Pachira troubles

crazytboneMarch 22, 2010

So I bought a 12" pachira from a big chain store (first mistake) and it proceeded to try to die. Its leaves started yellowing and dropping off. I checked MANY different forums for advice. I repotted it into a nice small pot with some potting soil mixed with a healthy dose of sand for drainage. I have the pot sitting on top of a dish of rocks with water.

When I re-potted the plant, I decided to check for root rot. What I found was the plant was essentially root-less. The supplier blatently took a cutting, got it to begin to root, then using a rubber band to hold the sticks together, put it in a pot and glued a bunch of rocks to it.

I figure that the health problems I am seeing are a result of the lack of roots. The plant is still declining, but at a much slower pace. Do you think the plant has a chance of survival? Can you recommend any tricks?

Thanks in advance.

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ashley_plant_addict(Zone 8)

Hi there Crazytbone!

I'm no expert on this but I do have one and have had success and decline with this plant. It takes time to learn. :) Here is some advice but this is only from my experience and things I've read on this site.

First off, yes, big stores like to glue rocks on top of the soil which is bad news. I bought one plant with rocks glued on before I knew the harm; now no matter how good an arrangement might look...if rocks are glued on I don't buy it. You are right to think that this is the cause for the plants decline, not you. :)

Secondly, sand is bad in soil. It not only compacts when wet but does not let the roots breathe. I've only heard that its ok to use bigger grains of sand but I have yet to see such sand, so I stay away from it now. I would just buy some organic soil, try to stay away from Miracle Grow. I've had bad expereinces with it and I know others have as well. Good soils to use are the 5-1-1 and gritty mix that Al has kindly provided instructions on how to make. I'll get you the link.

Also, I don't think that its nesseccary to have the tray of rocks at the bottom. I've never had to add humidity to this plant before, though your conditions might be different than mine. Just make sure its not going to be sitting in water if you take the rocks away...

I know one problem that I and others have had with this plant is watering too much. Once the leaves turn yellow, I take that as a sign that the plant has been watered too much (I read that somewhere on this site).

I'd repot it in a soil that doesn't have sand but one that has good drainage. Also try to not water for a week or 2 once you've replanted (only so you don't over water) Oh! And since there are some roots you can use fertilizer with a higer amount of in it to aid in strong roots. I didn't know what the numbers on the ferilizer stand for so here is an explination incase you don't know either.

Taken from the FAQ's:
"What do they stand for and what do they do?"

"N" stands for Nitrogen.

Nitrogen is the first number. Nitrogen promotes plant growth above the ground. With plenty of nitrogen a plant will grow quickly and have rich green foliage.

"P" stands for Phosphorus.

Phosphorus is the second number. Phosphorus is beneficial for healthy growth. It helps a plant grow strong roots, it helps with flower production, and it helps make plants stronger to resist diseases.

"K" stands for Potassium.

Potassium is the third number. Potassium is neccesary for growing strong plants. It helps makes them stronger to resist disease, it helps to make them less susceptible to damage from the cold, and it helps protect them from excessive moisture loss during dry spells.

*Heres the link for more info

I hope I've helped you! :) I know there are other, more knowledgable people out there who can chim in and help you.

Keep us updated! :)


Here is a link that might be useful: Girtty Mix is what your looking for, read through the post and you'll see the recepie for it :)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 3:55PM
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Wow, thank you for all that information. It is a little bit overwhelming. I'm becoming a casual houseplant keeper (somewhat obsessed). I have a windowsill full of probably 50 plants ranging from jade to pineapple to pomegranate seedlings.

I just want to clarify, do you think that fertilizer is a good idea? I'm a little afraid to fertilize because I don't want to burn the roots.

Also, looking at the thread about the different soils is quite intimidating. Being a full time teacher who is also in grad school and in a band, I am short on both time and dollars. Do you think that I could fabricate my own style of gritty mix using stuff I can find? I do have a bag of all purpose potting soil.

