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pachira leaf problem

Posted by tinan CA (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 28, 11 at 23:58

Hi everyone, I have a beautiful 6' tall braided pachira. It's in the original pot and I placed that into a decorative pot there is space at the bottom for water to drain out, but I never water it enough for overflow to come out. I actually water it only every 3 weeks or so, it seems not to need much water. It doesn't get any direct sun this time of year but it is near a SW facing window in CA, so it does get plenty of light. It's on the opposite side of the room from the heat/AC duct, which barely ever comes on anyway.

Recently it has been shedding leaves that turn yellow and fall, and I added some house plant fertilizer spikes from OSH. RIght now, some of the leaves are turning yellow/brown around the edges they look almost burned, but that can't be the case with no direct sun.

Any suggestions?

pictures:

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/PPqwUc12vV4cxJ4-RrGWrGWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/F1hDE44fQBnRMsnqeNgkOmWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

Here is a link that might be useful: sad pachira


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: pachira leaf problem

Can you get a closer photo of the leaves? Hard to see them. One thing you could do would be to water the plant well so the water does drain out. You might be accumulating salts from the fertilizer spikes.

You really need to water until the water drains in your saucer or put the plant outside and water until it flushes through.

One other thought, could it be spider-mites? See if you can get a closer shot.

Jane


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Tinan..how long have you had the Pachira?
You say, it's in a pot within a pot, and water doesn't overflow. What about the other end? I'm assuming the inner pot has drainage holes, right?
Where does the water go after it leaks out of the drainage holes from the inner pot?

Unless you have some type of obstacle, 'styrofoam sheet,', in-between both pots, the water has to settle somewhere.

Could it possibly have accumulated on top of the outer pot? Perhaps you're missing it?? A few inches of water can do harm, if sitting for prolonged periods.

My Pachira's are grown similar to succulents. They get a hearty drink, then soil dries between waterings. Bright light, from south and west windows, plus artificial at night. Both are underpotted.

Pachira soil should be watered thoroughly, then left to dry.
Unlike most succulents, they need a fair amount of humidity. I mist leaves daily..

As Jane said, it's possible your Pachira has Spider Mites.
Spraying removes dust off leaves, and lessens chance of mites. Showering is even better, but your tree is large, don't know if you want to lug it to the shower and back.
Also, when spraying, it's easier to inspect for signs of insects.

Fertilizer Spikes are a waste..Sorry, but it's true. When they work, they focus on the area directly below the spike, unlike slow-release, liquid or powder.

What size is the pot? Toni


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Yes, get rid of those fertilizer spikes, please!

Indeed, this plant is from tropical wetlands in South and Central America, and it will need
to be thoroughly watered (flooded) and then allowed to dry.

If you're watering only once every three weeks, that tells me that the soil is retaining too much moisture.


Josh


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Thanks everyone - first in regards to drainage the inner pot has lots of holes and there are ridges on the bottom that hold it up off the surface of the outer decorative pot and there is lots of space for water to come through - I generally do not add much water. Does this mean I need to re-pot? That would be no easy task the inner pot is 18" in diameter and about the same height. But if it must be done, it must be done!

Could this also be related to our extremely hard water? Our water is over 23 grains hardness, we do not have a softener. I am using tap water which I draw and let sit overnight in hopes some chloramine will evaporate.

I'll remove the fertilizer spikes if I still can (unless they have broken down) should I use something else instead? On my veggies and meyer lemon tree I used Terra Worm Poop to great effect.

I also notice that one of the braided stems is brown while the others are green. I have seen braided pachira with all brown steams, even much smaller than mine. But I wonder if one of the stems is dying, or being squeezed out?

I love this tree but I am not very knowledgeable about plant-keeping.

Here are some close ups:

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/t9v-HwDpMK3icziIp5xgHmWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/T5WqRmoOJUvc4hjqs2frYmWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

the other side of the plant looks healthier:

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/U9D9cEshKfGC-D9V5OSokmWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

Here is a link that might be useful: leaves


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RE: pachira leaf problem

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 31, 11 at 9:04

Hi Tinan - Your tree has classic symptoms of either being over-watered or there being a high level of soluble salts in the soil. In either case, you need to make sure you address the problem as though both issues are a problem, unless you know that over-watering is NOT a problem. To do this, you should consider thoroughly flushing the soil - up to 10 times with a volume of room-temp water equal to the pot volume or greater. You could also use a hose or the sprayer at the kitchen sink.

After the pot stops draining, un-pot the plant and put it on a newspaper to dry down. The newspaper will act as a wick and 'pull' excess water from the pot. Return the plant to the pot, or temporarily pot up, until the plant regains strength. Tropical & subtropical plants are best fully repotted in the month prior to their most robust growth. For most of the country, that would be mid to late Jun, a little later in the north, a little earlier in the south. Avoid spring repots if possible because your plant will be at its lowest energy level of the entire growth cycle in spring, making recovery slow and increasing the likelihood of insect infestation or disease as a result of the plant's further weakened condition due to the stress of repotting.

Your soil is a very important part of your plant's o/a health. Using a soil that allows you to water freely every time you water can eliminate your concern over root issues that cause the spoiled foliage symptomatic of excess water retention. If you're interested in learning about how to solve those issues and make your future efforts more rewarding, let me know and we can start a conversation that I'm sure will help you get much more out of your growing experience.

Take care.

