How to grow your Money Tree (Pachira aquatica) successfully

This post may contain affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases on our links.

Photo of author
Written By Martin Cole

Plantsman, gardener, plant-obsessive

Money tree plant

The Money Tree plant (Pachira aquatica), with its distinctive braided trunk, is a superb house plant.

It is one of the great foliage plants, with bright green, vibrant, palmate (hand-shaped) leaves which comprise several leaflets. It looks quite similar to the Schefflera, but the Schefflera has smoother leaves, with more leaflets and less pronounced leaf ribs.

The Money Tree is associated with good luck, especially in Asia, and has a role in feng shui as a symbol of prosperity. The braided stems are actually the stems of individual plants grown together and braided while they are soft and green.

Its care is straightforward, although you do need to follow good care practices regularly. Attention to watering, in particular is crucial.

I learned this the hard way over 20 years ago when I nearly lost my own Money Tree to overwatering. I knew the plant originated from swamps and wetlands and thought this meant I needed to keep the roots wet and waterlogged. Big mistake!

Despite this, the plant is quite resilient and forgiving, making it a great choice for plant lovers

Display it in a bright spot away from direct sunlight, and it can be a lush, green focal point in your home for years to come.

Money Tree key facts

  • Scientific name: Pachira aquatica; Synonyms include Bombax aquaticum.
  • Meaning of name: “Pachira” refers to the genus, and “aquatica” indicates its affinity for water.
  • Common names: Money Tree, Water Chestnut, Guiana Chestnut.
  • Plant family: Malvaceae.
  • Origin: Native to Central and South American swamps.
  • Type of plant: Tropical wetland tree.
  • Size: Indoors, it typically grows 6 to 8 feet tall.
  • Foliage: Large, shiny, palmate leaves with 5 leaflets.
  • Flower: Long, creamy-white flowers with red-tipped stamens; blooms sporadically indoors.
  • Fruit: Non-edible, brown woody pods with seeds resembling chestnuts; rare indoors.
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets as per ASPCA.

Growing conditions

The Money Tree plant (Pachira aquatica) falls into the “Easy” to “Moderate” care category in my opinion. Some experts consider it to be a low-maintenance plant, because it can tolerate a degree of neglect, which makes it suitable for beginners.

However, if you want your Money Tree plant to thrive, rather than just survive, you need to give some attention to the right levels of watering and humidity.

The Money Tree can reach a decent size – it is a tree, after all. So you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got enough space for it in a place where it will receive the right amount of light.

Read more about plant care in general in our comprehensive guide to the 7 critical requirements of house plant care here.

Money Tree care guide

  • Light requirements: Bright, indirect light.
  • Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Humidity requirements: Prefers high humidity.
  • Temperature requirements: 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 27°C); not below 50°F (10°C).
  • Potting soil requirements: Well-draining, peat moss-based mix.
  • Fertiliser requirements: Balanced, water-soluble fertiliser applied every 2 months.
  • Propagation: Stem cuttings, air layering, or seeds.
  • Repotting: Every 2-3 years, in spring or summer.
  • Pruning: Trim to maintain shape and remove any dead or yellowing leaves.

Light

Position the Money Tree where it can receive bright, indirect sunlight. As with many house plants, direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, while too little light can cause leaf drop and stunt growth.

House plant bright light
Money Tree plant: ideal location for optimum light

Soil and feeding

Use an organic based potting mix, but make sure it can drain well. Feed with a balanced fertiliser every two months, but reduce feeding in the winter. Over-fertilisation can lead to salt build-up, causing leaf burn.

Watering

Water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while under-watering can cause the leaves to droop and yellow.

Pruning

Pruning is primarily for shaping and can be done at any time. Use clean, sharp scissors to trim just above a leaf node. Prune up to 1/4 of the plant to keep it bushy.

