Pachira turning brown

Ed93April 22, 2012

I rescued a pachira my great grandmother was attempting to kill. I managed to spring it back to life and looking great. It is now in the porch, and turning yellowish metallic. Like the leaves are dying. It's a bit more chilly. Lowest forties but generally in the sixties an seventies. So there was a temperature change and it's getting more sun. I really don't want to lose this plant that ha quickly become one of my favorites. It has lots of new leaves coming in. My theory was it was just shocked due to temperature and light change but the new leaves would replace the old ones. Is this accurate?

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Hi Ed..It's quite possible.
What temp was it getting when your great-granda had it and how long since you took over?

Also, if the Pachira was kept indoors, and you set outside, it could be sunburned.
When you first placed it outside, did you set in shade or sun?

Do you have a photo? Toni

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 5:17PM
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It was just normal room temperature a her house and mine. It could be sun burned. It get sun but shady sun through a screen. I just really don't want to kill it. But I figured it would spring back with the new growth. Maybe? I hope?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 6:44PM
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40's is too cold for Pachira. Generally, you're going to want to keep it 60 degrees and above, just like most tropical plants. As for light, the brightest indoor light is optimum, and by bright I mean direct sun as much as possible. If it was grown in less then bright light, you'll want to transition it into bright light though. Mine sets directly in a south window, getting blasted with direct sun all day, and it thrives. As noted above, placing it in direct outdoor sun will burn it quickly.

As for new growth, no, it will not fill back in. It will basically put on new growth vertically, leaving bare stems on the lower parts. You'll end up with a leggy, spindley looking tree. Cutting it back is an option, but only in late spring or early summer, and on a healthy tree.

Now, as for your browning leaves, I suspect you have a watering issue. Overwatering tends to cause the symptoms you describe, especially in winter. Also, waterlogged soil is a real issue with pachira, notably with bagged, peat based mixes. Pachira are indeed wetland plants, but NOT in container culture. They need a free draining soil which allows good air flow to the roots, that can be watered well, drain out good, and be left to dry just a bit before the next watering.

If you could, describe in a bit more detail the situation your pachira is in. I know you said it's on the porch, but is it all shade, all sun, or half & half? Also, what kind of soil is it in, and what is your watering situation? Are you keeping it wet? Letting it dry? For starters though, get it inside where it stays warmer.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 6:27PM
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Joe, Ed said the temps are generally in the 60's/70's.
I'd be afraid if temps were under 40F though.
I doubt Ed's Pachira has frost-bite. Frost-bitten leaves turn soft grey, not brown.

Funny, when my two Pachiras were in direct light, they didn't do as well.
Both are 5-6' away from sw windows; any closer, problems. Wonder why???

Ed, a picture would help.

What's normal room temp? lol.
Some people like 80F degree homes, others prefer 65F. Toni

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 4:55PM
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He says "lowest forties, but generally in the sixties and seventies". That would lead me to believe that on occasion, his pachira is allowed to drop quite low, at least in a tropical plant's respect. Frost bite can only occur when you get frost, but allowing temperatures to get too low will result in shock, as well is plant shutdown. In the case of shutdown, root damage will occure because the moist soil will start to cause rot.

Toni, as for your pachiras, I can only guess that they need a more gradual acclimation. I was given my pachira as a Christmas gift a while back, somewhere in the range of about 10 years ago. I only had one measley lucky bamboo at the time, which me and my girlfriend, now wife, bought to "spruce up our first apartment" back in 1999. I didn't have much interest in plants, and was baffled by this "money tree" as a gift, in the dead of winter. Anyways, I plopped it right in the sunniest window at the time, which was an east one. It performed rather average, but as time went on, I really became attached to it. We bought a new house in 2006, with a super bright SW window, adjacent to large, SE patio doors. I put my beloved money tree dab smack in front of the SW window, where it also gets direct sun from the SE patio doors. Basically, it gets direct sun from sunup to sundown, and let me tell you, it absolutely thrives there. It NEVER sees outdoor light, as I don't put any houseplants outside, ever, with the exception of my jades, desert rose, and portulacarias. I can tell you though, that I once put my pachira out in the sun on the deck to give it a quick bath, and within minutes, it was wilting. I immediately moved it into the shade to spray it, and it never saw outdoor sun again, and never will.

