Money tree white leaves

Braided Money Tree Care Guide

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General Information

Pachira aquatica (also known as water chestnut and Guiana chestnut) is a tropical plant surrounded by legends. The tree is native to the swampy regions of Central and South America, and has long been a revered species as an ornamental in Japan.

Its “lucky” status is, however, much more recent – one common story involves a Taiwanese truck driver who couldn’t work during a typhoon and so decided to cultivate five of these trees together in a single pot, braiding the trunks together as they grew.

The beliefs surrounding the Money Tree have their foundation in Feng Shui, a concept heavily based upon the five elements of metal, wood, fire, water, and earth. The five leaves on each branch of the tree represent these elements; in addition, there are five chambers produced in the seed pod. The tree is believed to bring about wealth and good fortune, and are commonly seen in places of business for this reason. As a full-size tree Pachira can grow to 40 feet in height, and also enjoys much popularity as a bonsai, at about one foot high.

Tree’s Attributes

The trunk is slender and smooth, with grayish-bark that is green at the growth end. The leaves are bright green, palmate and typically grow in groups of five at the end of each branch.

When grown as a full-size tree, the Money Tree produces whitish, chestnut-like, edible nuts that can be eaten raw, cooked, or ground into flour.


This tree fares best with a mixture of sunshine and shade. It is a tropical so if kept outside you should bring it inside when temperatures dip below 50° Fahrenheit. Ideally this plant will thrive if kept as an outdoor bonsai in spring and summer, and kept inside – with access to plenty of light – during the cooler months.


Even though this is a swampland tree in its native habitat, it is also a hardy species and will do just fine if only watered about once a week. Allow the soil to dry out somewhat between watering’s, then give just enough water to moisturize the soil.

If the leaves of your bonsai yellow and droop, it’s being overwatered.

If they wrinkle and curl up, under watering is the problem. Misting is good for this bonsai, and it would also benefit from a humidity tray.


Your Money Tree can be fertilized twice a year with a balanced, time-release formula.


The Braided Money Tree is typically a group of five trees woven together. This must be done when they are young and the trunks are still flexible. If you purchase your bonsai already braided, then you must continue to maintain the braid as the tree grows. Continue carefully weaving the ends around each other, and remove new growth from the trunks in order to prevent new branches from interfering with the formation of the tree. When trimming leaves and branches, try to trim evenly among the five trees so that one tree is not overly stressed.

Yarn can be wrapped around the trunks to hold them together tightly as the tree adapts to its configuration. It can take several growing seasons to develop the look that most people associate with a Braided Money Tree.


May be propagated from seeds or cuttings. Take a 2-3 inch cane cutting (a cutting from a leafless branch), from a healthy adult tree. Allow to dry at room temperature for about a day, then the cutting may be planted with root hormone, if desired. Keep the cutting in a well-lit location at 65-75° F. Check for root formation after four weeks, and transplant to a larger container six weeks after the roots form.


Repot every two to three years, using a well-draining bonsai soil mix that contains peat moss or perlite. You do not need to be too aggressive in root pruning this specimen; removing up to a quarter of the root ball is sufficient, focusing on black, mushy, or smelly roots.

Insects/Pests & Diseases

Braided Money Trees are fairly hardy but will occasionally fall victim to scale or fungus. Scale insects, which appear as small brown bumps on the bark or leaves, may be removed manually. Alternatively, you can paint their protective shell with rubbing alcohol to kill them.

Pachira aquatica can also be susceptible to anthracnose leaf spot. Signs of disease normally appear in spring and consist of small discolored spots that progress to larger areas of disease on the foliage. This condition can be treated effectively with fungicide.

Powdery mildew may also be a concern; this fungus shows itself as white spots which advance to a white powdery coating on foliage. To treat this infection, wipe the leaves with a fungicidal soap, and keep the soil at the base of the trunks free of debris.

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How to Cure Money Tree Leaves Turning Brown

Is there reason to worry when you see the money tree leaves turning brown? Yes, but it’s not too late for your beloved houseplant. The first step to take is to understand the probable cause, which will then lead you to the right solution.

Why is My Money Tree Dying?

The ornamental money tree is easy to find and it’s a popular gift option. However, not all owners of this houseplant know what to do once the money tree brown leaves appear. “My money tree is dying,” they might think.

But the truth is that leaf discoloration doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Just like any other plant, bonsai money trees need to meet certain conditions to thrive. So if their foliage starts appearing brown or yellow, you should remember how exactly you maintain your money trees.

Leaf Scorch Condition

One possible reason for the browning of the leaves is leaf scorch. Otherwise known as sun scorch, this means that your money tree is receiving more sunlight than it needs. Excess amounts of direct sunlight can lead to severe damage to the leaf tissues — affecting their edges until they die.

