Pachira aquatica, commonly known as the money tree or Guiana chestnut, is native to Central and South America, where it grows wild in wetlands and on riverbanks. These evergreen trees feature green, glossy compound leaves and grow up to 60 feet tall in their natural habitat. The money tree grows outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, but performs well as a houseplant in colder climates. When grown indoors, it is a popular tree for bonsai and the trunks are often braided together.
Outdoors, money trees thrive in flooded areas and will do well if planted near a pond where roots may be submerged in water. Money trees perform best in these conditions if water recedes occasionally to allow oxygen into the root system. Plant your money tree in a location that blocks the wind to prevent drying of the leaves. Although money trees tolerate shaded conditions, they prefer full sun to partial shade. If planted outdoors, hot afternoon sun may scorch the leaves, so plant in partial shade to maintain a healthy tree.
Place indoor plants in bright, indirect sunlight. Money trees may eventually adapt to lower light levels, but growth will slow if the tree does not receive adequate light. Keep room temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime. Although outdoor plants sometimes tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees, do not allow indoor temperatures to regularly drop below 45 degrees.
When planting outdoors, money trees will tolerate most soil types, but prefer fertile soil. Amend poor soil with compost to add nutrients. When growing indoors, provide a good-quality potting mix. Good drainage is necessary for money trees grown in containers. Add sand to the potting mix to improve drainage.
Money trees require frequent watering. Keep the soil evenly moist. Mist leaves with water once a week or place the plant in a room containing a humidifier. Reduce watering of both indoor and outdoor plants in the winter. If allowed to become too dry, the leaves may drop.
Money trees respond well to feeding. Dilute water-soluble fertilizer by half and feed once every two weeks during the growing season. Discontinue fertilizing in the winter and resume again in the spring.
Money trees do not require regular pruning, however leaves may be removed to shape the tree. Remove brown or yellow leaves if desired. If you have a tree with a braided trunk, new growth may interfere with the braid and removal of problematic branches may be necessary. Use sharp pruning tools to avoid damaging the tree.