If you’re looking for a plant which will be easy to care for but is a little different to the commonly recommended snake plant or cast iron plant, the money tree is a good alternative. The plant thrives with relatively little care and tends not to be overly problematic.
The Pachira aquatica, also known as the money tree or the Guiana chestnut, is a plant native to Central and South America where it grows in swamps and can thrive without direct sunlight. It’s also believed to be lucky and it is said that owners of a money tree plant will find themselves prosperous – and we could really all use a little extra luck!
The money tree (not to be confused with the Crassula ovata) was one of the first houseplants I ever bought. And truthfully, I murdered it almost immediately. I watered it thinking that would stop it being so droopy, and then I watered it some more, and some more. I had never heard of root rot or anything like that. Luckily that was over five years ago and I know better now. So please learn from my mistakes (or my plant died for nothing).
In this article I’ll explain the basics of how to care for a money tree plant as well as some extra info for anyone who enjoys reading further into the topics (we do too!).
Table of Contents
- How to Care for a Money Tree Plant?
- How Can I Propagate Money Tree Plants?
- What Are Common Money Tree Plant Problems?
- Any Top Tips for Money Tree Plant Care?
How to Care for a Money Tree Plant?
Money Tree Plants Need Bright, Indirect Light
Money plants or Guiana chestnut plants are native to South America where they thrive in tropical wetland environments without too much direct sunlight. This means it is important to replicate a warm, sunny and humid climate wherever you are growing your money trees. When growing your money plant indoors it’s best to give them around six hours of bright-indirect light each day.
Some people recommend direct light but personally I would warn against this, too much direct light will burn the leaves and stunt growth. If you notice light tone discoloration on the leaves of your money plant – that’s likely too much light.
Too little light however will stop photosynthesis and the plant won’t be able to make energy, grow leaves and survive. You’ll know your money plant isn’t receiving enough sunlight if it is drooping and turning yellow, the plant will also lean heavily towards the sunlight and may become stretched out or even fall over. To avoid this issue make sure to regularly rotate your plants for even growth.
If you don’t have room for a big plant (money trees can grow quite big, around six to eight feet tall) keep your money plant in a shadier spot, it’ll be just fine and will grow more slowly.
If you want to grow your money plant in a room with no windows then consider investing in a grow light of some variety. There’s a ton of options ranging in price to accommodate all sorts of needs.
My top tip: use a grow light on a timer in order to give your plant a consistent lighting schedule
It’s Safer to Water Less Than You Think
Money trees store water in their trunk, so will need watering less often than you might expect. However, like most houseplants it is super important to find the middle ground – too much water will cause root rot but too little and your money plant will start dropping leaves.
Personally, I’d recommend watering your money plant about twice per week, but this will depend on factors such as the material your plant pot is made from, location, size of pot, maturity of plant and even time of year.
Just make sure you check the soil moisture levels often, using a moisture meter if you’ve got one.
Many people advise frequent watering; however, it is much better to wait until the soil has dried out (or at least the top two inches) and then give your plant a thorough drink.
Water your plant until the excess is flowing out of the drainage holes.
I also like to pop my tropical plants into the bathtub every now and then for a good shower, they get a nice drink but also it’s a super quick way to dust all of your plants and wash off pests.
Fertilize According to the Seasons
During my research I found some people recommending adding slow release fertilizer to the soil or a fertilizer concentrate to the soil after watering. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with those options but neither are my favorites.
The issue I have with many guides is they are either way too complicated or ignore plant needs for simplicity. I’ve put together some general tips for feeding your money plants whilst also acknowledging you might have a lot of other plants too. If you are super super dedicated to your plants you are of course welcome to have individual feeding schedules but personally I don’t have the time for that!
Here is my general guide to feeding houseplants:
Start fertilizing around early spring time.
- When you notice the day gets longer and the weather starts to warm
- Dilute your fertilizer to half the recommended strength
- I use a liquid fertilizer which gets mixed with water
When summer has arrived I use fertilizer with every water I do.
