Time to add a new plant to your collection? We have a great candidate – Pachira Aquatica a.k.a. Money Tree or Guiana Chestnut. This tropical ornamental is not just very attractive, but also easy to grow, care for, and even to propagate. Besides its absolutely unique look, this plant has so much more to offer.
Pachira Aquatica has gained its popularity worldwide as a houseplant not only thanks to the reasons mentioned above, but also for its cultural significance. After all, it does not go by the common name Money Tree for no reason! Many people and cultures around the world associate this spectacular plant with good financial fortune, bringing a more interesting side to its ornamental purposes.
And this is not all! Want to find out more curious facts about Pachira Aquatica a.k.a. Money tree and useful tips and tricks that will help you keep this plant healthy and happy? All you have to do is to read our guide and you will find out everything there is to know about the fascinating Pachira Aquatica plant!
About Braided Money Tree
- Money Tree belongs to the Pachira genus that consists of about 77 species of tropical trees. There are two different types of Pachira plants that are commonly referred to as ‘Money Trees’ – Pachira Aquatica and Pachira Glabra. Pachira Aquatica is mentioned more often, but Pachira Glabra is actually much more present in nurseries and flower shops.
- These two types of Pachira are extremely similar. An important difference between the two is the more prominent and bulbous base of the P. Glabra that makes it more difficult to braid. The blooms and fruits are also a bit different, as the P. Aquatica blooms have red-tipped stamens and brown fruit, while P. Glabra produces flowers that are completely white and green fruit.
- Its genus name “Pachira” comes from an old language spoken in Guyana and it roughly translates to ‘sweet water nut’. The specific epithet “aquatic” comes from Latin, and it refers to the water needs this thirsty plant has.
- The money tree is native to Central and South America and it is also quite common in Puerto Rico and southern Florida. In the wild, Pachira Aquatica can grow to 18 meters high (60 feet).
- Pachira Aquatica has various common names including Malabar chestnut, Guiana chestnut, Saba nut, Monguba, French peanut, Provision tree, and Pumpo. Commercially, you can find it under the names Money Plant or Money Tree. There are many other plants that go by similar names, including the Crassula Ovata a.k.a Money Plant, and Pilea Peperomioides a.k.a. Chinese Money Plant, so make sure you read the label carefully.
- Some say that its common name “money plant” derives from a very interesting story of the plant’s origin. According to this story, a poor man prayed for money, then found this odd-looking plant and took it home. Soon after, the man started to make money selling the plants that he grew from the seeds of the original plant.
- In Eastern Asia, locals refer to this plant as the “Shake Money Tree”. Pachira Aquatica is, thus, a popular ornamental plant in Japan.
- In 1986, a Taiwanese truck driver was the first person known to cultivate five small trunk-braided Pachira Aquatica trees in a single pot.
- Money tree is an excellent potted addition to every dull corner of your home or office. It is a great choice for commercial locations and public spaces. It also looks amazing as a bonsai. Some people believe that this plant can create positive energy or “chi” in the house they are growing in.
- Since Money trees symbolize good financial fortune, these versatile plants make perfect gifts for people who love growing tropical plants. In general, Money trees are a very common gift in the business world and they are sometimes offered with red ribbons attached.
- Money tree plays a big part in traditional medicine. Folks use it as a great treatment against hepatitis, stomach complaints, headaches, skin burning, anaemia, fatigue, or high blood pressure. Likewise, it is considered a nice blood tonic.
- The leaves and seeds of Pachira Aquatica are edible in small amounts. The seeds have a peanut-like flavour and are used in beverages or bread recipes. The young leaves are a great vegetable substitute.
- Money tree has many other common uses. The bark provides a yellow or red dye and yields fibre. The seed oil can be used to make soap.
- It is no secret that the Money tree is one of the most or maybe the best air-purifying plant. This buddy can absorb lots of toxic components present in the air, making every indoor space a safe place for you and your family.
- Pachira Aquatica is a super pet-friendly houseplant as it is not toxic. Your curious cats and dogs can touch and munch on any part of this plant without getting an upset stomach or any other symptoms.
- Great companion plants for Pachira Aquatica include Orchids, Pothos, Lucky Bamboo, Spider Plant, and Snake Plant. It is important to mention that Pachira Aquatica is a tropical plant, so unless you live in a tropical region, you’ll probably grow it indoors. These companion plants are also suited for indoor gardens and they pair well with the Money Tree because they have similar growing requirements.
Braided Money Tree Features: An Overview
- Although this plant is sold in nurseries and markets as a small plant specimen, it is actually a big, glorious tree. In the wild, this tree can reach up to 59 feet (18 m) in height. When grown as a houseplant, however, Pachira remains significantly smaller.
- Pachira forms a slightly thickened root that has other smaller roots. This rooting system serves as a generous water reservoir.
