Why Are My Money Tree Leaves Curling? (And How to Fix)


Indoor potted Money Tree Leaves showing Curling symptoms

The Money Tree, scientifically named Pachira aquatica is one of the best looking, low maintenance indoor plants.

 But, this tropical tree-like plant might experience the curling of the leaves if its needs aren’t met.

Underwatering and low humidity may result in the curling of money tree leaves. In addition to temperature fluctuations or too much direct sunlight, pest infestation can also cause this issue. Other problems include root rot, lack of nutrition, and overwatering.

Stay with me through this blog since I’m going to dedicate some time to explaining these problems.

I’ll also propose the best ways to fix them as soon as possible. Plus, I’ll throw some tips that can help you with humidity, repotting, and fertilizing. 

Underwatering

Underwatering, as well as overwatering, can cause problems for your Money Tree. Underwater it and you get curled leaves, overwater it and you get root rot.

With underwatering, the first sign is the curling of the leaves, and if that continues, the leaves will get yellowish, then brown, and fall off in the end.

In the summer days, when it’s hotter, the soil dries quicker. Thus, is more prone to curling, yellowing, or drooping of the leaves. It’s very important to keep an eye for underwatering in those periods.

In winter, two things determine how often you water your Money Tree. For one, if the plant (with that the soil too) doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, the soil will stay moist longer, so you need to cut back on the frequency of watering.

Second, the plant itself lowers its functions, so it doesn’t consume that much water.

The solution is simple, water your plant right away. You might not be able to save the leaves that started showing signs of underwatering, but you can do wonders for the rest of the foliage.

Read the next few sections to understand the best watering schedule for your Money Tree. It’s never a bad idea to check if you’ve been doing it right so far.

How do You Water a Money Tree?

The best way to water your Money Tree is every 7 to 12 days in summer, or every 10 to 14 days in winter.

Weekly to biweekly works fine, but you have to make sure that you don’t leave the excess water in the bottom tray. Its natural cycle is soaking the soil in water, leaving it out to dry, and soaking again.

When you water it, pour water until you see that the entire soil soaks and starts draining in the bottom. Once it starts leaching out, you’ve put enough water.

Make sure that right after you finish, you throw out the remaining water that drains into the bottom tray. You are keeping your Money Tree in a pot with proper drainage, right?

The best way to determine if your Money Tree needs water is to poke your finger into the soil, up to your first knuckle.

If it is dry, you have a green light for watering. If it’s not, give it a few more days and check again.

Root Rot from Overwatering

Money Trees are tropical and that means that they love water. But, everything is bad if it’s not balanced out. Overwater your Money Tree and you will make the right conditions for root rot.

As I previously stated, never ever leave the drained water stay in the bottom tray. The soil will gradually soak that water back in and will be moist longer than it should.

You might get curling of the leaves due to overwatering, but a far more reliable indicator is if your leaves are turning yellow or brown. The other indicator is if younger leaves don’t thrive but droop or fall off.

If only the old leaves turn yellow, don’t jump to the conclusion that you have an overwatered Money Tree. Old leaves eventually fall off to make space for new ones.

Overwatering may not only rot the roots but also make the perfect environment for the fungus that thrives in moist environments. You can read more about that under the section “Pests Infestation”.

If you find out that your Money Tree has been suffering from root rot, it’s essential to fix the problem as soon as possible. These are the steps you need to take if you want to save it:

  • The first thing you should do is to take the plant out of the soil and clean it up.
  • Dry out all the excess water from the roots, as much as you can.
  • With a clean scissor or any other cutting equipment you have, cut out all parts of the root that are rotten or mushy.
  • Leave the plant outdoor under the shade and with the most air circulation possible. Let the roots dry as much as possible.
  • Prepare a soil mix that enables good water draining. The best soil combination for a Money Tree is a mix of equal parts peat moss, coarse sand, and vermiculite (perlite). The soil must provide good drainage and a mix like this allows that.
  • Repot your plant and learn from your mistakes.

Quality of Water

Tap 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 sections) 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

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 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 to 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, 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

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 in 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 moist 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 is 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 in 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 is to mist 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 its position, it’s normal for the leaves to react to that.

New light conditions, change of 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 some-what 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 curled 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 up 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.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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