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The first time I saw root rot on a money tree, I was appalled at how bad it looked.
The roots were all whitish, soggy, and had mold growing on them. And to make matters worse, there was a funky smell emanating from the roots.
This experience was long ago, but I can still recall just how taken aback I was that day. So, when I eventually started growing my money tree, I was cautious about overwatering it.
But alas, that was not the only precaution I had to take with my plant. A Money tree plant can experience a range of problems from leggy growth to pest infestation to white spots on their leaves down to dying trunks.
And to care for them, you must understand what causes these issues and how you can keep them at bay.
This (lengthy) guide takes you through all the problems you can face with your money tree plant and what you can do about them.
The goal is not to be alarmed but to help you figure out what your plant cannot withstand for too long.
Money Tree Plant Problems
What could go wrong with your money tree? The answer is a lot! Like any other plant, money trees are always at risk of experiencing issues that hamper their growth.
Some of these problems can even kill your money tree plant. So, you should always be on the lookout for the below issues and deal with them as they arise:
Why Is My Money Tree Infested by Pests?
Do you know that pest infestation directly correlates to the kind of care a plant receives?
When a plant gets the proper growing conditions, it thrives and is less likely to suffer a pest attack. But when it has inadequate access to its essential factors (light, water, humidity, etc.), it becomes weak.
And this makes it easier for pests to launch their attacks. Below are some of the reasons why pests may infest your money tree:
Of all the things to avoid when growing your money tree, overwatering should always be critical. Plants need water to survive.
They absorb this water and use it to make food and support cellular activity. However, there is a limit as to how much water a plant can need at a time.
If you give the plant too much water, it takes up what it needs, and the rest remains in the soil.
It takes up air spaces in the potting mix, drowning the roots that sit in the water for prolonged periods. Eventually, this weakens the roots and paves the way for root rot, which can kill the plant.
Moreover, it creates ideal conditions for fungi and other diseases to thrive. Soon enough, the plant becomes host to a myriad of pests, fungi, and bacterial diseases.
Can you prevent overwatering? Sure! The goal lies in understanding why the plant roots have drowned and altering the growing conditions in its favor, as follows:
Too Much Watering
If the problem results from too much watering, what you need is to change the watering schedule. You should only water the plant when the top inch of soil is dry.
Soak the soil thoroughly and allow the excess water to drain through the pot’s holes. Then leave the plant to absorb the water until the top layer of soil dries again.
If you have trouble gauging when the plant needs water, invest in a moisture gauge. It will help you know when to step in and when to leave the plant be.
A Poor Choice of a Potting Mix
Are you using the right potting mix for your money tree? Ideally, you should stick with a peat-based potting mix.
However, you can try out other options if they offer sufficient nutrients and drainage – most nurseries provide various options, and you can check what works for your plant.
You will need to repot the plant to allow it to make a home in this new environment.
A Poor Choice of Pot
Does the pot have adequate drainage holes? You could be giving the plant the right amount of water, yet the excess does not drain, thus drowning the plant roots.
In this case, you will need to drill drainage holes in the pot or use another pot entirely.
Does the plant have adequate access to light? The money tree does best in bright and indirect light.
When placed in low light conditions, it becomes much harder for plant processes to take place, thus slowing down evaporation and transpiration rates.
Eventually, the plant roots sit in the water longer than they need to, paving the way for root rot. In such a case, you need to move the plant near an east or west-facing window where it can receive dappled light for a few hours each day.
You can also place it near a south-facing window but ensure there are sheers to protect it from direct sunlight.
If the plant has suffered extensive root damage, you will need to cut off the damaged parts, wash the plant, and repot it in a new potting mix.
You should also change the pot as the current pot may host fungi that can once again attack the roots.
If you need more information on how to get the right light for your money tree, check out our article on money tree light requirements.
Too Much Humidity
While the money tree plant enjoys moderate to high humidity levels, too much humidity can be a problem.
And sometimes, it can create the perfect conditions for pest infestation, thus triggering an attack. What can cause this increased humidity?
- Placing the plant in a room with high humidity, e.g., bathroom or kitchen,
- Misting the plant frequently during the day,
- Using a humidifier, and
- Placing the plant pot over a tray with pebbles and water.
Often, when the plant suffers from issues like drooping, the recommendation is to increase the surrounding humidity.
But if you notice pest infestations following such a move, you are better off cutting back on the humidity increments. Dial back on the added humidity and see if the pests fall back.
Reduced Air Circulation
Besides humid regions, pests also enjoy spots with reduced air circulation. Why is that? It comes down to the potting mix conditions.
When there is adequate airflow, the soil dries up fast, and it becomes hard for pests to make a home in such a potting mix.
But with poor airflow, the soil stays wet for prolonged periods, and the humidity around the plant increases. And that’s a good recipe for pest infestation.
Fixing this is easy. All you need is to move the plant to a spot with better air movement.
However, you should ensure that the plant is not near any hot or cold air drafts as these can cause other issues. The pests should die back soon enough.
Money Tree Pests
So far, we have covered why pests can attack your plant. But what kind of pests should you expect to find on your tree?
Let’s get to know these pests so you can identify them quickly and get rid of them before they cause more damage to your plant:
These pesky pests are quite problematic because they often reproduce and wreak havoc on your plant roots. A single adult gnat lives for one week.
But in that week, it can lay up to 300 eggs in the potting mix. And guess what? These eggs hatch into larvae which start feeding on your plant’s roots.
So, you can imagine the damage that would arise in a few weeks following this hatching of larvae, maturing of adult gnats, and laying of hundreds of eggs.
How to Identify Gnats
These pests look like tiny flies with long bodies, akin to mosquitoes, averaging 2.5 mm in length.