Thanks again! I refuse to let this tree die.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 7:20AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Crazytbone!
Ashley provides some great information on this plant!
First up, I also recommend a gritty mix entirely devoid of sand - and with as little peat-moss (bagged potting soil) as possible. I'm sure we can figure out a decent mix with the ingredients you have available. Do you have Perlite?

Essentially what you have is a rooted cutting - and you should treat it as such...which means a gritty, fast-draining mix, set in a warm location (eastern windows have worked well for me). You are going to re-root your plant, which will make it much, much healthier in the end.

After a re-potting, you don't want to put the plant back into the sun immediately. The plant won't be running at full speed, and the sun may burn leaves while the water may simply collect around the roots - so give it a week or so to recuperate, then introduce it to the sun again.

One to two weeks after re-potting/rootwork, it should be perfectly safe to fertilize. Start by fertilizing at one-quarter strength when you water. As the season progresses, increase the fertilizer regimen.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 9:55AM
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Ok, I am a complete newbie when it comes to different soils. I have only my bag of generic potting soil. I read the other post about soil types, but it was mostly greek to me.

Thank you for your help.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:40AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No worries!
Most importantly, you need to create drainage.
You do this by adding gritty ingredients that don't hold much moisture.
A bag of Perlite, mixed half and half with potting soil will be so much better than straight potting soil.
And if you can add some Pumice, even better.

If you're serious about refusing to let this tree die, then get rid of that bagged potting soil completely.
It's root-rot in a bag, basically.

I'm going to link you to a long Thread on Pachira, which covers a gamut of topics related to soils, watering,
pruning, and invigorating. You'll have to scan through the Thread, as many posts won't apply to your situation;
however, I think you can glean a lot of solid information from the experience presented.

Let us know what you try and how it goes!


Here is a link that might be useful: Pachira - Money Tree Thread

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:58AM
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ashley_plant_addict(Zone 8)

Hey Crazytbone! I know its a lot but better a lot of information than bits and pieces that might not make sense.

I'm very busy myself, graduated with my BA and now attempting my MA; so I too don't have much time or money so I've made due with what I have now. You're in a band?! Cool, what kind of music?

I've been using a small amount of Al's gritty mix, and will try to make my own this spring. The marterial is hard to find for me, so don't worry about trying to make the same mix right now. We can help you find out what will work for you.

As for the fertilizer, Josh is right, wait a bit and then fertilize. I've never used fert before so this is my first year using it. :)

I hope that we've helped you. My Pachira is looking not so great right now. I trimmed some of the branches off in Feb (should have trimmed lower) and I already have visable new growth. Most of my leaves got burnt from the sun one day, yikes! I've since moved it into the shade, but at least the new growth will get plenty of light. :) I at least know that though some leaves have died off, new growth will fill in the empty places haha

If you have any more questions, please ask! Keep us updated :)


    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 11:09AM
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Greenman, you said "If you're serious about refusing to let this tree die, then get rid of that bagged potting soil completely.
It's root-rot in a bag, basically."

Ok, I'm serious. What do I have to get for an appropriate soil? I feel like I remember reading a recipe that called for 1 part perilite, 1 part crushed granite, and something else I can't remember. I'm trying to find a source for these components in very small amounts. I only need to fill a pot the size of a 1lb deli container.

My band plays all kinds of music. We blend instruments and styles from all over the world to make something new.

Thank you both for your advice. I really want this tree to survive.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 4:27PM
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I picked up some perlite. I found a recipe for Al's gritty mix, but I cannot find all the ingredients (particularly Turface, and crushed granite is hard to come by as well). Is it possible to make something similar with the perlite? I only need a very small volume, so I'm considering spending 10 minutes collecting some very small stones from outside. I read that Turface is similar to crushed pottery, so I was thinking about crushing some large pottery fragments that I have. Would grabbing some barky pieces of mulch from outside my apartment substitute for the pine bark?

Its tough being poor. :)

Thanks again for the help.

