Last summer, I involuntarily became an indoor plant mom when a friend gifted me a money tree. I don’t have a green thumb whatsoever, nor am I the most attentive when taking care of things (this is why I have yet to adopt a pet), but somehow, through the grace of the folks above, my tree is still alive and thriving. I can’t take allll the credit, though. Money trees are pretty much the definition of a low-maintenance plant. They don’t require much sunlight or water, they can handle some basic temp changes, and they basically just sit there and grow. Which makes them the ideal houseplant for anyone new to this whole plant thing.
I know you might be anxious to begin your horticultural journey, especially if you too were recently gifted a money plant bb, but allow me to give you the rundown first. Money tree plants are native to Central and South America, and can reach around 60 feet tall. Don’t worry, though: indoor money trees, like the ones you’ll be dealing with, rarely get that big. Their max height is six feet or less.
But what makes these plants v appealing—outside of their easy care routine—is that they’re considered good luck charms, especially in East-Asian culture, where they’re commonly received as gifts. In fact, Feng Shui practitioners believe that the plant can promote abundance and bring wealth and prosperity to the owner. I will say I have received some blessings since I became a plant mom (👀👀👀), so take that information as you will.
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Ready to learn more? Well, I put together this how-to guide on money tree plant care just for you. Read on, and prepare to get growin’.
Does a money tree plant need sunlight?
Though they are low-maintenance plants, money trees do require sunlight—and a specific type at that. Because, yes, there are indeed different types of sunlight. (Let this be a lesson to my newbie plant moms.) Money trees thrive under bright, indirect sunlight. That means placing them behind a curtain or blinds, not on a windowsill, so the sun doesn’t shine directly on the leaves. Too much direct light, especially in the summer months, can sear the leaves, and you don’t want to overexpose your plant.
Make sure your money tree gets sunlight for six to eight hours max, and that you rotate the plant every now and then so that all sides receive some TLC. Lastly, if you can’t be bothered with the whole indirect vs. direct thing—which, like, fair—there’s always the option of using artificial lighting, like an LED grow light (which can be programmed to be the exact type of lighting you need).
How often should a money tree be watered?
Money trees are known for needing little hydration, which is ironic considering their natural environment is the wetlands, but that’s nature for ya. You don’t need to water it often; every week or biweekly should suffice—too much water and the tree won’t grow. The best way to tell when your plant needs some agua is to feel the soil. If it’s damp, then it’s fine. If it’s dry, go ahead and grab some tap water (yes, tap!) and give it a pour. Don’t overwater it, though—give it just enough so that the soil completely absorbs all the water.
What temperature and humidity does a money tree plant need?
As I mentioned, these cuties are native to the wetlands, so they love humid air, and warm environments with 65 to 85-degree temperatures. Running a small humidifier at 50-percent power can give your plants the water vapor they crave and get the job done. Or, you can surround your tree with other indoor house plants, so that they’ll transpire (the process of releasing water vapor) and help the humidity levels rise.
Do money tree plants need fertilizer?
Money trees may be v chill and easy to grow, but they still require basic food essentials, like fertilizer. They just don’t need as much as many other indoor houseplants. Fertilize ’em monthly in the summer and spring, and bi-monthly during the colder months. You don’t need a fancy fertilizer—a basic one diluted at half-strength is enough. (Some fertilizers we love, below.)
Can you braid money trees?
The plant’s braided stems are iconic, and definitely give off good vibes, imo. Most money trees come with pre-braided stems, but if you find yourself with a plant that’s unwoven, then you have the fun opportunity to braid it yourself. Of course, you don’t have to braid it, the plant will grow regardless, but the base won’t be as sturdy if not, so I’d recommend it.
The process is relatively uncomplicated. Gently weave the strands together just like you’d braid your hair, and use a small rubber band to secure the loose ends at the top. Repeat this process as the tree grows taller.
What are some common money tree problems?
The second lesson for my baby plant moms: bugs are the root of all evil. Certain insects, such as aphids and scales, can damage money trees, so you’ll have to protect against them. Because these pests are so tiny, you might not be able to see them with the naked eye. Instead, be mindful of whether your leaves are becoming droopy and/or brown. If so, your plant may be infested with bugs—you’ll want a few drops of neem oil or a mild insecticide to kill those buggers. (Some options are below!)
So, where can I buy a money tree plant?
Behold: a few money trees that’ll kickstart your growing journey. Don’t forget, gorgeous, gorgeous girls are plant moms 💅🏾.
Mel Curry (she/her) is the current assistant editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers everything from lifestyle to politics. You can often find her watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta or discovering local coffee roasters. Before joining Cosmo, she was an editorial assistant at Hearst Magazines, writing for Women’s Health, Elle, and more. Follow her on Instagram and the bird app aka Twitter.
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