They are almost always near or on the soil surface because they are not strong fliers. And when you water the plant, they hover about the soil and then return to the surface immediately afterward.
Their larvae feature quarter-inch long bodies with white bodies and black heads – quite the sight!
Signs of Fungus Gnat Infestation
Can you know that your plant has fallen victim to fungus gnats? Sure! You will notice signs such as:
- Wilting of leaves,
- Stunted plant growth,
- Yellowing in the leaves, and
- Scarring on the roots.
And then, of course, there are the apparent flies that hover around the soil when you water it.
Elimination of Fungus Gnats
As the name fungus might imply, these pests do best in moist soil. So, if you take away the moisture, you take away their ability to thrive in the potting mix.
One sure way to keep these pests at bay is to embrace the overwatering prevention measures we covered earlier. But there is much more that you can do, including:
Assessing the size of the plant pot: When a pot is much bigger than necessary, it holds more moisture than what the money tree needs. And this wetness only paves the way for fungus gnats to make a home in the soil.
Using biological pesticides: These are generally safe for the environment and will get rid of the gnats fast.
Laying traps: If you prefer to steer clear of any chemicals (including biological ones), you can set up traps for the gnats. You will need to place fruit inside a plastic wrap and then poke some holes in it.
The gnats will fly in to eat the fruit but will have no way of leaving the trap. And voila, you will have caught them. Of course, this will not deal with the eggs in the potting mix, and you will need to alter your watering schedule.
Red Spider Mites
While fungus gnats feed on the plant roots, red spider mites prefer feeding on plant sap. They suck the life out of the plant by ingesting its juices.
And soon enough, the plant gives in and starts wilting before it dies out of malnutrition. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to notice these mites.
Instead, what you see are webs on the leaf and stem surfaces at first. But if you use a magnifying glass, you can make out tiny brown or red spiders that appear as moving dots on the leaf surface.
And try as you might, you cannot view their eggs with the naked eye. At best, all you can see is dust on the plant surface. Thus, you are better off watching out for the evident signs.
Signs of Spider Mite Attacks
What are the sure signs that spider mites have made a home in your money tree?
- The plant leaves show visible curling,
- The leaves appear dry,
- The plant leaves have spiderwebs on their surfaces,
- The plant is weak and shows signs of drooping, and
- The foliage has brown spots or tiny holes on the surface.
Have you seen any of these signs?
Eliminating Red Spider Mites
Spider mites can kill your plant if you do not deal with them fast. After all, they will literally suck the life out of the plant. So, to keep them at bay, you must:
- Isolate the infested plant: Mites spread fast and can attack other plants in the home. You will want to segregate the affected plant until you are sure the mites are no more,
- Treat the infested plant with insecticidal soap. You can get some from the store or make yours by mixing a teaspoon of soap and a liter of warm water. Use this solution on the leaf undersides and all areas with webs. Chemicals don’t work on mites as they soon adapt to the formulas and start spreading over the plant again.
- Keep using neem oil on the plant to deter future attacks.
Interestingly, spider mites do well in dry conditions. So, you will need to alter the humidity in your home to make the conditions less than optimal for the mites.
However, you should not increase it so much that it invites our next guest – the whitefly.
As if being tiny and almost invisible to the naked eye is not enough, these pests also reproduce fast. One minute, you are dealing with a few whiteflies.
And the next, there is an apparent white cloud on your plant. And guess what it comprises?
Thousands of whiteflies clinging to your money tree and sucking its sap out of it. So, you can imagine the harm they can cause in a short while and why you must act fast.
Signs of Whiteflies
These pests are actually flies. So, if you pass by the plant or touch it, they fly away, exhibiting as a white cloud emanating from the plant.
And if you examine the plant, you will notice sticky honeydew on its underside, which they excrete as they feed on the plant sap. An infested plant exhibits:
- Stunted growth: The whiteflies rob the plant of essential nutrients, thus slowing its growth,
- Yellow spots on the leaves, and
- Curling on the leaves.
Moreover, they leave a powdery mold on the plant surface.
Whiteflies reproduce impressively fast, and if you dilly-dally when dealing with them, their population can become unmanageable.
What’s more, they can quickly spread to other plants in the home. So, how can you keep them from destroying the money tree and other plants?
Attacking the younger whiteflies: Mature flies will move away from the plant when you approach it. So, it’s pretty challenging to attack them.
It’s thus advisable to deal with the flies separately. For the young ones, use the insecticidal soap we recommended for the red spider mites.
All you need is a liter of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of soap. Then spray the solution on the affected plant parts.
Attacking the mature whiteflies: The adults will fly away as you approach. So, you need to lure them to you. And the easiest way to do so is by using yellow sticky cards which attract the flies.
Once the flies touch the cards, they get stuck and cannot fly away. Here’s an alternative: you can vacuum the flies! Turn it on and vacuum around the plant so that as the flies try to escape, they get sucked into the vacuum cleaner.
Using neem oil to prevent future attacks: Neem oil is a proven deterrent to whiteflies. Apply it on the plant such that when flies approach, they will not dare pitch camp on your money tree.
Introducing predators: Whiteflies will not live in an area where they can fall victim to their predators. So, add some ladybugs to the money tree and allow them to solve your problem naturally.
What could you possibly confuse for the whitefly? Let’s deal with a related pest below:
Whiteflies move away when you brush the money tree. But mealybugs? They sit on the plant, unwavering, intent on feeding on your money tree’s sap.
And eventually, this takes a toll on the plant, which becomes weaker and more vulnerable to pest attacks.
If the mealybug infestation continues without disruption, the species multiply so much that they end up sucking all the sap out of the tree, killing it.