Al


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Ok, first off, an 18" pot is WAY too big. You'd be very surprised by how small that rootball is. I just did some work on my pachira, which was in a 12" pot. To sum up my pachira, it grows roughly 6 to 7 feet per year, and then I cut it completely down around xmas. Due to my Wiscosin climate, the central heat goes on in October usually, so my xmas the low himidity causes leaf drop, which is why I cut it down.

Now, on to my reworking. I removed ALL potting soil, which was Miracle Grow. What I found was that the "rootball" was 75% caked peat moss, and after I cleaned it all off, I replanted with Al's 5-1-1 mix into an 8" pot. In my case, the 12" pot was too big, and most of the roots didn't even reach the bottom, where the soil was still soupy and wet, while the top would appear dry. I would recommend a repot, preferably into a good, well drained mix, and definately a smaller pot.

Joe


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RE: pachira leaf problem

No argument here! Well said, Joe ;-)

Josh


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RE: pachira leaf problem

I kept it in the pot it came in - the tree is actually almost 8' talI at the top of the highest leaves it has grown since I got it. I don't know if I could down-size the pot easily! It does seem like the soil is retaining a lot of water, since it stays moist so long. I'll have to figure out a way to do the root flush but I don't have an easy place to do that in my condo - the tree won't fit in my shower. Will putting it outside in the warm sun without the outer pot help dry it up?

Also should I start using distilled water for it? Our tap water is awful tasting it probably has lots of garbage in it.

I'll at least get started by taking the inner pot out of the decorative pot and placing it on newspaper, and then perhaps I should put stones in the bottom of the decorative pot to allow more drainage from the inner pot.

Thanks everyone!


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RE: pachira leaf problem

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 1, 11 at 9:00

Hi, Tinan. How would you feel about cutting it back hard so it does fit in the shower, or reconsidering how you might make other arrangements to flush the soil? I think that's a pretty important goal at this point.

Just musing now - not preaching .... a green thumb, being a skilled grower, comes from your ability to recognize and eliminate limiting factors. Before your plant can recover, the source of the problem(s) need to be corrected, and you can't 'make up for' the limiting factor by making other factors perfect.

If you are determined to put your plant back on the road to recovery, we can approach things in a systematic way that makes sense in terms of how the tree's energy store varies and in a way that least stresses the plant. A quick outline would be flushing the plant now & getting your ability to water properly worked out, getting the fertilizer situation back on track, and eventually repotting to rejuvenate the plant in Jun. If you're up for that, I'll gladly help you through the entire process.

Al


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Yup, what he said. I'm tellin' you, that rootball is far smaller then you think it is. In fact, I'll bet that if and when you flush the roots, you'll find that the rootball is actually a ring, because the center has rotted out because of the damp soil. I wish I would have taken pictures for you, because I was baffled by how my pachira could grow so much, from such a small amount of roots. Also, don't be affraid to do as Al said, and aggressively cut it back. Like I said, I lop mine completely off every year, and although you'll be left with stubs for a month or 2, it will come back with fresh, new, healthy foliage. I'm going to find out this year how mine grows back in it's new 5-1-1 soil, and sipping on Foliage Pro as it pleases.

On a side note, my pachira is a single trunked tree, about 2.5" in diameter. I'm kind of...well.....boring you could say, and don't care much for fincy braided stem plants, so I don't know the best method for cutting back a braided trunk.

Joe


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RE: pachira leaf problem 2

Oh, I forgot to tell you how I cleaned mine up. I spread several layers of newspaper on the kitchen table, popped the rootball out of the pot. I then loosen out as much soil as possible, using a 5 gallon bucket to catch the dirt...over the newspaper of course. The soil around the roots wasn't hardened on, so I got just about all of it off without using water. Once I was down to just a little bit of old soil, I dumped the bucket, filled it up with water, and dunked the rootball into it, and washed away any remaining soil. It would be easier if you cut it back first, but you'll manage should you choose not to. I always end up repotting my plants indoors this way, because spring growth is on, and it's still freezing outside.

Joe


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Hi Titan, I have a braided Pachira with a dead, inner branch. Its been that way for about 10 years. Doesn't hurt anything.

In your photos your plant definitely looks like it needs some help but you can probably do a few simple things to carry it until Summer. I can't tell what is going on with the leaves as some appears like mechanical damage as if they got damaged by something. But the main problem which jumps out at me is how leggy the plant appears. It looks underlit to me.

You state it is in a SW window. The plant does not look robust which can be a root problem but the growth looks like a plant which is not receiving enough light. Is that possible? Could you possibly increase the light? How close to your SW window is the plant standing??

You state the plant is far away from the heat source. Could it be too cool in your condo?

I actually grow mine ontop of the heat register because we keep our home very cool. These plants like warm conditions. The heat register will dry out the potting mix fairly fast. Not the greatest idea, but it will dry it out. Doesn't bother mine at all.

I would remove the plant from the large display pot and sit it on a saucer over the heat register. If you can put some gravel on the saucer to raise the plant, all the better. It will help dry the mix faster. I would also cut the plant back... if you are sure its getting enough sunlight.

Mine grows in a SW window, pressed against the glass. In summer it gradually gets moved to strong, outdoor sunlight.

Your plant appears to be in a pot, inside a larger pot. Remove it from the larger pot. The plant is set down deep inside the outer pot which blocks air flow. Air flow will help dry the potting mix and will help the roots.

One point about using display pots. They are fine as long as you can raise the inner pot to the rim of the display pot. When the plant is down too deep in the display pot, it cuts off air flow to the surface of the planting mix. It is not a healthy way to grow a plant. Raise the smaller pot by putting another upside down pot to sit your plant on. This way air can reach the surface and help the media to dry properly.

