Things to Consider When It Comes to Braided Plants
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What exactly is a braided plant?
Braided plants aren't actually naturally occurring- instead, they are comprised of multiple plants that have been braided together to form one bulky trunk. This is sometimes thought to hold symbolic value, with the braiding 'holding in' good fortune for the plant owner.
Examples of commonly braided plants include:
Ficus (Fig) Trees
Certain types of plants, such as Pachira aquatica (also known as a Money Tree), are often sold already-braided when you get them from your local garden center or store. This is because they need to be braided while they're young and green, when their trunks are still pliable enough to be woven together. As the trunk ages, it begins to become woodier, which effectively locks the plants together.
Should you braid your plant?
Braiding your plant can look aesthetically pleasing and also provide extra stability if you want your plant to grow large with a wide canopy. However, it should be noted that braiding can potentially lead to a number of problems.
Because of their fast-growing nature and ability to be easily propagated, Braided Pachiras in particular have become something of a 'fast fashion' plant. The problem is that they're often sold with barely any roots and in unsuitable soil, which can make it very difficult to water them correctly.
They sometimes may also have twines to bind their stems together which can 'choke' the plant, so to speak. Likewise, the braids themselves can suffocate each other, preventing the plant from being able to uptake water correctly. This may eventually lead to one or more of the stems dying off completely.
In addition to this, if your plant develops a pest infestation (e.g. Pachiras can be susceptible to mealybugs and aphids), braiding can make it difficult to effectively treat pests, as they often like to set up their homes in the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of your plant.
The process of braiding can also sometimes be stressful for your plants. Pachiras don't much like change, and will easily go into shock if their environment changes or if they get jostled around too much.
Therefore, we'd typically recommend not braiding your plant and avoiding purchasing ready-braided ones.