Your parents may have told you that money doesn't grow on trees, but there is a houseplant that is actually called a money tree (Pachira aquatica, USDA zones 10-12). Although it won't make you rich, it might bring you some good fortune if you know about proper care and pruning for a braided money tree. It is native to the region that stretches from Mexico to the tip of South America, and people use it along with feng shui practices to bring them luck.
All About Money Trees
The money tree, also known as the Guiana chestnut, has slender green stems and leaves like a palm tree. Outdoors, it produces oval green pods with chambers, which contain seeds that develop into nutlike fruits. Money tree plants can grow up to 30 feet tall in native habitats but are also at home indoors, where they do well in pots.
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Money tree plants should be placed in spots that get a balance of direct and indirect sunlight, including fluorescent lighting. They can be rotated occasionally for an even distribution of light. The room temperature can be kept at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but if it changes by 10 F or less, the plant will likely be fine. Money trees like humidity, so setting the pot atop a water-filled pebble tray, making sure the water level doesn't reach the bottom of the pot, can help with this.
Money trees need a good drink of water every one or two weeks, and the soil should be allowed to dry out a bit between waterings. You can also mist your tree a few times a week to keep up the humidity. Do not let the soil dry out too much. These plants can be fertilized occasionally (but not in the wintertime) with liquid plant food that is diluted by 50 percent.
Braiding Money Trees
People enjoy braiding money trees, which gives these plants an interesting, exotic appearance. To start from scratch, there must be three or more trunks with bases that are starting to become woody. Keep in mind that these still have to be flexible for about 7 to 10 inches upward.
Starting at the bottom, create a loose braid and continue working until the leaves are close together. Loosely tie the top together with string or nylon ties; you should be able to remove it and braid a few more inches every couple of months.
Pruning Money Trees
Indoor money trees, especially those that are braided, do not need to be pruned very often, but you can remove dead or damaged plant material when you water or fertilize. Outdoor money plants can require more pruning, though. This is normally done to remove dead growth or to create or maintain specific shapes, and it is best done in the spring or early summer. To encourage more growth from the lower parts, you can prune it from the top with clean, sharp garden shears.
Always cut above its nodes since this generates growth. If there is too much growth at the bottom, remove it by cutting approximately 1 inch from the trunk; never cut the trunk. It is also possible to prune the tree to encourage growth in a certain direction. For example, if you want more width, cut above nodes that are facing outward; for upward direction, cut over nodes with an upward orientation.