The Money tree (Pachira aquatica) is a popular indoor plant known for its braided stem and symbolic representation of good luck in financial matters. However, if you notice the leaves of your money tree turning brown, yellow, or droopy, it may be a sign of underlying issues. Let’s explore some common causes and how to address them effectively.
Improper Watering: Overwatering or Underwatering
Improper watering is a common problem when caring for money trees. Contrary to its name, the money tree prefers a drying-out period between watering sessions. You should only water the plant once or twice a week. During winter, you can even reduce watering to once every 21 days. However, the watering frequency may vary depending on your location and the amount of sunlight the tree receives. It’s also beneficial to mist the leaves or use a humidifier to provide the desired humidity.
Soil Quality: Finding the Right Balance
The soil quality plays a crucial role in preventing sensitivity to poor watering practices. If the soil retains excessive moisture, it becomes susceptible to overwatering, while quick-draining soil may lead to dry roots. To maintain a healthy money tree, use sandy and peat-moss-based soil that allows proper drainage. If you suspect improper soil is causing drooping, consider repotting the tree in a pot with drainage holes and using suitable soil. Additionally, adding a suitable fertilizer can provide the necessary nutrients for the plant’s well-being.
Light Conditions: Striking the Balance
Money trees are sensitive to light, both excessive and insufficient. Direct sunlight for prolonged periods can result in burned leaves, turning them brown or yellow and making them dry and crispy. On the other hand, insufficient light causes yellow, droopy leaves and hampers overall growth. To prevent light-related issues, place your money tree in a well-lit area away from direct sunlight. Ideally, position it 1-2 feet away from a window that doesn’t receive direct sunlight for more than a couple of hours each day. Regularly rotating the tree ensures balanced exposure to sunlight for even growth.
Temperature Fluctuations: Maintaining Stability
Extreme temperature changes can be detrimental to money trees. Sudden fluctuations in temperature can cause leaves to turn yellow, droop, and fall off. To keep your tree healthy, maintain a consistent temperature between 18-27 degrees Celsius and provide a moderately humid environment. Avoid placing the money tree near windows during extreme weather seasons, as temperature regulation through glass can be challenging. Also, keep the tree away from draughty areas like heating/AC vents and doors.
Pests and Diseases: Vigilance is Key
Money trees, like any other house plant, are prone to pests and diseases. Common pests include scale insects, mealy bugs, and aphids, which can weaken the plant and cause discoloration and drooping leaves. If you suspect a pest infestation, separate the affected tree from other plants to prevent further spreading. Gently wipe the leaves and stems with a damp cloth if you notice visible pests or their excretions. Using diluted neem oil can effectively treat many pests. Regularly treating the tree with neem oil spray and providing proper care reduces the chances of reinfection. Additionally, money trees are susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases like powdery mildew and anthracnose leaf spot. Washing the affected areas with a mild soap, baking soda, and water mixture and pruning off affected leaves can help control the spread of these diseases.
Signs of Overwatering
Overwatering can be detrimental to money trees, leading to yellow and drooping leaves, brown tips, root rot, foul odor from the soil, edema, soft and swollen stems, general wilting, and mold on the soil surface. To check for root rot, remove the tree from the pot and inspect the roots. Healthy roots should be white or off-white and firm to the touch. If root rot is present, carefully trim away the affected roots and repot the plant in fresh soil. It’s crucial to ensure proper drainage in the pot to prevent future root rot.
Dormancy in Money Trees
Unlike many deciduous trees, money trees do not naturally shed their leaves during the winter. In their native warm regions of Central America, money trees slow down their growth but maintain their leaves. However, during the winter months, adjusting your care routine can mimic the cooler, darker conditions of the off-season. Water the plant less frequently and consider placing it in a slightly darker room. If you notice significant and consistent leaf loss during winter, it’s a sign that there may be underlying issues with the plant’s care.
Money Tree Leaves Drooping after Repotting
It’s common for plants to experience an adjustment period after repotting. Improper care or shock due to root rot removal can cause transplant shock. Drastic temperature changes or exposure to the elements can also contribute to transplant shock. Symptoms may include wilting, drooping, leaf loss, and branch death. To avoid transplant shock, provide appropriate care after repotting. Ensure the soil has suitable moisture and drainage, water slightly more frequently for the first few weeks, and avoid making multiple changes to the plant’s environment simultaneously.
Reviving a Droopy Money Tree
Once you identify the cause of drooping leaves, there are several steps you can take to revive your money tree. To treat an overwatered plant, reduce the watering schedule, trim away rotten roots, and repot the plant in fresh soil. Pruning any rotten stems will prevent the spread of root rot. For underwatered trees, increase the frequency of watering to once or twice a week, depending on the soil’s dryness. Fertilizing with a plant fertilizer at half-strength during the growing season can provide a boost. If low light is an issue, consider using plant lights to supplement the natural light. Pruning dead or dying leaves and shaping the tree can also improve its appearance.
Understanding Watering Frequency
Watering requirements can vary depending on environmental factors. Overwatering money trees can lead to yellow, droopy leaves, root rot, and nutrient deficiency. To avoid this, water the plant only when the top few inches of soil are dry. Typically, watering once or twice a week is sufficient for money trees. Thoroughly water the soil, ensuring it’s saturated, and allow excess water to drain out of the pot.
Signs of a Dying Money Tree
A dying money tree displays various symptoms, such as yellow or brown drooping leaves, leaf loss, dry and crispy spots on leaves, and dark, mushy, or rotten stems. Promptly addressing these issues can often revive the plant. Monitor your money tree closely and take note of any signs of stress, such as wilting or discoloration. By promptly identifying and addressing problems related to watering, soil, nutrients, sunlight, pests, or diseases, you can help your money tree thrive.
In extreme cases where a money tree cannot be saved, you can create a brand new tree through propagation. Simply take a healthy stem cutting with at least two leaf nodes, dip the end in rooting powder, and plant it in a small pot with moist soil. Mist the soil regularly and observe for the emergence of new roots in about four weeks.