And as they do so, they cover the plant with honeydew that promotes moldy growth, which blocks the leaves from accessing adequate sunlight.
So, the plant can’t make enough food, nor can it hold on to the nutrients it absorbs. By attacking the money tree on almost all fronts, the plant barely has a fighting chance unless you step in.
Signs of Mealybugs
These pests appear as white cottony substances on the plant surface that don’t move away even when you shake the plant. You can tell that your plant has a mealybug infestation if:
- Its leaves have yellowed,
- Its leaves have started falling off,
- It features brown or cream-colored substances on its leaf surfaces,
- Its growth has stunted, or
- It has begun wilting.
These signs are simple warnings that all is not well. And if you ignore them, the plant could eventually die.
Elimination of Mealybugs
Mealybugs are not selective on what they will feed on in your money tree. They eat everything, including the aging foliage, leaving your plant with minimal means to make food. So, you need to act fast to put a stop to their damage by:
- Wiping them off with rubbing alcohol: Dip a cotton cloth in rubbing alcohol and run it over the affected plant parts. You need to do this severally until you can no longer see any signs of an infestation.
- Spraying them with an insecticidal soap: You can deal with them by using a homemade soap solution as we did for the red spider mites,
- Using neem oil on the plant for long-term prevention.
You will also need to balance out the temperature and humidity in the room to meet the money tree’s ideal growing conditions.
If you thought whiteflies reproduce fast, wait until you deal with aphids. Their numbers multiply by the day such that in no time, you have thousands of aphids feeding on your money tree.
But that’s not all. Their young ones feature wings, enabling them to infest other plants and start other populations there.
So, things can get out of hand in a short time. And the best way to deal with these pests is to eliminate them immediately.
Signs of Aphids
Aphids are so small that you can barely see them with the naked eye. Instead, what you will notice are the ants and mold that thrive on the honeydew secreted by these insects as they feed on the plant sap. You should also be on the lookout for:
- Stunted growth,
- Leaf dropping,
- Wilting and deformation on leaves, and
- Yellowing of leaves.
You will also notice a sticky residue on the plant surface.
Elimination of Aphids
Can you get rid of these pests before they eliminate your money tree? Of course, you can! You can:
- Manually break off any plant parts with heavy aphid infestations and burn them,
- Use insecticidal soap on the affected plant parts every few days for about two weeks, and
- Apply neem oil on the plant to prevent further attacks.
Since aphids prefer rooms with high humidity, you should lower the humidity around the plant to keep them at bay.
These are some of the pest infestations you can face when growing the money tree. To be safe, provide the plant with the care it needs, watch out for any signs of infestation, and frequently apply neem oil to the plant surface.
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Why is My Money Tree Not Growing? (Stunted Growth in Money Trees)
Stunted growth is a common cause of frustration to money tree parent plants. After all, the plant is a fast grower which reaches as far as 60 feet (18 meters) when mature.
Of course, you do not want your money tree to grow that tall in a home. Where would you get that kind of space? Even so, you do not want it to grow at a painful pace, not quite reaching its potential.
Ideally, your plant should reach about 4 to 6 feet (1.2 meters to 1.8 meters) in indoor conditions. And if this isn’t the case at maturity, you need to consider the following possible culprits:
Did you know that your money tree goes into dormancy each year? That’s part of its natural cycle. In the warmer months, the plant grows actively, taking up nutrients and water to promote photosynthesis.
And it uses this food to encourage more growth. However, access to light reduces in the colder months, and the plant falls into a dormant phase.
It uses this time to recover, rest, and save energy for the warmer months. That’s just a norm in the money tree cycle, and once spring starts, the plant should begin showing signs of growth.
How to Deal with Dormancy
Unlike most other causes on this list, dormancy is not a disease or problem brought about by your actions. Instead, it is part of the plant cycle.
So, there is not much you can do about it but wait until the weather warms up again. Once spring starts, the growth hormones will kick in, and you can go back to caring for the plant.
However, I should add that you need to cut back on watering when the plant is dormant. Giving the plant too much water when it is in this state can trigger root rot, killing the plant.
Water the plant only when the top layer of soil is dry. And under no circumstances should you feed the plant.
Do not attempt to bring the plant out of dormancy, as this will only hurt the plant. Be patient and allow the plant to reserve its energy in the colder months.
Do you remember the pests we covered under pest infestation? They can deter your plant from growing by creating unfavorable conditions or robbing it of its vital nutrients.
How can you tell that pests are to blame for your plant’s slow growth? The first thing to do is assess the level of care you give your plant.
If you have given it enough light, water, nutrients, and other essentials, pest infestation is likely. In that case, you will need to review the pests I covered under pest infestation to gauge which one could be attacking your plant.
Luckily, you can address most of them by breaking off the affected parts and applying neem oil on the plant surface.
Continue doing this every few days for a few weeks, and the pest problem should be a thing of the past. But for detailed guides on how to address this pest issue, please refer to the pest infestation section.
I covered pest infestations and how overwatering the potting mix can create ideal conditions for pests to thrive.
Overwatering drowns the plant roots, damaging them and making it harder for the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil. And when that happens, the plant can no longer produce adequate food to sustain its growth.
Overwatering exhibits as:
- Yellowing of the leaves,
- Browning on the leaves,
- Leaf drooping,
- Soggy stems and roots, and
- Mold on the soil surface.
If you suspect that overwatering is the possible cause, please refer to the overwatering section under pest infestation. It takes you through how you can deal with this issue to give your money tree a chance to start growing again.
Often, people think of overwatering as the worst possible problem a plant can face. And while this is true because root rot is a known killer, underwatering can also spell disaster for your plant. Why? To make food, plants need water.
