The Pachira Plant Is An Interesting Plant Indeed
The Pachira plant, Pachura aquatica, is a most interesting plant for a number of reasons. A tropical plant, and native to Central America, it will grow to a height of 60 feet in the wild, and as such probably should be called a tree rather than a plant. If goes by several names, including the Good Luck plant, the Pachura Money Tree plant, and the Malabar Chestnut.
Although growing to great heights in its native habitat, the Pachira plant can also be pruned to grow as a shrub or as a small tree in a container. It also is a favorite among those specializing in bonsai. There are several interesting features about this plant. First is the number five. The plant's trunk is formed by 5 braided trunks, and each branch contains 5 leaves.
Blossoms And Edible Nuts - The Pachira plant has lovely white to cream colored flowers which last for only 24 hours and blossom at night. Blossoms normally do not appear until a plant is 4 to 5 years old. The scent of the blossoms is said to be very pleasing, attracting bees, butterflies, and according to some owners, bats. Once the blossoms fade, nuts appear. The nuts are good tasting, resembling the taste of peanuts. The leaves and flowers are also said to be edible, but there is little on record that indicates just how the leaves or blossoms are prepared, if indeed they are at all. Though not toxic, at least to humans, pets can get an upset stomach from ingesting too many of the leaves, but nothing more serious than that.
The Pachira plant can be grown outside in the southern part of the United States, USDA zones 9 to 11, and in containers elsewhere. Partial sun to shade is best. The plant can tolerate full sun but the leaves have a tendency to get sunburned if the sun is too strong. It is for the most part an easy plant to care for. The main danger is over watering. The Pachira plant can be propagated from seeds, cuttings and air layering.
Forums Provide Useful Information - It's interesting to look at various forums on the Internet in which owners of this plant have commented on its care and upkeep. Some of course report problems with their plants health, though most appear to have experienced no real problems, and are quite happy with their plant. More than one person has commented on the beautiful smell associated with the blossoms, and more than one, who have an outdoors plant, have commented on the fact that it attracts bats. What is a bit strange is while most people appear to agree that over watering is something that should not be done; others have indicated that a Pachira plant whose roots are in standing water will do perfectly fine!
Bonsai - The Pachira plant has become a favorite of devotees of bonsai and seems to lend itself particularly well to the practice. The plant takes well to pruning and training and, when trained to a small height with its characteristic braided trunk, is a sight to behold. One can keep the height to a foot or less, or allow the plant to grow to several feet in height if you wish. True bonsai practitioners no doubt prefer the smaller rendition.
Watering - Bonsai plants often come in a very small pot. As a rule of thumb, the plant will do better, no matter what size, if repotted to a larger pot with soil which drains well. The Pachira plant in general does not seem to have any particular need for fertilizer, and the larger trees or bushes do well when watered on a weekly basis. If you give the plant good drainage, you can water it rather heavily, and then withhold watering until the soil is on the verge of losing its moisture. The plant is drought tolerant, and will not suffer unduly if you are a little late in giving it water.
With some luck, you can enjoy the miniature plant, the bush, or the tree, depending upon how you let it grow, enjoy the smell of the blossoms along with the butterflies and bats, and the taste of the nuts as well.