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5 Causes of Money Tree Leaves Curling (And How to Fix It)

The leaves of the money tree (Pachira aquatica) can curl if you don’t meet the plant’s growth requirements. It could be due to a single or a series of issues.

Whether your leaves curl inwards or outwards, this indicates that your plant is experiencing a specific set of problems.

The curling of money tree leaves can be caused by a lack of water, low humidity, or heat stress. To fix the problem, keep the temperature between 65 and 80 degrees, ensure there is a little more humidity, and let the light shine through. Treat the roots and soil with a copper-based fungicide and use neem oil to eliminate the common pests that cause leaves to curl.

So, it’s critical to first identify the issue and then implement the solutions I’ll go into detail about.

Indoor potted Money Tree Leaves showing Curling symptoms

Underwatering Cause the Leaves to Curl Inward

When the leaves are thirsty, they curl inward, resembling the shape of a cup. In the absence of sufficient water in the leaf cells, the leaf curls inward to reduce the rate at which water evaporates from the plant.

To put it another way, it’s a defense mechanism for your money tree to keep going without water for longer.

Sticking your finger or a toothpick into the potting soil and checking the moisture level is an easy way to find out.

If the top two inches of soil are completely dry, your money tree is definitely thirsty.  If this pattern continues, the leaves will turn yellowish, then brown, and finally, fall off.

Signs of Underwatered Money Tree

The soil dries faster in the summer because it is hotter. As a result, the leaves are more prone to curling, yellowing, or drooping. It’s critical to keep an eye out for underwatering during those times.

Two factors influence how frequently you water your Money Tree in the winter.

For one thing, if the plant (and thus the soil) doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, the soil will stay moist longer, necessitating a reduction in watering frequency.

Second, the plant reduces its functions so that it does not consume as much water.

The solution is simple: water your plant as soon as possible. You may not be able to save the leaves that have begun to suffocate, but you can do wonders for the rest of the foliage.

How do You Water a Money Tree?

It’s never a bad idea to double-check if you’ve been doing things correctly so far. Water your Money Tree every 7-12 days in the summer and every 10-14 days in the winter.

Weekly or biweekly is OK, but don’t leave excess water in the bottom tray. Its natural cycle is to soak the soil, dry it, and soak it again.

When watering, pour water until the soil completely soaks and drains. Then, you have enough water when it starts leaching.

Make sure to throw out any remaining water that drains into the bottom tray as soon as you finish.

Root Rot from Overwatering

Money Tree Root Rot Due to Overwatering

Money trees are tropical, which means they enjoy the water, but everything is terrible if it isn’t balanced out.

For example, soggy and wet conditions on your Money Tree will encourage the growth of root rot-causing fungi.

Leaf curling is a sign that the roots fail to absorb water and nutrients for the leaves.

The potting soil will slowly soak up the water that has been drained from the bottom tray, causing it to remain wet longer than it should.

Having yellow, brown, and limp leaves is a far more reliable indicator of overwatering than curling leaves. 

To avoid further damage to your Money Tree, it’s critical that you address any root rot issues right away. This is how you can save it:

Repotting Money Tree
  1. The first step is to remove the plant from the soil and thoroughly clean it.
  2. Remove as much water as possible from the roots by allowing them to air dry as much as possible.
  3. Cutaway any rotten or mushy roots with a clean pair of scissors or other cutting equipment you may have.
  4. Ensure that the plant is kept in an area that is well-ventilated and shaded. As much as possible, let the roots dry out.
  5. Prepare a soil mixture that allows water to drain easily. Vermiculite, peat, and coarse sand make up the ideal soil mix for a Money Tree (perlite). Using a mix like this ensures that the soil can drain properly.
  6. Repot your plant and learn from your blunders.

Quality of Water

City water contains salt, chlorine, and fluoride and they are by no means good for the plant.

