The Pachira acuatica is often simply called Pachira in Central Europe. A common trivial name is also lucky chestnut - because in the teaching of Feng Shui, the pachira acuatica, like many other plants, also has a high symbolic meaning: It is supposed to bring happiness and prosperity.
- Tips for caring for Pachira aquatica (lucky chestnut)
- The right location for the lucky chestnut
- Pachira aquatica (lucky chestnut) is not poisonous
Their area of origin, however, is not the Far East, where Feng Shui has its roots. On the contrary, from our point of view it comes from the opposite direction, namely from Central America. There it populates tropical regions from Mexico to northern countries in South America such as Brazil and Peru. In their homeland, the pachira thrives at impressive heights of up to 20 meters.
In our latitudes, the lucky chestnut can only be kept in the room culture. The tropical plant is of course not frost-resistant. With warm living temperatures and good humidity, however, it can easily be cultivated indoors all year round.
Origin in keywords:
- Is of great importance in Feng Shui - symbol of luck and prosperity
- Natural range: tropical Central and South America
- Can be kept here in year-round room culture
The lucky chestnut grows as a tree with a slightly thickened trunk base, in which it can store excellent water. In its original habitat, it can reach a height of 20 meters. In the local room culture, however, it is usually only about 2 meters tall - which is of course enormous for a normal living space.
The pachira with its large, ornate leaves forms a sweeping, umbrella-like crown over the light brown-gray barked trunk.
In garden centers, lucky chestnuts are often offered with a braided trunk.
Overview of growth characteristics:
- Pachira grows as a tree with a thickening, water-storing trunk base
- In the home area up to 20 m high, here rather only 2 m high
- Specimens available from specialist retailers often have a braided trunk
The leaves are probably the most essential decorative feature of the Pachira for the Central European room culture. Because flowers are extremely rare in this country. In terms of appearance, the leaves are somewhat reminiscent of those of chestnut trees - hence the nickname lucky chestnut. The pachira is certainly not related to chestnuts, but to the baobab tree.
The lucky chestnut leaves are quite long stalked and fan-shaped. Each leaflet has 5 to 9 single leaves of an elongated-oval shape that is pointed at the front. Its texture is slightly leathery and shiny, and its color is deep green.
Blade properties in brief:
- Reminiscent of chestnut leaves
- Long-stalked, 5-9-fold finger-shaped pinnate
- Single leaves oblong-oval, pointed in front
- Dark green, leathery, shiny
The lucky chestnut flowers very rarely in Central European room culture. There are simply insufficient light, temperature and humidity conditions here.
But it is definitely worth striving for a flower. Because it is quite spectacular: With its long, narrow sepals in creamy yellow and the raised plume of creamy yellow stamens that rise from the center and turn red at the tips, it looks extremely exotic and magnificent.
At a glance:
- Formation of flowers is extremely rare here
- Appearance extremely gorgeous with a large, plume-like shape in creamy yellow and red
The fruit, which arises from a pollinated pachira flower, has an elliptical shape with a woody skin and can be up to 15 centimeters in diameter. Your seeds are edible.
Which location is suitable?
Like most tropical plants, the lucky chestnut needs a bright location all year round without direct sunlight and high humidity. You can best place it in a bright window seat, where it is protected by neighboring, large-leaved houseplants or a thin shading device. Make sure the humidity is as high as possible. It is advisable to supply the plant with a fine mist from the water disperser every now and then.
The optimal ambient temperature for the Pachira is conveniently at a comfortable living space level of 18 to 20 ° C. The 12 ° C mark should not be undercut if possible.
In summer you can also put your lucky chestnut outside for a while. Then, like inside, it should be protected from direct sun and also from wind and rain.
Site requirements at a glance:
- Tendentially tropical conditions: bright, without direct sunlight, humid
- Comfortable temperature: 18-20 ° C, minimum temperature 12 ° C
- In summer it can also be exposed in a place protected from sun, wind and rain
What soil does the plant need?
The lucky chestnut has a moderate need for nutrients. You can put them in a substrate made from conventional flower or container plant soil. However, it should be relatively permeable, as the roots of the pachira are quite sensitive to waterlogging. Mixing in a little sand is usually sufficient for this purpose.
Fertilize the lucky chestnut properly
You can fertilize the pachira moderately over the summer months. To do this, use a universal liquid fertilizer in a low dosage. In the first year you should refrain from adding additional nutrients.
Water the lucky chestnut
Since the lucky chestnut can store a lot of water in its trunk, constant watering is not absolutely necessary. You should water regularly, especially in the summer months. It is only important that the amount of water is never too abundant - the pachira does not tolerate waterlogging at all. So pour carefully and wait until the next watering until the substrate is dry again.
In addition to watering, you should give the pachira a shower with the water disperser every now and then. For this, however, as for watering, use water that is as warm as possible and free of lime.
Over the winter months, reduce watering to regular, small sips.
Watering rules in brief:
- Pachira requires a moderate amount of water
- Stores a lot in the trunk - less risk of drying out than root rot due to waterlogging
- Pour regularly in small doses
- Additionally spray over
- Use lime-free water at room temperature
- Water less in winter
Depending on the location and care conditions, the pachira can show different growth rates. Usually the pot becomes too small and too tight for her after about two years. It is best to repot in spring. There is not much to pay attention to.
