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Dying Money Tree? Crucial Tips to Save Your Pachira Aquatica

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Do you have a dying money tree (Pachira aquatica) and you are at a loss for how to save it? I’ve found that there is a tremendous amount of conflicting advice and misinformation on this plant, and I’m here to help set the record straight so that you can understand how to turn your dying money tree around and help it thrive once again.

Before going into the care of this plant, it is always very helpful to get clues on the care from its botanical name and also from its growing conditions in its native environment.

The botanical name for Money Tree is Pachira aquatica. The specific epithet aquatica means that it grows in or near water.

Money Tree is native to swamps and river banks in Mexico, Central America and South America.




As you can probably gather from the facts above, this is NOT a drought tolerant plant. Allowing your potting mix to go completely dry (especially if you do this repeatedly) will result in a very quick downfall.

Potting mix that is too dry will result in yellowing of the lower leaves on your plant. The entire plant itself may also droop in extreme cases.


Feel your potting mix with your finger (avoid using soil moisture meters since most of the inexpensive ones are junk), and if it is completely dry, give your plant a very thorough soaking.

When you neglect your plant and the potting mix goes really dry, before the lower leaves turn completely yellow, they will look like the photo below.

Take a look at the lower leaves.


This my own money tree that I allowed to get too dry, and you can see the lower leaves are starting to turn yellow. The veins are still green, but this is not considered chlorosis since the newest leaves are healthy and green.

Note that once the lower leaves started to yellow a bit, as a result of very dry potting mix, the foliage will not turn green again even after you “fix” your watering.

If your plant is extremely root bound, it may also make it very difficult to keep your plant hydrated enough, so it will be time for a larger pot at that point.

Also be careful of small pots as they will dry out pretty quickly and will need more frequent attention to watering.

If you want a wonderful potting mix that has been formulated specifically for the needs of plants like your money tree, try the Rainforest Soil Blend from Oh Happy Plants. If you use my link, you will also receive 10% off automatically at checkout.

Oh Happy Plants has amazing potting mixes, and use sustainable ingredients. I’ve been using a lot of their products and my plants definitely are happier!


If I had a dime for every time a site online mentions “overwatering” as the cause for every single plant woe, I could probably retire by now.

If you are supplying your plant with enough light (more on that later), you have drainage holes and a well draining potting mix, it is difficult to “overwater.”

There are many other factors that affect how quickly potting mix dries out. I talk about all of these factors and more in my book, Houseplant Warrior: 7 Keys to Unnlocking the Mysteries of Houseplant Care, published by Countryman Press.


What conditions does your money tree like when it comes to soil moisture? Here are my general rules of thumb:

  • Never allow your potting mix to dry out completely if you can help it.
  • DO allow the top inch or so of your potting mix to dry out. If you have a larger pot, you can even allow the top couple inches to dry out.
  • Always have a drainage hole(s) in your pot.
  • Use a well draining potting mix. A good general mix is 2-3 parts of a good all-purpose potting mix and 1 part perlite.
  • Never allow your plant to sit in water (such as in the saucer under the pot) for extended periods of time.


It’s sad that I need to even say this, but do not use ice to water your money tree.

This plant is sometimes sold with a label that instructs the plant owner to use ice to water the plant. This is a horrible idea for many reasons:

  • These plants do not like cold temperatures and they can be damaged.
  • If you have your plant slipped into a decorative pot with no drainage holes, and you have your plant growing in dim conditions, it can result in water accumulating at the bottom. If you’re not routinely checking and emptying accumulated water, then your plant will start to rot. I’ve worked with many people who have also killed their moth orchids in this exact fashion.
  • Ice may even work for a while, if your plant is growing in a smaller pot, but once you repot into a larger pot, the amount of ice recommended on the label will no longer be sufficient to moisten all of the potting mix.

Moral of the story: Don’t use ice to water.


In order to truly grow a beautiful specimen, it requires very consistent conditions, particularly with watering and light.

And that takes us to another important topic…light.


