Our son knows I love plants. When he visits, we go to the nursery to find a new plant to add to my collection. Last summer we found a unique and appealing plant called the money tree plant, Pachira aquatica. It has been a delightful, easy-care addition to my plant family.

Prosperous roots

The lore associated with the money tree houseplant is interesting. One story is that a poor man prayed for money and when he found this “odd” plant, he took it as an omen. He propagated it and made money selling its offspring.

Another related story took place in 1986, when a Taiwanese truck driver cultivated five small trees in a single pot and braided their trunks. Soon the Pachira aquatica became a popular ornamental plant in Japan and eastern Asia.

The money tree plant symbolizes good financial fortune and is often found in business offices. In Taiwan it has become an important agricultural export.


  • Height

From northern South America to Mexico, its native region, the money tree can grow up to 60 feet tall. Since they are not cold hardy, in the United States money tree plants are sold as smaller, decorative houseplants.

  • Braided trunks

A unique feature of the money tree is how their slender, smooth green trunks can be braided together. The leaves are shiny green and attach to the stem at a common point then divide into smaller leaflets. The structure is palm-like and shaped like the palm of your hand. money tree plants with the braided trunks give a tropical look to sunrooms and offices.


The money tree is an easy-care houseplant.

  • Moisture

It thrives in moderate humidity and deep, infrequent watering. If your home is dry, add humidity by placing a pebble-filled saucer under the plant. Keep water in the saucer and the evaporation will raise the room’s humidity. Daily misting can be very helpful for maintaining humidity.

Thoroughly water your money tree plant until the water seeps from the pot’s drainage holes. Let it dry out before watering it again.

  • Fertilization

In its first year as a houseplant, do not fertilize it. The next year during the spring to fall growing season, fertilize money trees every two weeks with a diluted liquid plant food. Discontinue fertilizing during the winter so plants can rest.

  • Location and light

Money tree plants are durable and adaptable. However, they don’t like to be moved.

If its location is changed too often, it might drop some of its leaves. It is best to place them where they get bright light and are away from drafts and dry hot air. Money tree plants grow best in room temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees..

In the summer, an indoor-grown money tree plant can be taken outside and will do well in dappled light. Too much direct sunlight can sunburn its leaves. Do bring money tree plants back inside before temperatures drop to 40 degrees.

When the days are shorter in the fall, a plant’s leaves may turn yellow and drop. The plant probably does not have a disease and should resume growing in the spring.

  • Low pruning maintenance

In good growing conditions, money tree plants grow quite fast. While pruning is generally not necessary, they can be cut back to a desired size. After about 10 days, new shoots form laterally from the trimmed areas. To keep plants looking healthy regularly remove damaged leaves.

Repot every two years

Every two years repot the money tree plant in a clean mixture of peat moss and gritty sand. Increase the pot size by 1 or 2 inches in height and width if you want the plant to grow larger.

Plant proved true

My money tree plant has doubled in height during the past 10 months. Initially it was outside on the patio. It had indirect sun in the morning and partial afternoon shade. Around Thanksgiving I brought it and other houseplants inside.

The money tree plant did not do very well indoors. Although it had a grow light during the day and I regularly misted it, it seemed to be in a slump. So it went back on the patio.

Before a January frost, container plants were moved from the patio to the garage. The money tree plant perked up and by February was putting on new leaves. Since April our money tree is back in its sheltered place on the patio where it thrives.

Good luck

Feng Sui proponents believe money tree plants bring good luck to their owners. Who doesn’t need a little more luck in life? If it’s as easy as planting a money tree, why not add one to your home?

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.