If you can get the potting mix to dry between waterings, the plant should improve with good light. Remove the fertilizer spikes, try to increase light and get the mix to dry out. I would also cut the plant back to some good leaves. I would not cut it back completely. It needs its leaves to get better. Don't worry about the dead branch.

This is what I would do now. I wouldn't fool with the roots nor cut the plant back too far until it improves. These are tough plants and can bounce back fast.

Jane


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RE: pachira leaf problem

I wrote an reply last night but it did not successfully post for some reason! First thanks all for the advice. I'm just a bit confused. Do I need to re-pot the plant AND flush the roots? Or just flush it and then water less? What kind of soil should I use if re-potting - I have heard of "gritty mix" here but have no idea how to make that, is it sand mixed with bagged soil?

And how the heck to I get such a heavy enormous tree out of it's pot anyway? This will have to be done out on the balcony it's too big to handle indoors and is going to make a gigantic mess. I can't lift the thing, I got it in here on a dolly.

I always thought handling and baring roots was bad for plants because it damages the hairs on the roots?

Joe1980, I would have preferred a single non-braided plant but all the nurseries around here only carry braided, and this one was big and beautiful when I found it - it was just what I wanted. It was also very severely shaped at the top - heavily pruned so all leaves were in a small ball shaped canopy. I don't think I could prune it at this point without robbing it of much needed leaves.


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Hi Tinan.

Since your Pachira is so tall, the practical thing to do would be is take and work on your plant outside.

Mix up a new batch of well-draining soil. My Pachiras are potted in Succulent Soil, All Purpose, Perlite and coarse sand. Or, if you want to try gritty mix.

Joe's right. Pachiras like being root-bound. The only way you'll know how big the root ball is, would be by unpotting.
Often, stores over-pot...the larger the container, the higher the cost. Believe me, Home Depot is notorious for over-potting. 'Potting by request.'

Remove as much soil as possible..Shake your tree until soil loosens.

Figure on using a pot 1-2" larger than the rootball. Disregard the pot it came in.

Repot in fresh soil. BTW, use a pot that has drainage holes.
Spread a layer of soil on the bottom of new container. Set and center rootball in the pot.
Add soil, in a circular rotation, so plant stands erect. Continue doing this, until you're about 1" from the top/rim of container.

BTW, it's a good idea to set aside water that's been sitting out overnight. Cleaned, gallon milk containers work wonders..or purchase a plastic, watering jug.

Water soil thoroughly, until it drains from drainage holes.

Remove discolored/brown leaves. Don't worry, with proper care and light, it'll soon produce new foliage.

There's a product called Superthrive..It's fantastic..50 Vitamins plus hormone. Please, look into it.

My Pachiras are fertilized with Fish Emulsion, but for the time being, add 1/2 strength of your regular brand.

Shower/spray leaves regularly.

Soil needs to dry before adding more water..If you happen to over-water, you'll be back to square one.

Also, if you repot in a smaller container, your plant won't be as heavy.
I'm female, 5'5, 116lbs..have a 12'+ Yucca. If I can lift and move this monster in and outdoors, you should be able to lift your 8'er. lol.

Depending on your weather, 'this should be done when temps are, at the minimum, 50F.'

Place your tree in bright light, or if kept outdoors, semi-shade to start off. Bright light will burn foliage.

That's all there is to it.
FWIW, my two guys are grown similar to succulents.

Good luck, Tinan. Toni


Unpot your plant.


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RE: pachira leaf problem

OK I'll start out by letting the soil dry out and hopefully the plant will stabilize, then I'll re-pot into a succulent mix and if possible a smaller pot. I am sure it's so heavy because the soil it came in is a peat mix type.


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Tinan, I use Peat in many plants; it's not the least bit heavy. But Peat isn't required for Pachiras, so no need to worry about using it.


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RE: pachira leaf problem

I don't plan to use peat, I bought the plant in the current pot/soil at OSH. It appears to contain peat or some other fluffy moss stuff. I am sure it's not heavy on it's own but if it retains water, it is. I stuck my finger down into the soil and it's still damp - it has been at least 2 week since I last watered! So it's definitely retaining too much moisture in that mix. Well, tomorrow's project may well be re-potting this tree.

So if I go to the local nursery I should get succulent plant soil and what else do I need to make a "gritty mix"?

I also ordered the Dyna Grow foliage pro fertilizer recommended on another thread.


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Do a search of "gritty mix" and you'll find all you can, and it will spare Al (the gritty mix creator) the carpotunnel from typing it all over again. I personally chose to pot my pachira in the 5-1-1 mix, because it seems closer to the soil that they grow in. As I had mentioned, having been potted in peat based MG soil, the rootball of my pachira was a caked mess. There was literally NO structure left in the old soil, just muck. But, at the same time, I haven't been using the 5-1-1 or gritty mix before last week, so I can't tell you that it's superior yet, but I can tell you the MG soil was a real mess. The 5-1-1 mix was very cheap to make, and seems to me to be the winning ticket. The gritty mix costs a bit more, and takes some effort, but for my succulent plants, it's worth it. I however don't treat my pachira like a succulent, and it does not like to completely dried out.

Oh, and I once had a 7' madagascar palm tree, that I bought when it was 6", thinking "oh what a cute little spikey fella". As you can imagine, it was heavy, probably in the 100lb range, and I managed to lug that thing in and out all the time. Granted, I am 6'4" 225lbs, so it wasn't as challenging as it would have been for a smaller person....cough cough....Toni.