- Its foliage contains many shiny, palmate, and bright green leaves that feature small, lanceolate leaflets. The bark is smooth, slightly cracked, and has a pleasant brown to grey-green colour.
- Most Money Trees have five or six leaves per stem and finding one with five leaves is considered very lucky. If you have a seven-leaved Money Tree, you might want to consider buying a lottery ticket.
- Money tree does not usually produce flowers indoors. In its natural habitat or outdoors, this plant blooms throughout the summer months. The blooms can exhibit various shades of white, yellow, greenish-yellow, or cream.
- The flowers of this plant are among the largest tree blossoms in the world. They have long, narrow petals which tend to open similar to a banana peel, revealing hair-like, yellowish-orange stamens.
- After its flowering period, the blossoms make room for fruits to emerge. The fruits are big, rough, woody, egg-shaped, and brown capsules. They look very much like coconut fruit without hairs.
- The fruits typically measure up to 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) in length and 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in diameter. Each capsule can weigh about 2.2 to 3.3 lbs (1-1.5 kg) and contains up to 25 nuts.
- The nuts of both Pachira Aquatica and Pachira Glabra are edible.
- It is quite common for the slender trunks of Pachira to be braided together. This is a great trick to add some stability and to improve the aspect of the plant. If you wish to keep braiding the trunks together, you can do so by weaving them whenever they grow and tying them with a loose string around the top.
- If you want your Money Tree to remain at its current size, avoid repotting it in a larger container and prune its top leaves.
Growing Money Tree
The lighting preferences of Pachira will vary depending on the setting in which the plant grows. Indoors, place your plant in a spot where it can receive only bright to medium indirect light for a minimum of six hours daily. If you cannot provide yours with this kind of exposure, it would be wise to buy an artificial fluorescent light for it. Outdoors, however, you can keep the plant in as much direct sunlight as possible without affecting its overall health.
When it comes to cosy conditions, the Money tree thrives in mild temperatures and high humidity levels. In general, make sure you expose your plant to temperatures that range from 65 to 75 °F (18-24 °C) all year round. We recommend you avoid placing it in drafty spots that are too warm or too cold for it to handle. In terms of humidity, if your home environment is too dry, you can increase humidity around your plant by placing it above a tray filled with water and pebbles and mist its leaves regularly.
You can put your Money Tree outside during the summer as it will surely enjoy the warmth and the light and, if you are lucky, it might even produce blooms. Make sure you acclimatize your Money Tree gradually and protect it from the harsh afternoon sun, as it might burn its leaves. Bring your Money Tree back in autumn, when the night temperatures start to drop below 10˚C (50˚F).
Planting Money Tree
The perfect growing medium for a Pachira is, without a doubt, one that comes with very sharp drainage. In case your soil requires more drainage, you can always amend it with gravel or sand to improve its quality. Another important part of planting is the type of container you choose. Opt for a pot that comes along with many drainage holes at the bottom to encourage excellent water drainage and avoid root rot.
Likewise, the plant does well in soil that is very rich in nutrients and organic matter. While the ideal choice would be a peat moss-based soil mixture, you can also go for a standard well-draining potting mix. The second option includes any commercial cactus or flower potting soils.
Fertilizers are mandatory if you want your Money tree to look at its best for as long as possible. Feed your Money tree with an all-purpose fertilizer diluted at ½ strength. In general, it is best to fertilize your plant monthly during the spring and summer months to help it grow and, eventually, bloom nicely. You should also feed it in autumn and winter, but make sure you are doing this once every two months.
Although pruning is a super important process in the caring routine of your Money tree, the great part is that you will not have to do it too often. Let’s not forget that, after all, this is a super easy plant to care for! We suggest you prune the lower leaves of your plant to make room for new, healthy ones to appear at the top of the plant. Pruning is also a nice solution if you want to keep your Money tree smaller or even train it as a bonsai.
But what if you want your Money tree to grow bigger? In this situation, the best partner at play is none other than the process of repotting. This will show results only if you transplant your Money tree yearly in a pot that is slightly larger than the one you currently have.
In most regions, Money Trees are grown indoors in containers. However, if you’re lucky enough to be able to grow this beautiful tree outdoors, you’ll also be able to enjoy its beautiful blooms and edible seeds. For plants grown outdoors, pollination is quite important, and in the case of Money Tree, it’s important to mention that it doesn’t self-pollinate. Money Trees rely on pollinators such as butterflies, bees, moths, and bats, and this is why Pachiras will only produce blooms and seeds when grown outdoors.
Watering Money Tree
Obviously, this “Aquatica” plant will be more than happy with as much water as it can get. But pay attention, though! Too much water in its routine may result in serious fungal issues, especially root rot. Moreover, the amount of water your Money tree needs will depend directly on the season you are in. Do not worry, getting the hang of Pachira Aquatica’s watering needs is not as hard as you might expect.