Here is a link that might be useful: This is the recipe for Al's gritty mix that I found.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 9:12PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, man!
Small gravel will work in place of the crushed granite, indeed.

The Pine Bark shouldn't be too large. 1/8 - 1/4 inch pieces are optimum.

Try a mix of 1 part Perlite, 1 part potting soil, 1 part small stones, and 2 parts bark.

If this holds too much water, add bark and Perlite until you're satisfied.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 12:47AM
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Alright! I'll do it today. I will post pics to keep you updated.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 7:11AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

When you re-pot, keep the Pachira roots moist while they're out of soil.
These roots dry up quickly when exposed.

Good luck and happy re-potting!


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 9:40AM
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ok. She's in the quasi gritty mix. It ended up being more like 1:1:1:1, and maybe the stones were a little bit big...

This is what my mix ended up looking like.

Here's my poor tree. As you can see, there's not too many leaves left. There's only 3 hands left. The two lower ones are looking a little bit yellow. The top one is new growth that started before I bought the tree. I hope she pulls through.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 4:51PM
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ashley_plant_addict(Zone 8)

Lookin good crazy!

Once you can tell that the plant is getting stronger and the roots have developed more you will be able to cut back the stem to promote new growth. I've done this with mine, started out with 3 main branches....after cutting them back (on the woody area) with almost no leaves left, I now have areas of new growth which will create more branches than before. For a fuller affect. Even though yours looks sparse now, once you trim you will get lots of new growth. :)

We can discuss trimming and pruning more later on when you get to that stage.

I'll post the photo of my Pachiras new growth soon.

The soil looks good, I think with the kind of care you have for this plant'll pull through :)


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 5:08PM
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It's been about a week, and my pachira seems to be stabilizing. The leaves are staying the same shade of green, and there is even some new growth!

How often should I water it? What strength fertilizer should I use?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 8:26AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Great news!
Keep it moist for the time being (water every 2 - 5 days depending on temperature/sun).
When your Pachira has regrown a good root-mass, then you can water it less often - but
don't deprive it of moisture right now.

Secondly, it looks like there's a drip-tray connected to your container.
Water copiously, but make sure to dump that excess water after 15 minutes.

Fertilize at 1/4 strength the recommended dose, just to start out.
Any balanced fertilizer should work - cut the dose to play it safe.

I personally use Foliage Pro 9-3-6, at 1/4 and 1/2 strength.
I also added a capful of vinegar to a gallon of water, and treated my Pachira three times over the winter.
With the vinegar and fertilizer, I've seen faster, larger, and healthier growth than ever before.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:27AM
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Well, the drip tray used to be attached to the bottom of the pot by two spikes. I tried to snap off the spikes, but managed to punch two small holes in the drip tray. So it's not really a drip tray so much as it is a pot stand.

I have miracle grow all purpose plant food which is labeled 24-8-16. This seems to be 3x stronger than yours. I dilute it quite a bit. I use this with all my window plants (I have 61!) and they seem to like it.

I watered my pachira by immersing the pot in water + fertilizer. I did not let the water run over the edge of the pot. I let the water soak up from the bottom. I let it sit in the water for ~45 seconds before removing it. It seemed pretty saturated.

What is the vinegar for? How much should I use?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 1:14PM
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It's been a while, so I decided to show everyone how my little tree is doing. I think it's doing pretty well.

I thought it was a goner for a while there, but it seems to be stabilizing! :-D

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 7:27PM
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I just made some gritty mix for my jades (you can check out my jade adventure in the cactus and succulent forum). It's about 2.5 parts stone, 1 part bark, and 1 part floor dry. Do you think I should put my pachira in this mix, perhaps with some extra soil added? Or should I just leave well enough alone?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 2:04PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Crazy!

I'd leave it alone for now. Let it recuperate.

Did you mention that the floor dry turned partially to clay? (Or am I conflating Threads?)