Joe


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Tinan, did you read my post above. I would remove the inner pot from the outter pot and let the plant get more air. Move it to the warmer part of the room.

Mine grows in regular bagged potting soil and I mix in some small bark. The type they sell for orchids. If you can't find bark, look for Perlite in Home Depot or Lowes.

You really can wait on repotting. Just get the potting mix to dry out. You need to get the plant out of the larger, display pot.

This guy grows in Miracle Gro mixed with bark. It goes outside in summer and inside all winter.

Photobucket

In winter against a SW window
Photobucket

Jane


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RE: pachira leaf problem

I can agree a bit with Jane, because I've grown my pachira in Miracle Grow alone for years, with no added bark, and it has done fine, other then the caked soil syndrome. But, I can tell you this, if you haven't watered in 2 weeks, and the soil is still wet, there is WAY too much moisture being held in the soil. Just drying it out and keeping it the way it is, will just put you back in the same predicament when you water it again. I think your pot is too big, and that's the main problem. But, the great thing is, our plants are our babied, and we get to choose how we take care of them. I mean, heck, look at those pictures of Jane's pachira....that plant looks great, so she is definately doing something right.

Joe

P.S. If you do any pruning of stems, try and root a cutting. If you are successful, you will have that single trunked pachira you want.


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RE: pachira leaf problem

jane I notice looking at yours that the leaves stick out more horizontally, while mine seem to droop downwards more, and I think it was not like this when I first brought it home. Here are some more pictures taken in daylight. See the lower leaves are the ones turning yellow/brown while top is nice and green.

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/pJKWGmLqpMTuT7Who0AChWWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/p6a7ggsXqtiaU4pZ8Vdc-WWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/IiHVWe_CEAnHzx3h3bgWTmWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

close up of lower leaves

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/PoZObRYD5JP6tY5UNlbyZmWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

a leaf about to drop

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/-yBYoFuDWqxsmTt-cSFb52Wr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

And this was the tree the day I brought it home less than a year ago - much shorter at about 6' but denser and healthier looking:

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/VwBTAtMCy2UtaqVyvezzHmWr9myk5PLf1cjbikgGfzs?feat=directlink

Here is a link that might be useful: canopy


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RE: pachira leaf problem

The photo of the original plant you brought home has been pruned to look like that. You will do the same this summer and it will fill out.

Please answer the questions I asked. I can't really advise you without that information.

Without the info my wild guess is the plant has fertilizer burn to the roots and probably rotted roots from being kept too wet. I would recommend doing what I suggested above, as a beginning and then go from there.

Do you have access to outdoors?

The plant can turn around. It also appears underlit because the leaf stems are so long.

Please give me more info.

Jane


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RE: pachira leaf problem

>You state it is in a SW window. The plant does not look robust which can be >a root problem but the growth looks like a plant which is not receiving >enough light. Is that possible? Could you possibly increase the light? How >close to your SW window is the plant standing??

It is possible it's not getting enough light, but we only have windows on one side of the condo, and it's in the position it should get the most light. I thought they preferred bright but not direct light so placed it off to the side. I can move it directly in front of the window if it prefers more direct light.

>You state the plant is far away from the heat source. Could it be too cool in >your condo?

We have the temp set at 72 day, 65 night - central air/heat. I'm definitely not turning up the heat for a plant because we like it cool! It will be warmer in the sun.

>I actually grow mine ontop of the heat register because we keep our home >very cool. These plants like warm conditions. The heat register will dry out >the potting mix fairly fast. Not the greatest idea, but it will dry it out. >Doesn't bother mine at all.

The registers are on the wall, up near the ceiling and blow out into the room - it's on the other side of the room but the heat gets distributed pretty well so there's not really a warmer place for it. Our heat almost never comes on because the insulation is good and we're in San Jose, the furnace has only kicked in a couple times this winter when it was record cold (ie got down to 34 at night).

>I would remove the plant from the large display pot and sit it on a saucer >over the heat register. If you can put some gravel on the saucer to raise the >plant, all the better. It will help dry the mix faster. I would also cut the plant >back... if you are sure its getting enough sunlight.

No register but I did the gravel thing. How much do I need to cut and where?

>Mine grows in a SW window, pressed against the glass. In summer it >gradually gets moved to strong, outdoor sunlight.

I could move it upstairs to the loft window where it would get even more light, but I don't think it would like my windy balcony which gets burning hot in the summer!


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Tina, what does OSH stand for? lol

Tina, the mix I use isn't the one people here call gritty mix, although, my mix is gritty..lol..I do not add Turface.

My Pachiras are in a mix of Miracle Gro, 'Cactus/Citrus/Palm soil' coarse sand, and Perlite.
They haven't been potted in a few years, 'terrible, I know.' I can no longer find coarse sand, so, I'm on the hunt for something that will help soil drain better.
Perlite works, but not enough, alone.
For the time being I'm using bark, but it's too large...can't locate a smaller bark locally.

Joe,,,Two wks ago, you said your plants were doing wonderful in MG, but you wanted to expereiment with another mix..what happened to you? lol.

Why did you cough when referring to my weight? You don't believe I'm 116 lbs or can lift a 30lb plant? lol..
Call Rentokil Tropical Plants Corp..ask how heavy their plants are/were in their retail stores in IL.
I have pics taken at Rentokil, but they're on paper, not digital. Dont' have a scanner..I will admit, there was no way on earth I was able to lift a 15' tree, planted in a 24" ceramic, self-watering, wet pot. NO way!

