promoting leaf formaint on Pachira aquatica

tzobellNovember 28, 2012

I have a braided Pachira aquatica tree that is getting to big(see picture). Some of the trucks have smaller branches at nodes on the trunk where pruning took place in the past (before i bought the tree) allowing me to cut off the longer branch, leaving the smaller branch with leaves. However some of the trunks do not have any additional branches at nodes where pruning previously took place. with these trunks, to get them to the desired length i would have to cut off all the leaf growth. My question is, is there anyway to stimulate leaf growth below the current buds and leafs on these trunks? If i cut off all leaves, would new leave growth occur on the trunk or would it just die? After doing some research I have also came across the plant hormone Zeatin that is suppose to encourage leaf growth. If i left the leaves as is, and made a small wound in the trunk at the location i desire and applied Zeatin would that encourage leaf and bud growth at the inoculated site? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

How a plant responds to pruning depends in large part on when you prune, how (hard) you prune, and how much stored energy the plant has at pruning time, so predicting the plant's response can be done with much greater certainty if something is known about the factors I mentioned.

The zeatin does the same thing a decrease in auxin production does - it makes cytokinin dominant, which promotes back-budding. The nice thing about zeatin is that by using it, greater than normal back-budding can be achieved without removing apices. In some cases, but not all, this can be an advantage - maybe not so much where your tree is concerned because it obviously needs to be brought back in bounds via some extensive pruning, which should stimulate a fair amount of back-budding even w/o chemicals.

Al

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:20PM
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tzobell

It appears to have a healthy root system. Last time I re poted it there was a large root ball. The soil seems to drain well. I would like to cut back the longer branches with the vines down to just above the braid. If I trim down to just above the braid leaving no leafs on that trunk will back budding occur? Or will it kill that trunk?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:05AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'd be reluctant to predict what might happen to your plant. For instance, we can't prune a Ficus benjamina back to stub here in MI and be confident it will resprout & carry on, but closer to the equator and for plants grown outdoors, they can be entirely defoliated several times per year if the plant's owner desires. I would tend to tell you to be on the safe side - if you don't want to lose a branch or stem, don't remove ALL of the foliage. Cut it back hard & wait for it to back-bud closer to the trunk. In bonsai, we call that 'chasing the foliage back closer to the trunk'. In most cases, when plant material is healthy & the hard pruning is done around the summer solstice, the tree can be counted on to back-bud profusely, but I'm always very reluctant to make predictions I'm not certain about when someone else's tree is the subject.

Al

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 7:36AM
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tzobell

Ok sounds like im not going to risk completly cutting off all the foilage. Do ypu know if pinching off the buds at the very end will promote back budding or will that only encorage it to branch out?

This post was edited by tzobell on Thu, Nov 29, 12 at 9:42

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 9:31AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Very nice! Your Pachira is a monster!

Take Al's cautionary advice to heart.

In my experience, it is quite difficult to encourage Pachira to branch (in my location).
I chopped mine this Summer, hoping to get at least a secondary branch, but it didn't happen.
Just when a secondary branch seemed ready to erupt, the topmost bud took over and shot up. That
secondary bud is still sitting there, right below the point where I pruned the trunk, but it doesn't
show any sign of growth. I will hold out hope, though, that it'll extend sometime betwixt now
and Spring. Having both "pinched" and pruned Pachira in years prior, I would say that the hard
pruning is required to really stimulate branching - pinching just seems to cause a single
new branch to regrow. However, I have seen good results with thick, two-inch chopped trunks
in a greenhouse setting, but I can't provide that kind of warmth, humidity, and light. I've always
been hesitant to chop my tree below the leaves.....but I may have to in order to get branches.

Josh

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:21AM
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