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Pachira glabra: Exploring the Secrets of the Guava Chestnut ‘Money Tree’

The Pachira glabra, commonly known as the Guava Chestnut or ‘Money Tree’, is a small tree from the cotton family that grows between 4-5 meters high. Its crown is somewhat loose with young branches of a chestnut-brown color and hairless. It has small leaves with short stems or almost no stems. The flowers grow singularly […]

The Pachira glabra, commonly known as the Guava Chestnut or ‘Money Tree’, is a small tree from the cotton family that grows between 4-5 meters high. Its crown is somewhat loose with young branches of a chestnut-brown color and hairless.

It has small leaves with short stems or almost no stems. The flowers grow singularly at the top of the branches; their stalks are sturdy, covered with yellow star-shaped pubescence, and shed. The calyx is cup-shaped and nearly leathery; the petals are light yellow-green, narrowly lanceolate to linear, and the upper half curls backward.

The staminal tube is shorter, the filaments are about 13-15 cm long, yellow at the bottom, turning red towards the top, the anthers are narrowly linear and curved; the pistil is longer than the stamen, and a deep red color.

I. Growth and Distribution:

Pachira glabra

Distribution Range

Native to Central America, from Mexico to Costa Rica.

Growing Environment:

Prefers a hot and humid climate, has poor cold resistance, young seedlings avoid frost, mature trees can withstand light frost and long-term low temperatures of 5-6℃. In the southern regions of China, it can survive the winter outdoors, while in the northern areas, it needs to be moved into a greenhouse in winter to prevent cold.

It prefers fertile, loose, well-aerated and water-retentive sandy loam soil, acidic soil, avoids alkaline soil or heavy clay soil, can tolerate waterlogging, and is slightly drought-resistant.

II. Morphology and Characteristics

Pachira glabra

The small leaves are 5-11, with short stems or almost no stems, oblong to ovate-oblong, tapering, wedge-shaped at the base, entire margin, hairless on the upper surface, and the back and leaf stems are covered with rust-colored star-shaped pubescence; the central small leaves are 13-24 cm long, 4.5-8 cm wide, the outer small leaves gradually decrease; the midrib surface is flat, the back is strongly raised, the lateral veins are 16-20 pairs, almost flat, connected into a wavy collective vein near the margin, with fine reticulated veins in between, all raised on the back; the leaf stems are 11-15 cm long.

The flower grows singularly at the top of the branches; the flower stalk is sturdy, 2 cm long, covered with yellow star-shaped pubescence, and shed; the calyx is cup-shaped, near-leathery, 1.5 cm high, 1.3 cm in diameter, sparsely covered with star-shaped soft hairs, hairless inside, truncated or with 3-6 not obvious shallow teeth, persistent, with 2-3 round glands at the base; the petals are light yellow-green, narrowly lanceolate to linear, up to 15 cm long, the upper half curls back; the staminal tube is shorter, split into several stamen bundles, each bundle further split into 7-10 slender filaments, the filaments are 13-15 cm long with the stamen tube, yellow at the bottom, turning red towards the top, the anthers are narrowly linear, curved, 2-3 mm long, lateral; the pistil is longer than the stamen, deep red, the stigma is small, 5 shallow splits.

Pachira glabra

The fruit is nearly pear-shaped, 9-10 cm long, 4-6 cm in diameter, the fruit skin is thick, woody, almost yellow-brown, hairless outside, densely covered with long fleece inside, cracking, each chamber has many seeds.

The seeds are large, irregularly ladder-shaped wedge-shaped, 2-2.5 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide.

III. Cultivation Methods

Site Preparation and Planting

Choose a plot with deep, fertile, wind-protected, and sun-facing sandy loam soil for your nursery bed. Prepare beds that are 1 meter wide and 10 meters long, preferably in a South-North direction.

Thoroughly till the beds, remove the topsoil, and flatten the ground. Layer the bottom with 3 cm thick gravel followed by a mix of fresh river sand and furnace slag in a 2:1 ratio to a thickness of 10 to 15 cm.

The soil should be moist enough to form a clump when squeezed but crumble easily when released. Spray the bed with a 400-fold diluted solution of 40% formaldehyde for soil sterilization, ensuring that it penetrates 3 to 5 cm deep. Cover the bed with plastic film for three days to eliminate pests and diseases.

Lighting

Pachira glabra

The nutmeg tree primarily relies on green light for photosynthesis. Strong light is generally required before budding, hence, semi-finished money trees should not be shaded during winter and spring.

However, during summer and autumn, intense sunlight can cause high temperatures in the greenhouse and dehydration on the sun-facing side of the plant, leading to plant death. Therefore, a 50% shade net is typically used.

The money tree, a medium-light plant, generally prefers 75% shading after budding. No shading is required in winter, while a 50% shade net is recommended in spring and autumn.

Temperature and Humidity

The nutmeg tree thrives in warm and moderately humid environments. After the first watering, the greenhouse film should be fully sealed to increase humidity and temperature.

Before budding, the temperature should be maintained at around 25-38℃, and the humidity should be around 50%-75%. Proper ventilation is also necessary each day.