Here's me, at 123/125lbs..I've lost wt since.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/19171044@N04/1925691564/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/19171044@N04/1924938509/

Don't know if the pics will work..Flickr changed their format..

Tina, your temps are just fine. No need to turn up the heat. I agree, Pachira does best in bright, indirect light. At least mine do..when I placed them in a sunnier spot, they didn't do as well.

One thing Pachira likes, daily spraying. Give it a try..what can it hurt? Toni



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RE: pachira leaf problem

OSH = Orchard Supply Hardware, around here everyone calls it that so i assumed it was a national thing. they offer a lifetime guarantee on plants, if it dies for any reason you can get a refund or exchange!


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Tina, no, no Orchard Supply Hardware around here..Wish there was..
Bring a plant back if it dies? Wow..doesn't the store lose money? Ppl take advantage..can you imagine ppl coming in in fall, with dead annuals? lol..
HD had the same policy..well, a 1 yr warranty. A few ppl tried the annual thing..lol..


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Toni, my plants were doing wonderful in MG, but as I read about soils, things started to make sense about some of the little things I have noticed about the roots. For example, why my jade plants, which go a long time without repotting, would start to get extremely hardened soil, to the point where water would sit on top for 30 mins or more. Or why the center of my rootballs were always "not there". Turns out that the jade problem was compacted peat, and the rootball problem was also compaction, that caused the center of the rootballs to rot away. I never put 2 and 2 together, but now I know. I still have some plants in MG, and I have quite a bit left in the bag. So, on that note, I might have to plant 2 indentical things, one in MG and one in 5-1-1 mix, and see what kind of results I get. I still have the big lump of soupy MG that was at the bottom of my pachira, that I dumped in an outdoor planter for the time being. It amazed me how there was no strucure left, just really fine, soupy peat moss. And to think, I learned all of this because I looked at a "what soil is best" thread, and told the person Miracle Grow! Turned out to be me who needed to know.

And about the cough cough, I was just pickin' on you for being little. I figured you could use a little razzing.

Joe


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RE: pachira leaf problem

Tinan, seems I'm batting zero. Thanks for the info. Its so hard to figure out someone else's growing environment and care.

Unless you plan to return the plant to the store, then you need to repot. You only have the plant for one year, the odds are it has been growing in the same mix for years and the plant is being kept too wet.

You state you can't get the plant out of the pot because its too tall. You could put down thick newspaper, tilt the plant sideways and pull it out of the pot. Stand it on the newspaper.

I assume you don't have a balcony or can take it outside?

If you can get it out of the pot, let it sit on a saucer, out of the pot and let it dry out enough to knock some of the potting mix off the rootball. Try to loosen it enough so air can into the middle of the rootball. You might find there aren't many roots and its mostly mix.

You don't need to remove all the mix. Just loosen it enough so you can knock some soil off. Add some fresh mix and put the plant back in the same pot.

Another option, which would be dicey, if you feel you can't manage doing anything because the plant is too tall, cut it back to a full set of leaves. Look, low down to a set of good leaves and cut above. Try to leave a good set of leaves on each branch.

After cutting back, the plant should be manageable and you should be able to get it out of the pot. I would try to repot without too much root damage. Don't fool with the roots, just get fresh potting mix and repot the plant. Water once, let it drain and don't water again until the mix is almost dry.

If you cut the plant back, move it closer to the window to increase light. If all goes well, it should stimulate some back buds and you'll get new growth.

This is a shot of a branch I cut back last month.
Back Buds
You can see tiny buds starting. This happened 2 weeks after cutting.

I stuck a piece of the cut branch in the soil
Photobucket
A month later, the cut branch has started new growths
Photobucket

The cut branch has now formed two sets of leaves and I will repot in a month or so.
Photobucket

The best case scenario would be to get your plant outside to do a proper repot. But if that is not possible, you need to do something now and a simple repot is better than nothing.

Joe, how long were your plants in Miracle Gro? If it got that hard, I would guess a long time. I repot my plants about every 2 years. I add bark and, with certain plants, some sphag moss. The mix stays open and drains well and does not clump or harden. But I like to root prune every few years and put the plants back in the same pot, so everything gets repotted every few years.

The bottom-line is how much time and effort you want to spend making a mix. I repot regularly and all my old mix gets dumped. It would cost a small fortune to make an expensive mix for large plants which get repotted every two years.

My smaller plants get repotted yearly, including my orchids. I always try to keep my plants inside the same size pots. I don't have space to move plant up to larger pots.
It all boils down to practicality and convenience.

Geez, Toni, you look like an 18yr old! No wonder you can lift those giant plants...

Jane


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Jane, I usually repot when I seem to be watering every other day, which I always figured was a sign of being rootbound. Sometimes, that was the case, and other times, I was baffled to find mostly soil. My jade was not repotted for 2 years, and in that time, I got the caked soil syndrom. I've never added anything at all to the Miracle Grow, so I didn't improve anything.

As for making the mix, I found the 5-1-1 mix to be really easy, and I made a whole 14 gallon rubbermaid tub full in a matter of a half hour. The gritty mix, now that is different. That stuff is time consuming, and a pain in the rear to make, mainly because of the screening. I basically made that for my succulent plants, but felt the 5-1-1 mix was more suitable for my tropicals. I would say though, cost wise, the 5-1-1 mix is probably cheaper by volume to make then it is to buy commercially made potting mix.

