Show Me the Money Pachira Aquatica Care for Beginners

About Pachira aquatica


Also known as the money tree or Guiana chestnut, Pachira aquatica is a tree from the mallow family Malvaceae (the same family as common mallow weed), although it was previously considered a member of Bombacaceae.

In the wild, this species can grow as high as 60 feet and become immensely wide, although luckily it doesn’t tend to surpass 10 feet in our homes!

Natural habitat

As the common name of “Guiana chestnut” suggests, this tree is naturally found in Central and South America, from southern Mexico to northern Brazil and—yep—Guyana. 

Uses and cultural significance

Although Pachira aquatica originally hails from the Americas, it’s actually more widely commercially used in Asia. There are many different houseplants out there that are referred to as “money plant” or “money tree,” but some sources say that Pachira aquatica is the original or most important one.

(As an aside, Pachira aquatica is not to be confused with another popular houseplant, Pilea peperomioides, that’s commonly called the money plant.)

In some East Asian cultures, Pachira aquatica is considered a bringer of financial prosperity and general good luck. 

Various stories float around about how this tree came to be a symbol of good luck, but they all more or less come down to the same thing: A man down on his luck prayed for prosperity, and not long after, came across a small tree he didn’t recognize. He took it home, realized it would do well as a houseplant and ended up growing more from the seeds. People absolutely loved the tree and he ended up making a fortune selling them.

Pachira aquatica varieties

The money tree is a single species, and unlike some other houseplants, there aren’t many different varieties out there. The differences are mostly in the way trees are braided and presented: three stems, five stems, or even eight stems. Some sources mention a cultivar called ‘Lemon Blush’, but I can’t find any photos or patents for that. 

What I have seen are various different variegated money trees, though I’m not sure if these are natural or the result of variegation achieved through chemical manipulation. (This is sometimes done by treating plants with certain chemicals or viruses that cause DNA mutations. While it can produce variegated foliage, the result isn’t permanent and the practice is widely frowned upon.)

Caring for Pachira aquatica

Light and temperature

In this care guide, I’ll explain why a money tree may be a better choice for your home than something like a fiddle leaf fig, which is more popular but also considered significantly more difficult to care for. 

Water and humidity

As mentioned in the above section on habitat, Pachira aquatica is naturally found in river floodplains and other swampy areas. However, since a money tree in a pot doesn’t receive quite the same drainage that a wild one growing in full soil does, it’s usually recommended not to water yours too much in order to prevent issues like root rot.

Soil and planting

To imitate the soil that your money tree would grow in if it were a wild tree in its natural floodplain habitat, you’ll want to go for something both rich and well-draining. After all, these habitats naturally receive a lot of nutritious river gunk, so your Pachira aquatica likes a similar soil in the home!


Unsurprisingly, a Guiana chestnut will appreciate a bit of fertilizer, at least during the growing months of spring, summer, and early fall. If it’s been a few months since you’ve repotted, it has likely depleted the nutrients in its soil, so you can use a regular liquid houseplant fertilizer once or twice a month.

Be sure not to use fertilizer during winter or if your money tree isn’t doing well. It won’t make it grow better, as the plant won’t be able to take up the nutrients. Instead, it can end up harming the roots.

Pruning and braiding

Money trees don’t need a lot of pruning, except to remove dead leaves and any that you don’t like the look of.

If you have a braided specimen and would like to maintain the look, though, you’ll have to do that once in a while as the tree grows. This is important for those who grow the plant for its symbolism, as the braid is supposed to catch and lock good luck in its tresses.

Dividing or repotting

Since Pachira aquatica generally isn’t really a candidate for division—unless you’d want to unbraid one and pot up the different stems separately, which probably won’t give a very nice-looking result—you’ll have to repot yours once in a while.