Whether the money tree actually brings luck and prosperity, as is believed especially in Feng Shui-influenced Southeast Asia, is up to each person and his conviction.
The money tree (Pachira aquatic) is a beautiful foliage decoration plant in any case.
The money tree is sometimes also called Malabar chestnut, French peanut, Guiana chestnut, Provision tree, or Saba nut.
But the most common trivial name is money tree or money plant because in Feng Shui, the Pachira aquatica, like many other plants, has a high symbolic meaning: it is supposed to bring luck and prosperity.
However, its area of origin is not Southeast Asia, where Feng Shui has its roots. On the contrary, it comes from a completely different region, from Central America.
There it inhabits tropical areas in Mexico as well as in northern countries of South America such as Brazil or Peru. In its homeland, the money tree thrives to impressive heights of up to 65 ft (20 m).
In areas with frosty winters, however, you can grow the money tree can only indoors. Of course, as a tropical plant, it is not frost-hardy.
With warm living temperatures and good humidity, however, you can cultivate it indoors all year round without any problems.
Origin in short:
- Has great importance in Feng Shui – it is a symbol for luck and prosperity
- Its natural habitat is tropical Central and South America
- You can keep it well in year-round indoor culture anywhere
An interesting fact is that the name money tree is also sometimes used for the jade plant (Crassula ovata).
The money tree grows with a slightly thickening trunk base, in which it can store water excellently. In its native habitat, it can reach a height of 65 ft (20 m).
In indoor culture, however, it usually grows only about 6.5 ft (2 m) tall – which is of course more than enough for a normal living space.
Above the light brown-gray barked trunk, the money tree forms a sweeping, umbrella-like crown with its large, ornamental leaves.
You can oftentimes find offers for money trees with a braided trunk in garden centers.
Growth characteristics at a glance:
- Money trees grow as a tree with a thickening, water-storing trunk base
- In its native habitat it grows up to 65 ft (20 m) high, in indoor culture it tends to grow only up to 6.5 ft (2 m) high
- Money trees are often sold with a braided trunk
The leaves are probably the most important decorative feature of a money tree in indoor cultivation. Flowers are extremely rare in money trees as houseplants.
In appearance, the leaves are somewhat reminiscent of those of chestnut trees – hence the other common names like Malabar chestnut.
Nevertheless, the money tree is certainly not related to chestnuts, but to the baobab tree (Adansonia).
The money tree leaves are quite long-stalked and palmately fanned. Each leaflet has 5 to 9 individual leaves of an elongated oval shape, pointed in front. Their texture is slightly leathery and shiny, the color is a rich dark green.
Leaf characteristics in brief:
- Somewhat reminiscent of chestnut leaves
- Long-stalked, 5-9-pinnately pinnate
- Single leaves elongated-oval, pointed in front
- Dark green, leathery, shiny
In indoor cultivation, a money tree rarely produces flowers. For this purpose, the light, temperature, and humidity conditions are simply not sufficient.
But in any case, it is desirable to get a flower as it is quite spectacular. With its long, narrow sepals in creamy yellow and the high raised plume of creamy yellow stamens emerging from the center and blending into red at the tips, it looks highly exotic and magnificent.
Flowers at a glance:
- Formation of flowers extremely rare in indoor cultivation
- Appearance extremely splendid with large, feathery form in creamy yellow and red
The fruit, which develops from a pollinated money tree flower, has an elliptical shape with woody skin. It can have a stately size of up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. Its seeds are edible.
Which Location is Suitable for a Money Tree?
Like most tropical plants, money trees need a bright location year-round without direct sunlight and high humidity.
You can best place it in a bright window spot where you can protect it with neighboring, large-leaved houseplants or a thin shading device.
Make sure the humidity is as high as possible. It is advisable to occasionally provide the plant with a fine mist shower from the water disperser.
The optimal ambient temperature for the money tree is conveniently at a comfortable living room level of 65 to 68 °F (18 to 20 °C). If possible, the temperature should not fall below the 54 °F (12 °C) mark.
In summer, you can also put your money tree outside for a while. Then, however, you should protect it from direct sun as you would do indoors. But you would also want to protect it from wind and rain.
Location requirements at a glance:
- Tends to be tropical: Bright, without direct sunlight, humid
- Temperature: 65-68 °F (18-20 °C), lowest temperature 54 °F (12 °C)
- In summer also outdoors in a place protected from sun, wind and rain
What Kind of Soil Does the Money Tree Need?
The money tree is moderately in need of nutrients. You can put it in a substrate of ordinary potting or container plant soil.
However, it should be relatively permeable, as the roots of the money tree are quite sensitive to waterlogging. Mixing in a little sand is usually sufficient for this purpose.
Fertilizing a Money Tree Properly
You can fertilize money trees moderately throughout the summer months. To do this, use a universal liquid fertilizer in small doses.
However, you should refrain from adding additional nutrients during the first year.
Watering the Money Tree
Since the money tree can store a lot of water in its trunk, constant watering is not absolutely necessary. However, you should water regularly, especially during the summer months.
It is only important that the amount of water is never too abundant, as the money tree does not tolerate waterlogging at all. So water the plant well-dosed and always wait until the substrate is dry again before the next watering.