And if a plant does not have adequate access to water, its ability to produce food dramatically reduces. As a result, its growth takes a hit, and you notice that it has slowed to an almost halt.
Moreover, the plant shows its signs of displeasure, which include:
- Browning or yellowing of the leaves,
- Leaf curling and wrinkling,
- Cracking of the soil surface,
- Leaf dropping, and
- Plant wilting.
Sometimes, discoloration also shows. But this can point to other possible causes as well.
Can you solve this watering issue? Yes! You need to remember that when growing a money tree, you must replicate its natural habitat.
And in the wild, the money tree grows in the tropics, where it has access to adequate water, promoting its growth.
So, the goal (and the solution to this growth problem) here is to create similar conditions. It comes down to the watering schedule.
Only water the plant when the top layer of the soil is dry. And when watering the plant, allow the water to run through such that the excess drains from the pot’s holes at the bottom.
Then leave the plant to absorb the water for the next few days. Please keep checking the soil so that you can tell when it needs more water.
If you have difficulty gauging when the soil is dry, get a moisture meter to help you out. It will save you a lot of guesswork.
Keep in mind that watering needs change with the seasons. You will need to cut back on the watering in the colder months.
But in the hotter and windier months, the plant will be at risk of being underwatered. You will thus need to step in with a more consistent watering schedule.
One of the most critical elements during germination is the presence of light. Without it, plants do not grow. And this does not change as the plant grows.
It still depends on light to make food which gives it the energy to grow – much like human beings. In the wild, money trees grow amongst other plants where they receive filtered light from above.
They can also tolerate direct sunlight in such conditions, which is why some people use these plants in their landscaping.
But in indoor conditions, money trees do best in bright and indirect light. And that’s the kind of light that has a few hours of direct exposure to sun rays.
A good example would be morning and afternoon sun, which you can get from an east or west-facing window.
And in the home, you must find a spot that receives such light, shielding the plant from getting hit by direct sunlight. The plant should receive at least six hours of sunshine a day.
In the event that it does not get sufficient light, the plant cannot make enough food to support its growth. And it shows signs of:
- Stunted growth,
- Leggy growth as it tries to reach more light,
- Wilting and yellowing of the leaves, and
- The development of tiny leaves.
If you notice such changes in your plant, it’s a sign that it’s not making sufficient food. And the way to help it is to help it get more access to light.
However, too much light can also be an issue. Money trees do not enjoy full sun exposure as the rays can scorch their leaves.
Unfortunately, when this happens, the plant has no choice but to reserve its energy resources to aid in healing these scars.
Moreover, scorched leaves cannot make food, and the plant has to rely on the unaffected foliage to make food for the entire plant.
These changes set the plant’s growth back, and you may notice that as much as the plant is in a sunny spot, its growth is stunted. You may also see changes such as:
- Browning on the leaves,
- Dropping of the leaves, and
- Drooping of the plant.
These changes indicate that the plant is under a lot of stress. Unfortunately, you cannot undo the effect of direct sun rays, and the scorched leaves will never make food for the plant again.
All you can do is pluck off the affected leaves and move the plant to a much better spot.
As such, you must find a balance between too much and too little light.
Addressing Lighting Issues
As we have seen, placing the plant in direct sunlight does not work in its favor. Nor does placing it in a low-lit room. So, how can you ensure your plant gets what it needs?
Place the money tree near a window that receives bright and indirect light. The plant should not be against the window as this would put it in the way of direct sun rays.
Instead, ensure that it is a few feet away from the window. And if you notice any scorching on the leaves, add a sheer to the window to prevent direct rays.
Ideally, you should place the plant near an east or west-facing window as such a spot will receive dappled light for sufficient hours during the day.
A south-facing window is also a good idea. However, you should ensure that the plant is not in the way of direct sun rays as such rooms receive light during the entire day.
Supplement the natural light in your home: Not every home has adequate access to natural lighting.
As such, even when you place the plant near an east or west-facing window, the plant’s growth might still be slow. In this case, you can always invest in artificial lighting.
The options include halogen, incandescent, LED, and fluorescent lights. They are all good options as they emit blue and red wavelength lights essential to healthy plant growth.
LED lights are the best options as they are energy efficient. When supplementing natural light with artificial lighting, you should ensure that you relate the hours to the number of daylight hours.
For example, if your home gets at least 5 hours of natural light a day, you can turn on the artificial lights for about two hours, and the plant would be okay.
Allow the plant to go dormant in the colder months: In the wild, the money tree goes through a dormant stage where the plant recovers and heals.
The same will happen even inside the home. As such, when the colder months start, you can cut back on the lighting.
However, you should not leave the plant in low light conditions as this can cause leggy growth. Supplement a little but cut back on the hours of artificial lighting.
If lighting is not the issue, keep reading for what else could be causing stunted growth in your money tree.
While too much humidity can trigger pest infestations, low humidity levels can also cause issues, including stunted growth.
Why is that the case? We have to remember that the money tree grows in tropical areas where the environment is hot and humid.
It is thus accustomed to such conditions and does not take too well to dry conditions. Therefore, it will not grow as fast as it should when it is not in optimal conditions.
But how can you tell that your humidity is low? Usually, you can tell by the state of your plant. It will show distress in the form of:
- Stunted growth,
- Drooping, and
- Browning of the leaves.
But rather than base your conclusion on these signs, I recommend actually testing the humidity levels in your home. And how can you do this? – By using a hygrometer.
It gives you an accurate reading of the humidity in your home. Ideally, it should lie within 50% to 70%.
