Money trees are popular and attractive indoor plants known for their lush, bright green leaves and braided trunks. However, money tree owners may encounter frustrating issues with their plants, especially yellowing, browning, and dropping leaves. This article will explore the common causes behind these money tree leaf problems and provide troubleshooting tips to restore your plant’s health.
Table of Contents
Common Causes of Money Tree Leaf Issues
There are a few key factors that can lead to unhealthy money tree leaves:
Money trees need bright, filtered light from an east or west-facing window. Too much direct sunlight can scorch leaves, first causing small brown spots and then yellowing as leaves die and fall off. On the other hand, too little light leads to uniformly yellow leaves that drop early.
Solution: Place your money tree in a spot with ample ambient brightness but minimal direct sun rays hitting the leaves. Rotate the plant periodically for even light exposure.
Underwatering causes leaf yellowing and drop while overwatering leads to brown leaf spots surrounded by yellow halos, then leaf loss. Both extremes stress the plant.
Solution: Water whenever the top inch of soil is dry, and make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.
Dry indoor air often dries out leaf tips first, later causing margins to turn brown. This spreads inward if not addressed.
Solution: Mist plant leaves, use a humidifier, or place the pot on a pebble tray to increase moisture in the air.
Insects like spider mites suck nutrients from leaves, forming stippled spots that turn yellow and brown. Webbing may also be visible.
Solution: Wipe leaves down with insecticidal soap and keep watch for recurring issues.
Fungal leaf spot diseases first form small brown marks surrounded by yellowing. These often result from excess moisture.
Solution: Remove affected leaves. Allow the topsoil to dry between waterings and avoid wetting leaves. Increase air circulation around the plant.
How to Treat Money Tree Leaf Problems
If your money tree is struggling with any of the above issues, take action right away for the best chance of recovery:
Remove Damaged Leaves
Prune off any yellow, brown, or dropped leaves at the base of the stem. This neatens up the plant’s appearance and prevents disease spread.
Find the Right Spot
Place the money tree in a location with ample indirect sunlight and humidity. An east-facing window is ideal in most homes.
Adjust Watering Frequency
Feel the soil before watering and only add more if the top inch is dry. Ensure proper drainage by having holes at the bottom of the container.
Wipe Leaves Down
Use a damp cloth to gently wipe dust and dirt off both sides of leaves about once a week. This removes debris that blocks light absorption.
Apply Fungicide if Needed
For recurring leaf spot fungus, apply copper-based fungicide per label instructions. Remove and destroy severely infected leaves first.
Monitor and Adjust Care
Observe your plant routinely to spot issues early and tweak its care accordingly. With attentive troubleshooting, money trees can thrive for years.
When to Repot a Money Tree
Repotting into fresh soil can revitalize a struggling money tree. Good times to repot include:
- When the plant becomes extremely root-bound in its current container
- After pruning away a large number of yellow or brown leaves
- If fungus gnat insects keep emerging (indicating overly moist soil)
- When switching to a decorative ceramic or glass container without drainage (use a separate nursery pot inside)
Use loose, well-draining potting mix and choose a pot that is 2 inches wider than the current size. Trim any circled roots before repotting.
Proper Money Tree Fertilization
While fertilizer isn’t a cure-all, applying the right one at the right times can boost a money tree’s growth and resilience.
Good options include:
- Balanced liquid fertilizers like 10-10-10 or 20-20-20
- Slow-release pellet mixes worked into the soil
- Organic manure fertilizers
Avoid over-fertilizing. Stick to the label instructions, usually fertilizing every 2-3 months during the active growing period (spring through summer).
Pruning Money Trees
Strategic pruning keeps money trees looking their best. Trim off:
- Dead or dying yellow/brown leaves and branches
- Crowded, crossing, or leggy stems
- Excess top growth encourages bushiness
- Suckers emerging from the rootstock
Prune cleanly just above the nodes using sterilized shears. Avoid removing more than 20% of foliage at once to prevent stress.
Money Tree Pests and Control Methods
Spider mites, mealybugs, and scale are common money tree pests. Here’s how to tackle an infestation:
- Signs: Speckled yellow stippling on leaves. Fine webs may be visible. Leaves turn brown and fall off.