In addition to watering, you should give the money tree a shower with the water disperser every now and then. However, as with watering, use water at room temperature that is free of lime.
Over the winter months, reduce watering to regular, small sips.
Watering rules in a nutshell:
- Money trees require a moderate amount of water
- They store a lot of water in the trunk
- Drying out is less of a risk than root rot due to waterlogging
- Water regularly, but in small doses
- Additionally spray over
- Use room-warm and lime-free water
- Water less in winter
Repotting a Money Tree
Depending on the location and care conditions, the money tree can show different growth rates. In most cases, the pot becomes too small and too narrow after about two years.
Repotting is best done in spring. There is not much to consider when repotting money trees.
Pruning a Money Tree Properly
Money trees do not really need any special pruning. They grow by themselves very shapely and not sprawling. You don’t need to cut off wilted leaves either, you can simply pluck them off by hand.
However, given the limited space available in common living spaces, pruning may still be necessary. It can tolerate crown shortening and will resprout well, but its contour may suffer.
Propagating a Money Tree
Would you like to give someone a money tree as a gift or replace your plant that has grown too large with a young specimen?
Then the best way to propagate your Pachira aquatica is via cuttings. Seed propagation is also possible, but of course, it takes longer.
For propagating cuttings of a money tree, it is best to cut head cuttings with the beginning of lignification in spring. You can simply root these in a water glass.
If the shoot is not woody, a growing medium of peat and sand is better suited for rooting. This you keep, preferably under foil, evenly moist and place the planter brightly.
It can be a bit tricky to maintain the ideal soil temperature of a warm 77 to 86 °F (25 to 30 °C). A heatable mini greenhouse can help here. However, it may take a few weeks before rooting occurs.
You will hardly get your own seeds from your money tree, but you can buy some in specialized shops without any problems.
The seeds must be soaked in water for about 24 hours before planting. Then place them in plant pots with a growing medium and place them in a bright place at an ambient temperature of 72 to 75 °F (22 to 24 °C).
Again, it is advisable to cover the whole thing with foil to ensure a uniformly moist, protected microclimate.
Pachira aquatica is generally robust against diseases. However, it is much more sensitive to care errors. Especially wrong light conditions and wrong water supply can harm it.
Too dark location
If the location is too dark, the money tree can shed its leaves. If possible, provide sufficient light at its site all year round. But, of course, without direct sunlight.
Too much sunlight
You need to protect money trees from direct sunlight at all costs.
In their native habitat, they are protected by the high canopy of tropical forest vegetation. So they get plenty of brightness but no direct sunlight.
Money tree leaves are somewhat sensitive to burning. Therefore, place the plant on a windowsill under the protection of other, large-leaved plants or shade the window with a light-colored, thin fabric.
Especially if you want to put the money tree outside on the terrace in summer, you should accustom it gently to the more light that is outside in any case. At first, it is best to place it under an awning; later, shady plants will suffice.
Waterlogging can cause yellowing of the leaves and, in advanced stages, leaf drop. In the worst case, the roots can also rot.
In this case, you need to repot the plant immediately. Remove all rotten root parts as thoroughly as possible and place the root ball in a fresh substrate.
If the money tree secretes a liquid from its leaves, it is nothing to worry about. It simply sweats. In that case, you should take special care that there is no waterlogging.
Too dry air
Too dry air is also often the cause when the money tree sheds its leaves. In addition, too dry an environment increases the risk of pest infestation. Remember to shower regularly with a water disperser!
In order to permanently strengthen the money tree and make it more robust against aches and pains, adequate care with a suitable light supply, even heat and water supply, and high humidity are basically necessary.
What is also recommended, however, is to unbraid the often braided trunk of a purchased specimen. The braiding structure is of course decorative, but it reduces the protective effect of the bark.
It becomes thinner and thus has less defensive power. The points of contact in the tight twists also provide a breeding ground for pests and fungi.
They increase the risk of disease in unfavorable environmental conditions. If the money tree can grow freely, it will definitely become more robust.
As a rule, Pachira aquatica is rarely affected by pests. As with all humidity-loving tropical plants, excessively dry ambient air may occasionally attract spider mites or mealybugs.
Spider mites are among the most common houseplant parasites. The mites are usually visible to the naked eye. Depending on the species, they have a greenish or yellowish to reddish color.
A clear indication of a population, however, is the fine webs with which they cover the leaves of their host plant.
The best way to get rid of spider mites is with water. First, you want to rinse them off the leaves mechanically. Finally, you should wrap the wet plant under a foil bag, which you seal tightly at the bottom. Under this, the spider mites will die within a week.
These parasites leave wadded-up balls they secrete when sucking on their host plant. This also makes them easy to spot.
You should control mealybugs quickly so they don’t have a chance to hatch their larvae. Also, when they suck on the plant, they secrete honeydew, which can lead to the establishment of sooty mold on the plant.
After removing the coarsest colonization mechanically by wiping with a damp cloth, treat the money tree with a spray cure of a water-core soap-spirit mixture. Apply this cure at intervals of 2 to 3 days until the population has visibly dissipated.