- Plant in a well-draining potting mix.
- Place in bright, indirect light away from vents and drafty areas.
- Water thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry down between waterings.
- Feed regularly during the spring and summer months.
- Prune as needed or keep it shaped like a bonsai plant.
- Braid it from the bottom to give it its signature look.
You most likely know it as that houseplant with the cool braided trunk and shiny green leaves, but the money tree—Pachira aquatica—hails from swampy regions of Central and South America, where it can grow up to 60 feet tall. Before you cut a hole in your ceiling in the name of prosperity, learn a little more about this intriguing tropical plant.
Indoors, you can treat a money tree as a bonsai plant and prune it regularly, or let it grow to its maximum inside height of about 8 feet. Money tree goes by a few other monikers, including water chestnut and Guiana chestnut. Its monetary nickname comes from feng shui, which suggests that, when strategically positioned within the home, these plants bring their owner good fortune. While we can’t make any promises on that (sorry!), with the right care, you’ll at least have a successful houseplant.
How to Plant a Money Tree
Start with Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix, a well-draining, nutrient-dense blend designed purposely for houseplants. This formula contains peat moss, which money tree enjoys thanks to its loamy nature. To increase the feng shui energy, you want to make sure you’re keeping your plant in prime condition. Repot your money tree every 2 years to give it fresh soil and a slightly larger home.
Where to Grow a Money Tree
Money trees prefer bright, indirect light. Place yours near, but not right in front of, a sunny window. If the leaves look scorched, it’s getting too much sun (like humans, like plants sometimes), and yellowing leaves means it’s not getting enough. Keep it away from vents or drafty areas where temps fluctuate often. Money trees don’t take too kindly to rapid change, so only move yours when you need to.
How to Water a Money Tree
Their swampy origins mean money trees love humidity. You could place yours in a bathroom that gets natural light, but note, this isn’t exactly feng shui. (However, it might make it feel like you’re showering outside, which is pretty zen!) To recreate other steamy conditions indoors, put a tray filled with pebbles and water beneath the pot, or spray your plant with a mister when you water. If you have a humidifier, place it nearby. When it’s time to water your money tree, water deeply. You want to give it enough H20 that it runs out the bottom of the pot. However, it’s best to let the top 2 inches of soil dry down before watering again to avoid root rot, so don’t get too carried away!
How to Feed a Money Tree
While the leaves of your money tree will never turn into dollar bills, feeding it with an all-purpose plant food will keep its foliage nice and green, which can seem just as rewarding. (Money isn’t everything, right?) Because the soil you’ve planted it in is designed to let water pass through more easily, essential nutrients will flow out with it. Replenish its vitals by feeding your money tree with Miracle-Gro® Indoor Plant Food on a weekly basis during the summer months, and every other week in fall and winter, when its growth slows down.
How to Prune a Money Tree
If you’re planning on growing your money tree into, well, a tree, it needs very little pruning. Simply remove any dead or unwieldy branches as needed. If you’re after more of a bonsai look, continue to trim off the top leaves once it reaches the height you like. If possible, do the heavier pruning in the winter, when your plant is growing more slowly.
How to Braid a Money Tree
A beautifully braided trunk is what draws many people to the money tree (aside from the whole wealth and prosperity thing, of course). Chances are, if you’re purchasing one from a garden center, your money tree will already be braided. Continue the pattern as it grows, pruning back any side shoots along the way.
If you’re starting a new plant from a seed or cutting, you’ll need to braid your own money tree. As you can imagine, the plant version isn’t quite as simple as braiding hair, but it’s also totally manageable—you’ve got this! Just wait until you have at least 3 stems that are green, flexible, and more than 14 inches long. Keep the braid slightly loose to avoid snapping. Start from the bottom and stop when you reach the leaves. Grab twine or a string, and loosely tie it around the top to hold the braid in place. And that’s it, you’re done!
Most braided money trees will grow straight, vertically. If you want to make sure it stays balanced as it matures, attach it to 2 stakes in the soil placed opposite each other. After a few months of growth, you can remove the stakes and the string around the top—you’ve raised it well and your plant can grow on its own now. Nice work, you!
How to Grow More Money Trees
You can propagate your money tree to share the wealth (pun 100% intended) with your friends. Cut at least a 6-inch section of branch with two or more leafy stems on it. Place it in a container with a rooting medium, such as sand, peat moss, or perlite. Keep the rooting medium moist. The plant will root within several weeks and can then be moved to a container with a potting mix and perlite.
Money trees make for eye-catching houseplants, whether you grow them tall or prune them back. And even better, they’re relatively low maintenance. Just follow these straightforward money tree care tips, and you’ll be rewarded with a prosperous plant—and who knows, maybe a little wealth and happiness of your own, for many years to come!