You can certainly use the same mix for a Jade or a Pachira, with the caveat that you'll
need to make sure that the Pachira is adequately watered - especially while colonizing
the new media with roots.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 2:17PM
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No, the kitty litter turned to clay. I made new mix today with floor dry as a replacement.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 2:33PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I saw the new mix, and it looks great!
I'd still wait to re-pot the Pachira...

And let those Jades dry out! ;)


    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 2:46PM
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Hi everyone! It's been a good long while since I've been here, but I'm baaaaack :)

Here's an update on my little money tree. It has not died. I think it's doing fairly well. It has gone through periods of growth and illness. It's had a couple accidents (I got a new kitten), and it's pulled through.

How do you think it's doing? The brown tips of some leaves give me some concern, but its location right next to a heater might be the cause. I guess my question is, now that the new growing year is approaching, what should I do? I'd like to repot into something more attractive than the pink plastic pot.

Bottom line: I want to grow the healthiest tree possible, and the advice I've found here has been excellent.

Thanks in advance,


    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 5:42PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Welcome back!

Brown tips usually indicate root-death....usually from overwatering (though not always).

The pale leaves make me think that there might be a nutrient deficiency in the plant,
but that could also be due to excess watering - or even excess fertilizer salts already in
the potting media.

I'm really glad that it's still kicking!


    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 7:22PM
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I don't think I've been over watering, but I suppose it is possible. If it is due to overwatering, is this the beginning of the end? It is still producing new shoots.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 8:01PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Not necessarily the end...they're pretty tough plants ;-)
And if you consider the horrible potting soil and poor light conditions these plants are subjected
to around the world, you can see that yours is well above the average (in terms of good treatment)!

Try this: stick a skewer or chop-stick into the soil and only water when the stick comes out clean/dry.
This technique I learned from Tapla (Al), and it serves well those of us who grow in course, gritty mixes
that might look dry up top when they still retain moisture deeper in the pot.

So, what's the word on fertilizer?


    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 8:34PM
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Crazybone..Your Pachira is lacking a mineral..IMO, Iron.
Check out the veins. They're darker green which usually indicate an iron deficiency.
A dose of Iron Sulfate or Chelate should fix the pale leaf/deep green vein problem.
In a March 2010 thread you said you used an All Purpose 24-8-16 fertilizer. This fertilizer certainly contains adequate Nitrogen, so that isn't the issue.

At first glance, I thought there was an N problem..After further inspection I noted the pronounced green veins, which is the reason I feel it's an Iron defiency.

About the brown tips. If you go back to May 12, 2010, to the right of your Pachira is a Spider Plant. It too has brown tips. Some in evidence, others that were clipped.
This isn't necessarily the reason, not a sure cure, but one way to prevent brown tips is by letting water sit out 24-hours prior watering. Spiders/Chlorophytums can't tolerate chlorine. Give it a try, can't hurt, right?
Also, when you clip tips, don't cut into the green part of a leaf. Instead, leave about 1/8 inch of brown on the leaf to prevent further spreading.

Over and under-watering causes leaves to yellow, but your Pachira leaves are more pale than yellow. However, soil should dry between waterings.

My Pachira's are in home-made succulent mix and underpotted, so soil dries fast. Although my two are treated like succulents, I mist leaves daily. Misted and hauled to the kitchen sink sprayer.

Howdy Josh.... Toni

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:23AM
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Iron deficiency.....iiiinteresting. Well, over the past year I got married, completed grad school, and got a 3rd job. I tried to make my life easier by using one of those time release fertilizers. I'm starting to think that this was a poor choice. I'm going to pick up some new fertilizer tonight.



    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 7:25AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Al - there are two kinds of Fe deficiencies (3 actually). There is an actual physical deficiency of FE, where Fe is actually not present in the soil in quantities sufficient to satisfy the plant's needs. This probably can't happen if you are using MG 24-8-16 with any regularity because if its Fe content.

The second type of deficiency is pH related. As you water heavy soils in sips, carbonates from your tap water accumulate in the soil, driving pH upward and making Fe unavailable because the high pH causes Fe to precipitate out of solution into an insoluble form. Heavy soils also inhibit the uptake of Fe (I can explain this if you like).

