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Help with Pachira - Josh

Posted by thinkstoomuch 6 (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 12:42

Josh,
I'm hoping you can give me some advice. My Pachira is a few years old and is struggling. I know that I need to change the mix it is currently in, and I'm wondering if I need to go with a smaller pot as well. The mix is from quite a long time ago, so I don't know the particulars, but I do know it has bark, turface, grit and vermiculite in it. Yes, vermiculite. I've been watering every week to ten days. I've tried the skewer thing, but I can't seem to tell when dry is dry. The water has Foliage Pro in it, mixed according to the directions.

The plant always seems to be adding new growth, but the leaves never seem healthy or vibrant. There are always some yellow leaves, and now the leaves seem to be blanching of all color at all.

I know this is not the time of year to repot - but I feel like if I don't intervene, it will die.

Can you point me in the right direction? I assume its struggling with the mix/water issues, but I don't know if the pot size is wrong as well. It is in an east facing window, the brightest I have in the house. The plant is 2 feet tall, measuring from the mix to the top of the plant. The container is 13" in diameter, and 13" deep, but within the container I put a false bottom with drain holes in it, so in actuality, the mix is probably in the top 8" of the pot.

Thoughts on what I can do to save this guy? What proportions of mix to use? Is the pot size ok? I'm going to attempt to add pictures.

Thanks,
Kim


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Another pic.


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Hello, Kim!
The container is, indeed, too large for the mix that is being used. (With a more porous mix, the container size would be fine). The photos are blurry and sideways, so it's difficult to really see what's going on. But I think we have enough info to know that it needs re-potting.

Course of action: hmmmm, yes, it's a real stress to re-pot a Money Tree at this point in the Winter, especially one that is already struggling. I'm going to suggest that you slip the root-ball (soil and all) out of the pot to see how the roots are, if they're congested, rotting, et cetera - also check the trunk/s to make sure that they are firm, not soft.

Then, I would suggest you remove some of the mix on the bottom and outside of the root-ball, and plop the whole thing into a smaller pot for the remainder of the Winter. Once in the new smaller pot, thoroughly flush the mix with plain water/rain water. Give the plant as much light as possible by the window. In a week, fertilize with 1/2 strength Foliage Pro.

In June, if the tree survives, I would unpot, remove all the old mix, and re-pot with a fresh mix. When I make my mix, it's roughly 1 part screened fir bark, 1 part red lava rock, and 1 part coarse perlite....although the ratios aren't exact. There might be some Turface in the mix, as well. When making the mix, I'm following the principles of Al's Gritty Mix - I want supreme drainage, aeration, and durability so that the mix dries in the Winter. Yes, I water a bit more often in the Summer (every 2 - 3 days during the peak heat), but this is a fine trade-off for a mix that performs during the gloom of Winter.

Here's an image of my screened and rinsed ingredients prior to mixing. I last re-potted in Summer of 2012


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

And a shot of the ingredients when mixed together - this is the kind of coarse texture you could aim for. Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions. These trees are surprisingly resilient....as long as there's some vitality left in the trunks.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Thank you so much for your advice, Josh. Much appreciated.
A few additional questions in response:

What size pot should I be looking for?
Do I understand you correctly.....just move the plant with the old mix into the new pot......do not add anything new with the old mix until I repot in June?
What do you mean by "flush the mix" once in the new pot?
What do you think is causing the leaves to look like that?

Thanks,
Kim


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Good questions :-)

From what I can tell of the size of the tree, I would guess a pot right around a gallon or so. I don't think mine is even in that volume yet, but with a well-draining mix you can pot the tree much larger and get some big growth (with light and nutrients, of course).

That's right, just shake off some excess mix and put the entire thing into a smaller container - not adding anything for now. The goal is to reduce the volume of soil so that the moisture dries out more readily, allowing oxygen to return to the root-zone.

By flush, I refer to pouring a slow, steady volume of plain water/rain water through the mix, several times. Watering the plant in the new container will flush out any excess salts, it will help settle the roots, and it will bring oxygen with it into the root-zone.

The last question, about the leaves, I can only guess. When leaves are affected over time, there is usually a root cause (literally). So, my guess is the leaves look like that because the roots are impaired in some way. The easiest assumption to make is that the mix is holding too much moisture and the roots are either dying or dead. There could also be a build-up of salts (from tap water, fertilizer, et cetera), interrupting the plant's ability to take up moisture.

When you slip the plant out, you can tell us what condition the roots are in, and then we can get even closer to an answer :-)

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

OK. Thank you Josh.

I pulled the plant out. Nothing seems rotted, but the root ball seems very compacted. It was hard to pull it out of the pot without breaking some of the roots. I did the best that I could. I'll include some pictures.

Two more questions. You suggested fertilizing half strength in a week. Should I continue to fertilize every time I water thereafter?

Also, I never really paid attention to a tie that was holding two branches together. It was like that when it was given to me. Now the plant has grown all around it. Should I attempt to cut it, or just leave it be? I'll include a picture.

Thanks,
Kim


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Root ball.


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

In the new pot.


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Constricting tie.


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Whoa! Yes, cut that tie asap!

I see dry spots on the root-ball....did you thoroughly saturate the root-ball in the new pot? Looks much more promising now, I must say.

