The Pachira aquatica has many common names including Mexican fortune tree, braided money tree, malabar chestnut, guiana chestnut, and a few others.
Growing in its natural habitat – this native to South and Central America plant grows in swamps up to 20 meters tall, which is surprising considering how well it’s adapted to become an easy-to-care-for indoor tree for your houseplants collection.
In South America and other warm climates, the pachira is grown for its edible nuts, in East Asia for good fortune, and in Europe and the US for its attractiveness as an indoor tree species. Grown braided as a house plant edible nuts will not fruit. This tree is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to its owners!
These have been cultivated in Taiwan to produce braided types in various sizes including successful bonsai, which are exported to Europe, the US, and other countries. This is a popular choice for Feng Shui.
How it looks: The obvious interesting feature of the money plant is its braided trunks which are thick and woody (like any other tree) with bark. The upper section of the trunk produces green branches with long thin petioles (stalks) and palmatley compound or whorled leaves (five or more leaflets attached like fingers) sitting at the top of the petiole. So, the plant has a mixture of a tree and palm appearance. The lush linear leaves are glossy in appearance and have darker green visible veins, adding to their attractiveness as a house or office plant. The smaller bonsai trunks look very thick compared to the size of the rest of the tree.
Flowering: The Mexican fortune tree produces attractive white flowers and edible nuts. However, they will not bloom indoors.
Displaying: A plant over 4 feet tall can add some charm to many places within a home – especially in large rooms, near patio doors, near a fireplace, in a conservatory, or within a hallway. They also make fantastic reception areas and office plants, as long as the correct conditions can be provided.
|South and Central America.
|Mexican fortune tree, money tree plant and others (common). — Pachira Aquatica (botanical/scientific).
|Max Growth (approx):
|Poisonous for pets:
|Non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Mexican Fortune Tree Care
|Room temperatures from 65-75ºF (18-24ºC) are suitable, and no lower than 50ºF (10ºC).
|Bright indirect light is needed for this plant, it will struggle without enough light.
|Thoroughly water the plant once the soil becomes dry and remove excess water from the pot tray. During the winter the pachira will slow it’s growth right down and will not need to be watered anywhere near as much as in spring and summer. Do not over-water or have the plant in a pot which can become waterlogged.
|A peat moss-based mix or medium is suitable. A good mix can be made with 2 parts peat and one part perlite or sand (for drainage).
|Re-pot once every two years, during spring. The pachira won’t need a pot much bigger than the one it resides in now if it’s grown more, otherwise, the same pot will be fine. Keeping the tree small requires the plant to stay in a small pot with only a soil change. Pick a pot with a drainage hole to help from rot.
|A balanced liquid fertilizer diluted should be fed to the plant every 2 weeks which will encourage growth and healthy leaves. Feed from spring and stop just before winter or when growth really slows down, whichever comes first.
|Braided Money Trees like high humidity, 50% humidity is ideal. Misting with a spray bottle or a pebble tray and good practices.
|Braided Money Trees like high humidity, 50% humidity is ideal. Misting with a spray bottle or a pebble tray and good practice.
|You can prune the tree down to the size you find suitable if the foliage becomes overgrown. Leave half inch of stem above a node and petiole with a leaf attached when cutting a stem.
- Leaves yellowing and dropping: Two possible causes could be overfeeding or over-watering. Stop both activities and resume watering first “once the soil has become dry” and hold out using fertilizer for a month or two. Once the plant recovers reduce the amounts of both food and water compared to how you provided these previously. The odd lower leaf or two will turn yellow and fall from time to time, which is natural.
- Leaf tips and edges turning brown: When it’s only the tips turning brown it’s quite often due to too much dry air. If the tips, edges, or both have turned brown then it could be any one of many possible incorrect conditions including too much or not enough water or light (direct sun for too much), or even overfeeding or cold drafts. It’s going to have to be a process of elimination to find the cause.
- Leaves dropping: Leaves dropping can be caused by sudden changes in temperature and lighting conditions becoming lower. If you have recently bought the plant or moved it to a new location this can cause leaves to drop.
- Pests: troublesome bugs include mealybugs, soft brown scale, aphids and red spider mites. Neem oil can be a good option to investigate.
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has a published study in the National Social Science Association, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.