One thing that happens is that after a while, the soil has a far bigger salt concentration than the root itself. The salt will actually pull the water out from the root.

The best way to get around that problem is to let the water sit for a day (or longer) before watering. The chlorine and fluoride will slowly evaporate.

The easiest way to get rid of salt salinity (or concentration) is to have proper drainage. That way the water will flow through the soil and the excess will drain out, not staying to saturate the soil with salt.

Fertilization (our next section) can help to restore nutrients in the soil. Repotting is also very important.

Lack of Nutrition

Right after the Overwatering section, we are talking about nutrition because a lot of water inhibits the intake of Ca nutrients from the soil.

Without Calcium, the plant doesn’t grow since Ca is crucial for the making of new tissues. That is where fertilization comes in handy.

If the plant lacks nutrition, it will slow down its growth and the leaves will start losing color, curling, yellowing, and falling off.

That is a way the plant keeps itself alive because smaller foliage needs smaller doses of nutrients.

The best time to fertilize is through spring and summer, and at the start of autumn.

If you haven’t fertilized your Money Tree at all, you can do it in winter too, but make the solution more dilute.

If you fertilize with a powder, you can just disperse a small amount of it at the top and let the soil fertilize a little bit with every watering.

Overfeeding with Fertilizer

It’s not only about fertilizing the soil. You have to keep in mind that smaller plants need less fertilizer.

So, if your Money Tree is small, you need to fertilize it frequently in order to keep its growth pace.

But, you need to put less fertilization or make it more diluted. If the fertilizer is dense, you might burn the roots of the plant.

The other problem that can arise from over fertilizing is the sudden growth of the plant, but with insufficient root system to sustain that.

If that happens, in the following period of time your Money Tree might grow its trunk or foliage, but the leaves will start yellowing, drooping, or completely fall off.

Due to a lot of fertilization, the root may shrivel and become unable to absorb water.

If you think that you might have over-fertilized the soil of your Money Tree, then, the best thing to do is change the soil as soon as possible.

Make a new mix for your tree, plant it in, and cut back on fertilization for the next period of time.

One positive side about over-fertilized soil is that you can mix it with other, unused soil (or maybe do collective repotting of all plants) and get a bigger soil amount with a good fertilization percentage.

Temperature Stress

Money Trees do like warm environments, so somewhere between 65°-75° F (18 – 23° C) is perfect.

Everything that is 10 degrees higher or lower works too. But, make sure that the temperature doesn’t drop too much at night.

Compared to daylight temperature (especially on summer days) the fluctuation might be too much for the Money Tree.

If your Money Tree is exposed to direct sunlight, it might be losing too much water due to transpiration. If that happens, its leaves will start curling or wilting.

The best thing to do about this is to change the position of your plant. Indirect sunlight and enough moisture can bring back healthy-looking leaves.

The cold, dry winter air is also bad for plants like the Money Tree since they like humidity and warmth.

So, by no means you should keep your plant in cold rooms or outside. It will definitely wilt and slowly die out.

Too Much or Too Little Direct Sunlight

Sunburned Money Tree

Money Trees like a little bit of everything and that includes light. Very bright, but indirect light is okay. Close to a window that looks out to the south or west is also okay.

Wherever you put it, make sure that it doesn’t stay under direct sun rays for most of the day.

If it does, you are going to notice a lot of yellow spots, or brown spots on leaves.

There is a way to determine if the browning is due to light burns.

Check if the yellowing occurs only on the side of the plant that gets in touch with direct light.

If the answer is yes, then the drying of leaves is definitely because of sunburn.

A couple of hours of direct sunlight is okay, but make sure that you rotate your tree.

All leaves should have their occasional space under the sun.

Rotating every week or every other week should be okay, but not more frequent than that.

Too much moving without enough time to adjust will stress the plant out.

Lack of light, on the other hand, can cause discoloration.

The leaves will gradually become lighter and lighter until they yellow out. Just move your plant closer to a window.