Anything above this range will make the room favorable for pest invasions, and you’ll start dealing with red spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and other pests.
And as we covered under pest infestations, this is not something you want for your plant.
The same thing happens when the humidity is too low (below 50%), as pests can also attack under these dry conditions. Moreover, this stunts the plant’s growth.
Increasing Humidity in the Home
How can you ensure the humidity levels lie between 50% and 70%? You can:
- Invest in a humidifier that releases moisture into the home,
- Mist the plant regularly to encourage evaporation which makes the surrounding area humid. This technique is a bit labor-intensive and would not be my first choice for someone who is not home often,
- Place the money tree pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around the plant. Ensure the pot does not sit on the water directly as this can cause overwatering, which will encourage root rot,
- Leave the kitchen and bathroom doors open – It allows moist air to move from these rooms to the surrounding rooms, increasing the overall humidity in the home. Alternatively, you can place the money tree in the kitchen or bathroom, where it can bask in the humidity.
Keep assessing the humidity levels in the home to keep them within the 50% to 70% range.
The levels change with the seasons and are typically much higher in the warmer months and lower in the colder ones. As such, you will need to either add more humidity increment methods or cut back on the humidity increments.
Underfeeding or Overfeeding the Money Tree
In the wild, the money tree grows in the soil where it can absorb fresh nutrients through rain or by spreading its roots to reach nutrients underground.
But indoors, this is not the case because its roots remain bound within the potting mix. Thus, it has nowhere else to seek nutrients when it depletes what it can get from the potting mix.
If you have noticed that your plant is not growing, lack of nutrients could be a critical issue.
However, this will only be the case if you have not fed your plant in the last six months to a year. And this holds even if you initially used a potting mix rich in nutrients.
The following are signs that your plant does not have access to vital nutrients:
- It has weak stems,
- Its growth has slowed or halted,
- Its leaves have drooped,
- It exhibits leggy growth,
- Its leaves appear dull, and
- Its leaves have yellowed.
These indicate that the plant cannot support its growth. And if you leave the plant like this, it will soon start dying no matter how much water and light you accord it.
On the contrary, offering the plant too much fertilizer is also bad. The excess fertilizer can burn the roots, making it hard for them to absorb water and nutrients, thus forcing the plant to direct its energy to heal the damaged roots.
Like watering and lighting, feeding is also all about balance, as I have indicated below.
Feeding the Money Tree
The money tree is a fast grower, and in the right conditions, it can reach several feet in height.
But without fertilizer to promote this vigor, the plant will not grow as fast. To be on the safe side, please follow these guidelines:
Fertilizer comes in to promote the growth of the money tree. As such, you should only feed the plant during its active growing seasons.
It’s advisable to feed the plant once every month in the summer and spring as the nutrients will go into good use.
At this time, it’s easy to see the feeding results – but in the winter, the plant will go dormant and will not need fertilizer as much.
As such, you should not feed the plant at all. Instead, allow it to rest, and you can resume feeding it in the spring.
What should you use on your money tree? With all the options in the market, it helps to narrow down to the most suitable options.
Generally, your money tree will need nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which you can get from NPK formulas in the market.
However, the rations in these fertilizers may not align with what your plant needs. As such, you should always choose a balanced fertilizer with ratios of 10:10:10 or 20:20:20.
The proportions are a measure of the percentage of the nutrients. For example, 10:10:10 means that the fertilizer has 10% nitrogen, 10% potassium, and 10% phosphorus. That leaves a whopping 70% to other nutrients essential to plant growth.
Why NPK? Nitrogen is vital in promoting the synthesis of food in the plant and aids in the growth of healthy stems and leaves.
Phosphorus promotes cellular and root growth, while potassium comes in handy in regulating water in the plant. Thus, with an NPK formula, your money tree should have what it needs to keep growing.
2) Organic Options
If you are uneasy about using synthetic components in your potting mix or would rather avoid it, you can always go for these options.
However, you should note that they take a while to break down, and their effects will thus not be instantaneous. On the upside, they are safe for you and the environment.
An excellent example, in this case, would be compost which features natural and organic components. To use this, add a small amount of compost to the soil and mix the two with water.
Then incorporate this into the potting mix and allow the nutrients to work their magic. Most organic gardeners highly favor compost because it improves soil structure and fertility while helping the soil retain more moisture.
But it does have some downsides. For example, as it breaks down, it releases some unpleasant smells into the atmosphere, which may not augur with the vibe in the room.
Moreover, you don’t have much say in the balance of the nutrients and can’t quite tell just how effective they are. Compost also has a high moisture retention rate that can encourage root rot.
For these reasons, you should only add a bit of compost to your potting mix at a time.
Another option is coffee grounds, as they serve as mulch and fertilizer. They encourage stem growth and are essential in adding nitrogen to the money tree.
However, they also pose the same problem as compost due to their high water retention rate. As such, you should use them moderately to reap their benefits without suffering their adverse effects.
Just how much fertilizer should you use at a time? This question comes down to the type of fertilizer you use. With synthetic fertilizers like NPK, you should read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Then dilute the fertilizer by half. For example, if the recommendation is 2 teaspoons of fertilizer, you should halve this to 1 teaspoon.
With money trees, you do not want to add too much fertilizer at once as this can cause root damage.
Add the fertilizer to the water and use this mixture in your following watering schedule. That will allow the plant time to absorb the nutrients before the next time you water it.
For organic manures like compost and coffee grounds, add a little at a time to the top layer of the soil.
Mix the organic matter with soil and water and add it to the potting mix to enable the plant to absorb the nutrients.
The feed takes a while to break down. Thus, even if the plant does not start growing faster immediately, give it time instead of adding more fertilizer.
