Money Tree, scientifically known as Pachira aquatica, is a tropical tree native to Central and South America. The tree is also commonly known as the Malabar chestnut, French peanut, Guiana chestnut, or provision tree. Money Tree has an interesting legend that says it brings good luck, wealth, and prosperity to its owner. Hence, it is a popular plant for indoor gardening.
Money Tree grows in wet tropical lowlands, such as swamps, riverbanks, and marshes. The tree can reach a height of up to 20 meters in its natural habitat. The tree has an interesting stem structure, with five to seven finger-like leaves that are typically bright green in color. The leaves have serrated edges, and they often curl inwards.
Habit: A naturally large tree when planted outdoors, Money Plant adapts well to pot or container growing and can easily be kept small and form a pseudo bonsai type look. Older plants produce a somewhat swollen lower trunk from which are produced the medium-sized digitate leaves with five bright green leaflets. The stems of several plants are sometimes braided for extra plant interest.
Temperature: Plants grow best between 15 to 25ᐤ C and temperatures below 4ᐤ C may result in the death of the plant. Avoid placing plants in windy or drafty locations which can lead to less attractive plants as the leaflets can get tattered.
Light Exposure: Potted or containerised plants grown indoors prefer a location with bright, indirect light. Turning the pot a quarter each week will help to keep plants looking even and avoid them becoming lopsided overtime as they grow towards the light.
Watering: As the second part of the scientific name suggests, Money Plants do like a moist growing medium but not like sitting in water; water only when the top 1 or 2 cm of soil feels dry to the touch. Always check the soil moisture first but as a rule of thumb watering once a week in the rainy season, once every two weeks in the cold dry season and twice a week in the hot dry season. In addition, regularly misting the leaves in the hot dry season will help keep the foliage looking great.
Fertilising: Give plants a well balanced fertiliser once a month during the hot dry season and rainy season but not during the cold dry season when plants are resting (semi-dormant).
Pruning/Repotting: Remove yellowing, brown or heavily damaged leaves as necessary. Repotting of the plants will depend on its growth rate but plants usually indicate that they should be repotted once the roots really start growing out the bottom of the pot. Ideally repot in the spring into a pot one or maybe two sizes larger than what it is currently growing in.
Money Tree is generally a hardy plant, but it can be susceptible to some pests, such as spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. These pests can be controlled by spraying the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil. It is important to inspect the plant regularly for signs of infestation, such as sticky residue on the leaves or white cottony patches.
In conclusion, Money Tree is a beautiful and unique indoor plant that is easy to care for. With the right light, fertilizing, potting up, watering, and pest control, you can enjoy this plant's beauty and legend for years to come.