The money tree plant (Pachira aquatica, USDA zones 10-12), also known as Malabar chestnut, is an easy-to-grow plant commonly used in feng shui to produce positive vibrations and attract prosperity to the owner. It's native to the swamps of South America and doesn't tolerate temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a common indoor plant. In its native habitat, money trees can grow as high as 30 feet with an equal canopy spread. It produces small brown nuts that have a flavor similar to peanuts. The money tree also has no major susceptibility to pests or diseases, which adds to its appeal.
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Planting a Money Tree Plant
Plant the money tree in rich soil with good drainage. A potting soil made for cacti with high perlite content is ideal. Plant the tree in a pot that corresponds with the size plant you desire. Money tree plants need to be repotted in a larger pot every two years.
Money tree plants prefer indirect light that's medium to bright in intensity. Too much direct sunlight or not enough light can cause the tree to wilt or look unhealthy. If this happens, move it to a spot with better indirect sunlight. Turning the plant's pot each time you water it helps the plant grow straight and even with well-rounded leaf development.
Choose a spot that ranges between 65 and 80 degrees for optimal growth. Avoid drafty windows or spots near heating and cooling vents, which might cause temperature fluctuations.
Watering and Fertilizing
Money tree plants typically need to be watered once every seven to 10 days, but check for signs that it needs water instead of simply watering on a schedule. The top 2 to 4 inches of soil should be dry before you water it again. Apply water until it comes out of the pot's drainage holes, but don't allow water to sit in the saucer, as the standing water could lead to root rot. Money tree plants typically don't need as much water in the winter months and may only need to be watered once per month.
Use a spray bottle filled with water to mist the foliage of the tree. Never dampen the leaves when the plant is in full sunlight to avoid potential leaf burn. Alternatively, you can keep the money tree plant in the bathroom next to a frequently used shower to emulate a humid environment.
Feed the money tree plant using a liquid fertilizer with every other watering. Follow the manufacturer's directions to administer the correct amount. During winter months, the tree doesn't require any fertilization.
Special Money Tree Plant Care
The money tree plant requires no pruning to stay healthy and controlled, but you can use pruning shears to clip off the dead or damaged leaves. The trunk of the tree is made up of five separate braided trunks. At the top of these trunks are branches that extend upward. Braid the bottoms of the branches together once they have grown several inches past the braid. Continue this pattern to keep the money tree growing straight and healthy.
Branches that grow from the top of the tree that disrupt the braid must be removed to continue the pattern. The branch can be cut back, or the trunk from which the branches grow can be removed completely and used to start a new money tree.
Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.