Now-a-days, I am managing my plants for size, and am replanting into the same pots. I am one of those people that refuses to buy a mature plant. I like to buy a tiny little thing, and be responsible for growing it to a mature plant. Take for example my snake plant. I bought it in a 4" pot, with all of 3 little leaves, about 3" tall. Now, it is in a 14" pot, is very full, and is about 4 feet tall. The best part is when people come to visit, and marvel over how big it has grown, knowing it used to be tiny. I think the biggest plant I ever bought was my ZZ plant, which was in a 6" pot. I love to watch things progress, and feel good knowing I am responsible for my plants thriving. To this day, especially in winter, I am intrigued how these tropical and desert plants not only survive, but thrive, in my home here in cold Wisconsin. It's nice to be surrounded by green in the middle of a long winter. Also, I think I buy the baby plants because they don't take up a lot of space, but we all know how that story ends.

Joe


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Joe, like you, I buy small plants or cuttings. The only plants purchased on the large side are Citrus and a braided Hibiscus tree.

I started this Jade from leaves in the 90's. Packaged soil, sand, and perlite. Let's see if it'll work.

Jade

BTW, I'm in no way, shape or form, trying to convert you back to bagged soils. I believe a person is free to choose whatever soils/mixes they want, but also would like to make a point plants do well in bagged soils.

First off, Jades have no use for Peat. The only plants I add peat in are those that require acidic soils. I can't think of any one succulent that does, but there might be some out there. Tropicals are a different story.

Wonder why your soil clumped?? Did it get wet? Outside, in the rain? I can't figure out why that would happen. Strange.

I mix soils, (succulents/acidic/etc) place each type in plastic containers with lids, too..lol..But never had soil, well MG, clump..however, I bought off-brands that did. But that's easy to fix.

Jane thanks..I wish I was a teen..lol..
I've seen your plants too, Jane..they're beautiful and healthy.
I wonder why some people have problems growing in MG..The answer is beyond me. Toni



 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Hey, Tinan!

I wanted to link a Thread I posted on re-potting my Pachira last Spring (end of May).
My apologies if you've already seen it! ;-)

Anyhow, just wanted to show you that you can confidently prune the roots as long as the plant
is healthy after the first Spring flush. I settled on a mix of Bark, Perlite, and Pumice,
but I'm not pushing you to adopt the same mix - I think a 5-1-1 type mix, as Joe is recommending
and using, would be a fantastic mix in which to rehabilitate your plant. Several folks
are using a similar mix, and so the likelihood of finding help and comparing notes with other
growers will be a major benefit, too.

Pachira (Money Tree) - Spring re-potting pics


Josh

Here is a link that might be useful: Pachira (Money Tree) - Spring re-potting pics


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

I never really payed much attention to the condition of the old MG soil when I repotted, until recently. It almost seems as if ALL the organic matter breaks down, and leaves you with nothing but peat. It's weird, because every plant I have repotted so far, the center of the rootball was pretty much gone. It was very fine, caked peat, and required a bit of work to remove it. In the past I always thought it was roots. I'm guessing the roots rotted away in the middle. But, all in all, I did grow successfully in MG for a long time, so we'll see if anything changes for the better. Who knows, maybe I've been doing good with MG, but have room to do better....We'll see.

Joe


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 5, 11 at 23:01

Joe - peat breaks down 4-5 times faster than bark, so by the time a plant has been in a peaty soil for a year, you can pretty much count on the fact that the soil has collapsed to the point that if you water properly (past the point of full saturation so a significant fraction of the total water applied exits the drain hole) you pretty much are assured of an extended period of anaerobic conditions in enough of the root mass that it will be more than just noteworthy. What you're observing is the result of those conditions.

Tinan - your problems with with your Pachira are almost certainly related to an accumulation of salts in the soil from both your tap water and fertilizer regimen, and/or the effects of extended periods of the waterlogged conditions I just described to Joe. Because the plant is exhibiting symptoms indicative that it is drought stressed, I would discourage you from considering putting the plant on a heat register or near a register. There is a very significant difference between warm air that was just circulated through your heating system and warm air that is naturally humidified and at ambient relative humidity levels. The warm air from your registers moving over leaf surfaces completely destroys the leaf boundary layer (a layer of moist air surrounding leaf surfaces) and subjects the leaf to wind drier than that in the earth's driest deserts, literally. This can produce extremely damaging effects on healthy plants, and the effects on drought-stressed plants would be magnified many times.

Your best course of action would be to address the high level of salts in your soil by flushing the soil thoroughly and repeatedly; then, take steps to help your soil drain after you water, which will allow you to water properly. Look at this as a temporary measure until such time that it's appropriate to repot (see Josh's tutorial) into a soil that allows you to water properly with no concern for future root issues or salt accumulations.

I'm not sure how deeply you want to delve into considering a growing concept that can considerably reduce your angst over your plants' care and make it much easier to consistently produce healthier plants, but the link I left below will take you to a thread about container soils that has been active since '05 and has helped many hundreds, if not thousands of people understand how to provide a healthy root zone.

Take good care - good luck.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Understanding why your soil is so important.


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Wow, so much to learn here! I have always had house plants and generally they have done quite well, I buy them and stick them in a decorative outer pot, and was not even aware that plants need re-potting other than if they grow way to large! I usually have used Terra Worm Poop fertilizer, and my pepperomia and spider plants have done great with my ignorant care :)

But I really like this big tree and I can see that it is not happy. So I will re-pot it this weekend, and a big thank you to Josh for posting the link tot he re-potting thread, by idea of re-potting in the past was take a bigger pot, plop plant and dirt into it, fill in gap with more potting soil. The detailed photo steps gave me a much better idea of how to do it. However - it appears from those pics that you are using only bark, perlite and pumice - is there no organic soil in this mix? What do the plants live on?

