Pachira Aquatica, or Money Tree, is popular among those wishing to increase their fortunes. Money Tree is used often in Feng Shui design to increase “Chi” or positive energy flow, and is rich in symbolism. These plants are usually sold in a braided form, with several “trunks” intertwined. There are often 3 or 5 trunks, but if you are interested in the plant for Feng Shui do not purchase a Money Tree with 4 braided trunks. The number 4 is considered by the Chinese to be very unlucky, so will not fit in with Feng Shui.
The leaves of Money Tree are palmate, that is, resembling an outstretched hand. This is also believed to draw in luck and money. A leaf should have at least 5 “fingers” to be considered lucky, but can have as many as 7 or 8. The more fingers a leaf has, the luckier the plant is considered.
Money Tree is often used in bonsai, as well. If you are interested in keeping your plant very short, you should read up on how to care for a bonsai. It will require root pruning and leaf pruning which can be seen as either a lot of work or as a relaxing hobby.
If you plan to let your Money Tree grow more naturally (that is, without extensive pruning) expect it to grow very large. You can keep your plant from hitting your ceiling too rapidly if you prune the bottom quarter to third of the root system once a year when re-potting. Always prune a few leaves from the top when you prune from the bottom to give the plant balance. I have managed to keep mine small by watering infrequently and fertilizing minimally. Also, keeping the plant in the smallest pot possible will help to keep its size in check.
Money Tree is really simple to care for, and is a great plant for beginners. It will grow in almost any light conditions, from full shade to nearly full sun. It is best if you can give your Money Tree a little bit of both: either near a window that gets the sun for a couple of hours and is then shady, or in an area that gets bright indirect light.
Water your Money Tree about once a week, but let the potting mix dry out pretty well in between waterings. Don’t let it sit immersed in water. Some people do this and don’t notice problems for a while, but the trunks of your plant will eventually rot. When re-potting, use a potting mix that is very coarse or add some perlite or pine bark to improve the drainage. This will help prevent an accidental over-watering.
Money Tree doesn’t need much fertilizer. You can provide a diluted dose of fertilizer at every other watering, or even just once a month. There is no need to fertilize in the winter when the plant isn’t actively growing.
If you are looking for a nice house-warming or office-warming gift, Money Tree is a great choice. It is easy to care for and its lore is sure to charm the recipient. Plus, who doesn’t love having a little green around? I know I do!