Money trees (Pachira aquatica) that like a certain amount of humidity, and this sometimes causes gardeners to shy away from this gorgeous plant. That is always a shame because not only is the plant hardy and attractive, but issues surrounding humidity can easily be rectified by simply using some of the steps set out in this article.
I am sure that once you have read through the suggestions below you will be inspired to add one of these beauties to your collection.
Humidity is important to keeping the Money Tree in prime condition. This can easily be managed by taking some simple steps that any gardener will be able to do.
How Much Humidity is Right For Your Money Tree?
Ideally, you want to keep humidity at around fifty percent and your plant will thrive. Humidity in the typical home usually lies somewhere between 30-40% and so you can see that we don’t have to change things terribly much to provide ideal conditions for a Money Tree.
The reason that humidity is important to your money tree is that it controls the opening and closing of pore-like holes on the underside of the leaf called stomata.
These control the amount of CO2 the plant absorbs and therefore the amount of oxygen it releases. This will affect the overall health and growth rate of your plant.
A Little About Humidity
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Generally, the warmer the air is, the greater the amount of humidity it will be able to hold.
That is not always the case because in very hot regions, such as deserts, humidity tends to be low, but that is because there is no water source available from which to create humidity.
Your Money tree originates in the swamps and marshlands of Central and South America where air temperatures are high but there is also plenty of moisture. This translates to high levels of humidity.
In our homes, we like to regulate the temperature. This affects the moisture uptake and in turn that will have an effect on our Money Trees. It also means that we need to constantly be aware of the humidity levels because they change.
This is often most obvious in the winter months when we start to use some of the different central heating options available to us. Very often, they have a drying effect.
How to Measure Humidity In Home
The only reliable way to be sure of what the humidity level is, is to use a humidity meter. Digital humidity meters can be purchased at most hardware shops and garden centers and they only cost a few dollars.
They will provide surprisingly accurate readouts of the humidity in their immediate environment. If you have a large collection of plants, you may want to consider purchasing several of them and dotting them around your indoor jungle.
How to Use a Humidity Meter
These little digital devices (called hygrometers if you want to sound technically conversant) are really easy to use. They are normally battery-powered, and it is just a matter of fitting the batteries and turning them on.
Place them near to the plant that you are concerned about and leave them for around two to three hours to adapt to their position. After that, they will give the humidity reading as a percentage.
Most will also give you a temperature reading. Money trees like the temperature to fall between 60° and 75° F; (16- 24°C)
Helping Your Money Tree If Humidity Is Too High
Once you have ascertained what the humidity is, you may need to take the appropriate steps to correct it. Assuming that it is too high, here are simple measures to reduce it.
Always a dangerous one for money trees. Allow the soil to almost dry out between each watering. Poke your finger into the potting soil regularly and if the top inch is dry, then, and only then, it is time to water.
Remember that overwatering is the most common cause of house plant demise. We gardeners often simply love our plants to death.
A critical point around watering is that the container your plant is in must have sufficient drainage. The drainage hole should be at least large enough for you to insert the tip of your finger.
Also; once you have watered the plant, allow any excess water to drain away before replacing the plant pot in its saucer.
The air in most homes doesn’t move as much as it does outdoors and this allows stagnant air to support excess moisture. Opening a couple of windows for an hour or two during the heat of the day will minimize this issue.
Choose Your Plant’s Position With Care
If you keep your plant near a window, the chances are that air circulation will be better and therefore there will be less humidity.
Be careful, though, that your plant is not exposed to direct sunlight. Money trees evolved in forests where they were protected from direct sunlight by the forest canopy above them. They enjoy bright light but can be damaged by direct sun.
Soil acts like a sponge and retains moisture. If it becomes too wet, then as it evaporates, the humidity level will go up. Using soil that has a high drainage capacity will eliminate that problem.
Try mixing good quality potting soil with fifty percent perlite to add extra drainage. In addition, some potting soil contains plant material that retains moisture. Avoid potting soils high in peat or coconut coir when potting your Money tree.
Indoor grow lights will reduce the moisture carrying capacity of the air around your plants and help to speed your Money Tree’s transpiration. These lights have become far cheaper over recent years.
