Ask a Question forum: Help! My Pachira aquatica is dying!

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UK
JosieUK
Jan 14, 2019 3:11 PM CST
Hi there, I bought a money tree to make my new flat feel like home and I am totally in love with it, but it has been a sad story from the beginning really.. It lost nearly all its leaves and after much googling I think it was in a too bright spot, right by the window, and the temperature varies a lot in here.
I've learnt a lot though and now it's not getting too much light and I got excited that it was just beginning to sprout some new tiny leaves from the stems that don't have any left - there's hope! - but now I see webby messes over the growing tips and tiny insecty things. I imagine they're spider mites? But I can't find anywhere what to do! Can I avoid them spreading to my other plants? Is there hope for my tree?
I'd appreciate any advice at all, I'm a total amateur to this, thanks so much!
Josie
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jan 14, 2019 3:39 PM CST
Welcome!

Yes, spider mites. And Yes, they will spread to your other plants. The best treatment is a bath in warm soapy water. Its not a bad idea to give all your house plants a warm soapy bath periodically. Spider mites love dust.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 14, 2019 4:03 PM CST
Those red things in the photos are the spider mites. They take advantage of plants that are under stress, often from soil that gets too dry. What has your watering routine been?

How far is it from the window and what direction does that window face?

All of the stems have lost most of their lower leaves and those leaves will. never be replaced. New growth only comes in at the tops of each stem. The only way to get your Pachira back into shape again is by pruning all of the stems back to a height of 4-6 inches above the top of the braided portion. New growth will then emerge on those stems starting just below the pruning cuts.

If you prune before you treat the spider mites, it will be easier to treat the mites.

If possible, fill the sink or tub with soapy water, invert the pot while holding the soil in the pot and then swirl the stems around in the soapy water. That will ensure that you get complete coverage on all of the stems and make contact with all of the nearly invisible mites.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
UK
JosieUK
Jan 14, 2019 4:03 PM CST
Hi, thanks so much for your quick answer!
Interesting that they like dust because I'm super allergic and actually moved here to get away from a really dusty place.. I have been better since moving but maybe that's all relative... anyways yes warm soapy baths! I presume you don't mean a submerging bath (I really am a novice here), but a sponging down? Thank You!
UK
JosieUK
Jan 14, 2019 4:09 PM CST
Ohh very informative!

I've watered it if the soil is mostly dry when I poke my finger in.. very scientific.. I did check for root rot a while back when it started looking sad and the roots seemed fine.. to me.

It was right next to a south east facing window until very recently. I don't think that was great for it according to things I've read. Now it's at the back of the same room, not that far from the light but not right in it.

That's really clear advice, thank you! I was thinking it would end up looking a little gangly.. (I'd still love it!) I will definitely try that tomorrow (it's 10pm here). And I will bath my other poor plants too, I have a new monstera which I'm totally in love with and worried it might become infected.

[Last edited by JosieUK - Jan 14, 2019 4:10 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 14, 2019 4:11 PM CST
The leaves and stems should be submerged, but not the soil. Wiping will leave many of the tiny mites behind and the infestation will return.

It is very dry air that encourages mites to reproduce, not dust.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 14, 2019 4:14 PM CST
I cannot see how it is potted in the photos. Unless the pot is unusually large, it should be watered as soon as the top half-inch of soil feels dry.

That location seems about right.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
UK
JosieUK
Jan 14, 2019 4:20 PM CST
Oh okay, probably more water needed than I thought too. The pot is fairly small.
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How often should I bath it to keep them at bay? Should I look at increasing the humidity in here?

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jan 14, 2019 5:02 PM CST
Yes, hot and dry but also dust.

http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTN...

Pachira aquatica is native to swampy areas of South America. That should give you a hint (along with aquatica which means living near or in water) about watering needs. Keep the soil moist.

They do need plenty of sunlight but you have to introduce your plant to its sunny home gradually.

Naturally, these trees have long straight trunks with a ball of leaves on top. You can decide where you want yours to branch buy cutting the top off - it will branch just below where you cut. Start new plants with the cuttings.

Edited to add: Humidity will make the tree happier (and if your house is very dry, you happier). I assumed, because you live in the UK, humidity was not a problem. Spider mites absolutely hate humid environments.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
[Last edited by DaisyI - Jan 14, 2019 5:06 PM (+)]
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UK
JosieUK
Jan 14, 2019 5:13 PM CST
Thank you everyone for the really helpful advice, I really appreciate it!
I'll do my best with what you've recommended and hopefully we'll make it.
Thanks again!
Josie Smiling
Crossing Fingers!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jan 14, 2019 5:25 PM CST
Thumbs up
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jan 14, 2019 5:57 PM CST
Hmm. Hot and dry are relative terms. It hasn't been either hot or dry due to nightly heavy fog here for a couple of months...yet I have red spider mites killing a tomato plant out doors for two months. I've been alternating between soap and neem oil sprays on a weekly basis, and still have the little monsters. Of course adequate coverage is not possible on an 8' tomato plant, but the cool damp weather should have at least slowed them down.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jan 14, 2019 6:26 PM CST
You would think. Have you tried Insecticidal Soap? How big of a bucket do you have? Maybe you can dip it. Rolling on the floor laughing
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
Image
ctcarol
Jan 14, 2019 8:01 PM CST
Um. They don't make buckets that big that I know of. This is an indeterminate plant in ground...about 8 '. I empty a gallon sprayer on it every week, but no matter how many strange positions I use, I just can't get the underside of every leaf. Ran out of insecticidal soap, so using Dr. Bonners. If the rain we are supposed to get for the rest of the week doesn't do them in, I'll give up and buy those tomatoes from Mexico. Sad
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 14, 2019 8:12 PM CST
@JosieUK - More light and more water are what your Pachira needs. If you are really thorough in covering all leaf and stem surfaces with soap and water, a single treatment is usually sufficient. Ordinary liquid dish soap works as well as any soap as long as it is applied to the point where the leaves and stems are dripping wet. The soap solution has to make direct contact with every single mite.

Humidity is not much of a problem for Pachira. I have many that do quite well in very dry winter air.

The reproductive rate of spider mites goes much higher as temperatures rise. Normally, as temps go up the air becomes drier so we tend to associate the two. It is the warmer air that is the greater promoter of spider mite reproduction.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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