How to Care for Money Trees
What Is a Money Tree?
The Pachira aquatica, commonly referred to as the money tree or money plant, is a tropical wetland tree that is native to Central and South America. Money trees can grow up to 60 feet tall in their native habitat, but the houseplant varieties are generally much smaller. The leaves are shiny, green, and palmate, with five leaflets at the end of each stem. They also have braided trunks and other interesting aesthetic elements.
Growing and maintaining a money tree is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines. In this article, we will discuss four key elements:
Did You Know?
In feng shui, a money tree will bring good luck and fortune to those who own one. The five leaves represent the five elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth
Money trees prefer well-drained soil. Large containers aren't exactly ideal due to the large amount of water retention; soggy soil is a common and major problem. It can cause root rot, a severe condition that will cause the leaves to yellow, fall off, and ultimately, kill the tree.
Soil that drains well is essential. Clay-like soil will hold too much moisture and promote root rot, and very sandy soil will drain too quickly, not allowing the roots time to absorb water and nutrients. Mixing loamy soil with sand or perlite will facilitate drainage and discourage root rot. The soil should be kept moist but not wet and soggy.
2. Light Requirements
Money trees prefer a mild level of indirect sunlight or artificial light. Direct sunlight for extended periods of time may cause the edges of the leaves to burn. Low light levels may also cause discoloration in the leaves. The tree should be rotated every few days to allow equal lighting to all the leaves.
Fluorescent lighting can be used, but low intensity may be an issue. Grow lamps that require metal halide or high-pressure sodium bulbs are preferred when growing plants indoors and away from windows.
Do not over-water!
How and When to Water
Money trees prefer being watered thoroughly, but only a few times a month. Allowing the soil to dry out between watering is key. Do not over-water. Thorough watering will saturate the root zone, while excess water drains from the container. This method of watering promotes a healthy root system that won't be shallow and weak.
Avoid the leaves, stems, and trunks when watering. Wet stems and trunks can promote rotting and disease.
How to Test Soil Moisture Level Properly
Testing moisture levels should be determined by weight, not by sticking a finger into the soil. Sticking a finger into the soil does not determine if the root zone is moist or not. Picking up the container and judging by weight is actually much more telling, but it takes time to learn. Get a feel for the weight before and after watering. Testing by weight will become second nature after a few times. Remember to only let the soil remain slightly moist between watering.
What Type of Water Should You Use?
These trees may not respond well to tap water, especially from municipal sources. Municipal tap water is typically treated with chlorine and other chemicals to make the water safe for human consumption. These chemicals and other minerals can be harmful to plants. Use distilled water or reverse osmosis filtered water to water money trees. Well-water is usually safe to water with, but it can also contain concentrated minerals (from the earth) that can cause harm.
Humidity and Temperature
Money trees need moderate to high humidity due to their native wetland habitat. Keeping the relative humidity at 50% or higher is sufficient. Set the potting container on a tray of wet pebbles to increase the humidity if you live in an arid environment.
These trees also need a warm environment but not a hot environment. The average room temperature should be between 60-75 °F (16-24 °C). Most indoor temperatures fall between the preferred range year around, so temperature is not usually a problem.
Moving a tree to the outdoors—for example, on a porch or patio—will require some time for it to adapt. Start by moving the tree to warmer areas indoors and eventually to the outdoors over a period of several days. This prevents it from going into a state of shock.
Fertilize every two weeks during spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half of the recommended amount on the package. Using half the concentration will reduce the risk of using an excessive amount of fertilizer that can burn the leaves and cause other problems. A few fertilizer granules sprinkled on top the soil will fertilize more gradually compared to liquid fertilizer solutions.
The fall and winter months may cause some die-back to occur, and the tree's leaves will yellow and fall off. This is completely normal; the plant just recognizes that sunlight and temperature conditions aren't ideal for growth, and it is simply going through a yearly phase. Watering and fertilizing needs to be reduced during dormancy.
Money trees are native to South America and thrive underneath the dense jungle canopies.
Do houseplants better your mood when stuck inside or at the office?
Questions & Answers
My money tree is too tall and bending over. Can I cut the top off?
No. Cutting the top off causes significant stress. Insert a stake or something rigid next to the plant and tie both firmly together. Move the money tree to a sunnier location or supplement with more lighting if the tree is bending or “reaching” towards the source of light.Helpful 26
Can a new money tree plant be grown from a stem?
Yes, some plants can be propagated using cuttings. Apply rooting hormone to the cut end, place in a media that drains well, keep moist, and wait for roots to develop.Helpful 25