Dear Josh, I'm a Money Tree
(Not exclusively aimed at Josh, but any replies welcomed!)
I'm a money tree. My owner loves me, but she had a baby in January, and I was a bit neglected over the winter. She survived the first half-year of owning me (she adopted me last spring) based on the advice of you and other great people who have contributed to GW. Thank you, thank you -- your expertise and contributions to these forms have kept me alive!
Have pity on her... After patching some grass in the front year, she overcame her gardening fears and adopted me, an 8-foot tall money tree. (I like to think I am a bit more complex than grass.) While sitting out on someone's sunny porch to wait, hoping for a buyer, I had gotten some sun damage -- some leaves were turning white. But, still, my foliage was lush. She kept me in the shade for a few weeks since she had read that trees like to 'vacation,' but, oh, during that time, I got aphids and ants instead! I still itch at the thought.
She read some more on GW, and then decided to give me a bath. Not only did it feel good to get rinsed down and submerged in a bucket of water, with a spray of neem oil (a tree's perfume), she uncovered something which had been buried deep down below, for months, perhaps years. A rotted trunk. No wonder I had been feeling a bit cantankerous down there. After cutting the dead part away, she read and read some more of GW's great posts, and decided that the soil was poorly draining, and needed to be replaced.
(She hadn't read the posts about gritty mix by Al and Josh -- I tried to tell her, but I think I didn't talk loudly enough for her to hear me.)
Well, her solution wasn't half bad: 2 parts orchid potting mix plus one part perlite. If she could have done it again, she would have tried to get some lava stone, osmocote, etc. Incidentally, whenever she looks at me, it is with this look of mixed trepidation that I am going to gradually sink into a pool of yellow-green sludge. Maybe my chunks of bark are too big. Maybe that layer of sand she put on top to fight fungus gnats is causing me a slow and long suffocation...
Needless to say, after that scare with the ants, she has kept me indoors ever since. And, in a sense, that is when the trouble all started. My lush foliage went from the equivalent of a Pantene commercial down to, er, what said mistress' hair looks like in the early morning. My sun-damaged leaves fell off en masse, though there was new growth. Mistress was happily pruning new shoots at the top, which led to new growth on the bottom. She rarely fertilized during the winter, and then only maybe only with MG (shudder) -- and not only that; the tomato food version. And, fearing root rot, she kept waterings few and far between, watering about 12 cups every 2 weeks.
That is, until the baby came.
In the dead of winter, my waterings became even sparser, and the fertilizer nonexistent.
Day by day, she noticed my slow decline. Leaves were turning grayish-silvery-black, and falling off in great number. The very tips of leaves were yellow. By March, she panicked and hit the GW forums, reading and reading, coming up with one other attempt before resorting to posting herself: She bought a proper fertilizer (Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro), and started using it at 1/2 tsp per gallon. However, the waterings were still about 2-2.5 weeks apart. It seemed as if the worst had passed, and I was suddenly sprouting new leaves everywhere. She was relieved, but not convinced, since she had heard someone write once on the forum of "explosive growth, but then a gradual decline..."
Indeed, many of my new leaves turned brown almost immediately and fell off. An average or 2-3 leaves fell off and are still falling off per day. Color is pale. Veins are visible, and a million fears continue to crop up: iron deficiency? Fungus? Improper soil? Not enough air circulation? Not enough sunlight?
She recently upped the concentration of fertilizer to 1 tsp per gallon. She wants to know: should she water more often? Repot the whole thing?
Thank you soooo much for all your help!!! We don't know who is more endlessly grateful for all your advice -- she or I!
Money Tree (owned by Debbie)
P.S. Picture is of full tree from March. (Will try to post some more, including recent ones, later.)