If you are using the MG, acidifying your irrigation water so the Fe that is already there becomes available makes much more sense than adding MORE solubles to the soil unnecessarily. Adding Fe that isn't necessary, that is already present in soils but unavailable can contribute to the unavailability of other elements - particularly Mn, but P as well. It's almost never a good thing to start adding this & that to try to 'cure' a deficiency perceived by someone over the Internet. Even experienced professionals are often wrong about diagnosing nutritional deficiencies.

You might want to start a dialog about how to approach fertilizing in general before you jump to cure a 'Fe' deficiency that may well turn out to be a Mg deficiency or a deficiency of one of a number of other possible nutrients.

Btw - adding a gob of Fe CAN turn your plants green, but 'green' doesn't necessarily equate to best health or best growth. You can't cure a deficiency of one nutrient by supplying an excess of another, so you're far better to approach fertilizing from the perspective of balance and the right proportions of each nutrient in the soils at all times so you prevent ALL deficiencies, than you are trying to cure each ill as it occurs by adding this and that.

The 'root' cause (no pun intended) of the burned leaf tips originates in the relationship formed by your soil choice and watering habits - at the roots. Misting isn't going to improve that relationship or change it. Your plant isn't able to move enough water to the leaves to replace that lost by transpiration, so the plant starts shedding the cells/tissue it cannot support .... until the volume of foliage is reduced to something it CAN support. The 'cure' for necrotic leaf tips and margins rests in your ability to improve root function/metabolism. Raising the constant (relative) humidity in the air surrounding the plant can be helpful in slowing transpiration, but again, the real issue causing burned foliage is poor root function .... which can be improved almost immediately if you want to take a few simple steps.

Let me know if you'd like some additional direction.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 10:24AM
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I would love to start a dialogue about fertilizing. Currently I am not using MG fertilizer. This summer, I put a gob of these 8 month time release fertilizer balls in many of my plants. Apart from this, I am not using any fertilizer at all.

The soil in this case is a jerry-rigged-quasi-gritty mix. It is equal parts soil, perlite, bark (pulled from the mulch outside my old apartment), and pebbles (collected by children at recess. I'm a teacher, btw) Since then, I've created some actual gritty mix which my jades, avocado, and bird's nest sanseveria's seem to love.

As far as root function is concerned, last time I checked, the phrase 'root function' was very appropriate, because the tree did not have 'roots'; it had 'root'. One tiny root. I'm assuming that this situation has improved because the tree is not dead, but I do not know how much better it has become.

I would LOVE any direction as to how to make this plant become as robust as possible.

Thanks again!

- Al (the other Al)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 11:37AM
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Al/Crazybone...First, Congrats..Does your wife like plants? :)

I've seen what lack of Iron does to leaves, especially with Azaleas and Gardenias.

It's advised certain plants get three doeses of iron per year.
I learned the hard way several years back when, my favorite and oldest Gardenia acquired Chlorosis. Thought my plant was going to end up in plant heaven.
I researched via plant books, found Gardenias needed additional iron. I bought a bottle, and from then on used as directed. Actually, I usually add iron twice a year, but most of my fertilizers contain iron anyway..don't want to overdo.
When you purchase fertilizer, check the ingredients. Choose one that contains minerals. MG or other brands. There's a good number of fertilizers around.

One other thing..have you ever added Epsom Salts? Toni

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 12:32PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

OK - Since you've seen first hand the benefits of a well-aerated and fast draining soil, I don't need to go there. ;o) Fertilizing in a fast soil is a snap, so what do you think about repotting?

I JUST left this advice on another forum, so I'll copy paste it:

What I think we need to do is get you on track in the watering fertilizing areas for the moment. First, I think we/you should get your soil flushed thoroughly.