And thanks for the link about the soil, I will read up and learn more!

PS one more slightly related question - how do you post the embedded photos on this forum?


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Tinan, the bark is the only organic component in the mix.
My Money Tree is fertilized frequently with light doses of a liquid fertilizer.

For embedding pictures, you need to have the images hosted online first.


Josh


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 6, 11 at 8:34

Tinan - you're in good hands with Josh. He grows this tree and grows it well. He also understand the soil:plant relationship and can explain a good fertilizer regimen to you. If you listen carefully to what he has to say, and apply the concept you learned at the thread I linked you to, you'll probably take a big step forward in your ability to maintain healthy plants more easily.

Take good care - good luck!!!

Al


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Wow, I always assumed that green plants needed some soil to live on! I guess this method is somewhat more like hydroponics?

As for the image embedding, I have the images hosted online in picasaweb albums (see links I posted), but the usual [URL] tags don't work to embed photos, and I can't find a code to to it.


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Hi tinan,
I use (alot of us do) photobucket. It has a html code with each picture that you just copy and paste here.

Does picasa have the html code?

JoJo


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 7, 11 at 0:28

All conventional container culture, including growing houseplants, is much closer to hydroponics than to growing in the garden. Heavy soils or mineral soils and the idea that you need to feed the soil and encourage large micro-organism populations for the soil food web are almost certain to be a limiting factor when it comes to containerized plants. I don't think anyone would disagree with the premise that a soil that maintained perfect aeration from the very top of the container to the bottom of the container is preferable (from the perspective of best potential growth/vitality) to soils that support significant volumes of saturation. The only thing we need to know is what fraction of the soil is made up of tiny particles to make a rather accurate guess at how much perched water a soil will hold. ANY perched water is undesirable from the plant's perspective. Some growers might prefer to use soils that support perched water so they don't have to water as often, but that decision is made from the perspective of grower convenience and it does place limitations on the plant's potential to grow at or near its genetic potential that highly aerated soils do not. This isn't disparaging anyone or the way anyone grows; these are simply facts that we can be absolutely sure of because the science is settled, and we can use these facts to make our own decisions about how we want to proceed. If you decide what I said makes sense & want to look deeper into it, there are already a large number of people who are like-minded and have discovered how much easier it is to grow in well-aerated soils. If you want to learn more, there are many who would be glad to guide you - if you don't, that's ok too. I always figure that my job ends after I explain why a highly aerated soil is going to increase your potential for satisfaction considerably, and after I know you have reliable and unbiased information to work with. It's been difficult lately to make sure that what you hear isn't misleading, but I'll assure you that I'm not a bluffer, nor would I ever try to steer you wrong for any reason, so the ball's in your court. ;-)

For the embedded links, look for a hotmail code @ your image hosting site.

Photobucket

I'm glad we got a chance to visit.

Al



 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

I have always gardened outside and did not have houseplants, now that we're in a condo I wanted to have some indoor plants and have just approached them the same way I would an outside garden - very wrong I now see!

Yes picasaweb has all those features, I don't like photobucket and I can upload from iphoto to picasa easily. I have been trying other tags I will try the auto-generated html tags from picasa here:


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 8, 11 at 8:47

There are a lot of people who regularly assert that there is no right or wrong way to grow, and I agree almost entirely with that assertion, so it's not as though you're doing anything wrong. I mean, how do we judge what is the right or wrong way? There is too much room for disagreement if I tell you you're doing something 'wrong', so I never say that. We could also assert that there is really no right or wrong way to raise a child, and though its unlikely that we would ever agree on what is exactly the right way, I think most of us would agree that a stable environment and loving parents with plenty of guidance and some discipline is preferred to letting the child raise him/herself. It's the same with raising plants - while there is no right or wrong way, there are practices that are poor, ok, better, and approaching best. If you're comparing 'ok' to poor, 'ok' looks pretty good, but what's wrong with 'better' and 'better still'? When I try to help people understand the concept behind providing a highly aerated environment where their plant's roots have a much better opportunity to flourish than if they were in a heavy, peaty soil, it's not because I want them to adopt "MY" way. I don't think in those terms. I just want them to understand that if they want to, they can move beyond 'poor' or 'just ok', which is how I would honestly describe most out of the bag soils, to something better or approaching best.

Because there is such a vast difference between 'just ok' and 'approaching best', there is room for major improvements in our ability to provide a healthier environment for roots. I thing we all agree that if roots aren't happy, it's impossible for any part of the plant to be happy. I agree that you can amend peaty from-the-bag soils and improve them a little bit, but I say why just improve them a little bit when you have everything on hand to improve them 'significantly'? Along with significant improvement comes the fact that maintaining your plants in healthy condition is MUCH easier because you can water and fertilize with almost no worry about root issues or over/under-fertilizing, the result being a much greater potential for healthy plants.

It's easy if you want to go forward. As I noted upthread, I think your issues are related to the absence of a drain hole and accumulating salts in the soil. I can't say the result of those conditions are soil related, because even extremely fast soils like the gritty mix can support trouble w/o a drain, but I can say that it's a near certainty that you can improve your growing experience significantly by understanding and applying the concept set down in the thread I linked you to upthread on 4/5.

All the best .....

Al


 o
update re: pachira leaf problem

I finally found the time to re-pot my pachira. Since I last posted I did not water it at all, and the leaves have been holding steady, with many showing brown edges or looking yellow but still lots of healthy green, especially on one side.