So, with all of that babbling in mind, I can tell you that your pachira has the ability to thrive in direct indoor sun, but it will run rampant. Oh, and for temps in my house, in winter, 67 when we're home, 62 while at work during the day. In summer, 72 when we're home, 78 while at work during the day. We don't like heat, so we do not allow it to reach over the upper 70's in the house, which after that the A/C is on.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 6:14PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I honestly don't know what's going on with the Pachira.
But I bet a picture could help in the diagnosis. A pic of the container, as well as soil mix,
might help tremendously.

During the Winter, I locate my Pachira as close to my east and south windows as possible.
During the Summer, I keep it on the front deck in bright shade beneath a large maple tree.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:21PM
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Hi Joe. Joe, most plants are a lot hardier than we think. Plumeria is one plant I fear setting out at 70, but most tropicals and succulents stay outside until temps dip in the mid to high-40's. Keeping out at certain temps is a matter of opinion; I'm not trying to change yours.

Prior to my two Pachiras...I would buy one every so often. According to labels, Money Trees were to be cared for as tropicals.

I followed instructions, but they all died. I set in different light levels, various soils, pot size, etc. After the last 'Money Tree' I decided never to buy another.

One day while browsing an online succulent nursery, 'back when I first got interested in caudex/fat plants.' a Pachira popped up..a Pachira with a semi-thick, bottom truck.
I didn't put the two names together. In other words, I had no idea Pachira and Money Tree were the same plant. So, I ordered.

The nursery sent a teeny-weeny, seedling. No taller than 6".
Directions said, keep soil on the dry side. Does better when under-potted. Bright shade to full sun. Not direct, full. So, I did as instructed.
I can't recall how long it took before I discovered Pachira and Money Tree were one and the same. And yes, I can grow one w/o killing it. lol.

Joe, I'm not saying I don't believe you..Not at all. But growing in medium, bright light, in a tight-fitting pot, well-draining soil works for my Pachiras.
I was so certain I could keep Pachira, I bought a small, braided Pachira at the grocery store a few years later.

This conversation reminds me of two people following the same recipie, to a T, yet when finished, each dish has a different taste. lol.
Don't know if you ever helped the wife cook a meal, but if you have, prepared the meal as your wife would, same exact ingredients, flame/oven setting, time, yet the taste differed.
It's the same w/plants,

BTW, I realize, keeping the Standard Pachira, under-potted slows growing larger, but height isn't too important..not as important as a thicker trunk.
The Braided Pachira is different, although it too is under-potted. Ever since previous experiences, 'murdering Money Trees,' I fear potting in large containers..KWIM?

Josh, as far as light, sounds like my Pachiras gets 'almost' as much sun as yours.
Forgot to mention..besides Pachiras nearest sw windows, they also get some artificial light, 'winter' from 4-10pm

Ed, I second a photo a second time. :) Toni

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 4:23PM
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Toni, I basically grow mine the same as yours, tight fitting pot, well drained soil (barkless gritty mix), but only mine is in very bright light. As for the temperature, sure, it'll survive brief exposure to cold temps, but it will not tolerate dipping into the 40's very often, especially if the soil is wet. Cool and wet equals rot. As for light, Pachira grow natively in direct sun in South America, where it's good and warm, and definately sunny.

It seems though, like Ed has vanished, or we scared him off. All in all though, yellowing leaves is either a light or watering issue, or both. I don't think we're ever going to figure it out unless Ed comes back though, so we'll have to wait & see.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:22PM
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Joe, was it you who has a large Pachira? Large meaning 4' or taller.

I agree, 120%, wet soil and cold nights can lead to rot. Especially w/succulents.

Again you're correct..with Ed disappearing, we'll never know how often temps are in the 40's, or how his Pachira is doing.

What's the difference between barkless gritty mix and gritty mix w/bark? Other than one has bark and the other doesn't, lol.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 2:04PM
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4' is large? Mine routinely gets over 7', but I hack 'er down every year. Mine is running about 4' right now, which I consider on the short side. In the last couple of years though, I have been pinching growth to reduce the height, and increase the bushiness. I've basically kept it around 4', and let the side shoots grow in.