Cut the lucky chestnut correctly
The lucky chestnut doesn't really need any special pruning. It grows very shapely and does not get out of hand. You don't need to cut off withered leaves either, they can simply be plucked off by hand.
In view of the limited space available in normal living spaces, however, it may still be necessary to cut back. It can tolerate shortening the crown and then it will sprout again, but its contour can suffer.
Propagate lucky chestnut
Would you like to give someone a lucky chestnut or replace a plant that has grown too big with a young one? Then the best way to propagate your pachira is by cuttings. Seed cultivation is also possible, but of course it takes longer.
For the propagation of cuttings of a pachira, it is best to cut a head cuttings with incipient lignification in spring. You can simply let this take root in a glass of water. If the shoot is not woody, a growing substrate made from peat and sand is better suited for rooting. Keep this evenly moist, ideally under foil, and place the planter in a bright place. It can be a little tricky to maintain the ideal floor temperature of a warm 25 to 30 ° C - a heated mini greenhouse (€ 6.96 at Amazon *) can help here. However, it can take a few weeks for the roots to develop.
You will hardly get your own seeds from your Pachira, but you can easily get them in specialist shops. The seeds must be soaked in water for about 24 hours before planting. Then place them in planters with a growing medium and place them in a bright place at an ambient temperature of 22 to 24 ° C. Here, too, it is advisable to cover the whole thing with foil to ensure an evenly moist, protected microclimate.
The pachira is generally robust against diseases. However, it is much more sensitive to care errors. Above all, wrong lighting conditions and wrong water supply can affect her.
Too dark location
If the site conditions are too dark, the lucky chestnut can shed its leaves. Make sure you have enough light at your pitch all year round. Of course, without direct sunlight.
Too much sunlight
In any case, you have to protect the lucky chestnut from direct sun. In its original habitat it is protected by the high roof of the tropical forest vegetation, so that it receives a lot of brightness, but no direct solar radiation. Their leaves are therefore sensitive to burning. So place them on the windowsill in the shelter of other, large-leaved plants or shade the window with a light, thin fabric.
Especially if you want to put the Pachira outside on the terrace in summer, you should also get used to the extra light that is definitely outside. It is best to place them under an awning at first, later shading plants are also sufficient.
The lucky chestnut can respond to waterlogging with leaves turning yellow and, in an advanced stage, also with leaf shedding. In the worst case, the roots can also rot. In that case, you must repot the plant immediately. In doing so, remove all rotten root parts as thoroughly as possible and place the root ball in a fresh substrate.
If the lucky chestnut exudes a liquid from its leaves, don't worry. She just sweats. In this case, you should make sure that there is no waterlogging.
Too dry air
Air that is too dry is also often the cause when the lucky chestnut sheds its leaves. In addition, too dry an environment increases the risk of pest infestation. Remember to shower regularly with the water dispenser!
In order to permanently strengthen the lucky chestnut and make it more robust against ailments, adequate care with the right amount of light, uniform warmth and water and high humidity is of course necessary.
But what is also advisable is to untwist the often braided trunk of a purchased specimen. The braided structure is decorative, but reduces the protective effect of the bark. It becomes thinner and therefore has less resistance. The points of contact in the tight twists also provide a breeding ground for pests and fungi and increase the risk of disease in unfavorable environmental conditions. If the pachira is allowed to grow freely, it will definitely become more robust.
As a rule, the pachira is rarely attacked by pests. As with all humidity-loving tropical plants, excessively dry ambient air can occasionally attract spider mites or mealybugs.
The spider mites are one of the most common indoor plant parasites. The mites can usually be seen with the naked eye - depending on the species, they have a greenish or yellowish to reddish color. However, a clear indication of a population are the fine webs with which they cover the leaves of their host plants.
The best way to get rid of spider mites is with water. First, they are mechanically brushed off the leaves. Finally, wrap the wet plant under a foil bag that you close tightly at the bottom. Below that, the spider mites die within a week.
These parasites get their name from the fluffy balls that they secrete on their host plants when they suckle. They are easy to spot from there. You should fight the lice quickly so they don't have a chance to hatch their larvae. In addition, they secrete honeydew when sucking on the plant, the coating of which on the plant can lead to the settlement of the sooty fungus.
After you have mechanically removed the coarsest colonization by wiping it with a damp cloth, treat the pachira, preferably with a spray cure made from a water-curd soap-alcohol mixture (proportions 1 l-15 ml-15 ml). Apply this treatment every 2 to 3 days until the population has visibly evaporated.
The pachira is also suitable as an office plant under certain conditions. Here it can ensure a much healthier room climate. However, it should be kept in hydroponics, especially in heavily heated office spaces - this ensures an adequate and, above all, regular water supply and even in stressful office operations it makes less if nobody in the team has the head for watering.
You can also cultivate a pachira as a bonsai. The common practice suggests that they are sold in the commercial plant trade with an intertwined trunk. If you like the pretty braided structure, you can continue to use it as you cultivate it.
The lucky chestnut is actually very malleable, so that you can use the usual basic methods such as wire and leaf cutting to develop it into special, alienating shapes. It is recommended that the pachira does not grow too quickly and that it retains its typical bonsai mini-tree habit for as long as possible. To put them on a lava stone according to Hawaiian tradition.
Pachira aquatica does not have any special cultivars in circulation.