Here's what I would do. Move the tree to where you can flush the pot thoroughly - in the tub or shower is great. Saturate the soil with room temperature water and wait 10 minutes. Then, flush the soil with a volume of water at least equal to the volume of the container it's in 5-10 times - the more the better. This removes accumulating solubles (salt build-up) from the soil. After it stops draining, remove the tree from the pot & set it on newspaper over night. The paper will 'pull' excess water from the soil. Return it to the same pot next day.
Wait to water until a wood dowel stuck deep into the soil comes out clean & dry. When it needs it's first watering after the flush, fertilize with a 1/2 recommended strength of MG 24-8-16 or 12-4-8, or Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 (my favorite - I hope you get it!)

I'll have you add a wick to the pot for now, if you will. The wick will help excess water drain & allow you to water properly. You'll need to arrange for the pot to be ABOVE a collection saucer when you water, with the wick dangling below the bot 2-3", but NOT touching the effluent that collects in the saucer. When you water - use enough water so at least 10-15% of the total volume of water you apply exits the drain or drips off the wick. This keeps solubles from accumulating in the soil. You can learn more about why how water behaves in container soils here. If you absorb the information in this thread, it will stay with you and help you with your container gardening from now on. (It sounds like you already have?)

Any questions you have before you flush the soil and fertilize are welcome. If you're still interested - I'll help you get set up so you can water properly until you can repot. Repotting is different from potting up, in that repotting includes bare-rooting, a soil change, and root pruning.

Once you decide on what fertilizer you're going to use (any 3:1:2 ratio can be made to work well) I'll help you decide how to make sure your pH is on target, and we can decide whether or not it's appropriate to make some provisions for supplying the Ca & Mg most soluble fertilizers lack. Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 includes it.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 2:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Oh - Al .... I just realized you're talking to Josh on another thread (you changed your forum name?). He knows what's up, too - won't steer you wrong, either. He does a really nice job with this plant.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 3:02PM
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So Al, you're recommending a soil flush? What about a total re-potting? I hate the pot it's in. I'd like to put it in gritty mix, but I'm afraid of shocking the plant and harming it more.

I didn't change my forum name. When I'm at work, I can't log in. The firewall rejects me saying that the site is trying to circumvent the filter. I figured out a way to post anonymously, but I'm pretty sure it's a bug. Oh well, I jerry-rig everything, why not my internets.

- Al

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 8:35PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Crazy!

I'm really glad Al is here to explain the fertilization schedule fully.
He's about the best resource we have here at these Fora. My advice will mirror his.
I think you should get the plant some nutrients pronto, and use a skewer to make sure
that the potting mix is drying appropriately before watering again. Also, I would
advise you to wait just a little longer before re-potting - wait until prime growing season.
I've never seen a re-potting hurt a Pachira *if* it's being potted into a better mix.
I've certainly seen Pachira languish and expire after going into a bagged soil, though.

Howdy, Toni! ;-)


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 8:42PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes - flush the soil and fertilize the next time the plant needs watering. Stuff a wick into the drain hole to help drain excess water from the soil - you know how to use the wick - right? If not, please don't be hesitant about asking.

Please do, do a complete repot in June. I think you could hardly make a better choice than the gritty mix. Once you settle on your choice of fertilizers, we'll figure out the best plan, but it's really hard to beat the FP 9-3-6. Right now the plan is to keep the tree healthy until you can repot it. You MIGHT even be able to defoliate the plant in late July & have a nice fresh flush of growth with no blemishes going into winter - it depends on how well it does. With the gritty mix and a frequent low dose of fertilizer as you flush the soil regularly, you should be able to keep the foliage unspoiled all winter long. A healthy environment for the roots, and a low level of solubles in the soil maximizes the plant's ability to take up water. Sludgy soils impair root function and contribute to accumulating salts levels - primary causes for blemished foliage because these diminish a plant's ability to take up water.

Thanks, Josh. I didn't realize you pretty much had things under control. ;o)


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 9:07PM
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No, I have no idea about how to use a wick. The container is a broken pot-attached-to-its-own-saucer that I ripped the saucer off of to make sure water fully drains. I'm torn between going to look for FP at the fancy pants plant store, or just getting MG from Stop and Shop. I got my MG orchid food there.

