Overwatering is one of the most common causes of money tree dying. You must remember that roots need oxygen to survive and function, so waterlogged soil will drown them. Today I’m going to show you how to revive your overwatered money tree and nurse it back to health.
To revive an overwatered money tree the first step is to stop watering immediately, then tip your money tree out of the pot, and inspect it for root rot. Trim away affected roots, treat with fungicides or hydrogen peroxide, then repot with fresh soil. If it’s too late to save your plant, consider propagation.
Let’s get right on it.
What Does an Overwatered Money Tree Look Like?
The appearance of your overwatered money tree will vary depending on the severity of the situation. In the early stages, your plant’s leaves will turn yellow, droop, and fall off untimely.
If the overwatering has gone too long for root rot to set in, you may see brown, mushy spots with a yellow halo on the foliage and stem. You may also notice stunted or lack of new growth.
If you look at the surface of the soil, you may spot mildew, mold, or algae growths. Your nose may also register an unpleasant rotting smell from root rot.
Overwatered money trees tend to be unhealthy and weak, so they’re susceptible to diseases and pests. You don’t want to ignore wilting and shriveling leaves. They also indicate that you have given your money tree too much water almost to the brink of death.
Underwatered vs. Overwatered Money Tree?
You’ll note that the symptoms of overwatering and underwatering your money tree are sometimes almost similar. So, how do you know if you’ve given it too much or too little water?
Here are a few pointers to know the subtle differences:
- Check the leaf color & texture – Your underwatered money tree will have dry, crispy leaves. On the other hand, you will see brown or yellow, limp leaves on an overwatered plant.
- Any defoliation? – If your money tree is losing older and lower leaves, it’s too dehydrated from underwatering. In an overwatered money tree, all leaves fall off indiscriminately. They can be yellow, brown, or green; top or lower; and new or old leaves.
- Check for brown spots – Brown spots ringed by a yellow halo indicate overwatering, while dry brown spots denote underwatering.
- Wilting vs. curling – While present in both cases, wilting is more common in overwatered money trees. Leaves of an underwatered plant are often curled, shriveled, and wrinkled.
- Check the base of the plant stem – If it’s browning, unstable, and mushy, you may have an overwatered plant in your hand. The base of an underwatered money tree is usually dry and dusty.
For the ultimate test, you must check the soil. If you’ve underwatered your money tree, the soil will be obviously dry, compact, and lighter. Darker, soggy, or waterlogged soil that gives off rotting stink indicates overwatering (and possibly root rot).
Signs of Overwatered Money Tree
Money Tree Pale and Limp
When you water your money tree too much, paling of the foliage will be one of the first symptoms to emerge. This happens because of chlorosis, which denotes that the leaves are losing their green pigment.
Your money tree will also develop limb leaves. This will be followed by wilting if the roots have been affected by fungal rot and therefore cannot take up water and moisture effectively.
Yellowing of Leaves
Your overwatered money tree will generally turn yellow in the lower leaves. If you continue overwatering, this will progress to widespread wilting and yellowing of the leaves.
If that happens, your precious money tree may be in more trouble than you think because of root rot.
You may be wondering why leaves turn yellow due to overwatering. At first, the plant will enjoy an abundance of water. However, waterlogging will ultimately suffocate the roots and cause them to die.
As such, your money tree will no longer be able to absorb enough nutrients and moisture. This results in discoloration (or chlorosis) in the form of paling or yellowing.
Brown Spots on Leaves
If your money tree is overwatered, it’ll likely develop brown spots on the leaves. This usually starts as small spots that grow progressively and merge into larger blotches. You may notice that they’re water-soaked and encircled by a yellow ring around them.
As with yellow leaves, browning is a telltale sign of root rot. Don’t pin your hopes on those brown spots turning green again. So, you should snip away browned leaves using sharp pruning shears or scissors.
You must remember that some bacterial and fungal leaf spot diseases may also result in such brown spots on the leaves of your money tree.
Money Tree Leaves Drooping
Drooping money tree leaves might actually mean that you’re underwatering it. In that case, all that you have to do is give it a good dose of H20. However, when overwatering is the culprit, you’re dealing with a whole different kettle of fish.
That means your money tree has been sitting in waterlogged or soggy soil. Your plant hates ‘wet feet,’ which will cause the roots to decay. Drooping will result from a lack of moisture, nutrients, and loss of turgor pressure.
