Although the money tree is most popular as a symbol of good fortune, people who grow it have other reasons, such as its edible seeds. It is a medium shrub, which will be perfect for both an indoor and outdoor garden. If you are thinking of growing this plant, keep on reading the rest of this post and learn from the valuable insights that we will be sharing below.
Background and History
A money tree is also known as Pachira Aquatica or Malabar Chestnut. It is a hardy plant that can be a bonsai or can grow as a normal outdoor tree, although the height is still significantly shorter compared to other trees. It is a native to South and Central America. In this region, it commonly grows in the wild, specifically in swamps. It will thrive well in mild inland and coastal areas. Indoors, it will also be able to survive, especially with the right growing conditions. As long as the location is frost-free and there is not much heat, it will be almost effortless for you to grow and care for a money tree.
Physical Characteristics of Money Tree
A money tree can grow up to seven feet depending on the specific variety or type that you will choose. For those that grow in the wild, however, it can grow up to 60 feet. On each branch of the tree, there are five leaves. This is a symbol of five elements in Feng Shui – earth, fire, water, wood, and metal. This is also the reason why it is a symbol of good wealth, and hence, making it a common item to have in houses where the owner seeks luck.
The leaves of the money tree are shiny and palmate. They can reach an average length of 12 inches, but they can shed quickly. Many types of this tree will also show flowers, which are large and creamy white in color. Its flowers are also fragrant, which allow the plant to add a distinct scent in the garden.
Different parts of the money tree can bring a variety of health benefits, such as those that we will briefly tackle below:
- Treatment of Hepatitis: In alternative medicine, the skin of the fruit when it is immature is an effective remedy for hepatitis.
- Treatment of Stomach Discomfort: This is another use of the money tree in ancient medicine, specifically the bark.
- Treatment of Skin Disorders: The cold leaves are also useful for the treatment of burning sensation that you might feel on your skin.
Uses and Applications
Do you need to have a money tree at home? If you still need reasons to convince yourself, here are some of its common uses:
- Attract Fortune: This is perhaps the most popular amongst the reasons to have a money tree, especially for people who have Chinese blood or those who religiously follow the principles of Feng Shui. After all, nothing will be lost if you grow it at home and expect that it will bring in a steady flow of good luck.
- Healthy Snack: Especially for the taller varieties of the money tree or Malabar chestnuts, the seeds are edible. You can cook them or eat them in their raw form. The flavor, as you would expect, will be very much similar to a chestnut.
- Homemade Flour: If you accumulate enough seed pods, you can also grind them. This will convert the seeds into flour, which you can use for baking bread.
- Commercial Applications: This is also true in the case of the taller money trees. They can have several industrial applications, such as for the production of wood, soap, and dyes.
How to Plant Money Trees
If you are impatient and if you want a quick way to have a money tree at home, the best thing that you can do is to buy one. However, if you want to plant a money tree, this section will provide you with insights on how it can be possible.
The most common way to propagate a money tree is through seeds. It can start sprouting within five to ten days, although this will depend on the specific type of the tree that you are growing. Alternatively, you can also start propagation from a healthy cutting. Some people, however, believe that the luck will be lost if you grow the tree from your own cuttings. Meanwhile, if you give it to others, it is like giving your wealth to them as well.
If you are planting seeds, you need to find a small pot if you are planting a bonsai money tree. Any material of the container will be good, as long as there are drainage holes at the bottom. This will encourage the flow of water and will prevent the root from rotting or the soil from being soggy. Fill the pot with your choice of potting mix. You need a rich soil, but one that is not compact. Aeration is needed so that the roots can breathe when they grow. Adding peat moss or perlite can also help to improve the nutrients present in the soil. Sow the seeds directly in the soil and make sure that you press it firmly from the top.
Alternatively, it is also possible to grow a money tree from without soil. All that you need is the clipping from a healthy plant and a jar with water. Leave it for a couple of days and wait for the roots to grow. When the roots are already visible, this is the time when you can transfer it to a pot. Be sure to replace the water every now and then as well.