I bought cactus mix, since I am in a condo with a very small balcony and I don't really have a work space to sift or mix soil. Without recent watering the soil was easy to remove from the pot, the whole thing did become much lighter (remember I said I could barely lift it - must have been way too much water retained). Though still difficult to fit through the doorway out onto the balcony I managed at an angle.

The soil was not actually compacted it was easy to remove from what I hesitate to call a "root ball" because really, I have never seen anything like this plant under the soil (I have never had a pachira before). It has a trunk about 6" across the widest part (5 stems braided) and under the soil surface this continued about 6" down, where it ended in a flat bottom, looks like it had been sawed off and plunked in soil. There were a very few pathetic roots coming out from the main stem, and that's it. I can't even believe this plant stays alive with this few roots, my herbs have far more roots than this 8' tree!

I did not go down to a smaller pot, partly out of stability concerns - I don't want it falling over due to the tree height. It's actually in a 14" diameter pot when I measured it, earlier I think I said bigger but that was my eyeball estimate.

I planted it in the cactus mix, which came moist so I will not water it until it dries out more. I also added a layer of gravel under the real pot, inside the decorative pot to improve air flow and ensure no water sits - though the water seemed to stay in the soil itself and never came out the bottom, I can tell since there are no water stains in the outer pot (our hard water leaves very obvious marks) I also think I should use distilled water, because our incredibly hard tap water is very alkaline and contains so many different contaminants.

Questions:

1. when should I first fertilize it (with liquid Foliage Pro)
2. should I be concerned that the cactus mix came quite moist and that it does not seem much different than the soil that the plant came in? The cactus mix contains redwood bark, peat moss and vermiculite.

Thanks again for all your help!


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Good morning, and welcome back, Tinan!

1. I begin fertilizing about 2 weeks after a re-potting.

2. As you can see, the Cactus Mix is not much of an improvement over the original soil.
You'll need to water very sparingly from now on, and I think the distilled water will be a
good choice (if I'm wrong, I hope Al will provide the correct information). Stick a skewer
or a chopstick into the soil and leave it there - then, every week, pull the stick and check
it for moisture at the bottom. Only water when the stick is dry, and this will help you
work around the water-retentive (heavy) soil.

Your tree desperately needs to grow a full set of roots, otherwise it will continue its decline.


Josh


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

I agree, because what you described as a "rootball" is what mine looked like. I am very thankful that I switched to custom potting mixes. I am guessing that a lot of your roots rotted away, as mine did, especially in the middle of the pot, and towards the bottom, were the perched water hangs out. But, as Josh said, water sparingly, to make sure you don't continue to rot away those roots.

Joe


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Maybe I should go back and get stuff for the custom mix, but I am not exactly sure what I need:

- perlite, bark fines and ?

Today the upper leaves are droopy, guess it needs a bit of water. I'll get some of those skewers to monitor.

Do any of you use those moisture meters that you stick i the pot and they say when to water?


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Moisture meters actually measure the electrical conductivity of the soil, which obviously has a relationship to the water that's in it. However, they are not reliable, so I wouldn't rely on them. Basically, electrical conductivity of soil can be affected by MANY things, such as temperature, coarseness, and the type of water you use. A good experiment is to stick it in water. Tap water will read out as "wet", but dip it in some distilled water, and you get a different result. Pure water is not conductive, because it lacks dissolved solids for electricity to flow. I "had" one of those things, and I tested it out on 2 plants. One was in the 5-1-1 mix, and the other in the gritty mix. Both were literally JUST watered, and the meter read "dry" for both....the needle never even moved. This was because these mixes are loose and free draining, thus not completed the "conductive" circuit of the meter.

Short answer, minus the technical jargon: Don't use it.

As for the custom mixes, do a search on gardenweb of "gritty mix" and "5-1-1 mix". This will give you all the info you need, and there's plenty of it.

Joe


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 26, 11 at 9:46

What Joe said ....

Al


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Makes sense re: moisture meter.

I did do a search on gritty mix, but so many hundreds of posts come up and none had a straightforward list of what was needed, and which proportion what is in. (what is 5, what is 1?) Maybe a sticky thread with a how-to would be helpful?


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Hi tinan,
The gritty mix is
1 part bark
1 part turface
1 part Grit

The 5-1-1 is
5 parts bark
1 part perlite
1 part peat moss

All measurements are by volume

The gritty mix is usually used for long term plantings, and the 5-1-1 is more for things like veggies and annuals.

Below I've offered a link to a post that will explain it all in depth. When your done reading it, (it is long, but very helpful!) ask what questions you may have. There are many here that will be more than happy to get you growing in the right direction.

JoJo

Here is a link that might be useful: Containers Soils~ Water movement and retention


 o
RE: pachira leaf problem

Thanks! THe tree is looking very droopy still - hope I didn't damage to few remaining roots too badly :(


 o
update re: pachira leaf problem

Just an update to thank all of you for the Pachira advice. My pachira is looking a lot better now since the repotting into succulent mix. The soil still holds a lot of water but I am only using distilled water about once a week. I have fertilized it once with the Foliage Pro concentrate and it really seemed to like that. It has many new leaves so I was able to remove almost all of the brown/yellow "burned" looking leaves. I do think the problem was salts in the soil as well as too much moisture, our tap water is absolutely horrible (if you leave a glass of tap water to evaporate there will be a thick layer of chalky gunk on the bottom).

Next time I re-pot I'll try to make a gritty mix.


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