QUESTION: The leaves on my tree are turning yellow and falling off. They're not dry and crispy but still very flexible. I've noticed on some of the stems there are some raised brown areas which I don't know if its scale or just part of the tree (like if the green stem was turning brown). I water it maybe once a week. It gets filtered light but I only open the blind 4 or 5 times a week. I've had it for a year and the spot it used to be in I opened the blind more often. Its been in its current location for a about 3 months. I didn't notice the leaves turning until after my husband put my tree outside for the day. Can you please let me know what I need to do so my plant doesn't die. Thank you for your time and have a great rest of your day!
ANSWER: Hi Robin,
There are several unrelated issues here with your Pachira.
It does look like scale on the stems in the photo. To confirm that they are alive and not already dead, look for slightly raised bumps on the backs of leaves and also for stickiness on the tops of some of the leaves. If that is what you find, then treat the entire plant by spraying it thoroughly with a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap. Spray it so ALL leaf and stem surfaces are dripping wet.
The yellow leaves are probably a result of its sudden but brief exposure to outside sunlight, which can be up to 100 times more intense than indoor light. If so, there will be no further damage as long as the plant is kept indoors.
Leaf yellowing can also be caused by inadequate light. If the window is north or east facing, then the blinds should be fully open every day throughout the daylight hours. If the window faces south or west, then the blinds should be open but angled so the Pachira does not get too much direct sunlight.
Your Pachira is in a fairly large pot with a lot of soil that may take some time to dry out. Allow the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry before adding any water. Add just enough so that it reaches that level of dryness again in about a week.
I have written articles on indoor plant pests and on Money Tree care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com.
Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.
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Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I greatly appreciate the quick response! Thank you! I haven't seen any raised bumps under the leaves or any stickiness. Should I still treat the plant in the way you said? Thank you again for your time. Have a great day!
It is not necessary to treat your Pachira for scale. My educated guess is that those are "old" scale carcasses that were treated previously. Just be vigilant in watching for future live scale insects that leave the tell-tale signs I described.