If you’re a plant owner, chances are one of your first plants is Money Tree. It’s low-maintenance and thrives even in sub-optimal conditions, making it perfect for beginners.
The scientific name of a Money Tree is Pachira aquatica, suggesting that it’s a water-loving plant. Despite that, it can still be overwatered; there is such a thing as too much love and affection.
Your best bet in saving your Money tree from overwatering is repotting your plant in a potting mix and container that will allow for better drainage. While you are at it, be sure to remove any signs of disease like root rot and fungi.
This article is all about what to do when you’ve gone overboard with your watering. Here, I’ve outlined some practical tips to nurse your Money Tree back to health after a bout of overwatering.
Signs of an Overwatered Money Tree
Money Trees are characterized by green palmate leaves with lanceolate leaflets. If your plant’s leaves don’t look their natural bright and perky selves, this may be a sign of overwatering.
A Money Tree will definitely drop some hints that you are overwatering. You’ll know it if you observe any of the following:
- Leaves Drooping.
- Leaves Yellowing (chlorosis).
- Leaves Falling off.
- Slow or no Growth.
- Edema (blisters on the underside of the leaves).
A Money Tree’s trunk is meant to be firm and robust. If the plant is in a more advanced stage of overwatering, the trunk may appear to be shriveled and even mushy.
Think of it as a paper straw that has been submerged in a drink for too long. Because the structure cannot support itself any longer, nutrition which is transported via water cannot move from the root system to the different parts of the plant.
This explains why the leaf symptoms described above, resemble underwatering. The leaves are basically cut-off from the sustenance that it needs.
Similar to the trunk, roots that have been submerged for too long will lose their integrity. Certain fungi that thrive in moist soil can overwhelm the root system causing it to collapse.
The roots too can begin to decompose, giving off a foul odor. If your roots don’t look white and crisp, then you’ve uncovered a case of root rot.
With the roots no longer able to accomplish its purpose of absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, the plant can show signs of underwatering and poor nutrition.
Underwatered or Overwatered Money Tree
You’ll notice, the symptoms described above are very similar to an underwatered Money Tree. How would you know if you’ve gone over or under?
If you haven’t already inspected the roots of your plant but notice your plant kind of stinks, this is a clue that something rotten is going on, literally and figuratively.
What you’re smelling is hydrogen sulfide, which is a by-product of plant material decomposing.
Some enthusiasts have also noticed that the leaves of an overwatered plant are typically softer, and the stems are more tender.
In contrast, the leaves of an underwatered Money Tree are dry and crisp. The surefire way to know if your plant needs more or less water, however, is by using a moisture meter.
Moisture meters are an inexpensive tool and if you’re serious about your indoor plant hobby, it’s well worth the investment.
A moisture meter will take out the guesswork and save you a lot of heartaches. Simply, place the meter at least 2 inches deep to get an accurate reading.
As always, it’s easier for a plant to bounce back from underwatering than with overwatering, so for hydration, always err on the side of caution.
How to Save an Overwatered Money Tree?
Now that you have diagnosed your Money Tree properly, let’s see what we can do about it. The best course of action is to re-pot your plant. Follow the steps below so that you can save your Money Tree.
Expose the Roots
Loosen the soil from the container by tapping the sides of your pot. Hold the plant by the thickest portion of the trunk.
Gently remove as much of the soil by tapping the root ball lightly. You can also wash the soil away with water to avoid damaging the roots.
Discard the soil as it contains fungi and bacteria that will not be beneficial for your other indoor plants.
Eliminate any Signs of Disease
Wash away anything slimy, mushy, or foul-smelling. Use a sharp knife or garden scissors to remove portions of the roots or trunk that appear diseased.
It may also be necessary to unbraid the trunks of your Money Tree to remove certain portions.
Fungi is the primary cause of root rot. These are invisible to the naked eye and can easily be transferred to your healthy plants if you aren’t careful.
Thus, it’s important to sterilize any tools that may have come into contact with diseased plants.
Aerate the Roots
Give your plants a chance to breathe. Place them on a tray that will provide good ventilation such as a cooling rack.
Money Trees do not like drafts and can dry out too much if placed in direct sun, so be mindful where you let the plants air out.
Prepare your Container
While your Money Trees are taking a breather, you can use the time to prepare your materials for the transfer.
If you are using the same pot, sterilize it by washing it out and soaking it with a weak bleach solution. This will kill off the fungi and bacteria responsible for the root rot.
While it’s tempting to use an oversized container, thinking “My Money Tree will just grow into it”, use a properly sized pot. Pots that are too big are more susceptible to water lodging.
Your plant should only occupy 1/3 of the volume of the pot. Ensure that your new container has holes for excess water to drain out of.
Prepare the Proper Potting Medium
Use a sterilized potting mix that allows for good drainage. Because Money Trees don’t require too much additional nutrition, a succulent and cacti mix is a good option.
You can also choose to use loam soil amended with bark, perlite, or sand. These fillers will absorb excess moisture but allow it to drain faster.
You can also try adding pebbles at the base of the pot. This way, there is less of a chance that the roots will remain water-logged.
When the roots have rested for long enough and your soil and pot are ready, it’s time for the big move.
Fill up your pot 1/3 of the way with your chosen potting mixture. Carefully, hold the roots in the center of your pot as you pour in the rest of the potting mixture around the roots.
Fill the container, leaving an allowance of 1-2 inches to the brim. Pat down the soil gently.
Water the plant thoroughly. You want all the soil to get wet. You’ll know you’ve watered enough when the water starts draining at the base of the container. Don’t forget to remove any excess water from the catch tray.
For a plant, repotting is a very traumatic experience. Think of it as surgery for plants. You’ll need to give it time to recover. Here are some tips to give it a better chance of survival:
- Place the plant in an area with filtered, morning light.
