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House Plants/Diseased Pachira Help!


New growth
New growth  

Bad leaves
Bad leaves  
I have had my Pachira (money tree) for about 4 years now and repotted it twice and it was doing beautifully until 3 months ago in August. I moved to a new apartment and had to put the plant outside for the month until I could house it indoors again. During that month, some of the larger leaves turned white (mostlikely due to sunburn I suppose), bugs ate some of the leaves, and then the wind blew over the plant breaking the pot and exposing roots before I could move it back indoors. After replacing the pot and soil and moving it indoors, most of the dead sunburnt leaves have fallen off, but the new growth looks horrible. It is tiny and twisted, and although green, looks very sickly. Also since repotting in September, some of the older leaves turned a mossy green color with greyish brown speckles before falling off. I am not sure how to remedy the problem because I believe I am watering it correctly and fertilized it with miracle grow when I repotted it. Any help you can give will be appreciated! None of my other houseplants that were outside with this plant before being moved indoors have had any problems (in fact, one of the plants even sprouted flowers and I did not know it was a flowering plant!)

Hi Marie,

We cannot properly compare your Pachira to your other plants for a couple of reasons. One, different plant species have different light and temperature tolerances. Two, I assume your other plants did not undergo broken pots with exposed roots followed by repotting.

It is not widely appreciated how much more intense outdoor sunlight is than indoor light. Even a few hours of direct outdoor sun is enough to damage the foliage of many indoor plants. That explains the bleached and damaged older leaves.

The roots of a plant, however are the heart and soul of any plant. When roots are damaged, the plant will suffer more serious side effects, especially to new growth. I cannot say just how badly the roots of your Pachira were damaged, but they were exposed to outside light and heat, probably got dehydrated and then underwent the trauma of repotting. I don't know how you repotted, but few people know how to do it properly, so the repotting may have added to the trauma. Common mistakes made when repotting include removing old soil and damaging tiny root hairs, using a pot that is too big or lacks drain holes and using a potting mix that lacks sufficient porosity.

In any case, the stunted new growth is a direct consequence of damaged roots. No fertilizer will help that, so discontinue the Miracle-Gro. If you are providing proper light and are watering appropriately and the Pachira is in the right sized pot with a porous potting mix, then I think you can expect that over the next several months you may see some new growth that is more "normal" looking. The appearance of the new growth is  direct reflection of the health of the roots.

I know this is a lot of information to digest, but I want you to have a complete picture of the issues involved.

I have written detailed articles on repotting and on Pachira (Money Tree) care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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