Knowledgebase

Indoor Monkey Puzzle Tree #494032

Asked November 09, 2018, 7:55 PM EST

We purchased a Monkey Puzzle tree in Washington state last June. It is approximately 2.5' tall. We planted it in a large pot (about 1.5' in diameter) and kept it outside over the summer, knowing that it won't grow outside here in Sturgis, SD, we brought it inside about a month ago. It was fine until we brought it in. Now, the branches are drooping approximately 6" in from the tips and the branches closer to the trunk seem to be getting thinner, while the outer branches (that are drooping) are still "plump" for lack of a better word.  Can you give me some direction as to how I could help our tree?

Lawrence County South Dakota

Expert Response

Thank you for your question. You are right to bring it inside over the winter, since it is a tropical plant. I think your plant’s problems arise from the reduction in light indoors. This plant needs direct sunlight, which indoor environments don’t provide. Window coatings and screens block out the ranges of the light spectrum (infrared and ultraviolet) necessary for photosynthesis. Even placing next to sunny windows is often inadequate. Consider buying a grow light so it gets 10-12 hours of bright light every day. Good luck!
Kristena LaMar Replied November 15, 2018, 11:07 AM EST
Thank you so much for your response.  We have purchased a grow light and have set it up. Do plants have a "day and night"? In other words, do we need to have the light on during the day and off at night? Can we have it on too long? Do you have an idea of how quickly we should see a response ?(branches to quit drooping?) Once again, thank you.
The Question Asker Replied November 15, 2018, 10:27 PM EST
So, the answer is to put yourself in the plant’s native environment. With a little discrepancy, tropical plants have roughly 12 hours ‘on’ and 12 hours ‘off’ at the equator (tropical regions). So that can be your timer’s guide, too. Adequate light, making certain it has water and water drainage, and weekly weakly fertilization should bring back the still alive branches in no time. Lower branches brown and fall off in nature, so don’t fret. Patience and attention to details is key!
Kristena LaMar Replied November 15, 2018, 11:06 PM EST
BTW, check the drainage hole(s) regularly for root outgrowth. If you see them coming out, transplant into a size larger pot (also draining). Roots that surround the perimeter of the container are unable to uptake water, and lack hydration.
Kristena LaMar Replied November 15, 2018, 11:12 PM EST
Thank you for the great information.  We will check for root outgrowth and repot if needed.  I hope we can turn the tree around. Thanks again!
The Question Asker Replied November 16, 2018, 11:00 AM EST
You’re welcome. I sent you a change of an earlier answer. Good luck!
Kristena LaMar Replied November 16, 2018, 11:06 AM EST
Is there a certain kind of fertilizer we should get? Thank you again!
The Question Asker Replied November 16, 2018, 12:20 PM EST
Any water soluable, balanced (like 10-10-10) fertilizer, per label directions, should work. Just be sure to flush out the mineral salts, that you’ll observe on the top of the soil, every 3 months or so. Run tap or rainwater through it until it drains through the drainhole.
Kristena LaMar Replied November 16, 2018, 12:25 PM EST
I'm sorry to keep bothering you.  I purchased a soil meter because I was unsure if we were watering too much or not enough. Based on a 1 - 4 meter it measured 1.5 after watering. I read that it likes moist, well drained soil - are we keeping it too dry? 
The Question Asker Replied November 17, 2018, 9:50 PM EST
That does sound too dry. Are you able to put the entire container in a sink and run water through it? You will not only saturate the soil, but you will wash away mineral salts that build up. No bother at all! This is what I love to do! Healthy plants = healthy people!
Kristena LaMar Replied November 17, 2018, 9:57 PM EST
OK, in the tub, saturated and draining out the drain holes. Fingers crossed.  Thank you!
The Question Asker Replied November 17, 2018, 10:19 PM EST
Welcome. In future, only water and drain well first thing in morning so soil can dry out during the day. Less chance of root rot (a soil fungus).
Kristena LaMar Replied November 17, 2018, 10:23 PM EST
Unfortunately, he seems to be getting worse.  The "leaves" are turning hard and are turning brown.  Before the ends of the branches were supple and soft (as soft as the tree gets), now they feel brittle.  The moisture meter reads 2.5 and we have not wasted since we soaked it.  The grow light is on 12-14 hours/day. I've uploaded a photo for comparison.  
The Question Asker Replied November 22, 2018, 10:31 PM EST
I think your plant’s health may too far gone to save it. Once a plant is in decline, magical cures rarely exist. My suspicion is that you had a soil fungus that invaded thevplant’s vascular system and is methodically destroying it. Some plants can’t be saved, even though the diagnosis is otherwise timely.
Kristena LaMar Replied November 23, 2018, 1:02 AM EST
Is there no way to destroy the fungus? Repot? I'm so sad :(
The Question Asker Replied November 23, 2018, 3:55 AM EST
Once a fungus has entered the vascular tissue and/or destroyed the root system, there’s not much hope. Sorry.
Kristena LaMar Replied November 23, 2018, 1:08 PM EST
Thank you so much for your help!
The Question Asker Replied November 23, 2018, 1:27 PM EST
You’re welcome!
Kristena LaMar Replied November 23, 2018, 1:29 PM EST

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