If you feed the plant too often or in its dormant stage, or with too much feed, you can cause more harm than good. Such a money tree will exhibit the following signs:
- Yellowing or browning of the leaves,
- Slow or stunted growth,
- Visible mineral deposits on the soil surface,
- Brown spots on the leaves.
When you notice such signs, you will need to assess just how bad the root damage is by inspecting the roots.
If some parts are damaged, you will need to cut them off as they will use up the plant’s energy. Do this with sterilized scissors or a sharp knife.
You will then need to repot the plant in a fresh potting mix to allow it to heal. Allow it about a month or two before feeding it. And this time, stick to the recommendations above.
If the damage is minor, you will not need to repot the plant. Instead, you can simply hold the pot under running water and allow the excess water to drain out of the holes.
Do this for about five to ten minutes, then leave the pot in a spot with access to bright and indirect light. That water will flush out the excess fertilizer.
Keep up with your watering schedule in the following weeks, and do not feed the plant for at least a month after that.
Once the plant has recovered, follow the above recommendations, ensuring it’s not over or underfed.
The Money Tree is Rootbound
As the money tree grows, it spreads its stems and roots. And when its roots no longer have new nooks to reach into, they stop growing, thus halting the growth of the entire plant. In this case, you have two options:
- Leave the plant rootbound: If you do not want the plant to grow much bigger and it does not have any signs of distress, you can leave it in the pot. It will still be healthy for a while until the pot becomes way too small for it.
- Repot the plant: If your plant shows signs of distress or you want to grow a bigger plant, you will need to get it a bigger pot.
Repotting the Money Tree
Seeing as the money tree is a fast grower, you will likely need to repot it every one or two years to allow its roots more room to grow.
However, this is only necessary if the plant shows signs of distress due to being rootbound or you want to promote more growth. To repot the plant, here’s what you do:
- Assess if the plant is actually rootbound: You may think that your money tree needs a new home, yet its stunted growth owes to another reason. To check the plant’s roots, lay the pot on its side and gently wiggle the plant out of the pot. If the roots appear wrapped around each other and seem tightly wound, the plant is rootbound. Other signs of a rootbound plant include:
- Water wells up on the soil surface when you water the plant rather than drain out of the drainage holes,
- Roots stick out of the drainage holes or appear on the soil surface, and
- The plant suffers stunted growth.
If the plant shows these signs, it’s time to move it to a bigger home.
Select a pot that is one size bigger than the current one. Ideally, it should be about two to four inches wider than the previous pot. This size should be big enough to accommodate the growing roots.
Don’t go for a much bigger pot – it only encourages the plant to spend more energy filling out the pot by growing more roots.
And this stunts the plant’s vertical growth for a while. Moreover, a much larger pot encourages waterlogging, inviting pest infestations. Go only one size bigger.
Choose a pot with enough drainage holes to allow the excess water to drain each time you water the plant.
Otherwise, your plant can sit in water for longer than it should. On the same note, choose the right potting mix for your plant.
Money trees prefer well-draining potting mixes that are rich in nutrients. I would recommend a peat moss-based mixture. However, you can choose other mixes if they meet these criteria.
Repot the money tree during active growing seasons: Your money tree will take time to adjust to its new home and could even suffer transplant stress.
Thus, you want to afford it the most suitable conditions to spread its roots. And that should be in the spring, summer, or early fall when it is not dormant. If you repot it in the winter, it might not survive the repotting.
Once the plant is in its new home, follow through with the essential care practices, including watering, lighting, and adjusting the humidity in the room.
A Word on Money Tree Growth
Now that you understand what could be hampering your plant’s growth, let’s get into its growth process even more. For your money tree to grow by even an inch, it needs energy which it derives from photosynthesis.
But sometimes, the plant uses this energy for other reasons. For example, when the plant does not have access to bright and indirect light, it uses its energy to seek light by becoming leggy.
And that robs it of the chance to develop a strong stem with healthy foliage. Thus, if you notice that your plant’s growth is not good enough, ask yourself where it could be directing its energy.
And once you have that covered (and sorted out), your plant should start growing at a much faster pace.
Why is My Money Tree Leggy?
When covering lighting, I touched on how money trees can grow leggy because they cannot access adequate light.
And while inadequate access to light is the primary cause of leggy growth, the following factors can also contribute to such growth:
The money tree, which is native to tropical regions, enjoys warm temperatures and does best in conditions where the temperatures range between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you place the plant outside this range, it can experience shock or stress that can trigger leggy growth as the plant tries to find more suitable growing conditions.
You should keep this in mind when relocating the plant. For example, if the plant is outdoors and you move it indoors suddenly, it can exhibit leggy growth.
The best approach is to gradually change its environment to ensure it acclimates to indoor conditions.
A plant that receives too much heat will show the following signs:
- Its leaves will start yellowing,
- The soil surface will be dry, and you will find yourself watering the plant more than usual, and
- Its leaves will start curling around the edges.
A money tree that does not receive adequate heat will experience stunted growth and could show signs of withering.
Moreover, its leaves can turn brown and crispy and even fall off. In worst-case scenarios, the plant could go into cold shock.
Fixing Temperature Issues
How can you ensure that your money tree does not suffer temperature stress?
1) Eliminating Damaged Plant Parts: If any part of the plant has suffered damage due to temperature fluctuations, you will need to cut it off using sterilized scissors or a sharp knife.
When doing so, you will need to ensure you do not damage any of the healthy plant parts.
2) Locating it Away From Windows: Besides direct sunlight, windows also receive a lot of heat from the sun.
And this can stress the money tree, resulting in stunted growth, wilting, browning of the leaves, and leggy growth. To prevent this, locate the plant near windows but not against them.
