Malabar Chestnut losing leaves

Asked January 5, 2017, 12:37 PM EST

Dear Gardening Expert, I bought a malabar chestnut / pachira aquatica / money tree in November and about 2 weeks ago it started dropping yellowing leaves, at first a couple a week, and now it is losing at least one every day. We repotted the tree (4 plants, weaved together) with general potting soil, started watering it, a couple weeks later gave it a couple fertilizer sticks (1/3 dose), and a week later it started growing new shoots from each plant, up to 5 or 6 total. I have been giving it 1.5 liters of water every week, that leads to just a little water coming out the bottom of the pot. The plant has been near the balcony window/door and got direct sun for most of the morning. 2-3 weeks ago it began dropping leaves that turned almost entirely yellow, with a little green left, from old stems on each plant and it has been getting more frequent. We moved the tree a little farther from the window a week ago, fearing that it was getting dried out being right under a vent. It is rather dry inside, about 74F, and we mist it about every other day. Do you have any ideas on what the problem might be? Too much or too little water? Please help! Thanks,

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Pachira aquatica, money tree likes moist conditions, bright light, and humidity in its native area. Indoors conditions are different. It has been repottted and dropped leaves can be an indication of transplant shock. The root system is trying to adjust. Also, sounds like it may be overwatered. No fertilizer spikes are recommended as it concentrates the fertilizer in one area and this can affect the root system too. Focus on proper care.
Bright, indirect light (no direct sun) is best for this plant. Keep away from the coldness of windows and doors, and also keep away from heat & ac vents. You may want to try using a humidifier to increase humidity. Water this plant until completely moistened, then water again ONLY when the top 1-2" of soil is dry. You will need to feel the soil with your finger for dryness. Do not let the plant sit in water as this can cause root rot. Be sure the water drains all the way through, then empty any saucer so it doesn't sit in the water.
Fertilize about once each month in spring and summer with 1/2 strength of a balanced liquid fertilizer. Because plant growth slows down in the winter months with the reduction of light, don't fertilize in the winter months. See the attached link for more information