This type of tropical shrub of the genus Pachira is cultivated in our latitudes as indoor plant. Very aesthetic, the Pachira is distinguished by its webbed leaves of great elegance. It brings to the decoration a exotic touch. Only the species Pachira aquatica is sold. In garden centres, this plant, which looks like a small tree, is distinguished by its beautiful foliage in a crown but also by its braided trunk. Let’s get to know the Pachira, then see how to care for it and when is the best time of year to repot it.
Peculiarities of the Pachira
This shrub nicknamed among others French Guiana chestnutbelongs to the family of Malvaceae according to the genetic classification, but the classical classification lists it among the plants of the family of Bombacaceae.
In its natural environment, it can reach adulthood between 16 and 18 meters height. Fans can be reassured, it hardly exceeds 1.50 m if it is raised indoors and its trunk takes up little space, so that the Pachira is well suited to small-area dwellings.
The trunk of the Pachira is naturally bulged and this is where water and nutrient reserves are stored. But in garden centres, the shrub is generally marketed with a braided trunk. This contributes to the general enthusiasm for this decorative shrub. This braiding is not natural of course. It is quite simply its young shoots which, even before they lignify, we are the subject of a manual braiding.
Ses palmate leaves with leaflets measure more or less 30 cm in diameter. They are a beautiful bright soft green. In the wild, the Pachira flowers from December until the end of March. Its flowers, about twenty centimeters in diameter, are stunningly beautiful with their long red and orange-yellow stamens.
When it reaches the age of 5, it produces between the end of winter and the beginning of summer, fruits that look like cocoa pods. They contain edible hazelnuts peanut flavor. It should not be abused because consumed in excess these seeds could present a risk of toxicity because of the cyclopropenoid fatty acids they contain. Note that Pachira grown as a houseplant has little chance of bearing fruit since it does not flower in this type of environment.
Cultivate the Pachira
Ce beautiful ornamental shrub like to benefit from high luminosity but must be protected from direct sunlight. However, placing it in a dark room considerably slows its growth. Its ideal temperature is 20°C whatever the season. In any case, it must not be below 10°C nor above 22°C. It can therefore be installed in a hot greenhouse. Regarding its culture medium, a good soil for indoor plants suits him perfectly.
It is highly recommended to plant your Pachira in a large pierced pot on which we start by depositing a good drainage layer such as shards of terracotta, balls of clay or gravel. The rest of the container is filled with a quality potting soil suitable for plants grown at home.
Few regions in France allow you to grow a Pachira outdoors and leave it there for 12 months out of 12. It can however spend the summer outside, sheltered from drafts, in a corner of the garden sheltered from the sun. hot or on a semi-shaded terrace, and only if the temperature is not too excessive.
Water the Pachira
Very tolerant, it is able to withstand drought for a fortnight and even excess water provided that it does not happen too often and is of short duration. This ornamental tree may be sturdy, but that does not mean that it should be watered haphazardly. Moreover, excessive watering ends up suffocating it, which leads to its withering.
Let’s say that in spring and summer, we can water your Pachira every 7 to 10 days, that is, not before the earth is dry on the surface. We pour the water on the substrate then we empty the cache-pot or the saucer because the roots must not bathe in the water!
We reduce the frequency of watering in the fall to dispense more than one per month throughout the winter. However, since the Pachira needs a humidity of around 60%, you have to be able to recreate this humid atmosphere by misting it very regularly, preferably with low-calcareous water, whatever the season. We are particularly careful in summer if the room is exposed to the South and in winter because the heating systems tend to dry out the ambient air. Moreover, in case of insufficient hygrometry, that is to say if the air is too dry, the end of the leaves of Pachira becomes brown then the leaves roll up. It must then be bathed to meet its water needs. If the leaves turn yellow and then fall off, the small tree is overwatered.
To create a island of green plants and placing it in the center is a great idea so that it benefits from a humid microclimate. At the same time, the water needs of the Pachira must be assessed according to the temperature of the room.
From the month of April, it is necessary to every 15 to 20 days of the liquid fertilizer inputs to dilute in the irrigation water because the Pachira is a gourmand. This fertilization continues until the end of September. To feed your Pachira continuously, do not hesitate to deposit a layer of leaf mold about 3 cm thick. It is an ecological and economical solution to feed it gently.
From the month of October, it is advisable to let the plant rest until the return of the following spring. During this long period, fertilization must be suspended.
After a few years, the Pachira may have taken on a nice size, but it is generally not essential to carry out a pruning if its antlers are well balanced. On the other hand, it can be pushed to branch out thanks to pruning carried out in the spring. In a short time, the shrub will produce new shoots. In this case, it is enough to make a clean cut just above one eye.
It is possible to take advantage of this pruning session to take the end of a stem (this is called a top) and try to put it in culture in a cuttings compost in order to have another Pachira. Recovery is only possible if the cutting is maintained at a temperature of 25°C, but this is far from guaranteed. It might still be worth a try…
Repot your Pachira
Over time, the substrate becomes so depleted that it is no longer able to meet the needs of this small, nutrient-hungry tree. In addition, its roots probably overflow their container. Now is the time to think about repotting.
The spring is the best time to repot your Pachira. We choose a pot or a tray slightly larger than the previous one, always with a pierced bottom that we cover of course with a good draining layer and we can also add on top a drainage felt on which we place a very good soil for indoor plants. All that remains is to replant the decorative shrub. The important thing, in order not to risk asphyxiating the Pachira, is not to do not pack the growing medium too much. It remains to place the pot in the light, where the direct sun does not reach the plant, and then continue to care for it with passion. In excellent growing conditions, this beautiful ornamental shrub poses no problems.