3) Protecting it From the Wind: Money trees do not appreciate cold drafts as these can send them into shock.
It is especially true in the winter when the drafts tend to be cold and can harm the plant. Ensure the plant is not near windows and place it away from cooling vents and air conditioning systems.
During the colder months, leave the plant in a warm room away from doors and windows. If the winds get out of hand, you can cover the plant with a bag or add sheers to the windows.
4) Keeping it Away from Hot Drafts: While cold winds can damage the plant and make it dry, hot drafts are also not good for it. Such drafts can cause the plant to wither and blow away its mature leaves.
Moreover, they can wick away the moisture from the soil surface and the plant, leaving it dry. And we all know that the money tree enjoys high humidity levels.
As such, place the plant away from direct sun, heating vents, or hot rooms. And in the summer, you will need to be more careful when locating the plant as most winds tend to be hot and can damage the plant foliage.
5) Watering it As Needed: When temperatures soar in the warmer months, you will need to water the plant more to keep up with the increased evaporation and transpiration rates.
That will ensure the plant does not end up wilting. And when the temperatures suffer a dip, you will need to hold back on the watering.
Keep in mind that temperatures and humidity go hand in hand. When temperatures rise, so do the humidity levels, and the vice versa holds. Thus, as you fix one factor, consider how it affects the other and amend each accordingly.
In the event that your money tree suffers cold shock, you will need to move it to a spot with bright and indirect light.
Ensure the temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and increase the humidity around the plant. Then follow through with the recommendations above to protect it from further temperature fluctuations.
Lack of Pruning
Pruning is often seen as a way to help maintain the shape of the money tree, so it has a positive aesthetic value. But that’s not all that it does.
It also goes a long way in encouraging new and healthy growth, allowing the plant to branch out. Thus, without pruning, the plant may appear leggy, making it look weak and quite unsightly.
Moreover, not pruning the plant reduces the production of growth hormones and could contribute to stunted growth. Below are the reasons why pruning is essential to the development of your money tree:
1) It Removes Damaged Plant Sections: When a plant suffers damage, it spends a lot of energy healing the wound.
Take an example of where the plant suffers scorching due to direct sun exposure. The plant will make food whose energy will go into healing the burns on the foliage.
But when you get rid of the damaged parts, the plant no longer needs to direct its energy to these parts. And this allows it to focus on new and healthy growth.
2) It Protects the Plant from Diseases: Damaged plant parts attract disease-causing microorganisms that cause bacterial or fungal infections.
And when these parts remain on the plant, the infections spread throughout the plant. To prevent this from happening, you should cut off the damaged parts and put an end to the infections.
3) It Promotes Balance: The money tree is a fast grower. Thus, if you do not prune it often, it can grow quite big.
In some cases, it can grow so big that it leans on one side, which disrupts the aesthetic balance. Pruning the plant allows you to determine how big it is and prevents the plant from toppling due to weight.
4) It Controls its Growth Rate: Even in indoor conditions, the plant can grow several feet tall, which might not be ideal for small spaces. Pruning the plant allows you to keep it from growing too tall.
What’s more, pruning the plant encourages the growth hormone, which helps the plant grow bigger. Thus, this is a good approach if you want a bigger plant.
Pruning the Money Tree
When should you prune the money tree? Ideally, you should do this in the spring, summer, or early fall when the plant is actively growing.
It allows the plant to heal from the scarring, which prevents it from going into shock. You should not prune it in the winter as it might not recover fast enough, encouraging bacterial or fungal infections.
Here’s how you should go about pruning the money tree:
1) Sterilize sharp gardening shears, scissors, or a sharp knife. You want to use a tool that’s free of any disease-causing microorganisms.
Thus, do not use a tool that you have used on other plants without cleaning it. Use water and soap to clean the tool, then sterilize it. Also, ensure the tool is sharp, so it cuts with one swift move to avoid injuring the money tree.
2) Look for branches that extend from the trunk, creating a v shape. Then cut the plant half an inch above the v shape.
As you do so, hold the cutting tool at a 45-degree angle to make a clean cut that will not bruise the plant. That will eliminate the excess branches and leaves.
3) Move up the branches and cut off the tops and sides of the branches, which appear overgrown. Like you did with the v shapes, make your cuts half an inch above the v shapes on the tree trunk.
Also, cut off any branches that have dry or browning leaves, as these will only consume the plant’s energy as it tries to heal them.
Cut them off at 45-degree angles, leaving half an inch between the cutting point and the stem. That will allow the plant to bounce back fast.
4) Balance the pruning to avoid stressing the plant. While you might feel the need to cut back to more than half the plant size, do not do it.
That can stress the plant, leading to stunted growth, and could even send it into shock. A little goes a long way in this case.
If you want to cut back a lot, do it gradually. Cut back to half the plant size and give it time to heal. Then the following season, cut back again.
After all, if you get rid of most of the plant’s leaves, it will not make enough food to sustain its branches, stems, and roots.
5) Keep up with the pruning to prevent the tree from growing too much. Anytime you notice new buds on the branches, you can pinch them, so they grow correctly.
You should also keep removing the overgrown branches and extra leaves. And always use clean tools to do this.
Follow up with essential care after pruning the money tree to allow it to recover.
Other possible reasons behind leggy growth include:
1) Insufficient lighting: Money trees gravitate towards light, and if they don’t get enough of it, they will try to reach it by growing towards it. They will thus spend more energy elongating their stems rather than bulking them up and developing leaves.
2) Underfeeding: Without nutrients, the plant cannot get the nutrients it needs to grow healthy stems and leaves,
3) Rootbound money tree: This robs the plant of the chance to access adequate nutrition and water, resulting in leggy growth.