Try to position them where the light shines down from above and don’t let the light actually touch the foliage. Don’t leave them on for twenty-four hours per day. Just like us, plants need a few hours of downtime to perform at their best so let them have their nightly nap.
Signs of Low Humidity in Money Tree
The most obvious sign that humidity is getting too low is that the leaves will start to become brown and dry out starting from the margins and working inwards. Don’t worry, this doesn’t happen overnight.
Confusingly, these signs are similar to signs of under-watering. Check the moisture in the soil using your finger and if it is moist and you have been keeping to a good watering regime, then you can safely assume that low humidity is the culprit behind your plant’s unhappy demeanour.
These plants are tropical plants and low humidity in our homes is generally far more common than excess humidity. That problem is often exacerbated during the winter months when we make use of air drying radiators and other heating devices. The good news is that the situation can be rectified.
Improving Money Tree Humidity
Humidity often confuses gardeners because, unlike watering and feeding, they feel it is an environmental factor that they have no control over.
Actually, that is not true and we gardeners can manage the humidity levels around our plants quite easily using several simple techniques.
Probably the simplest of techniques to raise humidity is to keep your plants together in groups rather than to have them standing on their own.
Plants release moisture in the air through a system known as transpiration. This is very similar to the human respiration system.
By bunching your plants into groups, their combined transpiration raises the humidity levels in the vicinity of that group. It is like creating a small oasis or microclimate.
Another low tech method of increasing humidity is through the use of gravel trays. Gravel trays are simply shallow trays (plant saucers work just fine) filled with gravel. Onto that we can simply pour water and then stand our plant pot on top.
The water will slowly evaporate and thus increase humidity while the base of the plant is kept clear of the water because it is standing on the gravel.
A popular and easy solution to low humidity issues is to spray your Money tree’s leaves with water from time to time. A squeegee bottle filled with filtered water is ideal for this, especially if it emits a very fine spray.
Just damp down the leaves and the humidity is quickly raised. Try to do this early in the day so that the water on the leaves can be absorbed by the air. Water on the leaves overnight can lead to fungal and other diseases.
Be sure to use filtered water or captured rainwater as this is free from chemicals. Normal domestic tap water contains chlorine.
In small quantities, this won’t cause problems, but over time, the chemicals build up on the leaves and block the pores which reduce the plant’s ability to transpire.
The use of this method has become quite controversial in recent years. Some advocates insist it creates just a short term fix and doesn’t solve the problem, while at the same time increasing the risk of fungal diseases. Others swear by a daily misting routine.
I hover somewhere between the two camps. I mist my houseplants that have thick leathery leaves and don’t mist those with fragile, fine or hairy leaves. My Money tree falls into the first category.
These easy to purchase items raise the humidity by introducing a fine mist into the air in the vicinity of the Money Tree. They have become both more affordable and smaller as the domestic market for them had increased. This helps the gardener to tuck them out of sight amongst his plants.
They work on one of two different methods. One kind heats the water and it is sent into the air as a fine mist, and the other agitates the water and it is dispersed as a fine spray. Both methods are effective and you can consult your supplier for advice as to which system would most suit your needs.
Models now are usually equipped with a detector that automatically turns them off when they achieve the desired humidity level.
Because you now know that fifty percent humidity is the ideal percentage for your Money Tree, you can set your humidifier at that, and then it will turn itself on and off as required to maintain that percentage.
In order for these humidifiers to work, they need to be in the vicinity of the plants as they don’t project moisture over vast distances. Also, you will need to think about surrounding them with plants that require similar humidity levels.
The problem with controlling the environment surrounded your plants is always relative to the amount of air you wish to manage. If your plants are in an open room, controlling the humidity is much more difficult than if the plant is in a confined space such as a small greenhouse.
Some manufacturers have started to make small greenhouses that you can place in your home. They consist of a frame covered with either glass or plastic and you place the plants inside to keep them in a very controlled and easy to manage environment.
While this does enable me to keep the environment virtually perfect, personally, I like my plants to be out on display rather confined in a greenhouse, and so I seldom use this equipment, though some suppliers have started to make far more eye-pleasing ones.
- You will need a humidity meter
- Regularly examine the leaves of your plant for early signs of problems
- Adopt a healthy watering routine
- Don’t expect humidity conditions to always remain constant
- Experiment with some of the methods above until you find a method that works for you and your Money Tree