- Water only when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry.
- Avoid all fertilization until the plant shows signs of new growth.
How to Water a Money Tree?
As they say, “Prevention is always better than a cure.”. For this reason, I will be discussing how to properly water a Money Tree in this section.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to save your Money Tree from overwatering, to begin with.
Always Bottom Water
Money Trees take in most of their moisture requirements through their roots, as such, you only need to water the soil.
Some water is absorbed through the leaves through the plant’s stomata. These are located on the underside of the leaves so watering from above is not the most efficient way to water your plant.
In fact, watering the leaves can even be harmful. If the water stays on the leaves, it might encourage the growth of disease-causing bacteria, fungi, or pests.
When Enough is Enough
Money Trees love water, but not all the time. When watering your plant, you’ll want to completely drench the soil until it can no longer accommodate any more liquid.
You’ll know when to stop when the water starts draining out. Don’t forget to remove excess water from the catch tray. I’d recommend doing this over a sink or a bathtub to minimize cleanups.
When to Water Your Money Tree?
The time you water your plants directly affects the temperature of the water that gets to the roots.
At a lower temperature, water contains more oxygen. Oxygen is vital for growing a strong root system.
However, when the water is too cold, the root’s pump system does not work optimally. This may limit water and nutrient absorbency or even trigger dormancy.
On the other side of the spectrum, hot water can cause tissue damage. Also, higher temperatures and a lack of oxygen are known to increase harmful molds, like Pythium, or bacteria (which can cause root rot).
The optimal temperature to water your plant with is 68°F (20°C). This is why it’s best to water your plants early in the morning or late afternoon when it isn’t too hot nor too cold.
Unlike other plants that require a rigid schedule, the Money Trees are more flexible. Depending on certain conditions, you may have to water your plants more or less often depending on such conditions.
As mentioned in the previous sections, it’s always good to check the water level with a moisture meter. You’ll only need to water the plants when it doesn’t have any more water to absorb.
Often, this means watering your plan 2-3 times a month or at the most, weekly.
Factors Influencing Watering Frequency
Your watering frequency is affected by the rate of evaporation and rate at which your plant can absorb water. Read on for more details.
Rate of Evaporation
Not all water is absorbed by your plant, quite a lot of it escapes through the air via evaporation. There are several factors at play:
When the temperature is higher, the moisture from the soil will evaporate faster. This means you’ll need to water your plant more often.
Depending on the potting mix you used, water can drain out faster, requiring a more frequent top-up.
Terracotta or natural pots tend to be more porous, allowing more water to escape more readily. As opposed to airtight plastic or glazed containers, which can retain moisture for a longer period.
Rate of Water Absorption
Your Money Tree does not need the same amount of hydration year-round. Some factors that affect your plant’s water needs include the following:
Though Money Trees get most of their water requirements through their roots, it can also take in moisture through their leaves, mainly from humidity.
With enough hydration entering through its stomata, your Money Plant may need to take in less water through the root system.
If you have pebble trays, plants grouped together, or a humidifier around, you may not need to water your plants as often.
It’s important to note that as a tropical plant, the money tree naturally loves humidity of around 60%. (Source: Science.com)
Plants that are exposed to more light can work harder to convert the available resources to food via photosynthesis.
To do this, the plant needs air, light, and water. With more photosynthesis going on, the plant will also need more water.
Most plants have a growing season. During this time, since the plants are active and need a lot of energy to grow, it will also need a lot of water.
However, when the temperature cools down, Money Trees will conserve energy by going into a dormant state.
Plants can sense the change of seasons not just through the temperature but with the length of daylight. Specifically, during winter, you will notice that your Money Tree will need less frequent watering.
While the Money Tree is hibernating for winter, it still needs water so don’t forget to check in on your plant weekly.
At the same time, come spring, your Money Tree may be ready to return to the growing season and may need a little more hydration. So be extra mindful of your watering when the seasons are changing.
The best water for plants is fresh rainwater. It has so many benefits including:
- Higher Oxygen Levels.
- Does not contain salts and minerals used to treat water.
- pH Levels optimal for growing plants;
- Corrects mineral and salt buildup of potted plants.
- Contains nitrogen already in plant absorbable form as well as other micronutrients and minerals.
If rainwater is unavailable to you, distilled water or water that has gone through reverse osmosis filtration are great options.
Tap water can also be used but it may contain salts, minerals, and other chemicals used to treat the water, or that have accumulated in the plumbing.
It’s advisable to let the tap water stand overnight so that the chlorine and other chemicals evaporate before you water your plants with it.
Hard water is water with a high concentration of minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. This higher concentration makes the pH level of the water go higher (more alkali).
While the Money Tree can tolerate this, calcium and magnesium may build up in your soil, preventing your plant from absorbing water in the long term.
You can still use water from the tap even if your area is known to have hard water. Just wash out the salt build-up with distilled water or rainwater periodically.
Common Mistakes in Watering Money Tree
|Common Mistakes||How to Avoid|
|Inconsistent Watering||Check if you need to water your plant weekly.|
|Watering too Much||Before watering, check the topsoil. Water only when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry.|
|Wet Soil from Overwatering||Use quality potting mix and pots to provide good drainage.|
|Watering the Leaves||Always water the roots, through the soil, not the leaves. Avoid using sprinklers from overhead.|
|Watering During the Heat of the Day||Schedule watering for early morning or late afternoon.|
Caring for a Money Tree can be a truly rewarding experience if you follow the proper watering practices. For the times that you overdo the watering, it’s possible to do a reset, by repotting your Money Tree.
Thankfully, the Pachira Aquatica is one of the most forgiving plants and can quickly recover from a temporary setback.
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