The money tree plant ( Pachira aquatica ) is a foliage houseplant typically made up of 3 to 5 plants braided together to form one plant. The glossy green foliage at the top of the plant consists of palmately compound leaves, usually five narrow leaflets. The plant is said to bring good fortune and prosperity.
The money tree plant is the houseplant form of a tropical tree that grows to 60 feet in the wild. Native to Central and South America, the tree blooms beautiful, large yellow flowers and produces edible brown nuts. Hence the common names for the tree are Malabar chestnut, Guiana chestnut, Saba nut, and French peanut.
In the wild, the trunks are not braided. As a houseplant, the plant’s young, immature stems are flexible enough to be able to braid three to five plants together. These young stems are held in place with string until the stems mature and become woody. Braiding is done by nurserymen but there are unbraided forms of the houseplant plus braided and unbraided bonsai forms. Usually, houseplants are only a few feet tall, but they can grow up to 6 feet tall. Indoors, the money tree plant does not flower or produce nuts. It is known for its symbolism in Asian cultures. The plant is said to bring good luck, financial success, and prosperity. It is also said that it brings positive energy or “chi” in Feng Shui. It is the perfect gift to give to people starting a business, purchasing new homes, and to celebrate a new year.
- Common Name: Money tree plant, money plant
- Botanical Name: Pachira aquatica
- Family: Malvaceae
- Plant Type: Tropical foliage houseplant
- Mature Size: 6 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide
- Sun Exposure: Partial
- Soil Type: Well-drained loamy soil
- Soil pH: Neutral to Acidic
- Bloom Time: Does not bloom indoors
- Hardiness Zones: 10 (USDA)
- Native Area: Central and South America
Money Tree Plant Care
Grown like other tropical foliage plants, the money tree plant needs bright indirect light and high humidity. It should be in a container with drainage holes and a loose, well-aerated potting mix. It does not need to be watered often; water when the top two inches are dry. It is best to increase the humidity as much as possible as houses are often dry inside, especially in the winter. Either put the plant on a tray of pebbles and water or mist with water. Fertilize with a liquid houseplant fertilizer in the summer. As it grows, if you want to keep the braided appearance, you have to braid the new stems and hold in place with string until those stems become woody and the braid stays in place. The only pruning it will need is to remove old or diseased leaves.
Light: Bright indirect light.
Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix, may use a cactus/succulent specialty mix.
Water: Water when the top two inches of soil are dry. Make sure excess drains out of container.
Temperature and Humidity: This plant prefers warm temperatures, seventy degrees, and at least 50 percent humidity. May have to increase humidity in the house by placing the container on a tray of pebbles in water or misting with water.
Fertilizer: Fertilize with a foliage houseplant fertilizer during the growing season.
The money tree plant will only need pruning to remove dead or diseased foliage. However, as the plant grows, it will have to be continued to be braided to keep the appearance.
Propagating Money Tree Plants
The money tree plant can be propagated by stem cuttings or by seed. Seed will take longer to get a mature houseplant. To have a braided plant, you need at least three plants.
How to Propagate Money Tree Plants from Stem Cuttings
During the growing season, when you see new growth on the plant, propagate by taking a stem cutting.
What You Need:
- Sterilized, razor-sharp knife or razor blade
- Rooting hormone,
- Plastic bags
- Sterilized potting mix, such as the bagged seed starting mix
- Small, plastic containers with drainage holes (you can cut off the base of a gallon milk jug and make drainage holes); it is best to do one cutting per small, 2-inch container, or maybe two cuttings per 4-inch container, or several per milk jug
How To Propagate from Stem Cuttings
- Cut the top five inches of the stem with at least two nodes. Cut right below the node which is where the leaves are attached to the stem. There is a higher chance of rooting if you cut below the node.
- Insert the bottom end into water, shake off and then insert into a powder rooting hormone, and then plant.
