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Money Tree: Proper Care Tips & Guide


Disclaimer: The care tips below are based on my personal historical results. With that being said, my previous result does not guarantee and is not a reliable indicator of future results. This care guide is based on my perspective living in the Philippines and may not always be suitable for other regions.

By: Kirk Damaso

If you're thinking it might be time to start looking into adding a little extra life and greenery to your space, money tree plants are a unique and beautiful option. The money tree is a plant that is often given as a gift of positive energy and good fortune. Its natural habitat is around the tropical region, and despite their statement-making appearance, they're pretty easy to care for. At the same time, it can be challenging to care for in some climates. But with the right amount of water, light, and humidity along with proper nurture and care, a money tree plant can surely thrive and live a long, healthy life.

Here's what you need to know about the money tree and its varieties, from the symbolism behind it to the nitty-gritty of keeping it alive and thriving.

First Of All: Are Money Trees Really Lucky?

Money trees, AKA pachira aquatica, are considered a symbol of luck and prosperity, but they haven't been for all that long. According to my research, the braided money tree as we know it was actually first cultivated then by a truck driver in Taiwan, and quickly became popular in Japan and Southeast Asia. It later became associated with the Chinese practice of Feng Shui.

The braided trunks are thought to "trap fortune within its folds," while the five leaves seen on each stalk are thought to represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and metal. And if you just so happen to find a money tree plant featuring a stalk with seven leaves—a major rarity—it's considered to be even luckier.

Basic Money Tree Plant Care

Money trees come in different varieties. There's a variegated one, there's a golden variant whose leaves are bright green, and there's an albo that barely shows any variegation. Nonetheless, they mostly have the same approach when it comes to plant care. See below:

▪ Light Requirements

Money tree plants like a mix of direct and indirect sunlight. As with most houseplants, too much direct sun can scorch the leaves, so to achieve the right balance with your money tree, you might want to turn or rotate it regularly for more even light distribution, just don't move it all over the place, to refrain from disturbing its root system. Another thing of note? Money trees can handle fluorescent lighting, so you're safe to keep one in your office so long as you take adequate care of it.

Soil Mix

You must maintain nutrient-rich, fast-draining potting soil. According to some experts, to achieve this, you'll want to use a well-draining potting mix or add some sand and gravel for extra porousness. What works for me is a potting mix consisting of 40% garden soil, 20% coco peat, 20% coco husk, 10% vermicast, and 10% pumice.

▪ Water:

The best way to keep a money tree plant happy? Give it a good watering two to three times per week during the dry season, and only once per week during the wet season. This allows the soil to dry in between. Of course, if your plant is getting more light, you'll also need to up its water intake so it doesn't get too dried out. This is a plant that requires a lot of water, but not all the time.

▪ Temperature and Humidity:

Money tree plants thrive best in warmer environments, so you'll want to keep them in an area that's between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius. But, the good news is, money trees are also pretty flexible and forgiving—they can still handle temperatures that go 10 degrees below or above that ideal range. As far as humidity goes, money trees thrive with extra moisture, so make sure you mist your plant regularly especially during Philippine summer. Plant enthusiasts suggest putting your money tree plant on a pebble tray to increase humidity during summer.

Common Money Tree Problems

Since money tree plants require a lot of water all at once, they can be prone to root rot. Root rot, if you're unfamiliar, is when there's too much water in your plant, causing the roots to decay and die. Make sure that when you're watering your plant, you don't see extra water sitting in the saucer under the drainage holes—if you do, clear it out to avoid root rot. Your best bet is to use a pot that isn't too big (the bigger the pot, the more room it has to hold water) and has excellent drainage, and place it on a catch plate that you can easily remove and dump out when it fills with water.

Money tree plants can also attract pests like aphids and mealybugs, but not to worry—applying diluted neem oil mixed with Castille soap or ordinary dish soap on the leaves can repel any pests. All of these pests can cause major damage to your plant, so make sure you deal with them as soon as you see them in order to avoid loose, drooping, dying leaves.

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