Money tree: all about care, environment & propagation
Let us show you what to look for when caring for and repotting the money tree, and give tips on propagation and the lifespan of this lucky charm.
The money tree (Pachira aquatica) is a popular houseplant. It belongs to the Pachira genus and to the mallow family (Malvaceae). Other names for the money tree are Guiana chestnut, Malabar chestnut or French peanut.
The tree is native to Central America, where the fruits are used as a substitute for cocoa. But the leaves and seeds can also be consumed.
In our country, these plants are a symbol of good luck and are therefore often given as a gift.
Money tree: characteristics
The money tree is an evergreen deciduous tree that can grow 4 to 20 metres high under optimal conditions. However, it is a slow-growing plant.
The trunk is thickened at the bottom and serves as a water storage organ. Money trees are often sold with a braided trunk, the bark is smooth and brown. The leaves of the plant are dark green, long-stalked and palmately compound. They consist of five to nine leaflets (fingers) and are slightly leathery and shiny. Over time, the leaves of the tree can form a stately crown.
When kept indoors, the plant very rarely produces flowers. These stately exotic blooms attract attention mainly due to their size and shape. They are green-yellow with red stamens and resemble feathers.
In the wild, the tree also produces fruits, which are large, brown and edible.
Money tree care: how to do it right
Fortunately, the money tree is not very demanding in terms of care. If you keep an eye on the water and fertiliser supply, keep the tree in the right location and rooted in suitable substrate, nothing should really go wrong. You will learn everything about the care of Pachira aquatica in the next sections.
Do not water your money tree too much, because excess water will harm the houseplant. Therefore, always make sure that half of the substrate is dry before you water again. Waterlogging must be avoided at all costs, as this can lead to root rot and quickly because considerable damage to the plant. Ensuring high humidity is even more important than watering. Therefore, do something good for your houseplant by spraying it with lukewarm water twice a week.
When planting and repotting, feed by incorporating a fertiliser with a long-term effect – such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food into the substrate. Further feeding is then no longer necessary in that year. The next year, fertilise again from the spring. Ideally, do this again with Plantura All Purpose Plant Food, as this releases nutrients slowly and gently and only needs to be used every six to eight weeks. Alternatively, fertilise with a mineral liquid fertiliser, but since this would have to be done every two to three weeks, we do not recommend it.
Watering and feeding:
- Do not water too much
- Spray regularly
- Feed from spring to autumn
- Fertilise every 6 – 8 weeks with a fertiliser with long-term effect
- Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
- Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
- Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly
The right soil
This houseplant does not require much in terms of soil. The substrate just needs to be loose and well-draining. In addition, the money tree requires a good supply of nutrients; a nutrient-rich substrate is therefore essential.
Summary: The right soil
- Rich in nutrients
Tip: The money tree also thrives in hydroponics or can be grown as a bonsai (with much dedication).
Suitable substrates for the money tree include commercially available potting soil, cactus soil or even potted plant soil. You should add one-fifth mineral material such as perlite to increase permeability in the respective substrate. Also mix a fertiliser with long-term effect into the substrate to provide the houseplant with all valuable nutrients in the long term. Our Plantura Plantura All Purpose Plant Food is best suited to ensure a sustainable supply of nutrients to your money tree.
- Potting soil
- Cactus soil
- Potted plant soil
- Mix to one fifth with mineral material
- Incorporate fertiliser with long-term effect
The money tree should be repotted every two to three years. Once the root ball has grown through all the substrate, it is time to change the pot. When repotting, you not only need to change the planter, but also completely replace the substrate. In this regard, the best time for repotting your money tree is in the spring.
The right location for the money tree
The ideal location for this evergreen plant should be well chosen, because the money tree does not like being moved too often. For optimal growing conditions, choose a location that is bright all year around, where the plant is not exposed to drafts and, preferably, where there is high humidity. Ideal temperatures for the exotic plant are between 18 and 20 °C in summer and between 12 and 18 °C in winter. In no case should the temperature for the money tree fall below 12 °C.
Summary: The ideal environment
- Do not move frequently
- Bright location all year around
- No draughts
- High humidity
- Summer temperature: 18 – 20 °C
- Winter temperature: 12 – 18 °C
Pruning money trees
Money plants do not require regular pruning. Regularly removing withered and dried parts of the plant is generally enough. However, with proper care, the plants can grow into stately indoor trees up to two metres in height. So if the tree grows over your head, you can also reach for the pruning shears and cut back the money tree. The best time for this is in the spring. Trim the tree back as far as you like. After a few weeks, the plant will sprout again. Temperatures above 20°C are best for resprouting of the shoots.
Tip: Only prune your money tree if there is no other option. After pruning, the tree may no longer keep growing in its original, beautiful form.
Summary: How to prune the money tree
- Regularly remove wilted and dry leaves
- Regular pruning is not necessary
- Prune only when the tree becomes too large
- Best time: spring
- Temperatures above 20 °C are best for resprouting
Yellow leaves on the money tree
Unfortunately, the beautiful leaves on the money tree almost always turn yellow. But what could be the reason for this? In fact, many different causes are to blame for discoloured leaves. Most often, it is the result of errors in care and can be easily corrected. A common because, for example, is a lack of light. If the plant is in a location that is too dark, it will not get enough light and the leaves will turn yellow. This is where a change of location helps. Another reason: waterlogging. If watered too often or if excess water is not removed from the planter, the plant will suffer greatly. Most often, the only thing that helps in this case is repotting and changing the substrate, and, of course, changing the frequency of watering. Also, if the air is too dry, it harms the plant and can also result in yellow leaves. Regularly mist the plant with water and the problem will quickly disappear. Cold, draughts and frequent change of location can also be causes of yellow leaves. For this reason, it helps to find a suitable place indoors and leave the plant there as long as possible.
Possible causes for yellow leaves:
- Lack of light
- Low humidity
- Frequent changes of location
Propagating the money tree
The easiest method for propagating money trees yourself is via cuttings. To do this, take cuttings from unwoody shoots of your sapling with a sharp knife. Place these into a special growing medium and dampen. A mini greenhouse provides the ideal conditions for these cuttings. Place it in a bright, warm place and do not forget to ventilate and water regularly. This way, the cutting can take root and grow well over time.
Money tree propagation from cuttings:
- Cut half-woody shoots
- Place in potting soil
- Put in mini greenhouse
- Place in a warm, bright location
- Moisten regularly
Is the money tree poisonous?
The question always arises as to whether the money tree is actually poisonous. We can assure you: Neither the leaves nor the fruits of this tropical plant are poisonous. There is only a slight danger from the stem of the plant. This can secrete a liquid that may well be toxic. However, you would have to ingest the liquid of several stems to actually suffer poisoning. The money tree is also completely harmless for pets such as dogs, cats, etc. And although this little tree is usually only used as an ornamental plant in our country, the leaves and fruits of the lucky chestnut can actually be eaten.
Summary: Is the money tree poisonous?
- Liquid from the stem can because poisoning, but only in very high quantities
- Not dangerous to pets
- Leaves and fruits are even edible