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Aquatic pachira

Aquatic pachira

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Question: Pachira aquatica

Good morning,
I was given a pachira aquatica plant in September. At first the plant seemed to be doing well, but now it has lost many leaves and the new ones are light green in color and are practically already wilted. I live in Rome, I keep the plant in a medium-lit room, at a temperature of 18/20 degrees. I water it once a week. I've tried lately to give her the fertilizer for green plants, but to no avail. Can you help me? I would hate for the plant to bother me, because it was given to me by someone close to me for my wedding. Thanks. My e-mail address is [email protected]
Thanks again.
Maria Barilaro

Answer: Pachira aquatica

Dearest Maria,
We thank you for contacting us regarding the question about Pachira through the "" expert's column.
The first thing we do is wish you for the wedding and then we inform you that, at present, not much information is available on this type of plant.
Le Pachira, Pachira aquatica also known as Bombax aquatica, is from the Bombacaceae family (like the Baobab), which reaches its natural state in the equatorial zones, high dimensions, but can also be cultivated in pots.
It is characterized by large (30 cm) and green leaves composed of 5-9 oval leaves. It also produces fragrant flowers with long, slightly pink pistils. It produces edible fruits in the period February - August (but in the country of Mexican and Central America origin). It is a fast-growing tree and reaches even 20 meters.
It should be treated as a classic green apartment plant.
Therefore the watering in the winter period must be reduced, water must not be created and leaf sprays must be done to compensate for the excessive dryness of the air given by the radiators turned on.
It must be positioned in illuminated places, it does not come into direct contact with the sun's rays, but neither in excessively shaded places.
The fertilizations must be regular, bringing macro and microelements to avoid leaf yellowing. It is advisable to carry out periodical fertilizer additions even in winter, preferably complete with all the nutritional elements.
The Pachira aquatica is not particularly demanding in terms of soil, as long as it has excellent drainage (I would avoid peaty soils). It prefers fairly high temperatures, even if it bears, if kept dry, minimum temperatures of 12-14 ° C.
The combination of stagnation of water with low temperatures that causes yellowing and premature fall of the leaves is very dangerous.
The repottings are done every 2-3 years.
In summer it can be placed outside, in bright but not too sunny positions (the ideal is an area exposed to the east where the sun beats in the morning);
Yours sincerely.

How to repot the Pachira

Pachira is a plant that if it finds the right conditions it can grow quite quickly. When a houseplant grows rapidly it may be that in a short time it may need more space and new soil ... in practice a repotting. Let's see for a moment how the repotting is done pachira and what are the precautions to be taken in this important crop operation.
First, let's remember what the Pachira needs in terms of terrain. This plant does not require special soils to grow properly and a neutral substrate is fine as long as there is no water stagnation. This plant in fact suffers from water stagnation in an important way and for this it needs a soil that drains quickly.
For repotting it is always better to get the universal soil to which we will add sand and peat in similar quantities. The important thing, as mentioned above, is to prevent clayey soils with strong water stagnation or that otherwise retain too much water.

Description and origins of the Pachira

La Pachira aquatica is a tropical tree from the wetlands and marshes, especially in Mexico and northern Brazil. In the areas of origin it is also nicknamed Guyana chestnut or Malabar nut.
The name Pachira probably comes from Creole and refers to an animal that feeds mainly on its fruits.
It belongs to the Bombaceae family and is therefore genetically close to the baobabs.
It is a tree with an enlarged stem that can reach, in its natural habitat, even 18 meters high. As a houseplant, however, it can reach a maximum of 3 meters. Its bark is smooth and green.
As for the others belonging to his family the trunk has the tendency to assume the shape of a bottle, that is to say to be swollen in the lower part and more subtle in the upper part. The drums are initially very flexible and therefore can be twisted.
The leaves are palmate and have a beautiful bright green. The diameter of each measures about 30 cm and is structurally composed of 5 to 9 elliptical leaflets.
From December to March it produces very showy and fragrant flowers whose diameter measures about 20 cm. The petals are long and lanceolate and open like banana peels to finally show the yellow-orange or white stamens with the red ends.
The fruits appear from February and June. They have the same shape as cocoa beans, reaching 30 cm in length and about 12 in width, fleshy and initially green. Over time they lignify then containing round and edible seeds.
The species of pachira most known are: the aquatic pachira, the pachira glabra and the pachira insignis. Only the first is known and cultivated as a houseplant.

Cultivation of the Pachira

Pachira cultivation is not at all difficult if some general rules are respected. Keep in mind that the plant's well-being is assured if you can reproduce an environment that is as similar as possible to the original one. In particular for pachira we are talking about substropical rain forests. So the temperatures must never be too high or low, instead the humidity must always be rather high. The lighting must reflect that of the undergrowth, therefore intense, but never too direct.


