Plants 101

How to Care for a Money Tree Plant

Originally hailing from Central and South America, the money tree plant (Pachira Aquatica) holds a beloved superstition directly related to its name.

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This plant features a unique, braided trunk and long stalks with long, flat leaves on the end. Today, money trees often serve as beautiful and zen bonsai trees or contribute to the practices of feng shui.

This plant carries a massive legend, claiming to bring fortune and good luck to people who successfully nurture the plant. According to traditional beliefs, the braided trunk traps fortune, while the five leaves represent the natural elements. Consider giving a money tree as a gift for a graduation, anniversary, housewarming, baptism, or another auspicious occasion.

About the Plant

This medium-sized indoor tree features several trunks braided together into one unified rope. Five large, flat leaves extend from the tree’s many stalks. Some money trees feature plants with seven leaves, which are even luckier than the standard five-leaf, money-giving variety.

Luckily, the money tree provides a beautiful houseplant that is relatively simple to care for. Like many other standard indoor plants, an environment similar to the tropics is best. Keep temperatures warm and humidity high for a happy money tree.

This plant maintains a consistent appearance and limited species variety. That’s because this plant rose to commercial prominence only in the 1980s as a meaningful gift for many occasions. Today money trees get cultivated for specific characteristics at select farms in Hawaii and Taiwan.

How Much Light Does a Money Tree Need?

A money tree naturally grows in the shadow of larger trees within its habitat. That means dappled sunlight or partial shade provides the best environment for a thriving money tree.

Happy money trees need daily light to grow and thrive. Avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves of your plant. A clear indication your plant’s leaves are scorched is a focused, dark brown or black spot on the leaf. Scorched leaves may also appear with an overall orange cast to the foliage.

Too little light can promote drooping in the money tree’s leaves. However, low light is much less risky for a money tree; this plant can survive in very low light. Try out a money tree in your office too. These resilient plants can even grow in a fluorescent light environment if they receive proper overall care.

How Often Do You Water a Money Tree?

Be careful not to overwater your money tree! Let your money tree’s roots mostly dry out before watering. Soggy roots can severely damage a money tree, so do not overwater this indoor plant. Be sure the money tree’s planting pot contains drainage holes to encourage effective drainage after watering.

Water your plant until liquid runs out of the drainage holes. If water collects beneath the money tree, ensure to discard the excess moisture. This tree cannot tolerate sitting in water or soaking its roots.

Underwatering provides a much lower risk to a money tree than overwatering. If you witness the leaves start to droop, adjust your watering schedule to include more frequent moisture.


Practice two different watering approaches to support your money tree. Because this plant loves moisture, consider lightly misting its leaves with a simple spray bottle after you water its roots. Again, remember not to over-saturate this plant.

If you choose not to mist your plant when watering, consider another process to encourage moisture. Purchase a humidifier to support your money tree’s thirst for humidity. Another way to care for a money tree indoors is to place this plant in humid environments, like near a bathroom.


A money tree requires a consistently warm temperature to grow taller and luckier. People living in a USDA Hardiness Zone between 10 and 12 can plant a money tree outdoors. This plant will not survive a frost or even most early fall temperatures in colder climates.

Nurturing this plant in an indoor environment is recommended. Money trees prefer a regular temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit or about 20 to 24 degrees Celsius. Avoid placing this plant in locations with drafts or fluctuating temperatures indoors, like near doors leading outside.


Choose well-draining soil to support your money tree. A mixture of peat moss, perlite, and sand will provide the best environment for healthy roots. Add liquid fertilizer to the soil monthly during the plant’s warm weather growing season to encourage rapid growth. Monthly fertilizer is not necessary during the winter.

Common Problems

A money tree plant is straightforward to grow but does carry some considerations to think about.

A money tree needs plenty of room to grow within its pot and your home. The accepted rule of thumb with this plant is the pot’s diameter should be as wide as the plant’s foliage spans.

Large pots can be cumbersome to keep in your home and are also a potentially expensive investment. Money trees need plenty of space within your home to accommodate their potential for rapid growth, which may be detrimental in small spaces.

Like many houseplants, a money tree can attract pests. Keep the plant watered properly and dusted to reduce infestations of aphids, mealybugs, and fungus gnats.

Level of Difficulty

Maybe it’s because this plant contains so much potential for good fortune, but this houseplant is slightly more complicated to maintain than a true beginner’s plant.

First, money tree owners should be prepared to adopt a monthly fertilization schedule. Keep an eye on your plant to identify when the growing season ends so you can stop fertilizing.

In addition to fertilizing, money trees require pruning to promote new growth. Research a money tree’s leaf nodes and pruning techniques to avoid over-pruning and stunting your money tree.


A money tree provides a beautiful, statement-making plant perfect for gift-giving. Even if you don’t believe in the legends of cascading fortunes falling from the braids of this distinct indoor tree, a money tree will provide visual appeal anywhere in your home.

While this plant is reasonably straightforward to nurture, advanced techniques like fertilizing and pruning are required to learn how to care for a money tree plant.

Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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