- If you opt for a slow release fertilizer you only need to use them around twice a year
A few weeks before the cold is due to set in, begin to reduce the frequency of fertilizing
Do not fertilize your plants during winter months.
- If you live in a climate which does not receive winter frosts then continue to fertilize your plants but with a dilute fertilizer
- If you live in a tropical climate keep your houseplants on a summer style fertilization
If you want to fertilize your plants naturally in order to be organic and sustainable then banana peels and eggshells are a must. Basically any time you eat a banana or eggs keep the scraps.
You can leave the banana peels in a jar of water for a few days and then strain and use the water to feed and hydrate your plants.
Additionally, ground egg shells make a great DIY fertilizer, just sprinkle them in your soil.
Always check the label or instructions of whichever brand fertilizer you have chosen if you choose to go that route – different brands will require different amounts of water adding and so on.
Pruning and Shaping Your Money Tree Plant
Most of the time you’ll find money plants grown with their stems braided together, it is said that the plant catches good luck this way. If you like the look it is easy to maintain, simply wind the stems around each other and tie together gently.
Pruning is not a massive concern for this plant but you may want to cut back the tops in order to create a more bushy effect. Cutting the plant will encourage healthy regrowth so try not to avoid it on the basis that you want a big plant.
It is also important to remove diseased or dead leaves as they are wasting the plant’s energy which could be used on growing new leaves.
You might find that you need to prune your money tree because it has gotten too big for your home.
Pruning Because It’s Gotten Too Big
Doing a big, structural prune can put significant stress on the money plant, so make sure you are not doing big chops too often.
Use clean garden tools like shears or secateurs to remove the very top stems that are taller than the others or bigger than your ideal size. Make sure to cut just above the node (places from which new growth will come).
You can also choose to completely remove sections that have gotten too big, leaving only the smaller growth.
Pruning for Shape
If you bought your money tree because you loved the distinctive shape they have, you might have then been disappointed when it grew stems all over the place. If you want ro keep your money tree looking how it did when you got it then just remove any unwanted growth.
Cut the stems a few centimeters from the trunk, don’t worry about leaving a node since you are not trying to encourage more growth in this area.
Trimming back your money tree for general maintenance and care can be done all year round because it is much less stressful for the plant. It is a good idea to remove stems in order to encourage new growth.
Maintenance pruning also includes removing old, damaged parts of the plant. This prevents the plant from wasting energy on leaves that are going to die anyways, instead the energy is diverted to new growth. It’s also important to remove disease leaves to prevent pests infecting the entire plant.
Repot Your Money Tree Plant During Spring or Summer
Repot your money tree when the plant has become root bound, you’ll know it has if you can see roots growing out of the drainage holes or circling the inside of the pot.
If possible try to repot your plants during spring or summer.
Remove the root ball from the pot, shaking as much of the old soil away as you can. Take this opportunity to look at the roots of the plant, see if there is any root rot. Just remove anything that is brown or mushy and make a note to water your plant slightly less often.
Choose a pot that is a couple of inches larger in circumference than the existing pot. Fill the pot with a well-draining houseplant soil, I like to mix perlite into mine for extra drainage.
The few weeks after having repotted are important, the plant will be more sensitive to change than usual. Water the plant thoroughly to begin with and place it in the shade. Once the plant has adjusted you can put it back into the sun or wherever you had it before.
How Can I Propagate Money Tree Plants?
Money trees are super easy to propagate – as are most plants with visible nodes and plenty of leaves. I’ve found water propagation to be the easiest in my experience as it tends to be more successful.
First, find a healthy section of the plant to take a cutting from – do not include any dry or mushy stems in your cuttings.
Second, use a sterile cutting tool and cut a stem section around six inches long with at least 2-3 leaf nodes towards the bottom. Cut about a centimeter below the last node at a 45 degree angle. Once complete, remove the bottom few leaves from your cutting as they’ll most likely be submerged in the water, which isn’t what we want.
