Money Trees can, allegedly, bring you good luck and fortune. While the mythical effects of the plant are up for debate, there’s no denying this plant’s beauty.
You can grow a money tree indoors as long as you pick the right container to grow it. You need to provide the plant with the required water, light, and soil that it needs to grow well. You can grow this plant from seed or propagate it from a plant you or your friends already are growing.
I’ve written a lot more details about all the things you need to take care of when you want to grow the money tree plant in your home. So keep reading.
What is a Money Tree?
The Money Tree is a species that goes by many names. Scientifically, it’s known as the Pachira Aquatica. However, you might also see people calling it the Malabar Chestnut, the Saba Nut, or the Provision Tree.
Whatever you call it, this plant is a beautiful and hardy species. It’s native to Central and South America. You can often see the tree thriving in wetlands or humid environments near water.
In the wild, these trees can grow up to 59 feet tall. It’s sporting a smooth green trunk and glossy green leaves. Several times throughout the year, the tree can produce eye-popping yellow flowers and large seed capsules.
If you’re lucky enough to see this tree in the wild, there’s a good chance that you won’t recognize it.
That’s because the Money Tree is a common ornamental indoor plant. Most people are familiar with this tree in a much smaller form.
Nurseries have a unique way of growing the tree.
When it’s young, growers braid the trunk to create a distinct pattern. Interestingly enough, the plant continues to grow in the braided position. But don’t worry: indoor braided Money Trees only reach maximum lengths of about 8 feet.
As I mentioned earlier, the Money Tree has a lot of symbolism. Legend says that the tree can bring families prosperity. The braided trunk “locks-in” good fortune. People all over the world revere the Money Tree. But, it’s particularly popular in East Asian cultures.
Legends aside, the Money Tree is a great plant to grow indoors. While it does best outdoors, it readily adapts to life inside with the right conditions. While most homeowners will purchase the tree young and pre-braided, starting from scratch is possible, too.
How to Choose the Right Pot
If you’re thinking about growing your own lucky Money Tree, you have your work cut out for you. The very first thing to do? Choose the right pot. Here are some things to consider.
The great thing about money trees is that they will adapt to the size of the pot. In a larger pot, the roots of the tree will spread a bit to support continued growth. But in a smaller pot, the tree will stay a manageable size. You can use this to your advantage as the tree grows to keep it at a size that works for your home.
When you’re first starting out, a huge container isn’t necessary. Generally, a smaller pot that’s no bigger than 6 inches in diameter is best.
You have a few different options here. The best one for you is going to depend on the conditions in your home and your personal preference.
Terracotta pots are a good universal choice. The material is strong and naturally porous. So, it holds onto moisture and promotes airflow. But, those features could work against you indoors. Oftentimes, terracotta or clay pots dry out too fast indoors. The dry air wicks away moisture much faster than it would outdoors.
You can also use a plastic container. Plastic is lightweight and easy to move. The only real concern with plastic is quality. If you choose a cheap plastic pot, it could become brittle.
Ceramic pots are a favorite among gardeners. Ceramic pots come in a range of styles to match your home decor. Plus, they address the evaporation issues that often plague standard terracotta.
The final thing you need to consider is drainage. Like any other plant, Money Trees need ample drainage to reach their full potential. A lack of drainage holes can lead to root rot. The disease could stunt growth or kill the plant.
Make sure your pot has several holes. Look for containers that have holes around the perimeter and in the center. Of course, don’t forget about a saucer to catch any excess water that flows from the pot.
Money Trees don’t need as much water as many people think. These plants prefer deep but infrequent waterings. Depending on the conditions of your home, that may only mean two or three waterings a month.
Provide enough water for the soil to hydrate completely. Keep watering until moisture starts to drain from the bottom of the pot.
Then, let the top 2 to 4 inches of the soil dry out before watering again. Your plant may need even less water in the winter months. Either way, test the soil to determine if your plant needs some hydration.
The soil your tree is growing in is very important. Not only does it provide the plant with nutrients, but it also manages water retention.
The ideal soil for this plant is a sandy peat-based mixture. It needs to be loose and offer good drainage. Avoid any rock or clay-based substrate.
Before planting the tree, you can amend the soil with compost. Work the compost in with a garden trowel to create an even mix. The process will also loosen any clumps, which can help the roots flourish.
Contrary to popular belief, Money Trees don’t need direct sunlight. In fact, direct sunlight could scorch the leaves and damage the plant.
This species does best with bright indirect light. Place it near a shady window.
When you water the plant, give the pot a turn. Indirect sunlight can be tricky to manage because of the way plants respond to it. They grow towards the sunlight.
This can cause some developmental imbalances if you’re not careful. Turning the plant every once in a while will address those issues and help the tree grow evenly.
Ideal temperatures for the Money Tree are between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A few degrees over that won’t harm the plant. But, it’s best to keep things relatively stable.
Make sure that your plant doesn’t experience rapid temperature changes. For example, vents from your heater or air conditioner could cause harm. The same goes for placement near an exterior door.
How to Plant the Money Tree
Once you have the pot and soil ready, you can start planting. There are two different methods available. You can plant directly from seed or you can use a propagation.