In almost all of Italy, the pachira can only be considered a houseplant. In fact, temperatures should preferably not fall below 10 ° C. In reality it is able to withstand even lower temperatures (usually up to 0 ° C): it will certainly lose its leaves and struggling for some time before recovering.
In winter they should be kept indoors, possibly in a room that is not too heated with temperatures ranging from 12 to 15 ° C.
During the summer, on the other hand, they also bear 30 ° C provided they are well positioned and in an environment with high atmospheric humidity.
In some regions of our peninsula (such as Sicily, the south of Sardinia and other islands located even further south) it is possible to cultivate it outside, even in the open ground.


The pachira needs a very bright exposure, but it must not be exposed to direct light, especially during the summer months. This could cause irreparable foliar burns up to the birth of new vegetation and therefore the total renewal of the foliage.
At home it can be placed near a large window. Usually the direct light of the first and last hours of the day does not cause problems. From 11 to 17, instead, it is good that it is filtered by light colored curtains.
During the summer it is preferable, if possible, to place the plant outside. In fact, to grow at its best, pachira needs good and abundant air circulation. An environment with stagnant air can cause cryptogams, pest attacks and slowed growth.
We can then place it on a terrace or directly in the garden. The ideal is that it is sheltered under deciduous trees. In this way the light will not be too intense, but neither will it be excessively weakened.
If we do not have this possibility we can create a small shelter with thin reed mats.


During the vegetative period the pachira requires frequent interventions. In fact, the substrate must always be moist (but never watered anyway).
Given its origin from the rainforests it is undoubtedly advisable to use little or no mineralized water. This could, over time, cause microcrystals to form on the roots and drastically reduce their ability to absorb nutrients from the substrate.
Rainwater is ideal: let's avoid that fall in the first hours after a long drought. In fact, it is often heavily compromised by smog in the air.
The water deriving from dehumidifiers and air conditioners is just as good. Otherwise we can use the one suitable for irons.
In winter, with the period of rest, the irrigations can be delayed: we intervene only to avoid the ground it dries up completely.

Environmental humidity

The humidity in the air is very important for the health of the plant.
The pachira is able to withstand even very high temperatures (above 30 degrees) as long as the air is full of water vapor.
It is therefore essential that, in the apartment or outdoors, we commit ourselves from this point of view.
A simple way to encourage humidity is to place a saucer full of expanded clay or glass marbles under the container. In this, water must always be present which, by evaporating, will create the right habitat. We only pay attention to the fact that the roots never come into contact with the liquid because this could cause rot.
If we keep the plant outside, in addition to this trick, we can also intervene several times a day by abundantly wetting the soil or the pavement around the vase. Evaporation will do the rest.
The ideal environment can also be favored by the juxtaposition of a large number of plants.

Land and repotting

The pachira from this point of view is not very demanding. Almost all green plant soils that can be found on the market are suitable. In general, we stress that we must avoid substrates that are too compact and clayey, which would compromise water run-off and could give rise to rotting of the underground apparatus.
The ideal vase is made up of a good draining layer on the bottom, composed of gravel or expanded clay. The soil should be indicatively produced by combining 1/3 of humified soil, 1/3 of peat and 1/3 of draining material such as sand or perlite.
The pachires have a rather fast growth. Consequently the repotting must be carried out indicatively once a year, preferably at the end of winter. This operation, in addition to replacing the earth and expanding the space available to the plant, is useful for checking the state of the roots. These must be reduced and any parts compromised by rotting must be reclaimed.
In any case it is advisable to carry out some treatment with foseti-aluminum or propamocarb.


Fertilization must be carried out during the vegetative period, intervening about once a month. All liquid fertilizers for green plants are suitable, possibly well balanced.


Pachira does not need pruning. We intervene only to eliminate old or damaged leaves from parasites or any burns.


If we want to get new pachira seedlings we can choose whether to proceed by cutting or by sowing.
We will illustrate the procedure of the cutting since it gives faster and more certain results besides not being subject to genetic variability. Furthermore, the seeds are difficult to obtain because the plant rarely manages to bear fruit.


Proceed in spring by taking a portion of stem at a node. The segment withdrawn must be at least 10-15 cm long and be characterized by the presence of at least two nodes.
Sprinkle the part with a rooting product and insert the part in depth a mixture of peat and sand (or, better still, peat and agriperlite). We keep the substratum always damp (also inserting a mild anticryptogamic in the irrigation water) and we keep the container in an environment with about 20 ° C and shady. The rooting takes place rather quickly (usually it does not need more than a month).
Once the first shoots appear, we can expose the cuttings to a more intense light. Towards the end of the summer we can move them into individual jars with substrate suitable for adult plants.

Aquatic pachira: Pests and diseases

These are generally quite healthy plants.
The most common parasites are
- Mealybugs, appear with the appearance of spots on the back of the leaves. By observing you will certainly notice the presence of these insects. If few can be eradicated by removing them manually and passing alcohol on the part. Otherwise it is good to use a mineral oil activated with a possibly systemic insecticide
- Red spider mite or yellow occurs with a rapid deterioration of the plant and bronze coloring of the leaves. It fights with specific acaricides and increases the environmental humidity.
- Aphids appear on the tips and feed on the sap, then producing honeydew. They fight with insecticides.
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