The Gardening Cook
Looking for a little luck and prosperity in your home? Try growing a Braided Money Tree Plant. This fabulous indoor plant has a braided trunk, glossy leaves and is easy care. This technique of braiding the trunk is thought to symbolize looking for money and luck!
The braided money tree plant has been around for years but I am just starting to see it at lots of local outlets that sell plants. It appears to have caught on with consumers in a big way! I got my plant at BJs wholesale club of all places and then started seeing it at both Lowe’s and Home Depot.
The botanical name for the braided money tree plant is Pachira aquatica. It is also known as the Malabar chestnut. The tree is native to Central and South America and usually has trunks that are braided together.
Tips for growing a Braided Money Tree Plant.
Sunlight – Keep the tree in a room that gets moderate sunlight. A money tree plant is somewhat forgiving and survive in varying degrees of sunlight but it really likes bright moderate light. Keep it out of direct sunlight, or the leaves will begin to dry out and brown.
I have my plant in a south facing window with an eave outside it during the winter and move it to a shady area of my garden in the summer time. Indoors, turn the plant regularly so that it does not lean to the sunlight. Even though they prefer moderate light, they can actually take lower light situations. Trunk. The plant is grown with a series of trunks braided together. This braiding is done when the stalks are young and supple. If your plant outgrows its space, you can actually cut the trunk off close to the soil and it will send new shoots out from this area.
Leaves. The leaves of a braided money tree plant are glossy and deep green. Most money tree plants have 5-6 leaves on each stem, and you can sometimes find one with seven leaves. Just like finding a 4 leaf clover, seven leaves on a stem is thought to bring really good fortune to its owner.
Size. When grown outdoors, money tree plants can reach 60 feet tall. The indoor height is usually confined to about 6-7 feet. The size of the tree when grown as an indoor plant is largely determined by the age of the plant and the container size.
Watering, Potting and Fertilizing Tips
Watering. A money tree plant likes well draining soil. The instructions that I got with my plant said to use three ice cubes a week (Just like Moth Orchids!) I don’t do this but instead reach into the soil. When it is dry to about the first inch of my finger, I give it a drink. They don’t like to sit in soggy soil and will suffer if over watered.
Potting. Don’t over pot a braided money tree plant. Use a container container that appears on the smallish side. A container that is too large will will hold too much water, causing stem and root rot. Since they grow to such a large size outdoors, growing the money tree in a smaller container will also prevent it from getting too big indoors.
Many people grow the plant as a bonsai tree. My plant has a 6 inch pot and the height is about 24 inches. Normally when there is this discrepancy, I would re-pot to a bigger pot, but it is so healthy, I am leaving it until I am sure it is pot bound.
Fertilizing. Pachira aquatica does not need a lot of fertilizing. Doing it once in the Spring and then again once in the Fall with a Time Released Bonsai Fertilizer is sufficient.
Cold Hardiness. Here in the USA, this plant is normally grown as an indoor plant, even though it grows to a tree size outside. But since it is only hardy over the winter in zones 9b to 11, it can’t be grown in most back yards. The chestnut pod of the money plant in nature is very large.
Caring for and propagating the Money Tree Plant
Shaping. Regular pruning helps to control the size of the plant, so if you want to keep it smaller, pinch or prune off some of the growing growing tips.
Propagation. Propagation is generally done by taking cuttings or potting up side shoots. It can also be grown from seeds. If you see new shoots coming out of the trunks, you can place these shoots in moist seed starting soil and they will grow well. (or let them root in water and then pot them.) Once they grow, repot in normal well draining potting soil.
Re-potting. Transfer to the next size up pot every 2-3 years if the plant becomes pot bound. Once the plant gets to its desired size, don’t re-pot, just remove, and replace the soil with fresh potting soil in a container the same size. The braided Money Tree Plant is often given as a gift. Since the plant is thought to bring good luck and prosperity, they make a perfect housewarming gift. Since it is so easy to care for, it should give you years of beauty in the home.
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A braided money tree plant – Pachira aquatica – is an easy to grow indoor plant that is thought to bring good luck and prosperity.
Weed plant braids
You might have received a money tree plant for a wedding gift, baptism, birthday or anniversary. It doesn’t grow money, but the legend is that if you faithfully tend the plant, you will prosper.