In an overwatered money tree, leaf drooping almost always goes hand in hand with wilting, yellowing, and browning.
Mold Growing on Soil
Mold spores are usually found in most potting mixes since they can’t be eliminated completely. In a lot of cases, they’re harmless and inactive.
However, when the soil remains consistently moist and soggy for long, these conditions are just right for the spores to bloom. So, if you see fuzzy white mold growths on the surface of the soil, that’s a clear sign of overwatering.
These moist conditions are also conducive for the growth of algae, mildew, and other fungal growths. All of them will appear as a moldy cover on the topsoil.
Shriveled and Mushy Appearance
You may notice that your overwatered money tree will shrivel. This is because too much water causes edema, widespread tissue damage, and bursting of the leaves.
For this reason, the leaves and stem will feel soft and mushy to the touch. This is often accompanied by limb leaves that appear weak, yellowed, and wilted.
Leaves Falling Off
Leaves of your money tree may wilt and fall off due to both underwatering and overwatering. When the leaves are falling off indiscriminately, both new and old, the finger points to overwatering. Underwatered money trees only shed older and lower leaves.
Root rot is actually responsible for the vast majority of the aforementioned symptoms of overwatering. So you see brown spots, wilting, yellowing, or limb leaves, it’s time to check your plant for root rot.
Gently remove your money tree from the pot. Immediately, you will be hit by a characteristic rotten odor from the soil. If root rot is present, decayed roots will be black, soft, and mushy to the touch.
Weak and Mushy Base of the Stem
If you have overwatered your money tree, the base of the stem will start to feel unstable, weak, or mushy. The soil around the base will also give off a stinky rotten smell.
Brown Leaf Tips and Edges
Your plant calls for deep, thorough yet infrequent watering. If you let it sit in standing water or soggy soil, the roots will first absorb too much water.
In turn, your money tree will push excess water to the tips and edges of the foliage. These events will manifest in the form of browned leaf tips and edges due to tissue damage and vein bursting.
How to Revive Overwatered Money Tree
Kudos for diagnosing that your money tree has been overwatered. Your immediate next step is to stop watering your plant to prevent further damage.
Don’t worry that it’s showing signs of thirst, such as shedding leaves, wilting, and drooping. For the next steps, you’ll need to check the severity of the overwatering situation.
Option A: How to Save Mildly Overwatered Money Tree
If the overwatering case is mild, that means root rot has not set in. You don’t have to do much but to stop watering and wait for your money tree to recover.
If there’s stagnant or standing water, you should drain it. Simply tilt or tip the container to let any excess/sitting water drain out. This will allow air pockets to reappear in the soil for healthy root growth.
As you may know, aeration is crucial for roots to survive, heal, and function well. So, poke a few holes into the wet soil using a pencil, chopstick, or splinter to increase aeration.
This next step is very important. You must not water until the soil at the root level is completely dry. You can put your finger through the drainage hole and feel if the soil at the bottom is dry. Don’t water if it’s still soggy or wet.
Provide your money tree with ideal growing conditions:
- Light – park your plant in a spot that receives an abundance of bright, indirect light. Increase duration to facilitate drying out of the soil and aid recovery.
- Humidity – Normally your money tree loves high humidity. However, because we’re dealing with overwatering, you must reduce humidity until your plant recovers.
- Temperature – Money trees prefer ideal temperatures in the range of 60-90 ºF (15-32°C). But keep the temp in the higher range to speed up soil drying out.
- Fertilizer – Hold feeding your money tree until it has recovered and new growth is evident. After that, you can fertilize with a typical water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at ½-strength monthly in spring and summer.
Once your money tree has resurged from the overwatering scare, you can resume watering. Wait until half to three-quarters of the soil has dried out before you water next.
Option B: How to Save Seriously Overwatered Money Tree
For a serious case of overwatering, you’ve to take a more aggressive revival approach. This will include treating the roots and repotting your money tree.
Let’s break it down.
Step #1: Remove your Overwatered Money Tree from the Container
Before you dig up your plant, prep the work surface. Just lay multiple sheets of newspaper, kitchen paper towels, or old magazines.
Gently, tip your money tree out of its pot. Now, lay it on its side onto the work surface and inspect the roots.
Step #2: Check Roots for Rot
If your plant shows most (if not all) of the symptoms detailed above, it’s likely the plant has root rot. You won’t miss the decayed roots. They’re brown to black, soft, and mushy when touched.
