The aquatic parchira is an erect evergreen plant native to the rainforests of Central America and Brazil.
It is a close relative of the baobab: in fact, both belong to the family of Bombacaceae.
It is also commonly called Bombacos but its scientific name is Pakira, or Bombax aquatica.
It is also known as braided pachira or braided trunk plant, for the particular shape that many nurserymen give to its stem.
Because of this particularity, aquatic parachutes have become very popular in recent years as a houseplant.
In the East it is considered a plant that brings money, because the 5 leaves it shows attract money, while the trunk holds it.
In its natural environment it is a real tree that can reach up to 20 m in height. But, cultivated with our climates, it has a more contained growth and develops up to 3 m at the most.
It has a very tender greenish stem, which allows traders and experienced growers to weave several stems together.
Its leaves are deep green, glossy, palmate and formed by 5-9 oval leaves.
In the country of origin, like Mexico and Central America, the aquatic pachira produces, in the period February-August, very perfumed flowers and edible fruits. But it is very rare that it happens when it grows up in an apartment.
How to Cultivate the Aquatic Pachira
Cultivating aquatic parachutes is not an impossible task.
Although it is treated as a classic green indoor plant, it should always be remembered that it is a tropical plant and therefore you must be careful to exposure and regulate the amount of water.
- You can easily place it in a common plastic pot.
- Use a universal potting soil and add a handful of perlite and peat to ensure good drainage.
- Make sure the temperature is between 18° and 26°. Place it in a bright area, but always away from direct sunlight, which is particularly harmful to it.
- Fertilise it also monthly in the summer months with a liquid fertilizer to be diluted in the irrigation water. Reduce in the winter months and always cut the tips and dry leaves.
- Watering is the most delicate intervention in the treatment of aquatic pachira. From the water preferably not calcareous, but avoids stagnation of water and keep the soil always moist, but never excessively wet. In winter you can make foliar sprays to compensate for the excessive dryness of the air caused by radiators.
- Keep your aquatic pack away from draughts and thermal shocks and ensure a good air exchange.
Aquatic Pachira Diseases
Aquatic pachira should not be subject to particular diseases. However, it may happen that particular symptoms may reveal the presence of certain problems.
The Leaves Are Yellowed Or Stained
- You’re probably giving your plant too much water. Regulate the irrigation well and make sure the soil is completely dry before you add any more water.
- But, on the contrary, if you see that yellow and brown spots also appear, check if there are any small spider webs at the bottom of the leaf. In this case, your aquatic pachira has been attacked by the red spider, a very annoying and harmful mite. Then it frequently fogs the canopy, because these insects proliferate in the absence of moisture, and only in case of severe infestation, use a specific insecticide.
- If your aquatic pachira has spots on the underside of the leaves, it can mean that you are in the presence of the floury cochineal. Remove the parasites with an alcohol-soaked pad or wash your plant with water and neutral soap, and then rinse it thoroughly. If the aquatic parachute is very large or placed outdoors, you can use a specific pesticide.
- Same as above if you see small yellowish-white mobile insects. They are almost certainly aphids, or more commonly called plant lice.
The Tips of the Leaves are Brown
This problem is also related to water management.
Check that the water does not stagnate in the saucer. Moreover, after 30 minutes from irrigation, it is a good idea to empty the saucer.
Too much watering can also cause rotten leaves and rottenness in the stems.
In addition to being careful when watering, it ventilates the premises well and ensures the plant a good recirculation of air.
The Leaves are Dry
Your aquatic pachira probably gets too much sunshine and its leaves are burnt.
Place your plant in a shady area.
Perhaps the real problem for aquatic pachira is iron chlorosis, i.e. the difficulty of the plant’s roots in absorbing iron from the soil. This pathology, which is caused mainly by the type of water used for watering, leads to discoloration of the leaves.
In order to maintain the aquatic parachute in an optimal state of health over time, it is advisable to use distilled water or, even better, rainwater.
The seeds of aquatic pachira are edible and are used in various ways in Latin America.
They are eaten raw and have a similar taste to peanuts, or are roasted or fried and recall the taste of chestnuts.
They are dried and then ground to make a flour to be used to make a very tasty bread. Young leaves and flowers are also edible and used as vegetables.