Imagine the lush, verdant braids of a money tree enhancing the corner of your living room, an embodiment of prosperity believed to invite good fortune into your life. This isn’t just a plant; it’s a personal charm for abundance, inviting a touch of elegance and the allure of financial success into your home. Caring for it requires a specific, but straightforward approach: a bit of your time, the right light, and a sprinkle of your attention can make it thrive. So, let’s take a look at how to care for this resilient houseplant because when trouble comes knowing you want to be prepared early with the tips you need to help this prosperous plant flourish!
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How do you keep an indoor money tree healthy?
Money trees need warm, humid growing conditions with lots of bright, indirect light. Keep their soil moist but not waterlogged, and fertilize regularly during the growing season.
Money Tree Care Tips
- Supply lots of bright, indirect light.
- Water deeply when the top 5cm (2”) of soil is dry.
- Ensure good soil drainage
- Provide atmospheric humidity of 50% or higher.
- Fertilize in the growing season with a half-strength dose of liquid fertilizer.
- Repot every two years with moist, free-draining soil.
While working on this guide I had a chance to speak with Kayla Gajdascz who is the President and co-founder Mental Houseplants who has a TON of experience growing and selling Money Trees. Here is what she had to say about the most common issues her customers experience.
Kayla Gajdascz Mental Houseplants
“Overwatering is a common mistake with Money Trees. They prefer to be kept slightly moist but not wet. Before watering, stick your finger about an inch into the soil; if it feels dry, it’s time to water. If the top is still moist, wait a few more days. Money Trees showing yellowing leaves or dropping leaves is usually due to the roots experiencing root rot from overwatering.”
An interesting Story About How The Money Tree Became known for what it’s worth
Money trees (Pachira aquatica) come from the steamy tropical forests of Central and South America. They grow on riverbanks, by ponds, and in wet, low-lying areas. But they’re most popular in South and East Asia, where they are considered a lucky plant.
It’s said, a hard-working truck driver turned to the tree after a typhoon prevented him from earning a living. He braided young saplings and sold them as a good luck charm, as their five-pointed leaves are said to invite wealth and prosperity in some types of Feng Shui.
More factually, the money tree is sometimes cultivated for its nuts. They taste a bit like chestnuts and with a bit of skill transform into a delicious snack. They’re also being investigated as a source of bio-fuel and for use in land remediation.
Just looking for the Facts? Here are Some Quick Money Tree Care Tips:
|Botanical Name:||Pachira aquatica|
|Hardiness Zones:||10 to 12|
|Water needs:||Moderate to Heavy|
|Light Requirements:||Full sun to bright shade; bright indirect light when grown indoors|
|Soil Needs:||Consistently moist, well draining soil with abundant organic material|
|Diseases:||Some risk of root rot if drainage needs not met|
|Pests:||Some risk of scale|
|Fertilizer:||Fertilize potted trees twice a month with half-strength liquid fertilizer in growing season only|
|Humidity:||50% atmospheric moisture or higher|
|Pruning:||Prune for appearance and to restrict size|
The Ideal Environment for Growing a Money Tree Indoors
Light Requirements for a Healthy Money Tree
When grown indoors, money trees need as much bright, indirect light as you can muster. They do well in rooms with a good southern exposure, though south-eastern facing rooms will also do the job in many cases.
Signs you need more light include a leggy money tree with few leaves, yellowing foliage, slow growth, and dropped leaves. They aren’t shy about communicating a problem!
Proper Temperature for Money Tree Survival
Money trees won’t put up with a cold room, so you need to keep your growing environment between 18 and 30°C (65 and 86°F). The warmer end is better.
Consistency is also important. Sudden changes in temperature can cause leaf drop. Money trees are also very susceptible to damage from drafts, especially from air conditioning systems, so watch out for vents when positioning your money tree.
The Role of Humidity in the Growth of Money Trees
Humidity is an often overlooked aspect of indoor plant care. Too little, and your money tree will be unable to keep its leaves well-hydrated. They will curl, or dry up from the tip inwards. Brown, crisp margins are another sign you need to work on your humidity.
