Why Are the Leaves Turning Brown on My Money Tree?

Written by brenda priddy
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The money tree, or Pachira aquatica (named for its need for water), is a type of tree that is native to South America. The wetlands are its preferred home, and it loves moisture and humidity. The money tree is often sold as a houseplant, and it performs well in most indoor environments. Outdoor growing regions for the money tree are USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. The tree has few problems, other than leaves browning and dropping.

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Identification

Not all of the leaves that may fall from the money tree may actually be a solid brown colour. Some of the leaves may first turn yellow before turning brown. Some leaves may just have brown edges, and start to curl up. If you notice a majority of the leaves starting to fall, that is a sign that something is seriously wrong with the tree, and it should be addressed immediately.

Over- and Under-Watering

The main reason that money tree leaves fall is due to over- or under-watering. The plant should receive enough water to remain moist at all times. However, the soil should never be allowed to sit in puddles of water for extended time periods. If the tray underneath the plant is always wet, then the tree has too much water. If the soil ever dries out, the tree is not getting enough water. Both of these extremes can cause leaves to turn brown and fall off. Low humidity will also cause leaves to turn brown. Increase humidity by spraying the leaves with a spray bottle of water two or three times a week.

Pot Size

Money trees can grow anywhere from 3 to 60 feet tall. Most money trees are purchased when small, and the plants are potted in smaller pots. If the tree starts to outgrow the pot, it may become root-bound. When this occurs, the roots do not have enough space to expand, and they no longer can receive the nutrients from the soil. This will slowly cause the leaves to die, because the tree is not receiving the nutrients it needs to survive. If the tree becomes root-bound, move the tree to a pot that is at least twice as large as the original pot.

Lighting

Lighting can also cause the money tree’s leaves to turn brown. The tree prefers full sunlight. Since the tree is often grown indoors, it does not receive enough light to keep the plant alive. With reduced sunlight exposure, the leaves will turn brown and fall off. Move the tree to a location that receives at least eight hours of sunlight each day. It may be necessary to move the tree outdoors to receive enough sunlight.

Life Cycle

As the money tree is an evergreen tree, it never has a period of dormancy. This means that the leaves will fall off slowly on their own as part of the normal life cycle. The leaves do turn brown before they fall, which can cause tree owners to panic. If only a few leaves turn brown at a time, it is likely due to the normal life cycle of the plant.

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