To prevent this, you should keep your money tree away from direct sunlight. You should also not place it near your cooking stove or home furnace. And if the weather is hot and dry, consider watering your money tree more than the usual amount.

Insufficient Sunlight

For money trees, too little sunlight is just as bad as too much of it. These are still tropical plants that need full sunlight. So what exactly should you do? The key is to provide indirect sunlight, enough to keep the foliage from turning brown and eventually falling off.

A good location for your money plant is near the windows. As long as there aren’t any thick curtains that outright block the sunlight, it should get all the indirect sunlight it needs.

Incorrect Amount of Water

Seeing your money tree plant dying is awful, but what if the cure is water? To be more specific, the problem and the solution might be the amount of water. Apart from full but indirect sunlight, these ornamental plants also need sufficient water.

Water them regularly, but don’t go overboard with the amount. An overabundance of water clogs the soil — preventing it from forming pockets where air can go in. So while your money trees have more than enough moisture, their roots become deprived of oxygen and the leaves turn brown.

Of course, insufficient water is disastrous for your houseplants as well. This leads to soil compaction that affects how efficiently plants can take up nutrients in the soil, which causes the leaves to wilt and lose their healthy green color.

Pest Damage

Sometimes, the problem comes down to scale insects that consume the sap of many houseplants. This causes the foliage to wilt and develop a shade of yellow or brown. Worse, these pests harbor and transmit plant diseases.

Failure to act on an infestation could very well lead to your money tree dying. Thankfully, it’s easy to know when they’re around because they leave a substance known as honeydew. Apart from using insecticidal soap, you should also prune the affected areas.

What About the White Spots on Money Tree Leaves?

On a related note, you might also spot white spots on your ornamental plants. In this case, the culprit is powdery mildew. It’s a plant disease that usually affects money trees and causes leaf curling and wilting. You can get rid of them with fungicidal soap and warm water.

Money trees are prone to a variety of health problems, but they’re relatively easy to fix once you know the exact issue. We hope this article helped you take care of your houseplants. Feel free to send us a comment for any questions.


Money tree plants (Pachira aquatica) are known for their braided trunks, and delicate looking umbrella shaped leaves. They look like they’d be difficult to grow, but they’re actually easy to care for and make excellent houseplants.

There are two types of plants (that I know of) that have the nickname of “money plant”. Those two plants are the crassula money plant (aka: jade plant), and the pachira aquatica money plant (aka: money tree plant).

Don’t get the plant care instructions for these two mixed up… they require very, very different care.

In this post, I will be talking about money plant care for the pachira aquatica money tree plant.

So, if you’re looking for information how to take care of jade plants (crassula), then go to this post instead… jade plant care guide.

Otherwise you’re in the right place, so keep reading!

In this detailed money plant care guide, you will find…

  • Pachira Money Tree Plant Meaning
  • Braided Money Tree Benefits
  • Watering A Money Tree Plant
  • Money Plant Humidity Requirements
  • Money Tree Light Requirements
  • Best Potting Soil For Money Tree Plant
  • Best Fertilizer For Money Plants
  • Money Tree Houseplant Pest Control
  • How To Prune A Money Tree
  • Can A Money Tree Go Outside?
  • Troubleshooting Money Plant Problems
  • Where To Buy Money Plant

Pachira Money Tree Plant Meaning

No, money plants don’t grow actual money (wouldn’t that be nice!), but there is meaning behind the name.

Pachira aquatica got the nickname because they have a reputation for bringing good luck and good fortune to their owners. This is one of the main reasons why I think they make excellent office plants!

Maybe you’ve never heard the name, but you might recognize a money plant because it’s one of the most popular braided tree trunk plants.

Braided money plant tree trunks

Braided Money Tree Benefits

As I already mentioned, benefits of money tree plants include bringing you good luck and financial prosperity.

Good fortune money trees are also very popular in Feng Shui, because they are said to bring positive energy into the room where they’re growing. They’re commonly given as gifts for all of these reasons, and what a wonderful gift.

I’m not sure how they got such an amazing reputation, but I’m thinking about growing a lucky money tree plant in every room of my house!

Money trees are also commonly used for bonsai, and a great choice for someone who’s just learning.

Money tree plants for sale at the garden center

Pachira Money Plant Care Tips

Money tree plants look like they would be super fussy, but they’re actually pretty easy to grow houseplants.

They’re a great choice for someone who’s a novice, and wants to start growing plants indoors.

And, if you want to try your hand at bonsai, braided money tree plant is the perfect specimen to start with!

Here’s how to take care of a money tree plant…

Watering A Money Tree Plant

One of the key factors to good money plant care is proper watering. Money trees like water, but won’t tolerate being overwatered for very long. Consistent over watering a money plant will cause root rot, and eventually kill the plant.

So, how often do you water a money tree? Check your plant every week or two to see how wet the soil is. You want to allow money tree soil to dry out slightly between waterings, but don’t let it dry out completely.