High humidity also allows the tree to make good use of the water in its pot. Dry air will cause the soil to dry out more quickly, and as the leaves dry they too will draw everything they can from the soil. You’ll be watering more often in dry air.
Finally, humidity protects the money tree from pests. Spider mites especially love dry conditions, and you can deter those little monsters with good humidity.
Money trees prefer an atmospheric humidity of around 50% or higher. This can be challenging for indoor growers, especially if you have a strong HVAC system. Most homes and offices sit around 15 -20% humidity – far too low for a money tree.
There are a few approaches to getting your humidity right. One is to grow the money tree in a humid area of your home. Bathrooms and kitchens are often more humid than offices or living rooms, for example.
Another tactic is to place a pebble tray beneath the money tree. This is a shallow pan lined with flat stones and water. As the water evaporates it brings a gentle, consistent moisture to the area. It’s good for smaller money trees.
For larger plants, an electric humidifier cuts to the chase. Plugged into a wall and kept topped up, these little machines will keep your air nice and moist.
How to Cater to Your Money Tree’s Needs
Essential Tips on Watering a Money Tree
Money trees do best when watered once the top five centimeters (2”) of soil have dried completely, and when the soil is soaked completely then allowed to drain.
Watering from below is the best way to water money trees. this tactic involves placing the plant, pot and all, in a basin of water for about half an hour. This gives organic material in the growing medium lots of time to absorb water. The pot is then allowed to drain for 15 minutes before the plant is returned to its home.
Choosing the right soil for your Money tree
Potted money trees need a rich, loamy mix with good moisture retention. Paradoxically, they also need a mix that drains well.
The best way to hit this hard balance is to blend your own money tree soil. I like to mix my own. I blend two parts potting soil, two parts coco coir, one part perlite, one part vermiculite, and a teaspoon or so of organic fertilizer like worm castings. The result is moist, nourishing soil with great drainage.
The Importance of Suitable Drainage
Money trees have delicate, sensitive roots. They need small pockets of air in the soil to supply them with enough oxygen. Too much water left in the soil for too long can drive that vital oxygen from the soil, smothering the roots. They rot in the pot and can take the whole plant down if not corrected promptly.
It’s easily avoided through good drainage. A pot with lots of drainage holes paired with the right soil will make caring for your money tree almost effortless.
Why and How to Fertilize Your Money Tree
Money trees are known for their gorgeous, lobed leaves. They are costly for the tree to grow, so it helps to support that growth with regular fertilization during the growing season.
I recommend a twice-monthly dose of good quality organic liquid fertilizer, diluted to half the manufacturer’s recommendation. So, for example, if the dose is 5ml in 100ml of water, add 5ml to 200ml of water. This dilution protects the money tree’s delicate roots, while still providing the extra fertility it needs.
Grooming Your Money Tree
To Prune or Not to Prune a Money Tree
The ‘tree’ part of the ‘money tree’ is not to be underestimated. These gorgeous little houseplants will reach a whopping 20 meters (60’) or taller if properly cared for and can easily outgrow their spot.
You can restrict that growth a number of ways. One is by pruning the money tree down to size once a year, in the spring. If you’re feeling brave you can even turn them into bonsai for a diminutive delight.
But if you’re in a warm area with lots of garden space to populate, you can always just up and plant an oversized money tree outside. They tend to flower magnificently when grown outdoors, covering themselves in fragrant, yellow blooms.
Guide to Braiding and Re-braiding a Money Tree
It’s common to see potted money trees with braided trunks. Each part of the braid is a small tree, and the braid increases the density of the foliage. It’s said to bring good luck, with different numbers of braids bringing different types of prosperity to the home.
Braiding money trees is easiest to achieve with saplings, as young pliable shoots are easiest to position. Newly rooted stem cuttings are perfect. You’ll need one for each strand of your braid, planted tightly together at the base. After that, it’s just a matter of bending them gently into place and securing them at the top. The young trees will firm up over time.