- Treatment: Wipe the plant down with insecticidal soap. Apply multiple times within 5-7 days between applications. Remove badly infested leaves.
- Signs: White fuzzy blobs on stems and leaf joints. Leaf yellowing. Honeydew secretions.
- Treatment: Manually remove visible insects using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray for any remaining pests.
- Signs: Circular brown bumps tightly affixed to stems and leaves. Yellow spots on leaves. Honeydew secretions.
- Treatment: Scrape off visible scale covers using your fingernail or toothbrush. Apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap sprays every 5-7 days for 2-3 weeks.
Be vigilant about checking for recurring infestations. Isolate seriously infested plants to prevent spread.
When to Propagate Money Trees
Money trees can be easily propagated via stem cuttings or air layering. This clones your plant and creates new potted trees. Propagate when your money tree is healthy and actively growing, usually in spring or summer.
Stem cuttings involve taking 5-6 inch trimmings and rooting them in water or potting mix. Air layering wraps moist sphagnum moss around a stem section to encourage roots prior to cutting.
Related article: Grow money plant on your balcony
Troubleshooting Leggy Money Tree Growth
If your money tree becomes lanky with large gaps between leaf clusters along the braided trunk, excess light exposure is usually the culprit. Other causes can include dry air, low fertilization, or root binding.
To encourage bushy compact growth:
- Move the plant away from direct light exposure
- Maintain moderate indoor humidity around 50-60% RH
- Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 months during spring through fall
- Repot annually or when extremely root-bound into a slightly larger pot
Pinch back leggy stem tips to promote branching and fullness. Rotating the pot frequently also results in even, balanced growth.
Money Trees With Yellow Leaves After Repotting
It’s common for money trees to experience some transplant shock and yellowing leaves after repotting. To minimize stress:
- Water thoroughly after repotting and keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy wet) for the first few weeks until new root growth is established.
- Remove any leaves or stems that fail to recover, turning crispy brown. Healthy green growth will resume once the root system expands in the new container.
- Keep the plant shaded from direct sun immediately after reporting to prevent added stress. Slowly reintroduce brighter light over 2-4 weeks.
- Apply a balanced fertilizer at half strength 2-4 weeks after repotting.
- Be patient! It often takes money trees 4-8 weeks after repotting to fully settle in and restart vigorous leaf growth.
With attentive care, money trees generally re-establish themselves in their new containers. Continue monitoring for signs of distress and adjust factors like water, light, and fertilization as needed.
When to Be Concerned About Money Tree Leaf Problems
While no plant looks perfect at all times, significant yellowing, browning, leaf drop, and other issues warrant concern and action:
Act promptly if your money tree shows:
- More than 20% of leaves turn yellow or brown
- Over 1/3 of total foliage dropping
- No new leaf growth over 4-6 weeks of spring/summer
- Webbing, insects, or signs of disease
- Wilting, crispy foliage, or dead stems despite proper watering
Don’t let problems progress too far before intervening or restoring the plant may become impossible. In many cases, simply adjusting one or two key factors like moisture, light exposure, or fertilization frequency fixes issues before they escalate beyond recovery.
Avoiding Common Money Tree Care Mistakes
By learning what practices to avoid, you can sidestep many preventable problems:
- Expose plants to full mid-day sun or lengthening fall/winter rays
- Sit plants directly on a cold windowsill in winter
- Allow potting soil to dry out completely
- Use potting mixes containing peat or coconut coir (retain too much moisture)
- Water on a fixed calendar schedule rather than based on soil dryness
- Miss early signs of insect infestations or fungal disease
- Assume yellow lower leaves are normal (likely over/under-watering)
- Repot into a ceramic or glass container without drainage holes
Adjusting these trouble spots transforms the care and health of many failing money trees. Learn your plant’s needs and quirks through attentive observation and care.
In Conclusion: Enjoy Your Thriving Money Tree
Caring for houseplants often requires some trial and error, but attention and quick response to problems lead to success more often than not. Follow this guide when trouble arises, and you can master money tree care for thriving, lush green plants that grace your indoor space for many years on end. Consistent yet attentive tending helps ward off and treat the most common causes of unpleasant leaf issues.
Gardening is my passion and growing plants indoors has always been a stress relief for me. Grow a banana tree in my apartment once (although failed to produce bananas).