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How to Properly Care for a Money Tree Houseplant

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 2, 2020 • 3 min read

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Ron Finley Teaches Gardening

The money tree is a plant that is often given as a gift of positive energy and good fortune. It comes from a humid tropical region and can therefore be challenging to care for in some climates. But with proper care, a money tree plant can grow to great heights and live a long, healthy life.

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What Is a Money Tree?

Money tree or money plant (Pachira aquatica) is a tree species native to Central and South America, where it grows in moist, swampy areas. The money tree has dark green leaves, and when grown as a houseplant, it typically includes several trunks carefully braided together. The money tree is commonly grown in Hawaii and Taiwan and is often used as a bonsai tree.

Money tree plants are a popular gift for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, baptisms, weddings, anniversaries, and housewarmings, largely due to the legend that as the plant grows and prospers, so too will its owner.

Best Conditions for Growing a Money Tree

Money trees require active care since few locations in the United States match the tree’s native habitat. In order for the tree to thrive as a houseplant or outdoor plant, provide it with the following:

  • Bright indirect light: A money tree needs daily light, but direct sunlight will scorch its leaves. It grows naturally in partial shade beneath the canopy of other trees, so provide a similar environment for it in your home. This may mean keeping the money tree as a houseplant or planting it in a partially covered outdoor location. The money tree can also survive in low light, but it will grow more slowly and show less new growth.
  • High humidity: The money tree needs moisture just as much as it needs indirect sunlight. Misting the plant is a great way to keep its environment humid and its leaves clean; keeping the plant in a room with a humidifier can accomplish this for you.
  • Relatively dry roots: Money trees require moist leaves, but their roots must not sit in water. Choose a pot with drainage holes. When potting the plant, use well-draining potting soil (add perlite and sand for drainage purposes), and place a pebble tray at the bottom of the pot. This prevents the plant from soaking in water and developing root rot. Overwatering is more damaging than underwatering, so make good drainage a priority.
  • Fertile soil: You can start your money tree in a potting mix that contains fertilizer and peat moss. Add liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Hold off on fertilizing during winter months.
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How to Care for a Money Tree

Money tree plant care can be intensive during the early years of the plant's life. If it makes it to maturity and develops a robust root system, the money plant can transition into a low-maintenance species. Follow these care instructions to nurture your money tree and ensure that it flourishes:

  • Give the tree room to grow. If you plan to keep your money tree in a pot—either as an indoor plant or on a patio—you will need to re-pot it from time to time. As a general rule, you want a pot with a diameter as wide as the plant's foliage. When repotting a money tree, keep the soil mixture consistent (peat moss, perlite, and sand with fertilizer mixed in).
  • Be proactive about pests. If money plants sit in wet soil, they can attract fungus gnats. If their soil is too dry, they can harbor spider mites. Aphids and mealybugs are other common pests. Consider neem oil as a natural bug repellent, or use a systemic insecticide. A permethrin solution (used sparingly) can handle fungus gnats in potted plants.
  • Prune the plant to promote growth. Prune unwanted branches early in the growing season, making each cut right above a leaf node. The plant will need consistent indirect sunlight to generate the energy for sprouting new branches and leaves.
  • Keep the tree in a warm climate. Money plants thrive in hardiness zones 10–12. They cannot survive a hard frost. If you live in an area with chilly winters, keep the money tree inside your heated home and maintain a temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

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