When and How to Pot or Repot a Money Tree
Like most indoor plants, a well-loved money tree will outgrow its home and need a new pot, with new soil. Repot your money tree every two years in the late spring. This minimizes the shock to the roots, but will nonetheless revitalize and renew worn-out soil.
Choose a new pot with at least three drainage holes, and an appropriate soil mix. Increase the water it deeply then free it from the pot,
You may also need to re-pot if your money tree has developed root rot from overwatering.
Common Problems ,Pests, and Solutions in Money Tree Care
Identifying Common Problems in Money Tree Care
Money trees communicate their displeasure with dropped leaves, yellow foliage and slowed growth.
Yellow leaves in money trees are the trickiest to diagnose. It’s a common symptom of under-watering, over-watering, low light, too much light, pests, disease and poor soil fertility. In general, yellow leaves should signal a review of your care practices. I’d suggest you start by checking for signs of overwatering – soft, soggy roots and soil that smells of decay.
They also drop leaves like mad when stressed. Most often lost foliage is a sign of cold drafts, so check your air flow. They’ll also drop leaves when repotted, as their delicate roots do not enjoy the process at all.
If you’ve given your money tree a pot of fresh soil and it’s dropped a bunch of leaves, don’t despair. Wait it out and they’ll be new leaves soon enough.
Common Money Tree Pests
Money trees are largely pest resistant. Keep them in the right humidity and the worst you’ll have to deal with is the odd scale bug. Spider mites may appear if your plant is not receiving enough humidity.
Most pests can be treated with horticultural soaps, wiped off individually with a cotton tip soaked in rubbing alcohol or rinsed from the plant entirely. I like to pop my money tree under a shower-head every now and then – it’s a great way to clear pests and dust alike.
Preventive Measures to Keep Your Money Tree Healthy
The best thing you can do to promote good health is to provide the money tree with what it needs to thrive. In short:
- provide abundant bright, indirect light
- water only when the top 5cm (2”) of soil are dry
- water deeply and allow to drain
- maintain atmospheric humidity of 50% or higher
- fertilize in spring, summer and early fall with a half strength dose of liquid fertilizer
- repot every two years with moist, free draining soil
Creating an Outdoor Haven for Your Money Tree
Can Money Trees Survive Outdoors?
Money trees absolutely thrive outdoors, given the right condition. They’re suited to USDA Hardiness Zone 10-11, however, so you’ll need to be in the balmy south to stand much of a chance of success.
Tips for Growing a Money Tree Outdoors
Money trees love full sun to partial shade, so be sure to plant them in an open area of ground without nearby trees or structures that could cause too much shadow. You’ll need at least 2 meters (7’) clearance all round.
In terms of soil, they prefer moist, loamy soil that is moderately moist all year round. They’ll put up with small periods of dryness, but not extended drought conditions, so be prepared for some supplemental watering. They also prefer mildly acidic soil.
You won’t need to fertilize as regularly when growing outdoors. Once a year with slow release balanced granules is fine, and a twice yearly dose of well rotted compost will also keep the tree in good health.
When to Move Your Indoor Money Tree Outside
When to move your money tree outdoors is largely a matter of personal preference. The larger the tree the more likely you are to see good growth, so bear that in mind. But even a relatively small sapling will do very well indeed if properly supported.
I’d suggest leaving transplanting the tree until temperatures outside are consistently above 18°C (65°F). They are not frost hardy in any way and too much chill will kill them outright. Take time too to harden off the money tree to prevent shock.
Should I mist my money tree?
Most high humidity plants do well with the occasional misting. This improves the local humidity a small amount, giving a boost to humidity loving plants.
If you want to mist your money tree, be mindful of braids or any other decoration. You don’t want water collecting between the trunks and causing fungal infections or mildew.
Parting Advice for Money Tree Enthusiasts
Feng Shui enthusiasts are to be thanked for making the money tree the popular indoor plant they are today. No matter how much stock you put in that philosophy, there’s no doubt they’ve prospered through that association, and I have always found their lush leaves and friendly disposition