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Growing and Caring for a Money Tree Plant – An Essential Guide

a money tree plant in a grey pot

The money tree plant, also known as Pachira aquatica, is a popular and relatively easy-to-grow houseplant known for its lush, braided trunk and vibrant green leaves shaped like little hands with five fingers.

With the proper care and environment, this plant can grow up to 60 feet tall in its native habitat. But as a houseplant, it typically tops out under 10 feet.

While not the fastest growing plant, a happy tree will produce new leaves throughout the growing season. Follow this essential guide to growing healthy and vibrant money trees.

An Introduction to the Money Tree Plant

With its braided trunk and lush, green leaves, it is steeped in legend. Originating from Central and South America’s wetlands, it’s said that a poor farmer once prayed for wealth and discovered this plant, which brought him prosperity.

Consequently, it became a symbol of good luck and fortune, especially in East Asian cultures. The braiding of its trunk is believed to “trap fortune within its folds,” further enhancing its mystique.

a money tree plant outside

The Benefits of a Money Tree Plant

In Feng Shui, it is believed to bring positive energy and financial success to its surroundings. Its five-lobed leaves represent the five elements of wood, water, fire, earth, and metal, contributing to a harmonious balance.

Placing a Money Tree in the southeast corner of your home or office is said to attract wealth and prosperity.

Choosing a Money Tree

Money trees are widely available at nurseries and garden centers year-round. Choose a plant with a sturdy braided trunk and healthy, rich foliage without brown tips or spots.

The container should feel heavy for its size, indicating that the soil is moist and the plant is well watered. They can thrive for years in the same pot so don’t worry too much about the size, just make sure it has drainage holes and check the underside of leaves and the soil.

How to Grow a Money Tree Plant

a money tree plant in a geometric pot

Light

Money Trees prefer bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, while too little light can lead to leggy growth and a sparse canopy.

A spot near a window with a sheer curtain is ideal, providing ample light without direct exposure to harsh rays.

Soil

Use a well-draining potting mix and choose a container with bottom drainage. A mixture of peat, pine bark, and perlite or sand works well to ensure adequate drainage and aeration. This prevents water from accumulating around the roots, reducing the risk of rot.

Watering

Overwatering is a common issue with Money Trees. They prefer their soil to be slightly moist but not soggy. Allow the top 2-3 inches of soil to dry out before watering again.

The frequency will depend on the environment, but typically, watering every 1-2 weeks is sufficient. Ensure the pot has good drainage to prevent root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

These tropical plants thrive in warmer temperatures, ideally between 65°F and 80°F (18°C to 27°C). They are not frost-tolerant and should be kept away from drafty windows or air conditioning vents.

Money Trees also enjoy high humidity, benefitting from regular misting or a pebble tray with water to increase moisture around the plant. Mist the plant regularly to boost moisture levels around the foliage.

Fertilizing

Feed monthly during the growing season with a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer and keep the soil slightly moist but not waterlogged. Reduce feeding in fall and winter when growth naturally slows.

Money Tree Plant Care

a money tree plant on a kitchen countertop

Pruning

Pruning helps maintain the shape of the Money Tree and encourages fuller growth. Trim any yellow or dead leaves and prune back unruly branches to keep the canopy dense and compact.

Pruning is best done in the spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.

How to Repot a Money Tree Plant

Money Trees should be repotted every 2-3 years or when they become root-bound. Choose a pot that is one size larger than the current one to give the roots room to expand.

Repotting is also an opportunity to refresh the soil, which can become compacted and depleted of nutrients over time.

To keep your money tree thriving, provide good care throughout the seasons:

Spring/Summer:

  • Place in bright, indirect light near a sunny window. Rotate periodically for even growth.
  • Allow soil to dry out slightly between waterings, then water thoroughly until excess drains from the bottom. Don’t let sit in soggy soil.
  • Mist leaves regularly and use a pebble tray to increase humidity around the plant.
  • Feed every 2-4 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.
  • Prune back overlong stems just above leaf nodes to encourage bushier new growth.
  • Check for pests like scale, mealybugs and spider mites and treat promptly if found.