When it’s time to water, give your plant a good drink, and then allow the excess water to drain from the holes in the bottom of the pot.

Afterward, make sure to empty the cache pot or plant tray of a potted money plant so that it’s never sitting in water.

Money trees don’t need as much water during the winter as they do in the summer, so allow the soil to dry out a bit more between waterings in the winter.

If you have a hard time giving your plants the correct amount of water, I recommend buying a soil moisture gauge to help you monitor the moisture level.

Money Tree Plant Humidity Requirements

Another important part of successful money plant care is humidity. Humidity is especially important during the winter months, and money tree plants like a lot of humidity.

Heating our homes during the winter sucks the humidity out of the air, and that can be pretty tough on these sensitive houseplants.

To help increase the humidity level around your money plant, you can run a humidifier near the plant, or put it on a pebble tray filled with water (don’t allow it to sit in the water though).

You could even add a decorative element by growing a money plant in a small plant cloche, or put a few of them in a mini indoor greenhouse.

To help you maintain the proper humidity level, keep an indoor humidity monitor near your plant.

Mature healthy money plant leaves

Money Tree Light Requirements

One of the reasons growing money plant indoors is so easy is because they aren’t super picky about lighting.

Money plants prefer bright, indirect light. But they will adapt to lower light conditions, especially during the winter, which makes them excellent low light houseplants.

They will actually suffer if they get too much sun. Too much direct sunlight can burn their leaves, so keep it out of that sunny window.

It’s actually perfect, since most of us don’t have a ton of direct sunlight in our homes anyway! So you can save that coveted sunny windowsill for the houseplants that need it.

Best Potting Soil For Money Tree Plant

Plan to repot your plant into fresh soil every few years as part of your regular money plant care maintenance routine.

A general purpose potting soil will work fine for growing money trees. But, they will grow their best in a fast draining soil that also retains moisture (sounds like a funny combo, I know).

So, to get the best soil for money tree plants, you need to add a few things to your general potting mix.

Add some peat moss or vermiculite to help the soil retain moisture, and also perlite or pumice to help money plant soil drain faster.

If you don’t want to fuss with all of that, you can’t go wrong if you buy a bonsai potting soil mix for them.

Potting soil for money tree plant

When the time comes for repotting your money tree plant, make sure you choose the right sized container. You don’t want to choose one that is too large for the plant, because that can cause issues with overwatering and root rot.

Money plants can be grown in very small pots, especially if you want to keep the plant small. So choose a pot for your money plant that’s only slightly larger than the one it was growing in before.

Repotting plants encourages new growth, so wait until spring or early summer to repot your money tree.

Related Post: How To Repot Plants: A Helpful Illustrated Guide

Best Fertilizer For Money Plants

As part of your regular money plant care routine, you can feed your money tree using a half dose of liquid houseplant fertilizer every couple of weeks during the spring and summer.

Stop fertilizing in early fall, and don’t fertilize your plant at all during the winter.

I recommend using an organic compost fertilizer, which you can get in liquid form or buy compost tea bags and brew your own.

Other types of organic plant fertilizer like this indoor plant food would work great on money tree plants too. If you find it easier, you could use organic bonsai fertilizer pellets instead of liquid fertilizer.

Braided money tree trunks tied at top

Money Tree Houseplant Pest Control

Insect pests aren’t normally an issue for healthy money tree plants, but whiteflies and aphids can sometimes invade. If you discover bugs on your money plant, begin treatment immediately.

Don’t use chemical pesticides on houseplant pests though, they aren’t very effective (plus they’re harmful to us and our pets!).

Instead, I recommend using organic pest control methods. Organic neem oil, which is a natural pesticide is my top choice, but horticultural oil works great to control money plant pests too.

Soapy water spray is also very effective against most houseplant pests. I like to use a mixture of 1 tsp mild liquid soap per 1 liter of water, then spray it on the leaves to help control the bugs. Insecticidal soap also work great.

You can use a yellow sticky trap to help control the adult whitefly population until you’re able to get rid of them for good.

How To Prune A Money Tree

In general they don’t need to be trimmed, but regular money tree plant pruning will help to keep your plant small.

To prune them, you can pinch or trim off the tips of the new growth. This will help to keep a money tree size small, and also encourages branching to make it more shapely.

New leaves will grow back quickly, which is one reason why this plant is so appealing as a bonsai plant.

I recommend using bonsai pruning shears for wonderful precision cuts. A micro-tip pruning snip will work great also for pruning money plants.

It’s best to prune money trees in the spring or summer months, you don’t really want to encourage new growth while the plant is resting during the winter.

You can prune off any dead or damaged leaves as needed to keep the plant looking its best.

New growth after pruning money tree plant

Can A Money Tree Go Outside?