I have covered these possible causes at length in the previous sections. Please refer to the said sections to determine how you can deal with each issue.
Other Common Money Tree Plant Problems
In the sections above, I have highlighted how you can deal with the following issues:
- Pest infestations,
They all affect how well your money tree does. And whenever you have a plant issue that relates to these needs being unmet, you can always refer to the above sections on how to go about it.
In the next section, I cover other money tree plant problems related to stress resulting from these plant issues. I won’t detail how to deal with them because you can find the detailed answers in the previous sections.
So, what else can ail your money tree?
Why are My Money Tree Leaves Drooping?
If your tree appears limp, the following issues could be the causes:
- Underwatering: This causes dehydration, depriving the plant cells of water and thus causing shriveling, which shows in the form of drooping,
- Overwatering: Damaged roots cannot take up adequate water to meet the plant’s needs, and this dehydrates the plant,
- Temperature fluctuations: They can stress the plant and dehydrate it,
- Low humidity levels,
- Repotting: Plants take a while to adjust to new environments. Give the plant time, and it will be okay in due time,
- A poor choice of potting mix could be hampering drainage, causing waterlogging, and drowning the plant roots,
- Excessive or poor lighting,
- Underfeeding, and
- Pest infestations.
Do you resonate with any of these causes?
If you need more information on this, we have a full article on why are my money tree leaves drooping.
Why are My Money Tree Leaves Falling Off?
Besides drooping, money tree leaves can also fall off if the growing conditions are unfavorable. The factors below can cause such a reaction:
- Exposure to cold or hot air drafts that stress the plant,
- Repotting stress,
- Acclimation to a new environment,
- Pest infestation,
- Poor lighting, and
- Temperature fluctuations.
If acclimation is behind the sudden leaf drop, ensure your plant gets its needs met and give the plant time to adjust to its new home.
Why are My Money Tree Leaves Curling/ Wrinkling?
Often, curling results from high temperatures. However, the factors below can also contribute to such leaf changes:
- Underwatering (especially in hot conditions),
- Low humidity levels,
- Direct exposure to sunlight,
- Pest infestations,
- A poor choice of potting mix that does not retain enough moisture,
- Root rot, and
- Mineral buildup in the potting mix (which can happen when you use tap water to water the money tree).
Your money tree could also be rootbound, and without access to adequate nutrients, its leaves can curl.
Why are My Money Tree Leaves Yellowing?
Not to sound alarmist, but if your money tree leaves start turning yellow, overwatering is the most likely cause. And that signals the presence of root rot which can kill your plant. Other possibilities include:
- Sudden temperature changes,
- Low humidity levels,
- Inadequate lighting,
- Overfeeding, and
- Pest infestation.
Sometimes, however, the leaf yellowing is merely a sign of old age. As money tree leaves grow older, they yellow and die, part of their life cycle. The issue arises when the yellowing leaves are young and barely developed.
For more information on this, check out our article on why are my money tree leaves turning yellow.
Why are My Money Tree Leaves Browning?
Like leaf yellowing, overwatering is often the leading cause of browning money tree leaves. But it’s advisable to also look into other possible issues, including:
- Inadequate lighting,
- Too much sun exposure,
- Mineral buildup in the potting mix due to the use of tap water in watering the money tree,
- Pest infestation,
- The money tree is rootbound, and
- The use of an undersized or oversized pot.
Once you figure out what could be causing the browning, you can zero in on the problem and fix it.
Why Does My Money Tree Have Brown Spots?
Sometimes, the money tree leaves do not turn brown. Instead, they develop brown spots on the surface, causing you to wonder just what could be wrong with the plant. The options include:
- Fungal diseases brought on by damp conditions. These thrive in overwatered money trees and will disappear once you have used fungicide on the potting mix and changed your watering schedule.
- Edema which results from overwatering, leading to the rupture of plant cells to release the excess water,
- Exposure to direct sunlight,
- Overfeeding and underfeeding,
- Poor air circulation,
- Overwatering and underwatering,
- Extreme temperature fluctuations, and
- Pest infestation.
Most of these issues result from poor watering schedules that promote damp environments, which attract pests and diseases.
Why Does My Money Tree Have White Spots?
Have you noticed any white spots on your money tree leaves? The factors below could be fueling this problem:
- The presence of powdery mildew, white rot, mosaic virus, or Septoria leaf spot, diseases brought on by overwatering,
- Pest infestation,
- Underfeeding or overfeeding, and
- Direct exposure to sun rays.
Diseases are often behind the appearance of white spots on your money tree leaves and may be worth a second thought.
Why Does My Money Tree Have a Soft Trunk?
Is your money tree trunk soft? Overwatering and root rot are likely behind this change. But it helps to consider other causes as well, which can be:
- A poor choice of a pot with inadequate drainage holes,
- Poor lighting,
- Inadequate drainage in the potting mix,
- Overfeeding, and
- Extreme temperature changes.
Reversing this softness is essential to promoting the healthy growth of your money tree.
Why Does My Money Tree Have a Dead Trunk?
Dead trunks result from similar factors as those of soft trunks. These include:
- Temperature fluctuations,
- Poor potting mix drainage, and
- Inadequate lighting.
To save the plant, you must address your watering schedule and locate the plant in a suitable spot with access to bright and indirect light.
Having seen all that can go wrong with the money tree, do not lose hope. It’s actually easy to take care of the money tree.
Ensure it has the right growing conditions (light, water, humidity, temperature, and nutrition), and the plant will do well.
Problems only start when the plant has too little or too many of these essential factors. So, practice balance and watch your plant thrive.