First things first, you must always check the soil of your Money tree before providing it with another drink. When the top inch (2.5 cm) of its growing medium seems dry, this is the ideal time to give your Money tree some water. You can check the soil’s conditions with a moisture meter or by simply poking your finger in it to see if it feels dry to the touch.
Now, let’s see how the seasons will influence the watering schedule. In general, the Money tree requires more water in spring and summer than it does in fall and winter. The one-inch (2.5 cm) rule is most likely a thing only during the warmer seasons. Once the autumn and winter take the lead, you can water your Money tree only once every one or two weeks or so and it will be all good.
Propagating Money Tree
Pachira is surely a must-have in every plant collection, having so many compelling qualities. Due to this, it is more than natural for some of your plant-loving family members or friends to want one for themselves. Or maybe you want more of these showy plants around your house.
You can easily obtain more Money trees without spending any extra money. The easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to do this is to propagate a Money tree that you already have. You can do this by a very common method among growers – stem cuttings. And do not allow this plant to intimidate you if you are at the beginning of the road! The propagation process requires no prior experience in the gardening world.
As a first step, you will have to look for long, healthy stems on your beloved Money tree companion. The perfect period to do this is usually in both the spring and summer months because the plant grows actively. Once you meet these two conditions, you can take stem cuttings of about 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) from your plant using a sharp, sterilized knife. A friendly piece of advice: take more if you want to better your chances.
When you have as many cuttings as you want, place them in water to develop roots. It is recommended to change the water once every few days to make sure it is always fresh and clean. After the cuttings have developed some roots, typically in a few weeks, dip the cuttings in rooting hormone, then plant them into the soil. Water the baby cuttings whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. And that’s all!
Money Tree Pests and Diseases
Thinking about all the pests and diseases that your plants might be affected by is never a fun thing, but it is an important step that will help you prevent these issues. When this plant grows indoors, it becomes susceptible to various pests, especially scale insects and mealybugs. Luckily, you can easily treat an infestation by using a horticultural oil like neem oil or a mild insecticide. Also, it is safe to say the Pachira is not particularly susceptible to insect infestations, so you don’t have to worry about them too much.
Overwatering and Root Rot
A common mistake that all gardeners make from time to time is overwatering. Pachira can also suffer due to overwatering, especially during the cold winter months. When the soil remains wet for too long, the roots can rot. The first signs of root rot in Pachira are usually represented by spotty leaves, yellowing leaves, or leaves that fall off. When detected in the very early stages, root rot can be reversed if you allow the soil and the root ball to dry thoroughly before you water again. Another good strategy is changing the damp soil with dry soil, removing the affected roots, and repotting the plant.
Wrinkling leaves are a common issue with Money Tree and many growers wonder what is causing it. The good news is that if you detect the cause, you can easily fix the problem. A few common problems that lead to foliage wrinkling in Braided Money Trees are underwatering, environmental dryness, and excessive light exposure.
Money Trees originate in tropical climates, so they are big fans of humid environments. If you suspect that the air is too dry, you can mist your Money Tree and see if the leaves return to their normal shape. In terms of light, these plants enjoy getting plenty of it, but they prefer indirect, diffuse light. Direct light can lead to sunburn and wrinkling leaves. If you notice that your plant is getting too much direct light, move it to a more protected location with plenty of indirect light.
Yellowing leaves are another common cause of concern for Money Tree growers, so let’s take a look at some of the most common causes. If you haven’t had your Money Tree for a very long time, you might be surprised when you first experience the natural foliage shedding process. Money Trees shed their old leaves based on their ‘internal clock’ in late winter or early spring, and it will happen regardless of the environmental conditions, so there’s no need to worry as long as only the older leaves are affected and the plant seems healthy.
As mentioned above, overwatering is a common cause for yellowing leaves, and so is too much light, and even too little light. Too little light will cause floppy and unhealthy looking foliage due to ineffective photosynthesis. The easy solution is to find a new location where your plant will get more indirect light.
Apart from root rot, Pachiras can experience other fungal diseases such as anthracnose leaf spot and powdery mildew. The best way to prevent these diseases is to avoid waterlogging and overwatering, remove dead leaves and debris, and prune the unhealthy parts. Spider mites might also be attracted to Money Trees, and you can read more about these pests in our complete guide to Spider Mites.
If you want to add a special member to your plant family this year, Pachira a.k.a. Money Tree is surely the best candidate. Money tree has all it takes to be a complete houseplant – natural charm and beauty, a low-demanding nature overall, cultural appreciation, medicinal importance, and it is even kid and pet-friendly. The Money Tree is a great statement plant that is also a great gift, especially if you want to wish someone good luck with a new business.
Are you growing Pachira a.k.a. the Money Trees? Let us know in the comments!