I'm so glad that both you and Josh are so active on these forums. You both are very knowledgeable and have been extremely helpful to me the last time I was active here, which was about a year ago.

Thank you both.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 9:37PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I think I can speak for Al and myself when I say Thank You!
Also, I know that Al and I are thrilled to help those who want to help themselves (and their plants!).


    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 10:04PM
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Due to lack of time and energy, I decided to just go with the MG 24-8-16. I checked the label, and it does include many minerals, including iron.

I mixed up and liberally applied some fertilizer with a little white vinegar. I'm on vacation now, so I won't be watering again for over a week.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 4:20PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Enjoy your vacation! We've (school system) got a 5-day weekend here, which I'm enjoying to the fullest...
The MG will work just fine. The only thing you'll probably need to supplement is Calcium.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 9:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

CTB - we were talking about wicks upthread a little. You can read about ways to deal with water retentive soils at the link below. There is an explanation of why it's distinctly to our advantage to eliminate excess water in our containers & how to do it. It talks briefly about using a wick + other tips. It's probably worth the time it takes to read. If you want a more in depth discussion, just ask & I'll lay out the physics. The link I left in a post above also talks about wicks.

I might have missed how you made the soil you're growing in. Did you add dolomitic lime when you made it? Gypsum? Josh is right about the Mg not containing Ca, but it doesn't contain Mg either. Once we find out about how you made the soil and how long your plant has been in it, we can figure out what you need to do about the Ca/Mg. How long your plant has been in the soil (if you used dolomitic lime) is important because the Mg fraction of the lime is as much as 125X more soluble than the Ca fraction and after a couple of years, even if you did start with dolomite in your soil, you might need to supplement the Mg but not the Ca. There are a lot of 'it depends' associated with the best course insofar as nutrient supplementation goes.


Here is a link that might be useful: Dealing with heavy (water-retentive) soils

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Since starting the fertilizer again, new growth has been aggressively developing. I see little to no improvement in the existing leaves however.

This plant has been in its container for about 1 year. The soil is makeshift gritty mix. It is composed of 1 part mulch from the front of my old apartment building, 1 part perlite, 1 part pebbles collected by my students, and one part regular bagged potting mix. It drains freely, so water retention is not an issue (although there are likely many other issues). At the time, I was desperate to save my tree, and without $$ or free time, I jerry-rigged some soil.

I'm thinking it might be time for a re-potting into some gritty mix. I am somewhat confused about some of the other additives you mentioned earlier. I guess I'll ask the $10,000 question again: what mix would you recommend?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:37PM
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karate626(7A Maryland)

Crazy Al, I just read through this great thread and have learned so much from this. Anyway I'm not nearly as knowledgeable as Josh, Al, or Ashley so I can't really add to what they said. I just wanted to say your plant is looking great! Next time you replant you might want to consider adding compost. I do to all my plants and they seem to be doing great. If the others say otherwise than do as they say!


    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 5:56PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, T.J. and Al. No compost! ;-)
Not in a container, at least. Compost is wonderful for the garden, but it impedes drainage
in a container and deprives the roots of the oxygen that they require for healthy growth.

Al, the Pachira is looking much improved, indeed!
Not only are we heading into prime Pachira season, but the tree was lacking in nutrients, I believe.
I would re-pot in May - that seems to be a real good time for these plants. Also, the old leaves will
never improve. Once the new growth comes in, scrap the old leaves...or try to propagate them.

Tapla's classic Gritty Mix of Bark, Turface, and grit (granite) is great for these plants.
Sometimes, sourcing the individual ingredients can take some time, although it is quite worth the effort.
If you let us know what you have available - bark, perlite, pumice, et cetera - I'm sure we could all
work together to arrive at a soil-mix that retains the right amount of moisture without staying overly wet.

