Money Tree (Pachira) wilting

bromionNovember 6, 2011

Hi all,

I have a large (5ft tall) Pachira money tree. I've had it since about July 2011. At first it was doing quite well and growing new shoots and branches. Over the past two months or so it's been wilting significantly and it seems more leaves have fallen off than remain on the tree. The trunks look good, green and firm. Some of the branches and leaves also look good. Many others are in varying states of browning, wilting, or already dropped off.

I don't water it very much, maybe about 16oz of water every week with a little bit of liquid fertilizer. The soil is definitely not overly wet at any time. It's in a 16" diameter pot with the same soil it came with from the Armstrong Garden store (where it looked great!).

As for light, it's in my living room but in a corner away from all the windows. It gets sorta-bright in that room for a few hours a day.

Any ideas? Too little light? Too little water? Too much water?

Thanks for the help!

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Too little light, regardless of the watering issue.

Stick a wooden dowel or skewer deep into the container - if it comes out dry, water;
if it comes out dark or damp, don't water.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 3:18AM
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Thanks for your reply. I'll try moving it to a brighter location.

I also realized yesterday that the A/C vent was blowing in its direction. I did run the A/C quite a bit the last few months. Could the dry air harm the tree?


    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 7:57PM
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Jason, I second a brighter location.

A/C and fans should never be directed at a plant. Same with heating vents.

Dry air, especially when a plant is indoors, is harsh on tropicals and semi-tropicals.

Daily misting and/or weekly showering will perk up a Pachira. (all tropicals)

You said you'll 'try' moving to a brighter location. Don't try, do it. lol.

Withhold fertilizer. Especially since your plant is/was away from windows. Once it's before a window, unless you notice new growth, wait a while before adding fertilizers.

Plants shouldn't be watered by schedule. Water when soil is dry. Since the pot is large, and away from light, soil will remain wet, unless it's totally rootbound.
Insert a stake deep within soil to test. If stake comes out wet, refrain from watering. Retest 2-3 days later.
When the stake comes out dry/clean, give it a drink of water.

Water entire rootball. Measuring isn't necessary. When you see a little water seeping from the pot in the saucer the deed is done. But, it's important roots on all sides are saturated. Toni

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 3:09PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Bromion - in addition to a lack of light, it sounds like your plant might be suffering from too little water and possibly from a high level of salts in the soil, which would make it very difficult for the plant to take up water and keep the most distal parts of the leaves (tips and margins) supplied with an adequate amount of water.

FWIW, misting isn't going to make a significant or even a noticeable difference in either the appearance or physiological well-being of your plant, so please don't put much faith in its redemptive powers - it just doesn't work that way. With nearly 1,500 minutes in a day, marginally raising humidity for 10 of them cannot make a difference. Raising the humidity in the room on a permanent basis can offer SOME relief from the spoiled foliage resultant of the plant's inability to move water efficiently, but concentrating on the actual cause will always be more fruitful. Almost always, you'll find the root cause of spoiled foliage somewhere in the triangle of (less than ideal) soil choice, (less than ideal) watering habits, and a high level of soluble salts in the soil, all of which impair the plants ability to move water efficiently.

Whether or not you should or shouldn't continue to fertilize at any given time depends on several variables, and w/o knowing those variables no one can give meaningful advice as to what is appropriate. Soil choice, and particularly it's porosity, watering habits, type of fertilizer you've been using, what you will be using, the temperature variation where your plant is sited, light levels .... are just some of the things that enter into determining what is/isn't appropriate.

When you water, it's best to water so at least 10-20% of the total volume of water applied exits the drain hole of the pot. If you cannot water that generously w/o having to worry about root rot, you might wish to consider a change to a more appropriate soil as soon as the timing is appropriate.

Let me know if you're interested in additional suggestions on how to effectively deal with flushing the soil and the ill effects of an overly water-retentive soil if you think that applies.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 5:13PM
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Thanks for all the replies, everyone! I moved the tree away from the A/C vents and into a brightly sunlit room (indirect light). Parts of the tree look great, but others are definitely doing poorly. The tree has 5 trunks, braided, and it looks like two of those five are rotting -- they have slightly wrinkled trunks and their shoots drop leaves. the others look great.

So... what should I do?


    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 1:00AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Jason, welcome back.

My advice is to remove the rotted trunks. I've seen this happen time and time again,
and even today I saw braided Pachira at a nursery for sale with a couple rotting trunks.
Don't get me wrong; the braided trunks can look intriguing when done properly, and
especially when the trunks fuse together. More often, the trunks slowly die until only
the most vital trunk remains. I prefer the look of the single trunk, truth be told.

When/if you choose to remove the trunks, you can also change out the mix and re-pot.
The best time to work on Pachira is in late Spring and into Summer. You could even pot
the trunks separately so that you'll have a couple back-up plants.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 1:40AM
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