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How to Care for Money Trees

Updated on September 17, 2013
seh1101 profile image

Sean has been in the industry of gardening and landscaping since 2006. He is also a Certified Arborist that tends to focus on plant health.

A braided money tree
A braided money tree | Source

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 within their native habitat, but the houseplant varieties can be grown very much smaller. The leaves of the money tree are shiny green and palmate with 5 leaflets at the end of each stem. Money trees have braided stems and other interesting aesthetic stem designs. Growing and maintaining a money tree is easy after following a few guidelines - potting, lighting, watering, and climate.

According to feng shui, a money tree will bring good luck and fortune to those who own one. The 5 leaves on a money tree represent metal, water, wood, fire, and Earth

Loamy soil mixed with sand and pelite for drainage
Loamy soil mixed with sand and pelite for drainage | Source

Potting the Money Tree

The money tree prefers well-drained soil. Large containers aren't exactly ideal due to water retention. Soggy soil is common and can become a major problem when growing money trees. Root rot is a severe condition that will cause the leaves to yellow, fall off, and ultimately kill the tree.

Soil that drains well is essential. Clayey soil will retain too much moisture and promote root rot, and very sandy soil will drain too quickly and provide little nutrient content. Mixing loamy soil with sand or perlite will facilitate drainage and discourage root rot. The soil should remain moist, but not wet and soggy.

The braided trunks of a money tree
The braided trunks of a money tree | Source

Light Requirements for Money Trees

Money trees prefer indirect sunlight or artificial light. Direct sunlight for extended periods may cause the edge of the leaves to burn. Low light levels may also cause the leaves to discolor. The money 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.

Watering Money Trees

How 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 is not shallow and weak. When watering, the foliage, stems, and trunks should be avoided. Wet stems and trunks can promote rotting and disease.

When to Water
Testing moisture levels of the container should be determined by weight, and 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 much more accurate but 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.

Preferred Water
Money trees may not respond well to tap water, especially tap water from municipal sources. Municipal tap water, such as the tap water in cities, is treated with chlorine and other chemicals to make the water safe for human consumption. These chemicals and other minerals within tap water can be harmful for money trees. Distilled water or reverse osmosis filtered water is preferred when watering money trees. Well water is usually safe to water with, but may contain concentrated minerals that can cause harm.

Native Region of Money Trees

A markerSouth America -
get directions

Money trees are native to South America and thrive underneath the dense jungle canopies.

Humidity and Temperature for Money Trees

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 raise the humidity if low humidity is a problem.

The money tree needs a warm environment, but not a hot environment. Average room temperature should be between 60 and 75°F (16-24°C). Most indoor temperatures fall between the preferred range year around, so temperature is not usually a problem. Moving a money tree to the outdoors on a porch or patio will require some time for the money tree to adapt. Move the tree to warmer areas indoors and eventually to the outdoors over a period of several days. This prevents the money tree from going into a state of shock.

Fertilizing the Money Tree

Fertilize the money tree every 2 weeks during spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half of the recommended amount on the package. Diluting by half will reduce excessive fertilizer that can burn the leaves and cause other problems. A few fertilizer granules sprinkled on top the soil will fertilize the money tree more gradually compared to liquid fertilizer solutions.

Money Tree Dormancy

The fall and winter months may cause some die-back to occur, and the leaves will yellow and fall off. This is completely normal due to the plant recognizing sunlight and temperature fluctuations, and it is simply going through a yearly phase. Watering and fertilizing needs to be reduced during dormancy as well.


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    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 8 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      Hi Sean, Such an interesting article. A lady who was renting a cottage from me some time ago, had a money tree in a container. She called it a money plant. It was thriving, when her husband was offered a job with double his present salary. I suppose it was just a coincidence, but I was impressed.

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I have two money trees and I love them. I'm not so good with plants so I'm glad to read this.

    • seh1101 profile image

      Sean Hemmer 4 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Amy - It all depends on preference. A large one will give a room or area an instant boost in appearance...but will cost quite a bit more while requiring more space and care compared to a younger tree. A younger tree will cost less and be quite a bit easier to care for.

      Maybe buy a small one and see if it will thrive within a certain area first. If it does, then you could go ahead and purchase a large one.

    • profile image

      Amy 4 years ago

      I'm looking to pick up a money tree, is a larger more mature tree a better investment or a newer younger tree?

    • seh1101 profile image

      Sean Hemmer 4 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Thelma - It may go through a little shock after transplanting depending on how mature it is. The younger the money tree, the better it can cope with being transplanted. Moving it out of direct sun should definitely cut back on scorched edges.

      freeradicalsteve - Glad I could help! Best of luck with your tree!

      pstraubie48 - How large is the tree? Usually the containers that come with it are a bit too small. I immediately transplanted mine into a terra cotta pot after purchase.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      I am so glad that I came across this. I have a money tree that I have had since December and it seems to be happy. I do wonder though how long I should leave it in the container it came in when I purchased it.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Angels are on the way to you this

    • freeradicalsteve profile image

      freeradicalsteve 4 years ago

      Our money tree has brown tips on the leaves, now I know why. Will be moving away from the window. Many thanks. Good hub.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      I think I have to replant my money tree because it is on direct sunlight. I hope it will not die when I transfer it to another place. Thanks for sharing this informative hub. Have a lovely weekend!

    • seh1101 profile image

      Sean Hemmer 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Melis Ann - Thanks! Changing to a purified/distilled is definitely worth a shot. I have well water along with a faucet that draws from a filter, so I have yet to run into water-related problems with my money tree. Let me know if changing the water works out!

    • Melis Ann profile image

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Never thought it could be the tap water that is making my money tree unhealthy, but it makes a lot of sense. Useful hub.

    • seh1101 profile image

      Sean Hemmer 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      chrissieklinger- I would suggest buying one if the nursery carries money trees. I had to order mine online since I couldn't find any nurseries that carried any around my area.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I have lots of plants in my house but have never seen this particular one. I will have to look into whether our local nursery sells them.

    • lj gonya profile image

      lj gonya 5 years ago

      Mine was over two feet tall when I got it, so it had a head start. My kids accuse me of being a houseplant killer, so I'm hoping that I can keep this going!

    • seh1101 profile image

      Sean Hemmer 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      lj gonya - Thanks! I can't wait until my money tree reaches a few feet tall. My tree is 2 years old and still pretty small. It has grown quite a few more leaves compared to last year though.

    • lj gonya profile image

      lj gonya 5 years ago

      Good hub. I have a money tree that I got as a gift three or four years ago and haven't transplanted it because it seems to be doing fairly well. You are so right. It doesn't need a lot of water, and I do keep it in indirect light. It is about four feet tall now.