Unlike other trees, growing from seeds isn’t difficult. They’re easy to sprout and will put on a lot of growth fairly quickly. But, that’s only when the seed is in optimal conditions.
If you’re using seeds from a pod, you must crack it open first. The pod will dry out with time and crack naturally. You can help it along if you need to. However, it may require some force. The pods are tough like coconuts.
Once you get the seeds out, choose a smooth and healthy one to start your plant.
Bury the seed about a quarter of an inch below the surface of the soil. Money Tree seeds are oddly shaped. They’re not uniform circles or oblong. So, you must take a look at the “eye” for proper positioning.
The “eye” is the light-colored spot. Place the seed in the hole so that the “eye” is facing sideways. After covering it with soil, water the seed and put it in a bright location.
For greater results, utilize a seedling mat to warm up the soil to about 80 degrees. You can also cover the soil to retain warmth.
Check the moisture of the soil daily and water it whenever the top inch is dry. In about a week, you should see a small sprout emerge from the soil.
While seeds start growing quickly, it’s still going to take some time for the plant to grow substantially. A quicker alternative to growing from seeds is to use a cutting. This method is similar to propagating flowers and other plants.
First, start by collecting a cutting from a healthy tree. Aim to cut the plant early in the morning to prevent any stress issues.
Choose a healthy branch with some new growth and a few leaf nodes. Snip off the end of the branch so that you have a cutting that’s about 6 inches long. Wrap the end of the branch in a moist paper towel to keep it safe while you prepare the pot.
Fill a pot with the appropriate nutrient-rich soil. Now, you can prepare the cutting a bit more. You’ll need to cut off any leaves on the bottom third of the branch. Because it already has significant height, you’ll need to bury it deeper to provide stability. Dip the cut end of the branch in some root hormone powder if available and insert it into the soil.
About a third of the branch should be under the soil. Using your fingers, pack the soil a bit around the base of the branch so that it sits upright. Give the newly planted cutting a good watering and put the plant in a bright spot.
It’s a good idea to cover the plant with plastic as well to create a greenhouse environment. This will promote root growth and help the plant establish itself.
How to Fertilize
Whether you grow from seed or propagation, your plant can always use a little help developing. Generally, monthly applications are best. Regular fertilizing will keep the nutrients flowing so that your plant has everything it needs to thrive.
You can use an all-purpose water-soluble formula. Use it to feed your plants once a month during the spring and summer seasons. This is when the Money Tree does most of its growing. It’s continually producing new leaves, so those extra nutrients don’t go to waste.
If you prefer to use fertilizers more frequently, you can feed the plant every two weeks. But, you’ll need to dilute the mixture by half to avoid any potential fertilizer burn.
Regardless of the fertilizing schedule, you’re on, cease all feedings when winter rolls around. The growth cycle naturally slows down when the temperatures drop. So, fertilizing will only be a fruitless effort.
How to Prune
Money Trees can get a bit unwieldy without proper pruning. Remember: These are naturally wide and tall trees. To keep your plant primed for indoor living, you’ll need to prune it regularly.
You’ll have to use your better judgment to decide when it’s growing too much. Pruning can help you manage the size and spread of the plant, so determine how big you want it to get and go from there. The best time to prune is once in the spring. Pruning early on will let the plant flourish for the rest of the year.
The first thing you should remove is any dead or diseased sections. Dying leaves or branches don’t look great. Plus, the plant is wasting valuable energy trying to support them. Cut dead branches down to the base of the plant. If you want to promote healing and regrowth, cut about three inches past the dead part.
If you want to manage height, snip the top of branches at a 45-degree angle. Don’t cut any more than a third of a branch off. You’ll also want to make sure you’re cutting above any V-shaped branches to avoid damage.
Next, remove any new growth that could compromise the shape of your tree. You might see small branches forming at the base of the tree. Just cut those off so that the plant can focus its energy elsewhere.
How to Repot the Money Tree
As your Money Tree gets bigger, repotting is a must. These plants will only grow as big as the container lets them.
The good news is that you can use that characteristic to your advantage. You can continue to repot until the tree reaches the height you’re after. Once it gets to that point, it can live the rest of its days in the same pot without getting any bigger.
Money Trees will need repotting every couple of years or so. Though, younger plants may need more frequent repotting if they achieve significant growth early on.
Start by watering your plant in its old pot. Give the plant about an hour to absorb the moisture. While you wait, you can choose and prepare your new pot. As a rule of thumb, new pots should be no larger than 2 inches wider than the existing one. You don’t want to upgrade to a massive pot, as this could ruin the root structure moving forward.
Like before, choose a pot with ample drainage.
Fill the new pot with a thin layer of soil. The goal here is to position your plant so that its an inch below the rim of your new pot.
When you’re ready, lift the plant out of its old pot. Do this gently and try your best to keep the existing soil and root mass intact. Place it in your new pot and check the height. You may have to add a bit more soil at the base of the pot to get it to the right level.
Once the position is perfect, fill the empty space around your plant with soil. Then, water your plant.
Expect to see some leaf loss shortly after repotting. Transplanting is a stressful process for the plant. Luckily, most Money Trees will bounce right back within a week or so.