As for the gritty mix, you are correct, barkless is simply gritty mix, minus the bark. I do, however, use a 2:1 ratio of turface to grit, respectively, on my pachira and other tropicals, 1:1 on succulents. Without the bark, I can reuse the same mix for eternity, and also eliminate trying to find the bark, as my past source is no longer. Also, I find that the gritty mix without bark is quite pleasing to the eyes, and provides a nice, neat appearance. My pachira loves it; the only reason I know that is that since putting it in barkless gritty, it has not dropped a single leaf, even through winter, when it used to drop a lot.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 5:06PM
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Joe, I said 4-foot or
You mentioned you had a large Pachira on 'X' thread some time ago. I can't recall which thread or which forum. Only that you, 'I think it was you,' who said he/she had a large Pachira.

Joe, how much do you hack each year?

If more than one/two-feet, are you certain your plant isn't Chorisia?

Chorisa looks very much like Pachira. Bought a Chorisia in 2010. It's grown 2-3 times larger in two years, although I keep it underpotted. However, it's due for a larger container.



Pics were taken 7/2011.

Wonder why your Pachira/Chorisa lost leaves? The only time leaves from my two Pachiras fell were when soil was so dry a pin head wouldn't insert in soil, lol.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 4:18PM
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I am 100% sure I have a pachira. Before controlling growth, I was hacking 2 or 3 feet per year. I would imagine the growth comes from the high amount of sun it gets, because as you know, more sun equals more photosynthesis, which means more energy. As for the leaf drop, it would occur in winter only, with the bottom leaves slowly turning yellow, then brown, then drop. But, when I did the complete rootball wash before starting gritty mix, I can tell you that the center of the rootball was gone; rotted away I'm sure. It was in miracle grow, and had quite a dingy root system for such a big plant. I would imagine that the leaves dropped due to very low humidity, with the roots not being healthy enough to supply water faster then transpiration. Since going in gritty mix though, not a problem.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:11PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a


I can't wait to hack my Pachira down this's over 6 feet now, and growing well.
Switching over to a gritty mix was the best thing I could have done (along with the root-pruning
when I re-potted). Being able to Flood my Pachira, and then let it dry within a few days, seems
to be the perfect balance for my growing conditions.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Hi Joe.
As I explained, when my previous Pachiras were getting a ton of sun, they expired.

Of course, more sun, healthier plants, 'depending on plant.' But, full sun and Pachira's didn't work..
Not that my Pachira's are in shade, they're not. Both are in south and west windows, plus artificial light at night. I don't hang curtains or blinds, so the only obstructions are neighboring plants.
Deep shade would be useless, and kill a Pachira.

BTW, I am not suggestion to anyone reading this thread, to place your Pachiras in shade. On the contrary.

Joe, I wouldn't mind my Pachiras 3-4' tall, but no larger. Don't have the room, and have other plants that must get full/direct sun..

Hey Josh, how ya doing? Toni

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 5:02PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Toni, I'm doing quite well!
Spring is underway out here in the golden West :-)


    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Josh, spring, well, felt more like summer, was here 3-wks ago. 80-87F degrees. And then temps

I bet the west coast looks lovely with plants and trees budding.

Josh, perhaps I shouldn't bring it up here, but I haven't seen you around.
My Hot Pepper survived winter. Those were some magic seeds, lol.
Anyway, should I place it outside now or wait? Also, in the ground or container?

To continue on topic.
Ed, where are you? How's your Pachira doing? Toni

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:48AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Toni, I haven't been at GardenWeb much lately, but I've been fine.
School is busy, social life is busy, and I've been helping family and friends with gardening.
Also, GardenWeb glitched out on me for about two weeks, and I wasn't able to effectively
stay logged I said, to hell with it! I'm just now returning.

Congrats on the overwintered pepper! My 4 year-old Hungarian Wax is going into its 5th year now.
If your temps are warm, put your pepper outside. It can go in-ground or in a container.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Josh, right, the last time we talked you weren't feeling well, but you said you were getting better. Glad you're doing okay.

Yep, I believe everyone had GW problems. GW announced, worked and fixed the problem.

Happy you're getting out and keeping busy. It's nice of you to help family and friends.

You are cordially invited to stop by and help me, too. lol.

A 4-yr-old pepper is a long time. Who'd have thunk?
I assume you prune?

Mine is in a container, has been since last summer. It's 62F now, but nights drop as low as 40. Too cold?? Toni

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 2:08PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, thanks!
40ðF is a little colder than the pepper would like, so I would put it out during the day
and bring it in at night until night-temps are closer to 50ðF.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 3:10PM
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