Brown Leaves on a Money Tree Plant

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Money tree plants are often used as bonsai.

Frequently grown as a house plant, the money tree (Pachira aquatica) is often used in feng shui to bring good fortune and prosperity. It has handsome green foliage and is fairly easy to care for. Some issues, however, may cause the tree's leaves to turn brown and eventually fall off.


Pachira aquatica is a tropical plant native to waterways in tropical rain forests in Mexico and northern South America. It is a spreading tree that grows up to 60 feet in height when planted outdoors, but only up to 7 feet as a container specimen. It is often sold as a bonsai plant. It has multiple bases that braid together to form the trunk. The money tree produces shiny, bright-green foliage and blooms with large, creamy white flowers.

Improper Watering

Money tree plants require regular watering and a well-drained soil. Overwatering the money tree plant may result in the tips of the leaves browning, while soil that is too dry will cause the leaves to turn brown and drop off. Contaminants or chemicals in tap water may make the leaves droop and turn brown; using distilled or rain water may resolve this problem.

Too Little Light

Pachira aquatica is a tropical tree, requiring full sunlight. Inadequate lighting conditions may cause the tree to go into general decline, and its leaves will turn brown and drop off. Place the money tree plant in an area that receives ample, but indirect sunlight, such as below a skylight or near a window. Do not place it where there are obstructions to lighting, such as near a window with window treatments that obscure sunlight.

Leaf Scorch

Being a tropical plant, Pachira aquatica prefers humid conditions. Excess heat and too much direct sunlight can make the money tree prone to leaf scorch, causing the leaf tissue to turn brown at the edges and die. Do not place the money tree plant in direct sunlight or near a heat source, such as a radiator or stove. Make sure that the tree receives adequate water in hot, dry weather.

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Cyn Reed

Cyn Reed has been writing since 1992 on a number of topics, including gardening, wine, food and animals. Her work has appeared in such publications as "Clifton" magazine, "Calliope" and the "Georgetown Review." She is currently working on a book about the oldest trees in the world. Reed has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in writing.