The Q&A Archives: Caring tips for my Pachira plant

Question: Dear NGA expert,

I bought a Pachira ( Money Tree Plant) in February 07, it had 4 braids and was about 2-2.5 feet from top to bottom. I placed it on the side of Southern facing window where the blinds are on a slant almost shut all the time , so it gets filtered light not direct. My problem at the time was that it came in a nice ceramic pot that had no holes at the bottom, so I had to be careful with overwatering since there was no drainage holes. In time I got used to the plant and it got used to it's new place and it was doing fine producing new green leaves one after another. One day I noticed one of the braids started getting softer and eventually I cut the plant just where the braid was starting and took the bottom soft part out. This was last year since then it was O.K. and still looked healthy.
For about 3 months in the summer I changed it's position from S-E to S-W , always behind filtred light, then put it back. It ws O.K. for a while then suddenly I noticed the color of the leaves started getting lighter green instead of the nice deep rich green that it was. Also the older growth leaves, closer to the braids started getting yellow one by one so I cut them out and eventually the whole stem which has 5 leaves on it turned yellow so I took them off . This is still going on and already the plant is starting to look empty at the bottom as I'm loosing them one by one. Eventually it will look like a palm tree with the braids and empty long stems and new growth on top.
What is it that I'm doing wrong now? As far as I'm concerned I'm still giving it the same care as last yeat when the plant looked healthy. To make sure that I don't overwater since I don't have drainage I put my finger in the soil and when it's dry I water it, I don't water when it still feels moist. Is this wrong now? This is what I was doing last year too. The only thing I'm not doing this year is misting it. I was in the beginning then I realized that I'm slso misting the furniture all around it so I stopped. Is this why the leaves became a lighter green and I'm loosing the bottom leaves.
I was thinking of maybe transplanting it this summer in a slightly bigger pot with a drainage whole, but am reluctant now since the plant doesn't seem to be too happy. Mind you it's giving new leaves regularly on top and getting taller.
I'm sorry I wrote too long but I wanted to explain my situation fully. I would appreciate any advice or help that you can give me.Here's a recap of the questions I'm asking.

1- Why did the plant become a lighter green instead of it's original deep green color?

2- Why am I loosing the bottom leaves?

3- Should I start fertilizing now that it's Spring or will this harm it even more at this stage?

4- Should I transplant now , not and what's the best way to do it.

5- Is not misting my problem?

Thank you so much for your help

Vivian B.

Answer: Although long, your question was detailed enough for us to get the pertinent background information on your Pachira. It's too bad that you didn't transplant your Pachira as soon as you recognized the pot had no drainage holes because we think the problems your plant is experiencing come from root rot - lack of proper drainage. I know you've been careful with your watering, but stagnant water was probably collecting in the bottom of the pot. As the roots grew into this slurry of stagnant water and potting soil, they didn't get enough oxygen and root rot developed. I think if you unpot the plant, you'll find the roots will be mushy and there will probably be an odor. You can try to save your plant by repotting into a more suitable container and using fresh potting soil - but there are no guarantees. It may be too far gone to save. I think it's worth the effort, though.

Best wishes with your plant!

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