Fall/Winter:

  • Provide as much bright light as possible as days shorten. Supplement with a grow light if needed.
  • Water less often, allowing soil to dry out further between waterings. Reduce feeding as well.
  • Monitor humidity and mist leaves frequently in dry heated air. Use a humidifier if very dry indoor air.
  • Move away from cold drafts of exterior doors and windows. Cooler temperatures of 65°F or so are fine.
  • Prune away yellowing leaves or stems as needed to keep attractive shape.
  • Examine stems and leaf undersides for pests that may emerge due to dry air.

Propagating Money Trees

a money tree plant with a braided trunk

As money trees mature and fill their pots, consider propagating new starters.

  • Take 6 inch stem cuttings in spring from leaf node points, dip in rooting hormone, and plant in moist potting soil.
  • Enclose in a clear plastic bag or propagate inside a terrarium to boost humidity around the cuttings.
  • Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.
  • In a few weeks, new roots and leaf growth will emerge from most cuttings.
  • Once well rooted, pot up the new plantlets individually.

After a year or so of growing on their own roots you can braid several stems together for that signature money tree look. Over time braided plants will continue growing and their trunks will thicken and look more tree-like.

Money Tree Plant Problems

If your money tree starts to struggle, have a close look for any issues and make needed care adjustments. Here are some common problems and solutions:

  • Dropping leaves: Often due to overwatering or cold temps/drafts. Allow soil to dry further before next watering and move to better spot.
  • Yellowing leaves: Overwatering is the most common cause of yellowing leaves. If the leaves are turning yellow and falling off, check the soil’s moisture level. Reduce watering and ensure the pot has adequate drainage.
  • Sparse new growth: Can signify too little light or fertilizer. Move closer to a window if possible or supplement with a grow light. Begin regular feeding with plant food.
  • Brown leaf tips: Generally indicates dry air. Improve humidity through misting, trays of water, or a humidifier nearby.
  • Shriveled stems: Likely underwatering. Give your plant a deep, thorough soak to rehydrate. Water more frequently going forward.
  • Pests: Mealybugs, mites, and scale suck plant sap. Wipe away with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol or use horticultural oils/insecticidal soaps.

Money Tree Varieties to Try

money tree plant

The standard green-leaf money tree with braided trunk is most common. But there are a few different Pachira varieties worth considering too:

  • Money Tree with Golden Trunks: Has bright yellow-green variegated leaves. The braided stems also have a nice golden tone. Makes a striking display!
  • Money Tree ‘Black Stem’: Also called Money Tree ‘Obscura’. Has lush dark green leaves on nearly black stems for gorgeous contrast. Braids beautifully.
  • Dwarf Money Tree: A newer compact variety reaching just 3 feet tall. Great for desktops or tabletops where space is limited. Grows in miniature braided form.
  • Hawaiian Money Tree: Technically a completely different plant (Tetraplasandra hawaiiensis) though similar in looks. Harder to find but an interesting alternative for variation.

Growing a money tree brings the lush vibes of the tropics indoor while brightening any space with hopeful good luck. Follow these care tips and soon your own money tree will flourish with abundant dark green leaves and braided stems elegantly intertwined.

When treated well, this easy yet mystical plant fills homes with its tranquil and prosperous presence for years to come.

How big do Money Trees get?

Indoors, Money Trees can grow up to 6-8 feet tall, depending on the pot size and growing conditions. With regular pruning, you can maintain them at a desired height and shape.

Can I put my Money Tree outside?

Money Trees can be placed outdoors in warm, frost-free climates. They should be in a spot that receives filtered sunlight and protected from strong winds. Remember to bring them inside when temperatures start to drop below 50°F (10°C).

How do I braid the trunk of a Money Tree?

The braiding of Money Trees is usually done when the plants are young and the stems are flexible. As the plant grows, new stems can be gently woven into the existing braid. However, it’s a delicate process that can harm the plant if not done correctly, so it’s often best left to professionals.

Is the Money Tree toxic to pets?

Money Trees are generally considered non-toxic to cats and dogs. However, ingesting plant material can potentially lead to gastrointestinal upset in pets, so it’s always best to keep plants out of reach.

the essential guide to Money tree plants

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