Pests Infestation

Pests like fungus, mealybugs, and aphids are predators of the Money Tree. They love to make nests in the soil and feed off the juices of the plant itself.

This can result in curling, wilting, and drooping of leaves. It may also do holes in the leaf, which we all know looks so unpleasant.

Since both the Money Tree and fungus-like moist environments, by misting your plant, you might encourage fungus too.

To get rid of the fungus, you might need to spray with fungicidal sprays.

You should inspect your plant once in a while and in case you see some kind of pests, applying organic neem oil can sort the problem out.

If left for a larger period of time pests might damage the plant and its leaves.

Aphids can usually be pushed down with water, but you have to make sure that all of them go down the drainage. If not, they will gradually reappear.

If the pest problem has been going on for longer, you might need to use insecticides to eliminate the infestation.

Low Humidity Causing Leaves to Dy Out

Money trees absolutely love humidity and extra moisture. Your bathroom is a pretty suitable place for Money Tree since it is the most humid room in most homes.

But, make sure that it has enough sunlight in there. If it doesn’t, the place won’t be any good.

One way to make sure that your Money Tree gets enough humidity is to put a so-called pebble tray underneath the pot.

It’s quite simple – put little pebbles in the bottom tray.

When you water your plant, all the excess water will drain into that tray.

If the water doesn’t cover the pebbles and doesn’t touch the drainage hole (and the soil) then you have yourself a natural humidifier.

The water will slowly evaporate and moisten the air around your Money Tree. But, there are a few things you should be careful about:

  • Make sure that the pebbles are approximately the same size. It’s hard to balance your pot out when you have pebbles underneath.
  • If you are not careful, your pets (or you, or anybody else) can just touch the pot and flip it on your floor. Other than the mess, unfortunately, that can damage your Money Tree.
  • The water shouldn’t touch the soil. At all. If the soil has access to the water it will continuously take a little bit of it. You’ve guessed it – it will promote overwatering and root rot.
  • If a lot of water drains into the pebble tray after you’ve watered your plant, take the tray and spill the excess water.
  • This DIY humidifier works very well if your Money Tree and its pot are getting enough sun. If this is the case, the water will evaporate quickly and give so needed moisture to the plant.

Should I Mist my Money Tree?

Misting is very much needed for your Money Tree, especially in summer. For example, you can spray the leaves with every second watering.

But, don’t over the mist, because fungus loves that environment. To make sure that you won’t make a suitable place for fungus to mist it a little, or gently wipe the excess water from the leaves, a few hours after misting.

In winter, make sure that your Money Tree isn’t close to the heating source of the room. Because it likes moisture, a dry place might promote curling and shrink of the leaves.

Money Tree Leaves Curling after Repotting

If you notice the curling of the leaves after you’ve repotted, it’s best to give it time. While repotting, you might’ve touched or damaged the roots and the leaves are reacting to that.

Their reaction can be anywhere from yellowing or curling to completely falling off.

The other possibility is that your Money Tree is still adjusting to its new environment. If you by chance also changed your position, it’s normal for the leaves to react to that.

New light conditions, change in sun or temperatures, different humidity levels – it all counts. 

If the curling persists weeks or months after you’ve re-potted it, make sure that you have the right mix of soil for it. 

But, please note that the yellowing and curling of the leaves are somewhat natural, especially for big, old leaves. If that is the case, you can just cut those leaves off and beautify your Money Tree. (Source: Urbane Jungle)

If your new baby leaves are curling, you might give them a little bit of time too. Sometimes, they will start curling up but will straighten up as they grow.

Final Words

Finally, you took the time to look through the causes of Money Tree leaves curling.

If your Money Tree has curled leaves, go through these sections and dismiss them one by one. You will surely find the cause and be able to fix it fairly easily.

I hope that I’ve been helpful with the tips and tricks. House plants don’t want a lot of effort around them; they just like the right type of effort.