Money tree plant leaves
Money tree plant leaves

Propagation

Propagation can be done using several methods:

  • Stem Cuttings: Choose a healthy stem with at least two leaf nodes. Cut just below the node, remove the bottom leaves, and place the cutting in water or moist soil. Roots should develop within a month. Once rooted, plant in a pot with well-draining soil.
  • Air Layering: This technique involves making a small cut on a healthy stem, applying rooting hormone, and wrapping the area with damp moss and plastic wrap to encourage roots to form. Once roots appear, the new plant can be cut from the parent and potted.
  • Seeds: While not commonly used due to the rarity of seeds in indoor plants, they can be planted in a moist, soilless mix and kept at about 77°F (25°C) for germination. Be patient, as this method takes the longest.

Propagation should be done in the warmer months when the plant is actively growing. This ensures the best chance of success as the plant will have more energy to devote to root and leaf development.

Money tree plant braided trunk
Money tree plant braided trunk

Common Problems and Solutions

The key to solving most problems is to catch them early. Regularly inspect your plant so you pick up any potential problems early. You then have more chance of remedying the problem without significant impact on the plant’s health.

Money Tree troubleshooting guide

Leaves and shoots

  • Yellowing leaves: Overwatering is a common cause. Let the soil dry out more between waterings.
  • Drooping leaves: Under-watering or too much direct sunlight can cause this. Find a balance in watering and relocate the plant to a spot with bright, indirect light.
  • Brown leaf tips: Could indicate low humidity or over-fertilisation. Mist the leaves regularly or set up a pebble tray to increase humidity.

Roots

  • Root rot: Prevent by ensuring the pot has drainage holes and the soil does not retain excessive water.
  • Stunted growth: May indicate the plant is root-bound and requires repotting into a larger container.

Pests

  • Spider mites: Look for fine webs, especially on the back of the leaves and treat with Neem oil or insecticidal soap.
  • Mealybugs: Cotton-like clusters on stems or leaves; remove with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Diseases

  • Powdery mildew: White powdery spots on leaves can be treated with fungicides or by improving air circulation around the plant.
  • Leaf spot: Remove affected leaves and avoid overhead watering to prevent fungal diseases.

Winter care

Reduce watering and stop fertilising in winter. Ensure the plant is away from cold drafts and maintain room temperature above 50°F (10°C).

Read more about how to overwinter your house plants here.

Money Tree frequently asked questions

1. Can I put my Money Tree outside?

Yes, you can put in outside in the summer, in indirect light, but bring it inside before temperatures drop.

2. How do I braid the trunk of my Money Tree?

Young stems can be gently twisted around each other as they grow; older trunks won’t bend.

3. Why are the leaves of my Money Tree turning yellow?

This is often due to overwatering or insufficient light.

4. How often should I water my Money Tree?

When the top inch of soil is dry, typically once a week, but less in winter.

5. Can I use tap water to water my Money Tree?

Yes, but let it sit out overnight to evaporate chlorine, which can damage the leaves.

Other great foliage plants

See our guides to caring for these other great foliage plants:

Key references and resources

Alloway, Z and Bailey (F). (2018) RHS Practical House Plant Book: Choose The Best, Display Creatively, Nurture and Care, Royal Horticultural Society, UK.

Camilleri,L and Kaplan, S. (2020), Plantopedia: The Definitive Guide to Houseplants, Smith Street Books.

Hessayon, Dr D.G. (1991) The New House Plant Expert, PBI Publications, UK.

Brickell, C. (2016). Royal Horticultural Society AZ encyclopedia of garden plants. 4th Edition Dorling Kindersley.

Squire, D. (2017). Houseplant Handbook: Basic Growing Techniques and a Directory of 300 Everyday Houseplants, CompanionHouse Books.

Nelson, G (2021). Plant – House plants: Choosing, Styling, Caring. Mitchell Beazley. London

Brickell, C. (2011). American horticultural society encyclopedia of plants and flowers. Penguin.

Leave a Comment