pachira money tree help - markings on leaves

SarahHoltmeierJune 30, 2012

Hi everyone. First off I want to apologize if I am repeating anything that has already been touched on. I've been doing some research but am still unclear as to what might be going on with my pachira money tree. I purchased my money tree from Walgreens maybe two months ago or so. When I purchased this plant, it looked to be sickly with dropping leaves. I knew there was a chance the plant may die given it's state at time of purchase but wanted to try anyway. Just something rewarding about saving a plant that would otherwise be tossed out. It came in a pot without drainage topped with glued rocks. Immediately I broke the rocks away to find the plant socking in mud as I was able to pour out 1/4 cup of water from the planter. I did some research on the proper planting media to use and re-potted immediately. I didn't water for the first two weeks to give the plant a chance to dry out since I have no idea how long it had been in standing water. The tag states to water weekly and never allow soil to dry out. I may have to re-pot again as I'm playing around with what types of planters I can make work. Currently I have the tree in a glass bowl with rocks at the bottom for drainage. I water once a week if needed or moisten soil with light misting if I feel it doesn't need a full watering for the week. After watering I wait 10 minutes to allow the roots to have a nice drink and careful drain the excess water. So far the plant seems to be doing much better. The leaves have stopped dropping and I am excited to report I have some new growth. Unfortunately I still have some spots and partially dead looking areas on the original leaves. I would like to take care of the problem before it spreads to the new growth. I'm wondering if my money tree has bugs and/or disease. I have attached a few links to pictures I have uploaded to photobucket. If anyone has any ideas what is going on, I would greatly appreciate the help.

Following is a description of each picture per pic title: (below each is listed from money tree pic 1-6, my photobucket links are backwards from money tree pic 6-1 - sorry for any confusion I am new to forums. This is my first post ever...)

money tree pic 1 - full view of plant

money tree pic 2 - some of the dead areas I am finding on original leaves

money tree pic 3 - holes in leaves maybe due to bugs?

money tree pic 4 - another shot of some dead looking areas and lower leaf with another hole

money tree pic 5 - this shot is meant to show some of the new growth popping through the top of the plant

money tree pic 6 - the larger section on the lower right is all new growth

Thanks for taking the time to view my post and plant! I look forward to having a beautiful, healthy, happy plant hopefully soon!








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Whoops, sorry. Pictures attached starting with pic 6-1.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 11:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The pictures are too small to see anything definite. When I downloaded to 'my photos' so I could blow them up, they lost all definition. It looks like some mechanical injury to foliage and the possibility of a nutritional issue if the leaf deformity is on newly emerged leaves, but that could be resultant of a light/growth rate issue & may resolve itself w/o intervention other than normal fertilizing if indeed it is a nutritional deficiency.

The most significant things you can do for your plant at this point are, A) Get the plant into a suitably sized container that has a drain hole and B) Get the plant into a soil that is appropriate. An appropriate soil is one that you can water to beyond the saturation point at will, so you're able to flush the soil as you water; and this should be able to be accomplished in a manner that doesn't jeopardize root function or raise the specter of root rot, both being a function of the soil remaining excessively saturated after a thorough watering.

Once you have your plant in an appropriate pot & soil combination, the rest gets significantly easier because you will have increased your soil's forgiveness factor, that is your margin for error, significantly.

Please forget the instructions to water weekly, they are inappropriate. Plants need to be watered as needed, but as your soil becomes more porous and the soggy layer of soil at the bottom becomes less a factor, it allows you to water on a schedule if you wish - it's that 'forgiveness factor' thing. All my plants are watered on a schedule.

Once you decide how you want to proceed, we can talk more about soils, watering habits, fertilizers ....

If you wish to use a soil that does hold lots of water, there are ways to minimize the negative effects associated with those soils by using a drainage wick and other tricks to help minimize excess water retention. We can also investigate those options in more detail.

For now, you might find this link
to be of some value. It offers an overview of practices that will help ensure your success.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 12:58PM
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Thank you, Al! With this being my first post ever on a forum, I was very excited to see I had a reply. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to help me. After reading your post, the link you attached and some additional researching. I think I found a better pot with drainage and hopefully the correct potting soil. I read several different opinions on what the correct soil should be for the pachira and admit that I am overwhelmed here. Hopefully I made the right decision with picking up a bag of Schultz cactus palm and citrus potting mix. Please feel free to correct me as my main concern is for my plant to be happy and healthy. As far as fertilizers go, I am lost. Another thing I'm confused about is what type of lighting my plant requires? Per the care instructions tag this plant needs high light. I found a few posts (can't remember where) stating this plant should be kept in the shade. I currently have my plant in a south bay window with both east and west windows in same room. My questions are, did I get a soil that will be good for my plant? What type of fertilizer should I be using? Does my plant require shade or high light?