It’s known for bringing positive energy and good luck. But it takes more than luck to keep it healthy and happy. The botanical name is Pachira aquatica, and it’s a tropical species coming from the swamps in Central and South America, he adds.
“It’s a fairly popular houseplant, but not always easy to find in plant shops and nurseries,” says Rick Pudwell, director of horticulture at Memphis Botanic Garden.
These plants are winter hardy outside, but only in USDA Hardiness Zone Map zones 10-12. That means Southern states such as Florida and Hawaii can grow it outdoors, but for the rest of the United States, it’s an indoor plant. Pudwell says if you are growing on indoors, the temperature cannot go below 50 degrees.
The name money tree comes from an old fable that tells about a poor man gaining good fortune by discovering this tree and then selling its seeds. Within the Feng Shui teachings, this plant is believed to bring good luck to those who plant it in their home or office.
“I think the common name has a lot of appeal,” Pudwell says. “I would say it is average in care for a tropical house plant.”
Care Tips for a Money Tree Plant
Like most tropical plants that adapt to indoor culture, it is tolerant of medium light conditions, but prefers to be near a window,” he says. “You should place it inside near a brightly lit window, but not in the all-day sun.” Direct sunlight could damage it, so go or indirect light. As an indoor plant, you want to see your Pachira aquatica have new growth and green leaves. Too much of anything is a bad thing: Excess water, low light, constant direct light or low temperatures all can take a toll on it.
Money tree needs include high humidity, so a daily misting with room temperature water is beneficial. Locating it in a bathroom or kitchen where water is used frequently is a good location as long as it has enough light. An occasional shower with warm water will keep the foliage clean and help reduce the chance of pests getting established, he adds.
How much water? The best rule for watering is to stick your finger in the pot up to your first knuckle, he says. If it feels dry, water thoroughly over the surface of the pot until water drains into the saucer under the pot. If it doesn’t reabsorb the water in an hour or so, drain the saucer. Sitting in water too long can cause root rot. Overwatering it can also have bad effects.
To keep your money plant moist, especially during dry winter months, use a humidifier.
Fertilize with a water-soluble house plant food, at half the strength recommended on the package label. Apply the liquid fertilizer once per month when watering from March through October, he adds. Do not fertilize during the winter months as the days are short and dark, and this could cause weak, spindly growth. Prune as necessary to shape and remove brown growth. Money tree plant care is just knowing basics about houseplants and understanding its needs.
For repotting for an indoor money tree plant, a commercially made soil mix that is peat moss based. Add perlite and about 25% coarse sand to the potting mix for good drainage. If sand is not available, pea gravel that is clean would work equally well. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. When planting outdoors in a frost-free climate, plant under the shade of large existing trees with good drainage and soil of average fertility where it can be watered as needed, Pudwell suggests.
“Of course, they can summer outdoors in partial shade and benefit from their vacation under our summery tropical conditions,” he says. Indirect sunlight with limited full sun is recommended. Also, avoid putting the plant in an area where winds could damage it. The night temperatures cannot fall below 50 degrees. They will also require more water outdoors because the pot will dry out more quickly in the heat.
Common Money Tree Care Problems
There is the potential to get scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites and aphids.
“If they do, I would suggest a systemic insecticide,” Pudwell says. “That will make the plant toxic to pets and anyone else who should graze upon it.” But he says it is never wise to let children or pets eat anything without supervision.
Sparse Leaves or Too Lanky
Keeping it misted or occasionally in a bathroom can help when the tree has gotten too sparse on top and too tall, says the Cherokee County University of Georgia Cooperative UGA Extension Office and Cherokee County Master Gardeners in Iowa.
How Big Can It Get?
In nature, they can be as tall as 60 feet, but indoors, they usually grow 3 to 6 feet, Pudwell explains. Under home conditions, he has never seen one flower. It’s actually a tree in its native habitat, so he believes it would have to grow to a mature size to produce any type of flower.
How Much Do They Cost?
It all depends on the size of your money tree plant. “I would think the range could be $15 for a small specimen up to several hundred dollars for a large one,” he adds.
“From my perspective, it is a good plant to have,” Pudwell says. “It is a little different in appearance than most house plants. Many times they are grown with a braided trunk. This is not natural. It is done when the plants are very young and the stems are pliable. It is quite decorative.”
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This tropical plant is legendary for bringing good fortune, but caring for a money tree plant requires proper care and treatment. Here's how.