Money Tree 'Guiana Chestnut' Pachira Braid

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Botanical Name: Pachira aquatica

Common Name(s): Guiana Chestnut, Money Tree

Description: Native to central and South America, the Money Tree is a braided tree that can grow up to 6-8 feet indoors or be trained as a bonsai. In east Asia, the Money Tree is often used by those who practice Feng Shui to bring positive "Chi", or energy, into the room, thus being a popular housewarming gift. On top of that, it is a hardy plant that requires relatively low maintenance. It can tolerate direct sunlight, but prefers bright indirect light, lots of water, and warm temperatures.How to Grow and Care for the Money Tree

How to Keep Your Money Tree Thriving Indoors

By CORI SEARS Updated on 12/19/23We love plants.0 of 3 minutes, 2 secondsVolume 0%00:0003:02 IN THIS ARTICLE

The money tree is a species native to Central and South America that has become an attractive, easy-care houseplant thanks to its hardy nature. First popularized as a houseplant in Taiwan during the 1980s, the money tree is prominent among those who practice feng shui and is believed to create positive “chi,” or energy. 

Most commonly, money trees are sold as small plants with a braided trunk made up of three, five, or seven stems. The trees are braided at the nursery when they are young and will continue to grow this way as they mature.

The trees will grow quickly indoors or outdoors, often adding up to 24 inches a year in height.
The Spruce / Kortney Gloska

Common Name Money tree, Guiana chestnut, Malabar chestnut
Botanical Name Pachira aquatica
Family Malvaceae
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 6-8 ft. tall and wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Yellow, white
Hardiness Zones 10-12 (USDA)
Native Area Central America, South America

 
The Spruce / Kortney Gloska

Money Tree Care

Here are the main care requirements for growing a money tree indoors:

  • Place the plant in a spot where it gets at least six hours of bright to medium indirect sunlight every day.
  • Use well-draining potting mix high in peat moss.
  • Water it regularly to keep it evenly moist but reduce watering in fall and winter.
  • Fertilize monthly during the growing season in spring and summer.

Light

Outdoors, these plants tolerate direct sunlight, but indoors money trees has specific light requirements. They should be placed in bright to medium indirect sunlight, for at least six hours a day. If you don't have a sunny window that provides enough light, this plant will also do well under fluorescent light.

Soil

Money tree needs a potting medium with excellent drainage, ideally, a potting mix that is peat-moss-based because it provides the necessary soil acidity of a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

Water

Money trees should be watered often and regularly, each time the top inch of soil is dry. Water more frequently in the spring and summer months and cut down on watering in the fall and winter. While money trees thrive with lots of water, be careful not to overwater them. The best way to avoid overwatering your plant is to ensure that the potting container and the soil have the proper drainage.

Temperature and Humidity

Money trees appreciate mild temperatures and high humidity. Generally, they should be kept between 65 and 75 degrees F and not placed near any warm or cold drafts. Since home environments are typically dry, increase humidity around your money tree by placing it on top of a pebble tray filled with water, regularly misting the leaves, or using a small space humidifier.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your plant monthly throughout the spring and summer, when the plant is actively producing new leaves, and every two months throughout the fall and winter. An all-purpose houseplant fertilizer that has been diluted to half-strength will work best.

Pruning is an important part of caring for your money tree, especially if you wish to braid it, train the plant as a bonsai, or control its size. Regular pruning of the lower leaves also helps to encourage new growth at the top of the plant.

How to Braid a Money Tree

Young, healthy money trees with slim and flexible trunks can be braided together and potted as one plant. It is also possible to braid new and flexible stems on existing plants. Stems need to be well over a foot long to successfully braid. Braiding is thought to trap good fortune in its folds. It's a simple process, just like braiding hair, but it also takes practice and a gentle touch. Here is how it’s done:

  1. Take the plants out of their pots. Snip off excess leaves in the middle of the stem that will interrupt braiding.
  2. Begin braiding at the base or the top of the plants. Place a twist tie, ribbon, or piece of string around the ends to hold the stems together.
  3. As you braid, keep it loose; tight braiding damages the plant because as it grows, the stems thicken.
  4. Release the braid and see if it stays, but if not, gently and loosely tie it with string, a twist tie, or secure the braid with a piece of garden tape.
  5. Pot the plant in its new home. Stabilize the braided plants with a stake and loosely tie it to the stem with string. Do not put the stake in too deeply, as this risks damaging the roots.
  6. Braiding will stress the plants so place the pot in a partially shady area for about a month to recover.
  7. After a few months, cut off the tape or string holding the braid.

Propagating a Money Tree

The easiest way to propagate a money tree is from stem cuttings in the spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.

  1. Take a cutting at least 4 inches long from a healthy, firm stem, and make sure it includes a couple of nodes. 
  2. Remove a few of the lower leaves and place the cutting in water.
  3. Once the cutting has rooted, plant it in a pot with potting mix.

Also, check out these detailed instructions for propagating a money tree.

Potting and Repotting a Money Tree

A well-draining, nutrient-rich potting soil is best for money trees. A peat moss-based mixture would be ideal, but a standard quick-draining soil mixture such as regular cactus or flower soil will also work. If the soil requires more drainage, you amend the mixture with perlite.

When choosing a potting container for your tree, always ensure that it has ample drainage holes, as money trees don't like their roots to sit in water and easily develop root rot if proper drainage is not provided. A smaller 6-inch pot is preferred for money trees.

Repotting your money tree is only necessary if you want your tree to grow larger. If you want your money tree to stay small, keeping it in a small pot is one of the best ways to do so.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

Money trees are susceptible to a range of common houseplant pests when grown indoors, but are particularly prone to mealybugs and scale.1 If an infestation occurs, aim to treat the plant immediately using a mild insecticide or horticultural oil, like neem oil.

Common Problems With Money Tree

Money tree plants are easy enough to grow and maintain but a couple of problems may occur, which are usually alleviated by following some simple care tips.

Yellow or Brown Leaves

Typically yellowing or browning leaves indicate overwatering or underwatering. One way to tell the difference is to see if the leaves are both discolored and curling, which indicates underwatering. It could also mean you have given the plant too much or too little sunlight so you will need to change the plant's location to see if it helps.

Soft Stems/Trunk

If the stems or trunk is becoming too soft and heading towards mushy, you are overwatering the plant.

Leggy Plant

If you notice there's no new leaf growth and the plant looks too leggy, it may mean you are not giving it enough light. A new location may help.

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