perlite mixture, I also took a smaller stem and put in water - crossing my fingers that they will both take and of course the tree survives.
I did notice last night that it has been getting colder inside than usual so I put paper in in between the plastic pot and the ceramic pot (which is much larger) to keep it warm.
Thank you again!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:31PM
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It sounds like you are on the right track but I would like to add that I think you might want to take at least two more cuttings so that you will have enough to start a new braid and have one extra in case one of them does not take root.

Here is a link that might be useful: Money tree care

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:42PM
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Thanks to TheJungle,

I read the article.
I took a couple of extra leaves, put one in water and one in the soil mix, so now I have 2 of each, crossing my fingers that they will take.
I added a little bit of charcoal to the tree and off spring, I guess it is good for drainage along with the perlite. I removed the paper between the inner pot and ceramic pot and lifted the inner pot up onto a few rocks to get more air flow.
I stuck a rod into the dirt for a couple of minutes and found it completely dry so I watered and gave it a little nutrition as well, some of the stems were getting droppy too. All of the roots look good and are hard and don't smell, however a couple of the trunks are a little soft and flaky in the middle of the stems...
I was going to add bark as well, but I don't want to disturb the roots anymore, so I think I will do that in the spring or summer.
I'm crossing my fingers.
Thank you

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:42PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I've rooted Pachira leaves; in fact, my Pachira was grown from a single leaf off my brother's plant. Only the healthiest of leaves seem to root, and you must have the entire petiole (leaf-stem that attaches to the trunk). The petiole is eventually what becomes the trunk. Do not disturb the leaves or cuttings while they root; you want a well-established root-mass before re-potting.

As for the soft trunks...that is a bad sign, I'm afraid. I've never known a Pachira trunk to survive once it goes soft. A healthy trunk should be firm at all times.

Did you put pebbles on the bottom of the pot? I hope not, as that will reduce drainage and lead to certain problems down the road (if not immediately).


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Hi Josh,

yes, I found your story of how you grew your tree and got inspired, I snapped off healthy leaves with leaf stem at the base of the larger trunk.
No pebbles in the pot, just 4 large ones underneath to raise it up in the ceramic pot it is sitting in. Someone on this website said it was great for air flow and drainage.
If the soft trunks get softer I will unbraid and toss, but currently the root is okay and one of the soft trunks have a new green shoot - it's going to be hard to unbraid so I'm hoping it will survive or wait until it gets a little warmer and won't hurt the tree as much
Thank you

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Oh excellent, I'm glad you found the story :-)

I'm also glad that the rocks are creating circulation for the pot, very good indeed.

If you have to remove a trunk, just cut it into sections. They come apart pretty easily...most of the time, that is.

Give a light dose of fertilizer a couple weeks after re-potting.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:02AM
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ok thank you!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:20PM
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