Many sources will say that this plant doesn’t tolerate direct sun. This is also false. Pachira aquatica often grows in sunny locations outdoors.

Indoors, the light intensity is a lot less, so your plant can very easily take (and benefit from) some direct sun indoors.

You don’t have to place your plant in the sunniest window that you have indoors, but an Eastern or Western exposure will be great for your Pachira aquatica.

Your plant may shed some lower leaves during dark periods of the winter, so if you can move your plant to a brighter location during this time, or supplement with a grow light, it will benefit your plant.


Pests can be another reason why your money plant’s leaves are yellowing. These plants can be prone to spider mites, so look out for fine webbing on the foliage, very small, crawling mites, and a mottled yellowish appearance of the leaves.

Check out my blog post on treating spider mites in houseplants for more information.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and are able to turn that dying money tree around into a full, beautiful specimen. Do you have a money tree? Comment below. I’d love to hear!

Alicia Schmitt

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

I have two money trees. Yes I would love to know how to care for them and other plants too


Thursday 28th of September 2023

I hope the post got you off to the right start!

Michael Cunningham

Tuesday 19th of September 2023

I bought a money plant in the early Summer. I repotted it in a pot a size bigger. I water it once a week and stop when the water starts coming out the bottom of pot. I do not allow any water to collect on the pot tray. I noticed in the last week two leaves had developed black spots. I cut off these leaves and disposed of them. I still do not know what caused this issue.


Tuesday 19th of September 2023

Do you have any photos of the black spots?


Monday 14th of August 2023

I have a Money Tree that was doing really well until I repot her in June of this year. I place her in pot twice the size of the small one she was in. The leaves begin to turn yellow and I would take them off. I assumed I had overwatered when I repotted ; so I took her out of that soil rinse the roots off and placed in new soil. It appears to be doing better.


Monday 14th of August 2023

Hi Faye! I'm glad your plant is doing better. I typically recommend only going up one pot size higher when you repot.

Laurah Muranyi

Thursday 15th of June 2023

I have 2 questions. I just repotted my money tree with 1 part garden soil and 1 part black dirt. Both are dense so it will retain a lot of moisture. Is this a big enough problem to risk the shock of repotting it? I made the same mistake with my ponytail tree, so same question?


Thursday 15th of June 2023

Hi Laurah, I would definitely repot it. It is much too dense for growing indoors. I would repot both now. You should be ok!


Sunday 16th of April 2023

Omg I’m so glad I found this article. My money tree dries out so fast. Admittedly, my apartment gets really dry but even having the humidifier on was not working. First the bottom big leaves started getting yellow and fell out. 1/4 of the leaves have gone. :’( Checked for pests but I don’t see any? I use moisture meter and I realized my money tree gets dry after 3-4 days of watering. All articles say “overwatering” but my moisture meter and the look/feel of the soil say “dry.”

I will make sure to change the soil but I am also wondering if the ceramic pot I have is too drying as well? One time I watched the ceramic pot’s saucer suck out all the excess water just like that… not sure if this is normal. New plant parent here. What kind of pots do you recommend?

Also, my apartment does not get any direct sun (the only windows face north) but I live in a high rise building so I get tons of bright indirect light. Hope the lighting isn’t the issue?

Anyways, I don’t usually comment on articles but I had to really thank you for this!!! I have been incessantly researching what’s wrong with my money tree and even Reddit people were not responding. Thank you!! :)


Monday 17th of April 2023

I'm so glad you enjoyed my post! I would ditch the moisture meter as most of the inexpensive ones are not reliable. Just use your finger. If it's a glazed ceramic pot, you're fine. If it is, the outside is normally sealed and it wouldn't be like a terra cotta pot that is porous and dries out quickly. As long as your plant is right in front of your north window (which is sounds like it is), it's ok. By any chance, when you water, does the water stream right through quickly? How big is the pot that it's in? I don't think there is a need to change the soil at this point. Let me know the answers to my questions, and I can try and help.