The Encyclopedia of House Plants

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Pachira aquatica

Family: Bombacaceae.

Common name(s): Water chestnut, Guiana chestnut, Malabar chestnut, Money tree
Pachira aquatica The genus Pachira has 24 species from the wetlands in Central America (Mexico to Brazil).

It is very often called Money Tree and is one of the feng-shui plants. It is supposed to be the plant that will bring good luck and money into your home.

Pachira does not have special requirements and it is a hardy plant that will adapt well to different conditions. Take care of your pachira like any other indoor houseplant. It will quickly adapt to less light and less water. You don't have to water very often, but don't let the soil go totally dry. In darker areas, leaves grow smaller and these can survive for a long time in very poor light. Leaves can be trimmed at any time, they grow up fast. Not necessary to fed fertilizer.

Guiana chestnut is grown both for tropical effect and for its edible nuts. It can also be potted up as a houseplant. The nuts taste sort of like peanuts. They are harvested when the seed pods burst and eaten raw, roasted, or fried.

Great plant for bonsai!

Growing conditions Watering and misting Propagation
Pachira needs plenty of light, however avoid direct sunlight during the hot months of the year because its leaves may get sunburned. Increase humidity by spraying the plant with water once a week or place the pot on top of a wet pebble tray. It’s soil should be light and should contain some sand to ensure adequate drainage. Plant will tolerate brief exposure to temperatures as low as 28ºF (-2.2ºC), but may drop some leaves. Water 2-3 times a month. Do not let the pot sit on water and always empty excess water from the pot tray. Mist leaves once a week. Propagation from cuttings/side shoots and seeds. Often you will notice new shoots coming out of the trunks.

User-submitted additions and corrections:

5th Jun 2008
I keep my pachira outside and it likes it there. This winter I left it outside, but brought it in when temperatures got below freezing. It ended up losing all of its leaves, but when the first signs of Spring rolled around, little green leaves started sprouting and within two weeks it was larger than it had been the previous summer. It was so much fun to watch rejuvenate itself. Talk about a trooper!
9th Aug 2008
I saw one of these at Wal-mart in the discount bin. It looked scraggly, dried out, and only had one leaf left on it. I went ahead and bought it since it's price was reduced/cheap, thinking I would try to revive it. Once home, I took it out of it's tiny ceramic pot and gave it a good washing under the facet. Then I replanted it in a 6" plastic pot with gravely bonsi soil (nothing else). I set the pot on a deep dish tray and placed it in a low light area of my formal livingroom (temps. always around 70). I water it well (filling the deep dish tray and letting the pot sit in it) about every 3 weeks (it dries out in between waterings). 3 years ago it went from 8" and pitiful - now to 4' with lots of new branches and loaded with beautiful leaves. I love this plant!
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
28th Feb 2009
I'm not quite certain if I agree with the fact this plant is suited for indirect sunlit areas, or darker areas, (then again, it might depend on the variation of the Pachira) as my Braided Pachira started losing all of its leaves when winter came back. Having only a westerly exposure at the time, i wasn't getting very much sunlight. But now that I've moved to a nicer apartment, with a southern exposure, I placed the plant where it would get direct sunlight for several hours every day, and it appears to be making a full comeback. I wish I could've posted a before and after picture with this comment...
Murat Batur
5th Mar 2009
I love this plant as well and for a reason that I can not understand it has a special place among the others in my apartment. However, mine is very problematic. It started to drop its leaves in my living room which was relatively dark. So I took it into a room with a lot of light. Yet, the situation went from bad to worse. I have a feeling like it likes the company of others. Maybe does not like quiet places and likes music which I listen a lot in my dark living room.
6th Jul 2009
I thought I had purchased a money tree but Pachira Aquatica matches my plant much better.
I have my plant in the office and I have consistent growth which I have just started to see slow as i expect the pot size is now limiting growth.
I water my plant when the soil starts to dry out and I have rocks at the bottom to hold excess water but I try only to add around 1 - 1.5L when i water and i don't keep my watering regular but try to test the soil every once in a while.

I have used normal potting soil and it seems to be ok with that, I also have used generic plant food spikes 13-4-5 and they seem to be ok for the plant as well.

I don't mist as I likely should and will look into that but I think the main reason for having a successful plant has been infrequent watering (laziness) and consistent lighting. I work for 10-12 hours per day and the light (flourescent) in my office is on when I am working. My plant receives minimal sunlight (indirect) and sees ok with this.

I prune any leaves that start to look bad and I have pruned it back a lot before the growing season to keep the foliage more even.

Just some random comments, I hope they help. I guess my main point is this seems to be a low maintenance plant that usually indicates if it is unhappy through its leaves rather quickly.
4th Nov 2011
I bought my pachira plan about four years ago. I place it on my front port. It always in shaded area and has some direct sun light in the afternoon. Last year it had 3 flowers. This year it had 8 flowers and is bearing 4 fruits. They are about 3/4" round. I saw the full size grown pachira fruits during the trip in Viet Nam. They were about 4" round & had green color.
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