Creating a Forest of Fortune: Money Tree Propagation

Money Tree, also known as Malabar Chestnut or Guiana Chestnut (Pachira aquatica), is a charming houseplant with a braided trunk and umbrella-like leaves that can bring upbeat, happy vibes to your home.

According to feng shui symbolism, it bestows good fortune, wealth, and prosperity upon those who grow and care for it. Luckily, Money Tree propagation is pretty simple, and has long been a favorite of mine.

Guide to Propagating Money Tree Plants

propagating money tree plant

Propagating a Money Tree can be done in four different ways: water propagation, soil propagation, root propagation, or with seeds, and all these methods give excellent results.

To propagate your plant, you will need some supplies:

  • Sharp, clean scissors, shears. or pruners
  • Clear jars with clean water for water propagation
  • Pots, each with a drainage hole
  • Light, moist, well-draining soil
  • Rooting hormone (optional)

Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings can be propagated effectively in water or soil, and the best time to do it is in the spring. Water propagation in a clear jar makes it easy to see the developing root growth, which isn’t visible in soil, but both methods work well for propagating your plant.

Snip off a length of healthy stem that’s four or five inches long with a couple of nodes and remove any bottom leaves.

Water propagation

Put the cutting in a clean jar of water and set it in a warm spot in bright, indirect light away from hot or cold drafts. Change the water every few days and wash the jar to eliminate any chance of algae or bacteria growing that could harm the plant.

You should begin to see root growth in two to four weeks. After the roots are about three inches long, plant your Money Tree in a pot with light, moist soil. Water it well, allowing it to drain completely, and keep the soil consistently moist until it acclimates to the new pot and soil.

Roots that grow in water (water roots) are less sturdy than roots that have developed in nutrient-rich soil (soil roots), so it may take longer for the plant to take hold and grow than a plant propagated in soil.

Soil propagation

Take the same kind of stem cutting as for water propagation. Leave it in the air for a couple of days and allow it to callus over to prevent the stem from rotting. Then, plant it in light, well-draining soil and set it in a warm, bright spot out of any drafts.

Water it well and keep the soil consistently moist. I’ve found that it takes about six to eight weeks to root.

PRO TIP: Before water or soil propagation, dip the cut stems in rooting hormone to encourage faster root growth.

Root Propagation

Root propagation is a less common method of propagating Money Tree, but it works just as well as stem cuttings. The best time to propagate with roots is in the winter.

Take the plant out of the pot and shake or wash off the roots to get a good look at them. Cut some roots off near where they attach to the stems.

Lay them together in a bundle or tie them together and note which ends are the bottom and top. (That’s important!) Bury them in coarse sand for three to four weeks. When you take them out of the sand, plant them right-side up in light, well-draining soil, with a couple of inches of root tops sticking out of the soil.

Tie a plastic bag around the whole pot to keep the moisture in, and water it lightly to prevent the roots from drying out. Tiny plants will begin to form at the top of the roots, and when they’ve grown to a couple of inches, you can transfer them to a larger pot if necessary.

Seed Propagation

In the damp rainforests where they are native, Money Trees grow 30 to 60 feet. They flower and produce large seedpods that fall to the ground and burst open when mature to discharge their seeds. As a houseplant, though, your Money Tree will only grow to about 6 feet and will not flower or produce seeds.

Fortunately, you can buy seeds to start new plants. This plant propagation method takes the longest but will produce just as reliable results as the other methods if you persevere.

Assemble a group of small pots and fill them with light potting soil such as succulent or seed-starting mix. Plant one seed in each pot about half an inch down, water it well and let it drain. You will need at least three plants for a braided tree.

Then, set them in a warm spot in bright light out of any drafts and keep the soil moderately moist but not soggy. To speed rooting, you can set the pots on a propagation heat mat if you have one.

They should sprout in a few weeks, depending on the conditions in your house. You can transfer the seedlings to bigger pots when they have grown true leaves.

Once you have successfully propagated your Money Tree, you’ll have to take care of it so that it will thrive. Check out the tips below to keep it in tip-top shape.

Money Tree Care Tips

Money Tree is native to wetlands and rainforests in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, where it grows in full sun to partial shade and in high humidity. Even though it may sound difficult, it is not that hard to mimic its native conditions.

Light

Pachira aquatica needs medium to bright indirect sunlight for six hours a day. I’ve found that setting the plant on an unobstructed east- or north-facing windowsill or setting it back a few feet from a west- or south-facing window will give it the right amount of light.

Too much light, like direct sunlight all day, can cause the leaves to fade, turn yellow, and drop. On the other hand, too little light can make the plant etiolate or stretch toward the light, and you’ll have a Money Tree with long spaces between the leaf nodes and leaves only at the top.

Money Trees have a tendency to bend toward the sun, so remember to rotate your plant every day or two to keep it growing straight up.

