The Q&A Archives: Advice for my Pachira Aquatica plant (Money Tree)

Question: Hello Plant expert,

I've written to you before for my Murraya Paniculata, and your advice to check for scales benifitted me greatly as I had an almost infestation I think. I sprayed it with the horticultural oil 3 times with 2 week intervals in between. I also added a fluorescent floor lamp right next to it and I give it more light since it's winter and we have shorter daylight. It is not loosing as many leaves as before , and it has given me blooms of Jasmine for the month of January and February in Toronto , Canada. Wow I really enjoyed that. I would get a cup of coffee and sit next to it and close my eyes and think I'm somewhere in the tropics. Thank you very much. I just have a question regarding some of the secondary smaller branches or twigs that have lost their leaves. I would like to prune them off , where exactly do I cut ? The smaller twig? or the bigger branch that joins the tree? Some of the little twigs looked dried out so I cut just that part, but should I cut the whole part that is extendning out? There is no leaves on them just little branches that stick out. I'm just keeping them in case new growth might start somewhere on it.Please advise me where is right place to prune them.

I also purchased a Pachira aquatica a couple of days ago it is a 5 branch braided one, it is 2 feet tall above soil extended height, the braided part is about 15 inches and the rest of the height is the leaves. Now I bought this in a round ceramic bowl 9 inches diameter and 7 inches height. This bowl has no drainage holes, and that doesn't look too good to me, as I googled to find out info about the plant and they say this plant should drain well as it can develop root rot and kill the plant. I also find some of the information given contradictoy, some say to let the soil dry completely between waterings and some say don't. I guess I have to wait and find out by my own experience with my own plant, but I don't want to kill it by doing something wrong.
My one concern now is since it has no drainage hole how much water should I give a pot that size to make sure it gets enough, without flooding it and giving it root rot. I don't want to change the pot right now as I just got it and I don't want to give it a shock. Maybe in the summer I'll put it in draining pot. It's a pitty because the ceramic bowl is very pretty. I am thinking of giving it about 2 cups of water, is it too much for that size pot?
Also when I bought it they had the top of the soil covered with some hay like dried grass, it's not spanish moss , I guess it's for decoration purposes but I removed it this morning so the plant could breath since aireating the plant is important for root rot. Should this plant be covered for some reason?
Plant expert please help me with whatever info you can give me on my questions, and any other advice regarding this plant.

I greatly appreciate your help. Thank you.

Vivian B.

Answer: Congratulations on the blooms on your Murraya, that is so wonderful! As far as pruning, cut off any dead twigs (dry, brittle, discolored twigs) and then trim a little bit more if needed to give the plant a pleasing look. Each cut should be made just outside (just past or just above) a branch to avoid leaving long, bare stubs. New growth will eventually hide the cuts.

The money tree question is a judgement call. It is never good to have a pot without drainage holes as you know, excess water trapped in the bottom of the container is not healthy. On the other hand, this is not the best time of year to repot and as you mentioned you do not want to shock the plant.

How much to water depends on the type of soil mix as well as the size of the pot in relation to the size of the plant and also the humidity and temperature of the place where it is being grown. So there is no rule to give you on the amount. Watch your plant and see how it responds. I would use tepid water, apply it very slowly, take care not to saturate the soil but try to keep it damp like a wrung out sponge. Hopefully they put a bit of gravel and horticultural charcoal in the bottom of the container to try to allow space for excess water to collect away from the roots.

When it comes time to repot, you might be able to find a pot with drainage holes that fits inside the decorative pot so it looks nice. (Raise the utilitarian pot up off the bottom of the fancy one so it never sits in water.)

The straw or whatever material on the surface is just decorative so you may discard if you wish. But, as long as it is an air permeable material and does not touch the stem it would not contribute to root rot.

I hope this helps!

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