Why Not Try Your Luck With This Money Tree?

9 Min Read

Pachira aquatica, often referred to as the money tree, is a fascinating plant. Alongside several other houseplants, it has long been associated with wealth, good fortune, and prosperity across various cultures and spiritual traditions. This plant’s unique set of qualities including its appearance, ease of care, and purported ability to attract wealth, all make it a popular choice for plant enthusiasts.

The money tree is, therefore, one of those perfect indoor foliage plants to give your home a tropical feel, while keeping the air clean and free of toxins. With its braided stem and bright green palm-looking leaves, it looks both like a tree and a palm, adding to its unique tropical appeal. Definitely a houseplant you’d consider. So here’s all you need to know about the plant.

About the Money Tree

Native to the regions ranging from Mexico to northern South America, the money tree is also very popular in Taiwan and other East Asian countries. Pachira aquatica is known by a large number of common names including water chestnut, Guiana chestnut, and Malabar chestnut.


Photo by @saliplantgarden 


The common name of this houseplant is derived from an old tale in which a poor man acquired wealth by discovering this tree and selling its seeds. The poor man prayed for money on the banks of a tropical swamp but found a strange-looking plant instead and decided to take it home as an omen.

He is then struck with the idea to sell its seeds, and the rest is history. To this day, especially under Feng Shui teachings, the money tree is believed to bring good luck to those who plant it in their home or office, making it the perfect housewarming gift or to congratulate someone on their new job.


Try Your Luck With a Money Tree
The money tree also called Pachira aquatica.
Photo by @iamclaudiaq


In addition, it is often commercially sold as a houseplant or bonsai under the name of money tree or money plant. And just so you know, the term ‘Pachira’ is the plant’s vernacular name used in the language spoken in Guyana, and the specific aquatic epithet comes from aqua (water), which is the tree’s growth environment; in or near water.

Money trees typically have a distinctive long, thin trunk that is made up of intertwined stems that are plaited together. This is done when grown in a nursery. Cultivators slowly braid the supple young, green trunks before they turn hard and woody while the money tree grows. Each branch sports five big, bright green leaves. In the wild, Pachira aquatica barely resembles its houseplant relation and grows into huge trees with great flowers and have no braided trunks.


Try Your Luck With a Money Tree
Pachira aquatica, also called Money trees.
Photo by @treeno.9


The Money Tree’s Good-Fortune Plant Nuances

The money tree has several tales telling of its cultivation and association with wealth and prosperity. But there is one about a Taiwanese truck driver who first cultivated five small trees in a single flowerpot with their trunks braided into a single plant.

This became popular and the ornamentals took off in Japan and later much of East Asia. This plant together with other ‘money plants’ soon became symbolically associated with good financial fortune and are therefore typically seen in businesses, sometimes with red ribbons or other ornamentation attached.


Try Your Luck With a Money Tree
Photo by DC on Wikimedia Commons


The Perfect Qualities of Money Trees

The Pachira aquatica is characterized by its distinctive braided trunk, often formed by intertwining several individual stems. This unique feature contributes to its symbolic association with prosperity and good luck, as the intertwined branches are seen as representing unity and growth. The plant’s leaves are large, palmate, and glossy, adding to its aesthetic appeal. They are typically a deep green color, but some varieties may exhibit variegation with shades of yellow or white.

Other than its striking appearance, this houseplant is also a source of edible nuts. The seeds of the plant are encased in a hard, woody shell and are known as Malabar chestnuts, which are a popular snack in some parts of the world and are often roasted or boiled before consumption. They have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.


Try Your Luck With a Money Tree
Photo by @ihugplants


The money tree is also relatively easy to care for. This is one of the qualities that make it a popular choice for indoor plant enthusiasts. It thrives in bright, indirect sunlight and prefers well-draining soil. The plant should be watered regularly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between the waterings.

In the principles of Feng Shui, as well as Vastu Shastra, Pachira aquatica is one of those plants that bring good luck. This plant is, also, considered a symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is believed that placing the plant in the southeast corner of a home or office can attract financial abundance. This notion is exemplified by the plant’s braided trunk seen as a representation of the five elements of Feng Shui: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.


Try Your Luck With a Money Tree
Photo by @plantstodo


Where to Grow Money Trees

This evergreen tree (or large shrub) will grow up to 18 meters high in its natural habitat but grows usually a little bit smaller — typically between 1.80m and 2.40m — indoors. The money tree likes light but no direct sunlight. It’s best to place it on the north or east side of your house or office, rather than on the south side.

A great indicator of its sunlight needs are the leaves; if the leaves turn yellow, your money tree gets too much light. When this is the case, place it about a meter farther away from the window. If the leaves grow too fast (stretching), your money tree doesn’t get enough sunlight and should be moved a little closer to the window.


Try Your Luck With a Money Tree
Photo by @iamclaudiaq


Variegated varieties

Just like the ever-so-popular Monstera Deliciosa Albo Variegata, money trees can be variegated as well. Caused by a genetic mutation, in this type of variegation, plants show two different chromosomal make-ups in a single plant, where some tissue can produce chlorophyll and others can not. The result is a plant with white or yellow zones intermixed with the solid green form.


Pachira aquatica also called money tree
Money trees can be variegated as well.
Photo by @littlebotany


How to Care For Your Money Tree

To avoid root rot, a money tree needs sandy, peat-moss-based soil and a pot with good drainage. Although it likes humidity in general, you should let its soil dry out between watering. A good schedule for most environments is to water when the top 5-10 cm of soil is dry.


Try Your Luck With a Money Tree
Photo by Proflowers


Water thoroughly, until water flows out the drainage holes of the pot, and pour out the excess from the tray so that the roots don’t sit in water. During the growing season, fertilize once a month with a liquid plant food at half strength, but skip fertilizer in the winter.

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