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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - March 17, 2016

From: Bradenton, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Pachira aquatica loosing leaves.
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We have an indoor money tree that is 20 feet tall, the leaves have started to turn brown and fall. We water twice a month and mist about the same. Can you opine what what we are doing wrong the plant has been with us for 6 years and is dear to us?

ANSWER:

According to Wikipedia, the Money tree or Guiana chestnut (Pachira aquatica) is a tropical wetland tree in the Malvaceae family and native to Central and South America where it grows in swamps. It is not a native tree and therefore isn't in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center database. I have seen a Pachira aquatica growing to that size inside the Butterfly Conservatory at the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. It is planted in a generous amount of soil and gets the same amount of water as the other tropical plants. The leaves do turn brown on the edges occassionally and the older ones do drop.

If your plant is dropping a lot of leaves perhaps it needs water more frequently than just 2 x a month. Misting twice a month is not very effective and you can discontinue it.

A quick search online resulted in these tips from the www.apartmenttherapy.com website ...

This plant loves moisture but you should never let it stand in water. Good drainage is essential.
• Position this plant in bright indirect light indoors.
• Water this plant consistently. 1 - 2 times per week depending on humidity. Make sure you water all the topsoil, just until the water starts leaking out the drain holes.
• For optimal longevity, lightly fertilize the Pachira 3 - 4 times a year with a water-soluble fertilizer.

 

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