During hot summer and dry autumn days, it is advisable to frequently sprinkle the ground with water to increase humidity and decrease temperature. If conditions allow, install misting pipes for a 5-minute mist every 10 minutes for better results.

When the buds grow to 7 cm, increase ventilation and decrease the greenhouse temperature. Thereafter, the money tree grows best at temperatures between 20℃ and 35℃. Temperatures should not exceed 35℃ as it’s detrimental to plant growth.

However, the plant can survive short periods over 38℃ and temperatures as low as 10℃. Temperatures should not drop below 5℃ to prevent cold damage, which can cause leaf drop or even plant death.

Overly high humidity can lead to fungal growth. Watering should maintain evenly moist potting soil. In summer, when the money tree grows rapidly and needs adequate water, it should be watered 1-2 times a day.

During winter, semi-finished products should have appropriately dry potting soil; water when the soil is dry. Overwatering or waterlogging can easily lead to root rot and plant death. Therefore, it’s important to regularly monitor the plant’s growth.

Fertilizing

The nutmeg tree grows vigorously and requires ample fertilization. After potting and budding, spray a liquid fertilizer with balanced nutrients, such as an N:P:K ratio of 20:20:20, diluted 500-600 times every week.

Additionally, apply organic or phosphorus-potassium fertilizer to the soil once a month. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilizers during the growing season to prevent excessive growth. Apply balanced phosphorus and potassium fertilizers to promote robust growth, keep leaves vibrant green, and enhance ornamental value.

Pruning and Shaping

Potted nutmeg trees are often grown with their trunks “braided.” The specific method is as follows: When the seedling grows to about 2 meters high, cut off the top at about 1.5 meters to make it a bare pole.

Then dig it up and let it dry naturally for 1-2 days in semi-shade conditions, making the trunk soft and easy to bend. Then tie the bases of several similarly sized plants together and braid their trunks.

Lay them on the ground and weigh them down to fix their shape, enabling them to stand upright in the future. After braiding, the plants can be continued to grow in the ground for a while to thicken the stem and make the braid full and neat.

Alternatively, they can be potted directly to grow branches and leaves. The “Three Dragons,” “Five Dragons,” “Seven Dragons,” etc., sold in the market are actually 3, 5, or 7 Malabar chestnut plants braided together and planted in pots, which greatly increases their value.

IV. Propagation Methods

The propagation of the Guachestnut tree can be done either by seeding or cutting. After the seeds are collected, they need to be sown immediately. Cuttings can be taken from sprouting branches in May or June.

The primary method used is cutting, which involves taking sprouts from branches during the months of May or June. These cuttings are placed in sandy or stony soil, with care taken to shade and keep them moist.

They should take root in approximately one month. In the spring, branches can also be cut from the top of the plant and placed in sandy, stony, or coarse soil. They need to be kept at a certain level of humidity and should root within about 30 days.

However, it’s difficult to form large rootstocks at the cut base, so these cuttings are not as ornamental as seedlings.

Cuttings should be collected from healthy, pest-free branches that have partially woody growth from the current year. They should be cut on a cloudy day or windless morning, with each cutting being 6 to 7 centimeters long.

The bottom cut should be horseshoe-shaped, located under a leaf or axillary bud, and smooth to help form healing tissue. Typically, each cutting should have two palmate leaves. Care should be taken not to damage the leaves to promote photosynthesis.

Suitable times for cutting are from late June to early August, and it should be done in the morning or evening. Before planting, half of the cutting should be soaked in 25 PPM of ABT rooting solution for 20 to 24 hours, then rinsed thoroughly with clean water.

Holes should be made in the bed with a small wooden stick, and the cuttings should be inserted and then the holes sealed and compacted. Short cuttings can be inserted directly, while longer ones should be slanted.

The depth of insertion should be enough to prevent the cutting from toppling over, generally 3 to 5 centimeters. After planting, water thoroughly and straighten any crooked cuttings. Cover with plastic and seal the edges with soil.

V. Value and Other Uses

Main Value

Ornamental

The Guachestnut tree has an umbrella-like shape, with a strong and simple trunk. The base of the stem is large and round, with wheel-shaped green leaves radiating and spreading out.

Its branches and leaves are natural and graceful, making it highly ornamental. Especially when cultivated after pruning, it enhances its ornamental value and decorative effect. It is very suitable for indoor cultivation due to its strong light adaptability and shade tolerance.

Its simple cultivation and maintenance make it ideal for pot planting in homes, shopping malls, hotels, offices, and other indoor greenery beautification decorations, achieving a desirable artistic effect.

It enriches the scenery of halls and rooms with a southern seaside landscape and symbolizes “wealth”, giving people beautiful wishes.

Edible

The fruit can be eaten when it is unripe, and the seeds can be roasted and consumed.

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Peggie

Peggie

Founder of FlowersLib

Peggie was once a high school mathematics teacher, but she set aside her chalkboard and textbooks to follow her lifelong passion for flowers. After years of dedication and learning, she not only established a thriving flower shop but also founded this blog, “Flowers Library”. If you have any questions or wish to learn more about flowers, feel free to contact Peggie.

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