Temperature & Humidity

Average household temperatures are perfect for the plant (65 to 75 degrees F) as long as it’s away from hot or cold drafts that can cause the leaves to drop.

Because Money Tree is native to areas with moderate to high humidity, it needs higher-than-average household humidity to thrive. You can accomplish this by setting it on a tray with pebbles and water, keeping the bottom of the pot above the water line, or using a humidifier to increase the humidity.

Soil & Pot

Money Tree likes its soil to be consistently rich and moist but never soggy, so it’s important that the soil is well-draining. My favorite homemade soil for Pachira is a third good quality indoor potting mix amended with a third peat moss and a third perlite.

This combination ensures the plant gets the nutrition it needs and provides it with a loose enough structure for good drainage and air circulation around the roots.

The pot you choose is important, too. It needs to be twice as big in diameter as the bottom of the plant and have a drainage hole in the bottom so that it doesn’t hold water around the roots and cause root rot.

Water Needs

Money Tree’s species name, “aquatica,” means water because the plant is often found in marshy or low, moist areas. This might seem to indicate that the plant likes to grow in saturated soil, which is farthest from the truth.

As a houseplant in a pot, Pachira aquatica needs rich, moist, well-draining soil.

Test the soil with your finger and water your plant when the soil is dry, 1-2 inches down from the top. Run water through the soil until it is thoroughly wet and comes through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Empty the excess water, then wait for the soil to dry before you water it again.

How often you water per week will vary with the conditions in your home and the seasons of the year.

When the light is brightest, and the plant is growing in the spring and summer, you’ll need to water it more. But you won’t need to water as frequently during the winter when the plant’s growth has slowed.

Fertilizer

Your plant will be more resistant to pest infestations and disease if you give it some fertilizer. The easiest way, which is my favorite, is to fertilize it once in the spring with a sprinkling of slow-release granular fertilizer in the top layer of soil that dissolves a little each time you water.

Another way is to add a balanced liquid fertilizer or a soluble powdered fertilizer to your watering can three or four times during the spring and summer.

NOTE: It’s safest to use half the strength of the recommended amount of fertilizer. Too much can cause fertilizer burn, which causes water to be drawn out of the roots and the plant to droop.

Pests

Money Tree can be susceptible to several pests like spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, and fungus gnats.

Spider mites, mealybugs, and whiteflies

These pests suck the sap from the foliage and cause it to become stippled and distorted, weaken, turn yellow, and even drop off. If you notice bugs on your plant, run water over the foliage to knock the insects off. Then wipe the affected leaves and stems with rubbing alcohol to kill any remaining bugs, and treat with insecticidal soap, Neem oil, or horticultural oil.

Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats deposit their eggs in the soil, and when the larvae hatch, they feed on the organic matter in the soil, including the roots. When they mature into adults, they emerge from the soil as flying insects, then lay their eggs back in the soil, and the cycle starts again.

Fungus gnat eggs are often present in bags of potting mix and grow into larvae when the soil is kept too wet. Control for these critters has to be twofold:

  1. Treat the potting mix before use by microwaving or baking it briefly to kill the eggs. You can also treat it by watering the soil with 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 3 parts water, which will kill the eggs and add oxygen to the soil.
  2. Trap the adults with sticky traps so they don’t have an opportunity to lay eggs back in the soil.

Disease

The primary disease of Money Tree is fungal root rot, caused by overwatering the soil and poor drainage. When air spaces in the soil are filled with water, and the roots can’t get enough oxygen, root rot takes hold.

The best way to handle this problem is to gently remove the plant from the potting mix and wash the roots to see what they look like.

Healthy roots are white and firm, but if any are black, spongy, and smell foul, cut them off with clean scissors or shears. Wash the remaining roots in hydrogen peroxide and water or with a fungicide like Neem oil or cinnamon, then plant them back in fresh potting mix in a clean pot with a drainage hole.

Toxicity

Although many beautiful houseplants are toxic to pets and people, Money Tree (Pachira aquatica) is non-toxic and is safe for your family.

Fun Fact: You Can Braid Money Trees

The Money Tree is not just a single tree but a combination of several plants braided or twisted together. This unique houseplant, doesn’t naturally grow braided. However, braiding the trunks of young money trees not only enhances their aesthetic appeal but also provides added stability.

Braiding is a straightforward process, and when done correctly, the result is a captivating plant that can last for years. If you’ve recently propagated a Money Tree, consider braiding its trunks for a distinctive and artistic touch to your indoor greenery.

Author & Editor | + posts

Nancy has been a plant person from an early age. That interest blossomed into a bachelor’s in biology from Elmira College and a master’s degree in horticulture and communications from the University of Kentucky. Nancy worked in plant taxonomy at the University of Florida and the L. H. Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University, and wrote and edited gardening books at Rodale Press in Emmaus, PA. Her interests are plant identification, gardening, hiking, and reading.