- Poke holes into the already moistened growing medium with a pencil. Insert the cutting so the stem is a few inches deep to be able to stand up.
- Cover with a plastic bag so the bag is “inflated.” Either blow in the bag and seal or prop up with wire hangers. The size of the bag and how it will stay inflated will depend on the size of the container.
- What you are creating for these cuttings is a “mini greenhouse” so the cuttings can root without losing too much moisture. There should be condensation inside on the bag. This indicates sufficient moisture to keep the plant turgid.
- Place these mini greenhouses in an area that is 60°F to 75°F. If they are outside, place in the shade. If inside, either a northern exposure window or under fluorescent lights for 16 hours per day.
- It will take 4 to 8 weeks for roots to develop. When the cuttings have rooted, gradually open the plastic, a few hours a day, to acclimate the plant. Eventually, when it does not wilt with the bag opened, pot up into a larger container and let it grow in a cold frame or greenhouse until you can plant outside the next season.
How To Grow Money Tree Plant from Seed
- For each seed, have a clean, plastic container with drainage holes, about 6 inches wide.
- Fill container with seed starting mix or a well-draining potting mix and water to saturate.
- The seed are large so plant one seed per container, about ¼ inch deep and then water again
- Place containers on a tray in a warm area with bright indirect light.
- Water when top inch of soil dries out.
- As seed germinates and see growth, may be able to water a little less.
- Continue to grow in container in bright indirect light.
- As plant grows, may have to re-pot into larger container and if want to braid the plant will need a container large enough for at least three plants.
Potting and Repotting
As the money tree plant grows, it may need to be re-potted. The plant itself has shallow roots and may not get very wide but as it gets taller, it may need more support from the base, so it does not topple over. Purchase a container that is just a little larger, about 2 inches larger than the existing container, with drainage holes. Overturn the existing plant and gently pull the plant from container. Tease out the roots so they are not compacted. Repot into new container with new potting mix. Tamp down and plant just about an inch below the rim so when you water the plant, the water does not spill out. After repotting, check to see if you need a larger tray. Water the plant.
Because the money tree plant is grown as a foliage houseplant indoors it requires minimal changes in the winter. Do not fertilize the plant and water less frequently. If possible, increase efforts to increase humidity as the air often is too dry in the winter.
Common Pests & Plant Disease
Like other foliage houseplants, money tree plants may be attacked by spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and fungus gnats. To control spider mites and aphids, spray the plant with insecticidal soap. Mealybugs can be removed by wiping them off with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Fungus gnats indicates overwatering and can be deterred by less watering as well as applying about ½ inch of horticultural sand on top of the potting mix.
Diseases include leaf spots and root rot. Leaf spots may be caused by anthracnose, a fungal disease that damages the foliage. Remove the affected foliage. When watering, do not get water on the leaves and cut down on the misting. If the problem is severe, consider spraying with a copper fungicide.
Root rot is often caused by watering too much and a fungal issue that destroys the roots. Water less and consider repotting to a better mix in case your mix is not aerated or drains fast enough.
Common Problems with Money Tree Plant
The money tree plant is an easy to grow houseplant. However, plant owners may overwater or underwater plants until they get the hang of it, or they may not be able to provide enough light and humidity. If the plant is not getting what it needs, it will tell you.
Leaves Turning Yellow : This can be caused by dry air, in which case you need to increase the humidity.
Leaves Turning Brown and Crisp : This can be caused by under watering, in which case you either must water more frequently or thoroughly (so runs out of the drainage holes). This can also be caused by dry air. Try to increase humidity by placing on a tray with water and pebbles and misting.
Drooping Green Leaves : This can be a sign of not getting enough water (the plant is wilted) or too much water (the soil is saturated and the plant cannot obtain oxygen in the soil). If the soil also is dry, you have underwatered. If the soil is wet, then you are watering too much or too frequently.
Plant Leaning To One Side : The plant needs more light. If more light cannot be given, rotate the plant often so will grow symmetrically.