My Pachira is in a mix of bark, pumice, and perlite.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 10:09PM
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karate626(7A Maryland)

Looks like I'm going to have a lot of replanting this spring...I have compost in most of my pots! Anyway if you haven't seen the Pachira thread made by Josh that covers replanting and propagation I would highly suggest looking over it. Josh has provided many pictures step by step also!
GardenWeb doesn't want me to post the link as a link so here it is. Just copy and paste it into your browser.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 7:51AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks, T.J. ;-)


    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 12:40PM
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Thanks for the kind words. I've learned a LOT from Josh and Al over the past year from reading these forums.

Josh -

I made my gritty mix for some other plants last year using pine bark, rice stone, and NAPA floor-dry. There is only one source for Turface around here (that I could find anyway), and it closes before I get out of work. My jades, sanseveria, and cacti seem to love my gritty mix. I was simply going to use my gritty mix but Al asked if I used any dolomitic lime or gypsum. I do not know what these things are or why I would add them.

Is pumice similar to Turface? And why wait for May for the repot? Wouldn't I want the plant to be as adjusted and strong as possible for summer?

I'll also definitely have a look at propogating. Those ugly leaves are probably destined to become new little clones mwahahahahaha

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 6:42PM
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thank you all for the very interesting topic.
i will print it to save as future reference.
This is the best reference for any Pachira user

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Thanks for the bump!

My pachira's going strong. If I wasn't lazy, I'd post a pic.
Never quit on dying plants. :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 6:47PM
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Please help. I have had my tree for 2 years. It has recently started to lose large shoots. I water it once a week. It has lived in the same put since purchase and wonder if it's too soon in the season to re-pot. I have read the recommendations for soil. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 8:17AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It is very early to re-pot...
but if it's life or death, it may be required. Are all trunks still firm?

Most likely, too much moisture retention in the soil, too large a volume of soil,
too little light. Maybe low nutrients, too - actual deficiency or impaired roots.

Can you post a pic of the soil and the pot?


    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Thanks for your reply Josh. All trunks are still firm. The shoot that lost the big leaves is still green inside. The pot is the original, placed in a larger pot (just for looks). The soil is your basic potting soil.

Given that some of the leaves have turned brown on the ends, and the shoots were still green, the woman at the nursery thought that perhaps it wasn't getting enough water and nutrients. I have been extremely cautious with regard to over-watering, and until now, the tree has been fine. Once a month I was giving it a little Miracle Grow. My thought was that perhaps the roots were not getting enough nutrients, and I was going to re-pot to take a look, maybe score the roots and re-pot in a soil that would help retain moisture (an organic cactus mix was recommended).

The plant is away from the window, receives some indirect light, and I have a plant light on it for ~6 hours per day.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 10:14AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, no problem.

Alright, quite a few things need to change to get this tree vital again.
Different soil and different light exposure is essential to the plant's health.

Move it as close to a sunny window as possible. Direct light.

Then hunt down some ingredients for a proper mix. If you're inclined to do this,
all the ingredients needed are mentioned in this Thread.

The mix it's in will hold way too much moisture. Does the decorative pot have drainage?

If it were my tree, I would re-pot it, but I would not do any root-pruning or "scoring."

That said, I won't advise you to do this because I don't want any feeling of guilt
if your trees die. It is up to you, however.

To determine when your soil is actually dry, stick a wooden kabob skewer or dowel
all the way to the bottom of the container. Check it every few days; if damp, don't water.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 1:14PM
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Well, I may have done more harm than good. I did re-pot it, and at the base of one of the braids, it was completely rotted. I cleaned that up as much as I could and put it in a new soil mixture. I did notice that much of the old soil was bone dry (perhaps in the area of the rotting braid). In a week, it's gone through some changes; mostly dying leaves. Yes, the decorative pot has drainage. Thanks for the advice on watering.

For direct light, I would need to move the tree to a different floor of the house. I thought, after two years and no problems, that it was getting enough light.

I will keep you posted. I am sad that I may have ultimately killed my great tree, but not sure how long it would have lasted the way it was going.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:35AM
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