Money trees (Pachira aquatica, USDA zones 10-11) grow best when they have infrequent but deep watering, usually only a few times each month. The money tree is a tropical plant with dark green, glossy palmate leaves and is believed to bring good luck and financial fortune to its owner. Money trees make attractive, decorative indoor plants, and are robust and easy to care for when you understand the watering requirements.
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Water your money tree deeply but infrequently, usually only a few times each month. Wait until the top 2 to 4 inches of soil is dry before watering.
Features of Money Trees
The money tree, also called the Malabar chestnut, Guiana chestnut and saba nut tree, is indigenous to Central American wetlands. Money trees are often used in feng shui design to increase "chi," or positive energy flow. The leaves bear a rough resemblance to hands and are considered particularly lucky if they feature five or more "fingers." Money trees are often sold with the trunks braided for decorative effect.
Basic Money Tree Care
Money trees are non-fussy plants that are resistant to pests and most diseases. However, you should use a good-quality commercial potting soil that drains quickly as money trees are susceptible to root rot. Bright, indirect light is ideal, but avoid placing your money tree in direct sunlight, which could scorch its leaves. A balanced, all-purpose houseplant fertilizer, applied once a month, will provide ample nutrients. It's not necessary to fertilize in the winter, when the plant is in a resting phase. Prune the growing tips of your money tree to keep it houseplant-sized.
When to Water
Money trees should not be over-watered. Watering two to three times a month is usually sufficient. You'll usually only need to water it once every one to two weeks. Check the soil to see how far down it's dry to determine when you need to water a money tree. You can wait until the soil dries 2 to 4 inches deep before watering. In the winter, growth slows and the money plant often doesn't need as much water.
You can also tell if your money plant needs water by looking at the leaves. They start to wrinkle and curl if the plant needs more water. If you're overwatering the plant, the leaves might look droopy and start turning yellow.
Watering a Money Tree
Watering should be infrequent but thorough. The amount of water needed depends largely on the pot size and amount of soil in it. Water the money tree until the overflow comes out the holes at the bottom of the planter. Empty the saucer once you're done watering. Don't allow the plant to sit in standing water since it can lead to root rot.
Money Plant's Humidity Needs
To maintain the moderate to high humidity required by your money plant, spritz it daily with water in a spray bottle. Avoid using very cold water. Tepid water is more suited to the money tree's tropical pedigree.
Another way to add humidity is with a pebble tray. Cover the bottom of a tray with a layer of small, pleasingly colored stones, and cover with clean water. Set the money tree's container in the tray, making sure the water level stays below the bottom of the pot.
Carol Sarao is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic City Weekly, The Women's Newspaper of Princeton, and New Millennium Writings. She has interviewed and reviewed many national recording acts, among them Everclear, Live, and Alice Cooper, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Warren Wilson College.