Yes, just like any other type of plant, you can grow put your money tree outside as long as the weather is warm enough. Just be sure you bring it back inside before the temperature gets below 40F.

If you decide to grow your money plant outdoors, then be sure that it’s growing in a pot with drainage holes so that it won’t drown when it rains.

As far as how much sun a money tree needs outdoors, they can grow anywhere from sun to shade. But take extra care to gradually move your money plant in the house to growing in full sun outside, or the leaves will burn.

Troubleshooting Money Plant Care Problems

Overwatering and leaf drop are two of the most common money plant care problems that people tend to have, and both are very common issues. Here’s how to troubleshoot the symptoms, and what to do about it.

  • Why are the leaves on my money tree turning yellow? – If your money tree has yellow leaves, that usually means you’re watering too much, and it meant the plant is in danger of being overwatered. To fix this issue, allow the soil to dry out more between waterings (see the money tree watering section above for details about how to properly water money plants).
  • Why are the leaves on my money tree turning brown? – Money tree leaves will dry out if there isn’t enough humidity in the air, which is what causes brown leaves. Do whatever you can to raise the humidity level around the plant, and make sure it’s getting enough water (see the water and humidity sections above for more details). Money plants are also sensitive to sudden air temperature changes, and can suffer if they’re exposed to hot or cold drafts. Make sure to keep your plant away from heat vents and drafty doors and windows.
  • Why are the leaves on my money tree falling off? – Money plants are a bit fussy about their location and don’t like to be moved around. If you move a money plant around too much, it will get mad at you and start dropping its leaves. So just leave it where it is, and try not to move it too much. If you just brought the plant home, give it some time to adjust and don’t overwater it. Leaf drop is common for new money plants that just came home.

Money tree care yellow leaves

Where To Buy Money Plant

If you’re wondering where to buy money tree plant, check your local garden center. You should be able to find a money tree plant for sale in the houseplant section, especially during the winter time. Otherwise you could buy a money plant tree online any time of the year.

Money trees are very cool looking plants that are easy to grow indoor plants. I’m not sure if it will actually bring you all of the money plant benefits that I mentioned above, but it can’t hurt to try.

Besides, growing a money tree is fun and rewarding. And heck, if you ever decide to try your hand at bonsai, your money plant will be there waiting.

Do you struggle to keep your houseplants thriving during the long winter months? My Winter Houseplant Care eBook is perfect for you! It has everything you need to know to keep your indoor plants growing their best all year long.

Products I Recommend

More Indoor Plant Care Guides

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  • How To Care For Rubber Plants: The Ultimate Guide
  • Wandering Jew Plant Care: How To Care For A Wandering Jew Plant
  • How To Care For Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
  • How To Care For A Peace Lily Plant

Do you have a money tree plant? Share your money plant care tips in the comments below.

From the Ask Debbie Inbox – Why is My Money Tree Dying?

John from Green Bay writes:

My sister got me this money tree years ago. I’ve managed to somehow keep it alive this long but lately it seems to be shedding its leaves. I was told I was over watering it (2x a week) then I was told I was under watering it (1x a week to 10 days). What is going on with this and what’s the remedy to keep it healthy?! I repotted it about a year ago. I tried pruning it. I just added new soil to help but it seems to have made things worse.

Thanks for the question John. I believe your plant is suffering from improper watering and an oversized pot.

1. Improper watering: Yellowing and dropping leaves on most house plants is usually a sign of improper watering. Either too much water or two little water can cause the same problem. A money tree should be watered thoroughly and completely until water runs out of the bottom holes of the pot, then allow the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry out completely before watering again. Avoid getting water on the trunk which can cause stem rot. Water less in winter when plant growth slows down due to lower light levels.

2. Oversized pot: Money trees prefer a smallish container for several reasons. A container too large will hold too much water. (Soggy potting soil is often the biggest problem with this plant.) Also, keeping it in a small container will prevent it from getting too big as a money tree can grow to 10 feet if not controlled.

More Money Tree Care Tips

~The ideal time to repot is during spring or summer while the plant is actively growing. This gives it a better chance to recover from the process. When repotting, prepare a container no more than 1 or 2 inches larger than the current pot. Place a shard of broken pottery, piece of screen or coffee filter over the drainage hole to prevent soil from washing through the hole. Add a small amount of potting soil to the bottom of the new pot. Use a commercial potting mixture formulated for cacti and succulents.

~Fertilize every couple weeks in spring and summer (never in winter) with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

~Regular pruning will help control its size. Pinch or prune off growing tips.

Good luck!

Guest written by Debbie Ott. Debbie is a certified Master Gardener and currently serves as Treasurer of the Sheboygan County Master Gardeners Association. She is a long-time resident of Sheboygan County where she resides with her husband Leigh. She also works at the radio station. Our very own in-house Master Gardener!


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