Common Pests and Diseases
As a hardy plant, money tree can be tolerant of different problems, but still, they can be susceptible to attacks. This is especially true if you do not pay attention to its care and maintenance. Some of the pests that can cause an infestation mealy bugs and scale insects. They can drain the sap and will result in a loss of vigor. For diseases, meanwhile, the plant can be prone to anthracnose leaf spot and powdery mildew. In extreme situations, it can suffer from defoliation. This is one thing that you should avoid since it is the leaves that symbolize fortune and money.
How to Take Care of Money Trees
It is not uncommon for many gardeners to end up in frustration because they do not know how to grow the money tree the right way. With this, below are some of the most important things that you have to keep in mind to ensure the healthy growth of your plant:
- Whether you plant the money tree indoors or outdoors, it is important that you pick the right location. It will thrive best in a location that is bright but with indirect sunlight. The windowsill is the perfect place. If you place it in an area with direct sunlight, it can suffer from leaf scorch. Also, be sure to turn the container every now and then so that all portions of the tree will receive consistent sun. Keep it away from appliances and from anything else that can generate heat. This can make the plant suffer from leaf loss, especially during its younger stages.
- When it comes to temperature, it is best if it is in a place that is anywhere from 60 to 65 Fahrenheit. The good thing about planting it in pots is that you can easily move it indoors during the frost season. You can change the position of the money tree depending on where there is indirect light and right temperature.
- Money tree loves soil that is damp. In fact, in the wild, they survive in swamps and ponds. With this, they need a lot of water. Nonetheless, see to it that water will flow out of the plant to avoid rot. As much as possible, water it twice to thrice in one week. Increase the frequency of watering if the weather is too hot. Daily misting will also help to allow the plant to retain moisture and to prevent it from losing vigor.
- Especially if you plant an outdoor and tall money tree, you will need to prune it regularly. This will encourage the compact growth instead of turning bushy. As you prune, see to it that you are using only clean shears, which will prevent the spread of infection.
- If the tree outgrows the size of the container, you need to consider re-potting. Ideally, you need to do this at least once in one or two years. By transferring the plant to a bigger container, you are providing the roots with more room the grow. Use only a clean pot to be sure that there will be no pathogens that can infect the plant.
- Pay attention to the early symptoms of possible problems. For instance, if the leaves wither or turn yellow, this is an indication that it is not receiving enough light. If it appears brown, on the other hand, it means that too much heat is burning the leaves.
- At one point, you need to rely on the use of fertilizers to supplement the nutrients that are essential for the growth of the plant. For a bonsai money tree, fertilizer will not be necessary, unless it takes too long before the plant grows. A half-strength fertilizer will be best during the growing season. In the winter, meanwhile, it would be best if you avoid fertilizing.
- Money tree also requires the environment to be humid. One of the ways to increase humidity is to mist the plant. Use a spray bottle water the top of the plants. It will be best to do this early in the morning so that it will dry. To add, if the money tree is in a pot, you can also put it on a tray with pebbles. Fill it with water and as it evaporates, the area will be more humid.
Harvesting Money Trees
A lot of people may think that the idea of harvesting money tree is stupid. It does not grow actual money, so you cannot harvest cash. More so, if it symbolizes money and luck, why would you harvest? Would this equate to restricting the flow of fortune within the household? Nonetheless, you need to harvest to make use of the edible parts of the plant, especially the nuts or seeds.
The money tree will produce seed pods. At one point, when the seeds are big enough, it will pop and open on its own. From here, once the seed pod is already visible, you can harvest it by hand and one by one. You can fry or roast the seeds. In the same way, you can also eat it raw right after harvest.
To attract god fortune at home, it is a good idea to have money tree. There are indoor dwarf varieties that are available, allowing the plant to grow even in small spaces. More than being a symbol of luck, you can also use it in more ways than one. Even as a beginner in gardening, as long as you follow the things mentioned above, growing money tree does not need to be a difficult undertaking.