Third, put your cuttings in clean water (a bottle, glass, or vase will work) making sure no leaves are under the water, but that the nodes are covered. At first you’ll notice a white cauliflower looking substance forming. But don’t worry, after about 6-8 weeks you will see roots growing in the water, I like to wait until there is a secondary root system before planting. What I mean by a secondary root system is that the roots are growing off each other, like a root system you’d see on any other plant if you pulled it straight out of the soil.
Make sure you change the water frequently to keep the cuttings clean.
To move your cuttings from water to soil it can really help to use rooting hormone but it is not absolutely necessary. Personally I do like to use rooting hormone to ensure a higher success rate – just dip your cuttings in the rooting powder and then plant the cutting like normal.
The first few weeks I would recommend watering your fresh cuttings more regularly than usual as they have acclimated to living in water by this point.
What Are Common Money Tree Plant Problems?
Symptom: Soft trunk
Potential Cause: Overwatering
How to Fix: Reduce watering frequency and put your plant in a spot with more sunshine
If the trunk has become quite mushy it might have passed the point of saving unfortunately. The best thing to do is to propagate as much as possible, discard the disease plant and start again with the cuttings.
Symptom: Leaf Drop
Potential Cause: Inconsistencies in watering schedules.
How to Fix: Try using a calendar or reminder on your phone, it is important to water your plants on a schedule.
Potential Cause: Nutrient deficiency, age, or overwatering.
How to Fix: Increase fertilizer frequency, cut off the leaves that are yellowing, move to a sunnier spot.
Symptom: Brown Leaves
Potential Cause: Too much light or too much fertilizer.
How to Fix: If the leaves are crispy and brown it’s probably too much light, move the plant further away from the window or light source,
If the leaves are limp and brown then reduce fertilizer schedule.
Symptom: Black Spots
Potential Cause: Bacterial or fungal infection.
How to Fix: Neem oil can help with both fungal and bacterial issues and since it can be hard to tell which is affecting the plant, I recommend treating both. Always remove any disease foliage as bacteria spreads within the plant from leaf to leaf
Symptom: White Spots
Potential Cause: Mildew or tap water.
How to Fix: If these spots seem dormant, ie not changing in size then it’s probably mineral build up from tap water. These should just wipe away with a damp cloth and leave no problem.
If the white spots seem to be spreading and have a powdery texture then you’re probably dealing with powdery mildew which is a plant disease. There are tons of antifungal treatments available or you can use neem oil again. I like neem oil best because it’s effective, affordable and natural.
Any Top Tips for Money Tree Plant Care?
Act as if you already have pests and you won’t get them – I like to use sticky traps all of the time to prevent pests ever becoming a problem. It’s a lot more difficult to deal with a full infestation!
Not a tip but important to know, the money tree is one of the safest houseplants to have if you are concerned about your cat or dog eating them. They are generally considered not toxic and therefore pet friendly.
The bathroom is a great location for your money plant as they will love the humidity boost and the warmth. If you can’t keep them in the bathroom, consider investing in a humidifier or use a pebble tray. They’ll also love the fluorescent light found in office buildings so if your desk needs some life, maybe get a money tree.
When buying your money plant check all over for signs of infection or pests (look out for sap, brown spots or bugs) and check out the roots.
Caring for Money Trees Is Easy Overall
Money trees or Pachira Aquatica are a great houseplant option for all ranges of experience, they look great and they bring good vibes. All in all, they’re pretty easy to care for and just need warmth and bright indirect sunlight to thrive, with a good watering once a week.
If you just do a few key things that I’ve outlined in the article above you should find your money tree thriving and growing faster than ever!
Oh and I’ll leave you with this fun fact – the name is thought to derive from a story in which a poor man prays to find wealth. He finds this plant and becomes rich by selling its seeds. From the 1980s onwards the money tree plant has been held in high regard with significant cultural meanings.
Money, Money EVERYWHERE
If you’re looking for a little extra luck, then the money plant is definitely the one to get. However, if more plant knowledge is your thing, click one of the articles below. Want even more knowledge? Dive into our full collection of houseplant tips here. Once you know it all, get started with all the necessary tools to make your houseplant journey a success!
Comment below or let us know your thoughts and feedback here. We love to grow money(plants)! 😉