I would fertilize a week from now, then I would fertilize weekly after that.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Thanks for everything!
I will cut the tie off. And I fairly heavily watered the plant once it was in the new pot. Twice.
Kim


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Cool! Keep us updated :-)
The plant may look worse before it looks better...but I have faith that it'll survive.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Hi Everyone,

I have a braided Pachira tree as well. Definitely not as large as the one pictured above, however. Mine is about 2 feet, but very full. When I first got this plant (almost a year ago) it was growing rapidly and getting new leaves every month or so. But now, the growth has slowed down immensly. There is a new growth that started about a month or so ago, and still hasn't completely finished growing.

I'm wondering if I need to repot it? And if so, is now the right time to do so?

I don't know how to add multiple pictures, but I'll post more.
Thanks in advance for your help!! :)

Nat


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

This new growth has stopped growing. :(


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

It is in a nice pot!
However, I fear that it needs to be re-potted later this season. Are you fertilizing? Pachira should be kicking into growth mode now, so a half-strength dose of fertilizer is a great way to help it along. Also, site it as close to a window as possible. If you can put it outdoors, put it into shade only at first.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Thank you for your response!

When should I repot it? I've been using Schultz plant food. What fertilizer should I use?

It sits right next to a window most of the day, but I do put it right in front of it for a few hours in the morning. When I first got it, I would sit in sunlight all day but it seemed to be doing more damage to the leaves than good.

Thanks again!


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

I like to re-pot around June - but if your climate permits, late May would be fine. When you re-pot, you'll get very good results by using a porous, free-draining mix. I use screened bark, perlite, and porous grit such as pumice, scoria, turface, et cetera. Anyhow, for the time being, I would give the mix a good flushing - slowly pour a large volume of water through the mix, flushing out any built up salts. Then fertilize.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

I live in southern California... its always generally warm. Porous free draining mix... got it! Flush the new mix that I'm going to repot it into before repotting it? Or flush the soil/mix that the plant is in now? Also, what kind of fertilizer should I use?

Here is a picture of the roots/soil mix its currently in.


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Hello!
Thank you for the pics, it really helps so much.
Flush the mix it is currently in. You can use the fertilizer you have, but it is not what I would use. A fertilizer such as Foliage Pro or even Miracle Grow would offer a much better ratio for all of your plants.

We're entering Pachira season. so please ask any questions you might have.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Thank you for responding so quickly!
The soil/mix that its currently in is pretty dense. I'm able to lift the plant without any soil falling off, just to give you an idea. If I were to try to flush it I don't think it would go through the soil. The pot is decorative and has rocks a some sort of moss stuff on top right at the base of the trunks.
Thanks for the fertilizer suggestion!

Nat


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Well, the plant will grow best with the moss removed. Does the container have drainage? To get the flushing started, you'll have to slowly trickle saturate the mix, then pour water through in stages once the mix is wet on top.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

No, there is no drainage. Can I gently remove the soil that its in and repot it in the new soil? I currently lift the plant to water it because the water doesn't go through the top of the moss stuff.

Thanks!


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

This tree must have drainage. First order of business.
Yes, gently remove the soil, loosening the roots, and pot in a free-draining new soil. Your container must have drainage, though.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Got it! Thanks so much! I hope it thrives once I repot it! :)


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

So, here it is! I flushed and repotted my plant today! Here is the soil I put it in... the guy at home depot said this was the soil that includes all the things you mentioned above. The pot also has drainage. While repotting it I noticed some rubber bands holding all of the trunks together at the bottom... I cut it off. Hope that was a good idea.
Anyway... hope it grows! Thanks for all your help!


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Here is the soil...


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

The tree still looks great, and yes that was a good move to remove the bands. The new potting mix is not the best - despite the promise of "drainage" - but I think your plant will do fine until next season in that mix. Two weeks after re-potting, fertilize :-)

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Thanks! So next season I'll re-pot it in exactly what you said... seems like I'm going to need to buy them individually and then mix it myself? Should I expect it to do well right away or will some leaves die off before it gets better now that its in a new pot and soil?
The guy at home depot gave me this single trunk because he was going to throw it away. I'm going to try keeping it alive... thought it was cute.


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

So my plant isn't doing too well after re-potting. The leaves are turning yellow. I didn't change the routine at all. Still watering once every 10-11 days and putting it in the sun a few hours a day. It has been extremely hot within the past week or so here in CA. Could that be the cause?


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Water once a week at least, and only put it in the outdoor shade. The lower yellowing leaves typically indicate lack of nutrients, so I guess the fertilization needs to resume immediately.

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

So I've been fertilizing and the leaves are still yellowing and the growth of the new leaves is very very slow. No change in light, water or location ... not sure what's going on. I'm not over watering either... the trunks are still nice and sturdy. Could it be the soil?

Thanks soooo much!


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Oh yes, it could certainly be the soil. Soil and light are most likely the limiting factors right now. Without more light, the plant might need to shed the lower older leaves.

Let's talk about nutrients. Are you using the Schultz? Following directions exactly?

Josh


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RE: Help with Pachira - Josh

Thanks for replying so quickly!
I'll be sure to put it in more direct sunlight. I have it next to a window throughout the day but it doesn't get direct sunlight. Yes, I'm using the Schultz directions for indoor plants. 7 drops per quart of water. I use that same quart every time I water (I don't add more Schultz).
There's instructions for when feeding once or twice a month but it uses more drops. I figured regular watering with the Schultz would be best?
Thanks?


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