Money Tree - braided (Pachira Aquatica)
We probably don’t have to tell you this, but the “Money Tree” (Pachira Aquatica) actually does NOT have a magical ability to grow silver dollars or gold doubloons. Rather, legend says a poor farmer once prayed that his fortunes would improve. Soon afterward, he discovered this plant growing in his field, began selling its seeds, and did indeed discover a brighter financial future. So no, the Braided Money Tree is not a never-ending source of magical plant money—however, it does have an almost mystical ability to make any room feel healthier and happier. The first thing most people will notice about the Braided Money Tree is, not surprisingly, its braided trunks, which sport smooth, brown-gray bark and give the plant an air of elegance. But it’s not long before your eyes are drawn to the lush, glossy foliage: wide, bright green compound leaves made up of up to 9 pointed oval/rounded diamond-shaped lobes arranged in a circular pattern around a central leaf stem. That’s enough of a show to make the Braided Money Tree a must-have. But if you’re fortunate enough to coax a bloom from this beauty? Wow. Long, yellowish-white buds unpeel like a banana to reveal a starburst of fine, red-tipped stamens. Fantastic. Braided Money Tree plants are easy to care for and ideal for most any use, whether you want a captivating bonsai or a 9-foot specimen tree filling a corner with greenery and life. In fact, the plant is prized by Feng Shui enthusiasts, who believe that braided money trees capture good fortune in their intertwined trunks, represent the five elements (air, water, earth, fire, and metal), and release positive chi when properly placed in a room. We believe it. We’re no Feng Shui experts, but Pachira Aquatica definitely makes us feel more positive.
Characteristics and traits of a Money Tree - braided (Pachira Aquatica)
- Scientific Name: Pachira Aquatica
- Genus: Pachira
- Family: Malvaceae
- Common Name: Money Tree Plant, Money Plant, Provision Tree, Monguba, Pumpo, Wild Kapok Tree, Pachira, Saba Nut, Malabar Chestnut, Guiana Chestnut, French Peanut
- Indoor: All year round at temperatures above 65F
- Outdoor Zones: 10-12
- Type: Perennial; propagated via seeds or cuttings
- Mature Height: Bonsai: 12-18”, Indoors: 2’-9’, Outdoors: 60’
- Mature Width: Bonsai: 12-18”, Indoors: 2’-4’
- Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
- Growth Rate: Average-slow
- Flower: Yes, but not likely - large, narrow, greenish-yellow or cream petals that “peel” open to reveal a spray of delicate, red-tipped stamens.
- Foliage: shiny, deep green compound leaves composed of up to 9 (usually 5) pointed oval segments circularly arranged around a central leaf stem.
Plant Care and Advice for Braided Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica)
- Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 10-12
- Light Requirements: Bright indirect light inside, full sun to partial shade outside
- Water Requirements: Deep but infrequent. Water deeply, then allow soil to dry to a depth of 3” before watering again.
- Drought Tolerance: Good
- Temperature: Does well in temperatures from 60-90F indoors or out. Can handle temps as low as 45F without damage. Unlikely to survive frost.
- Air Purification: Good
- Toxicity: Non-toxic
- Fertilizer: ½ strength every 2 weeks or ¼ strength every 4 weeks. High nitrogen in spring for leaf growth, general in summer, higher potassium and phosphorus in fall for root growth and flowering. None needed in winter.
- Container Friendly: Yes - Be sure it drains well
- Planting: Pachira Aquatica grows at an average rate, so repotting should only be needed every 2-3 years. It can adapt to most soil types, but do best with well-drained, loamy soil. If using a clay-like soil (or planting outdoors), the addition of peat and perlite or sand will help keep the plant from getting waterlogged. The actual repotting process can be carried out as usual. Be aware that Pachira Aquatica does tend to drop some leaves immediately after repotting. This is common and no cause for alarm.
- Plant Care: Pachira Aquatica is native to swampy areas that frequently flood, then dry out, so it’s best to emulate that scenario by watering deeply, then allowing the top 2-4 inches of soil to dry out before you water again. Use the leaves as a guide. If the leaves turn brownish or brittle, water more. If they drop while green or if mold forms on the soil surface, water less. The plant also adores humidity, so it’s recommended to rest its pot on a tray of water and pebbles, mist it often (daily if possible), and avoid drafts at all costs. Braided money trees prefer bright but indirect light. They can take a fair bit of direct sun, but too much will bleach at least the topmost leaves. This is not to be confused with a yellowing of the leaves, which can signal a need for more sun, more humidity, or more fertilizer (so add those things in whatever order you like and see how the plant responds). Spots on the leaves can be another indication that the plant wants more fertilizer (potassium in particular). If a potted Braided Money Tree living outside gets hit with an unexpected cold snap, bring it in and give it humidity, but water only lightly until it perks up a bit. Finally, Pachira Aquatica is prone to leaf drop when moved or repotted, but will almost always recover as long as no other conditions have changed.
- Expert Advice: Pachira Aquatica can prove attractive to aphids, mealybugs, and other soft scale insects, as well as fungus gnats, whose larvae chew the plant’s roots. Neem and proper watering can help treat such pests, as well as the diseases anthracnose, powdery mildew, and fungal root rot, which the plant can also contract.Propagation of Pachira Aquatica is possible via both seeds and cuttings with a bit of effort. For cuttings, trim a 6-inch section of branch with 2-3 leaf nodes, remove leaves from the bottom couple inches. Dip the cutting in water and (for best results) rooting medium, then insert it into a soil blend of 50% peat moss and 50% sand or perlite. Water it and set a plastic bag loosely over the top to increase humidity. Keep moist but not drenched, and avoid direct sunlight. Roots should form within 4-6 weeks. To grow from seed, harvest seeds when seed pods begin to crack open on their own. Plant seed ¼” deep in moist soil with the “eye” facing to the side. Keep soil warm and water lightly any time the top inch of soil gets dry.Note: The mature seeds are edible and said to taste similar to peanuts when raw and like chestnuts when cooked. However, there is significant concern about just how safe the cyclopropenoid fatty acids inside are for humans. So it’s probably best not to eat too many, too often. At all.