Good afternoon. Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me on this question.
My 15-20 year old money tree is having some problems recently, but I do not know what the problem is. In September, we repotted the tree from a 12 inch container to a 16 inch container. We repotted it using a mix of compost, topsoil, peat moss, and vermiculite. We sterilized all the ingredients using a microwave and doing it in batches before cooling it and putting it into the pot. We water it about once a week or when the water meter tells us that the soil is dry.
About two months ago, we realize there were some honeydew or sticky substance coming out of the stem and leaves of the top leaves. However, I do not see any scale insects on the plant. The plant has always been indoors. From the internet, I learned to put 1 tsp of neem oil in 1 quart of water and spray it on the leaves. The leaves are still a little sticky on the underside of the leaves.
Then about two weeks ago, the leaves are turning yellow/brown around the edges of the leaves. This is happening throughout the top, middle, and bottom leaves of the tree. The center vein in some leaves are turning lighter in color or yellow. Around 5-10 leaves are dropping to the floor every day. I have never seen it drop so many leaves in such a short amount of time in the many years we had the plant. Some of the leaves also are growing, but the leaves are deformed. Some leaves are bent down in the middle, or distorted at the edge.
Is this a sign of the tree dying? I really want to save my tree as we have preserved it well over the years. It is currently a little over 6 feet tall. If you have any insight of what I should do next, please let me know. Thank you and happy holidays.
Kings County New York
Thank you for the great detail in your description of the problem you are experiencing. Part of the problem is the large jump in pot size that you made when you re-potted. Your plant is now in a lot more soil than before and the extra soil is holding moisture around the roots longer than in the old pot. Re-potting in fall, just as the plant moves into a rest period and has less sunlight to stimulate it, can compound the problem. And roots may have been damaged during the repotting, requiring a period of adjustment for the plant. Make sure that the soil is draining properly and that the plant is not sitting in any run-off water.
Loss of older, lower leaves is not unusual, but Is your plant near a heat vent or a window that is occasionally opened in winter? The shock of temperature change can also cause leaves to fall.
Finally, examine the undersides of leaves and leaf/ stem joints carefully for tiny insects. There is also a possibility of insects around the roots, but be very careful not to disturb or damage the roots further if you decide to look.