Thanks again for taking the time to help me on this!


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 8:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's difficult to determine how appropriate a soil is by how the packager labels the product. What's most important is whats IN the bag, not what's ON the bag. It's primarily the size of the particles the soil is made of and the ratio of those sizes in the mix as a whole that determines how well a soil will perform. You can take 3 ingredients that have the potential to make an excellent soil, and mix them in such a way that the soil ends up being a poor choice.

The only soils I've seen that I would use myself are 3 of the Fafard heavyweight mixes. I choose not to because I can easily make a better soil for a fraction of the cost. One of the keys to making any commercial soil you buy into an excellent soil is being able to find pine or fir bark in a size that's appropriate as a primary fraction of the soil. If you can find that, life just got a whole lot easier, insofar as the probability of consistently bringing along healthy plants. I wouldn't panic and start thinking you're doomed if you can't find pine or fir bark - we can work with a water-retentive soil if it's not too bad, but a soil based on particles larger than peat, compost, coir, sand, topsoil .... is a worthy goal. Almost everyone that spends any time on this forum recognizes there are usually inherent limiting factors associated with a very high percentage (almost all) of commercially prepared soils because almost everyone is 'amending' them to increase aeration and reduce water retention. This is certainly a move in the right direction, but if I can take you back to the thought that how you combine the ingredients has a very notable impact on the end product. If you DO find pine bark in a suitable size, making the bark the primary fraction of the soil (75-85%) will yield a product much different than if you added 15-20% pine bark to the soil you bought.

We can talk more about soils if you're interested - and I'll give you some additional reading that covers container soils in greater depth. If you read it and understand the concept, you've probably taken the largest step forward a container gardener can take at any one time. While you're mulling that over, you can read about several ways to trick excess water into leaving the pot, which of course means more air in the soil (a good thing) and the ability to water correctly. I'm sure you'll have questions or comments - at least I hope you do. ;-)

As far as light goes, your plant will probably tolerate the light load of full sun indoors, but the leaves probably won't tolerate the heat build-up unless you have a fan moving the air, so use your judgment. Outdoors, dappled or open shade with morning or late day sun would be ideal, and your plant will love it outdoors.

My #1 choice for a houseplant fertilizer is Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, and the reasons are many. I don't want to get you thinking about too many things at once, so when you're ready to take on fertilizers, we can talk about that. The FP isn't easy to find in stores, but Miracle-Gro 12-4-8 in the yellow jug is, and it's cheap. It doesn't work quite as well as the 9-3-6, but it has the same NPK ratio (3:1:2) so it's about the next best thing. It also has any micronutrients you would have any cause to be concerned about in container media. All it lacks that's of concern is calcium and magnesium, but that will be in your soil, so you're covered for now.



    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 9:41PM
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That is a lot of info. I think I need to do some more homework before I ask further questions. My work schedule is going to be quite hectic for the next month leaving me with very little free time. I'm afraid to wait too long to re-pot my plant as well as don't want to continuously be re-potting and damage the plant that way. I think I'm going to re-pot for now, mainly to get my plant into a proper container with drainage. Also I want to start feeding to see if that helps with the markings on the leaves. Later on when it is time to re-pot again, I'm hoping to be more knowledgeable in this area to make the best choice for my plant.

I'll definitely let you know when I have more questions which I know I will.

Thanks once again for your time and help!! You have definitely given me plenty to think about and now feel like I know where to start.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:07PM
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Sara, I have the same type of tree and had those spots too. I don't know what caused them but don't worry about them. The new leaves didn't have them and my plant is healthy.

Your potting mix should be fine. I used Miracle Grow and my tree is growing great. Over a year and its gotten really tall and healthy. One thing is, I only water when it feels dry. I forget to water and notice it will wilt a bit and then I water.

Seems to work well. So your plant should get better, just don't keep it wet all the time.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 12:19AM
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Thanks, Kate. I feel better already.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:16AM
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We grow these in our shop but I refuse to take one home they are sometimes finicky. I get these spots too sometimes and it is always when we move them into a brighter location. they use almost no water to survive so I do not think water is an issue. I would move it a little bit away from your window and watch the new growth that it puts out for new spots.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 4:45PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I completely agree with Al's advice, and have used that advice for several years
on my own prized Pachira. Let me link you to an older Thread on the re-potting of my plant.

Pachira (Money Tree) - Spring re-potting pics


    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 3:02PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Also, these trees come from wetlands in central and south America,
where they are routinely flooded. During the summer, I water mine copiously.
During the winter, I treat mine more as a succulent.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 3:54PM
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