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 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
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.
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.
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
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.