How to Grow Guiana Chestnut (Money Tree) Indoors

Improve your home’s Feng Shui with this easy-to-grow plant

A Guiana Chestnut on a table

The Spruce / Kortney Gloska

Guiana Chestnut, also commonly referred to as the Money Tree, is a species of tree native to Central and South America that has become an attractive houseplant thanks to its hardy nature. First popularized as a houseplant in Taiwan in the 1980s, the Money Tree is prominent among those who practice Feng Shui and is believed to create positive “Chi,” or energy in the home. This has made it a staple in offices, banks, and homes alike.

Guiana Chestnut is most commonly sold as a small plant with a braided trunk made up of three, five, or seven stems. The trees are braided by nurseries when they are young and will continue to grow this way as they mature.

Botanical Name Pachira aquatica
Common Name Guiana Chestnut, Money Tree
Plant Type Tree, Bombacoideae family
Mature Size Between 6 feet to eight indoors
Sun Exposure Medium to bright indirect light
Soil Type Well-drained potting soil
Soil pH 6.0 to 7.5
Bloom Time Summer (doesn't flower indoors)
Flower Color Yellow/white, with red-tipped stamens
Native Area Central and South America
closeup of a Guiana Chestnut
The Spruce / Kortney Gloska 
closeup of a Guiana Chestnut
The Spruce / Kortney Gloska 

How to Grow Guiana Chestnut

Growing up to 60 feet in the wild, indoors Guiana Chestnut will only grow between 6ft to eight feet tall and can also be trained as a bonsai if you prefer to keep it small. The key to growing Guiana Chestnut indoors is giving it the right amount of light and water as it requires a significant amount of both. The good news is that it is a difficult plant to overwater which makes it ideal for those people who have a tendency to kill their plants with too much TLC.

When grown outdoors, Guiana Chestnut produces stunning yellowish-white flowers which are eventually replaced by large seed pods with peanut-like nuts inside. However, when grown indoors Guiana Chestnut does not flower as it requires pollination to do so—a task that is carried out by bats in the wild. Despite this, when given the proper care indoors Guiana Chestnut can flourish, and increase the positive energy in your home at the same time!

Light

Outdoors, Guiana Chestnut can tolerate direct sunlight, but indoors they should be placed in bright to medium indirect light. Guiana Chestnut also does well under fluorescent light.

Soil

A well-draining, nutrient-rich potting soil is recommended for Guiana Chestnut. A peat moss-based mixture would be ideal, but a standard quick-draining soil mixture such as regular cactus or flower soil will also work. If the soil requires more drainage, sand or gravel can be mixed in.

Water

Guiana Chestnut should be watered once the top one inch of soil is dry. Typically they will require more frequent watering in the spring and summer and should be watered less often in the fall and winter. While Guiana Chestnut thrives with lots of water, be careful not to overwater as overwatering can kill them quickly. The best way to avoid overwatering your Guiana Chestnut is to ensure that the potting container and the soil have the proper drainage.

Temperature and Humidity

Guiana Chestnut appreciates mild temperatures and high humidity. Temperatures should be kept between 65F to 75F (16C to 24C) and Guiana Chestnut should be kept away from cold and warm drafts. Since home environments are typically dry you can increase humidity around your Guiana Chestnut by placing it on top of a pebble tray filled with water, or by misting the leaves regularly.

Fertilizer

In the spring and summer when the plant is actively producing new leaves a Guiana Chestnut should be fertilized once a month with a basic household plant food diluted to half strength. During the fall and winter fertilizing should be reduced to once every other month at the most.

Potting and Repotting

Repotting Guiana Chestnut is only necessary if you want your tree to grow larger. If you want to keep your Guiana Chestnut small (as it can grow up to eight feet tall indoors!), keeping it in a small pot is one of the best ways to do so. When choosing a potting container for your Guiana Chestnut always ensure that you choose one with a drainage hole, as Guiana Chestnuts do not like their roots to sit in water and can easily develop root rot if proper drainage is not provided.

Propagating Guiana Chestnut

Propagation by stem cuttings is the most common way to propagate Guiana Chestnut. Propagation should be done in the spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. Start by snipping off 10- to 15-centimeter cuttings and placing them in water to grow roots. After a few weeks once the roots have developed enough, dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone and transfer them to the soil. Guiana Chestnut can also be propagated by air layering, which is a slightly more complicated method but tends to yield better results.

Pruning

Pruning is an important part of caring for Guiana Chestnut, especially if you wish to train the plant as a bonsai or control its size. Regular pruning of the lower leaves can also help to encourage new growth at the top of the plant. 

Common Pests and Diseases

Guiana Chestnut is susceptible to a range of common houseplant pests when grown indoors, but are particularly prone to mealybugs and scale which usually occur as a result of improper care. If an infestation occurs, it can be managed according to the type of pest.