Step #3: Expose the Root System
It’s easy to assess the extent of the root damage when the whole system is exposed. For this, try loosening the potting mix around the root ball by tapping it gently.
As a general rule of thumb, try holding your money tree by the thickest section of the trunk. Gently get rid of as much of the soil as you can from the root ball.
Alternatively, you can gently wash off as much soil as you can from the roots. Use a gentle yet consistent stream of water to avoid damage and maximize soil removal.
You must dispose of the old potting mix as it contains disease-causing fungi, bacterial, mold, and other pathogens.
Step #4: Trim Away Affected Roots
You will need to get rid of unhealthy roots. Rotten roots will look black and feel soft or mushy and may give off an unpleasant odor. Use sharp, clean pruning shears, clippers, or scissors to trim them away. You can also use garden trimmers.
Don’t forget to wipe the cutting blade with rubbing alcohol after each snip. This will help prevent the spread of the fungal disease to healthy roots.
Step #5: Prune Some Leaves
You have trimmed away some of the roots because of rot. This begs the question: can the remaining, weak root system support the entire money tree?
If you guessed no, you’ll be right. That’s why you need to reduce the foliage by one-third to half. Don’t forget that some leaves of your overwatered money tree may have already fallen off.
You may also have to unbraid the trunks. This way, you can eliminate one or two, so your money tree can truly focus on recovery.
Step #6: Treat the Roots
Your roots may still contain some fungi that lead to a resurgence of the root rot. Dip your remaining roots in a fungicide solution to eliminate any fungus.
You can also treat the roots with hydrogen peroxide – mix two parts water and one part food-grade hydrogen peroxide and pour directly on the healthy roots.
Step #7: Repot
Dispose of the old potting mix, if you haven’t already. You can use a new pot or treat the old pot in a solution of water and bleach for more than half an hour.
Use a fresh potting mix when repotting your money tree. Make sure it contains around one percent hydrogen peroxide. This will help improve aeration and kill off any remaining fungi. Alternatively, you can mix into the soil some chamomile, cinnamon powder, or activated charcoal.
Option C: Propagation
If the overwatering ordeal is too severe, your money tree is definitely a goner. Your best course of action is to propagate.
- The best way is to use cuttings each around six inches long with multiple leaf nodes
- Smear the cut base with rooting hormone and pot in a soilless medium (such as sand)
- Push it down until 1/3 of the cutting is underneath the surface
- Water and cover it with a plastic bag to ensure moisture
- New roots will emerge after around seven weeks
- Wait a couple more months before you can transplant your money tree to a larger pot with fresh soil.
- Place your repotted plant in a shadier, cooler spot to recover.
How to Water Money Tree
You must water your money tree when the top inch of the soil has dried out. Don’t wait until the leaves are wilting, yellowing, or falling off.
When watering from the top, water until the liquid oozes out of the drainage hole. Let it sit to soak up enough water for 10 minutes. Then, dump out the excess water from the saucer.
If watering from below, top up the saucer and let the pot sit on the water for 10+ minutes. Or wait until the soil is thoroughly moist yet not soggy. Remove the pot and tip to drain excess.
Watering Frequency for Money Tree
Maintain a frequent watering routine during the active growing season. That’s usually from early spring through summer. Your money tree may need more water when it’s young and growing rapidly.
During the dormant period of fall and wintertime, water your money tree less frequently. Always check that the top inch of the soil dries out between waterings.
Factors Influence Watering Frequency
Naturally, some factors like temperature, humidity, and light exposure determine the frequency of watering your money tree. You must also consider the season, pot material, the size & type of pot, and the size of your money tree.
What Kind of Water Does a Money Tree Need?
Money trees are susceptible to mineral and chemical toxicity. For best growth, you must avoid softened or tap water. Consider using filtered or distilled water.
When to Water Money Tree After Repotting?
It may take several weeks for your money tree to get back to normal growth after repotting. This will depend on the amount of root loss due to overwatering damage. The rule of thumb is to water after the first sight of new growth.
Common Mistakes in Watering Money Tree
|Common Mistakes||How to Avoid|
|Inconsistent watering||Maintain a consistent watering routine|
|Watering too much||Water again only when the top inch of the soil has dried out|
|Wet soil from overwatering||Ensure good drainage and avoid overwatering|
|Watering the leaves and not the soil||Avoid overhead watering. Consider watering from below.|
|Watering during the heat of the day||Water early in the morning or late in the evening|