Money tree (Pachira aquatica) is a popular tropical plant known for its palm-shaped leaves, low-maintenance care needs, and positive associations with feng shui. But even this hardy houseplant's leaves can turn yellow if there's a problem.
Yellow leaves happen when your plant's ability to produce chlorophyll, the green coloring plants use to convert sunlight into food, is inhibited. Leaves turning yellow can be your plant's way of telling you something is wrong, so when you spot them, it's best to act quickly. Luckily, if you catch the issue in time, there's a good chance you'll be able to restore the plant back to health.
Causes of Yellow Money Tree Leaves
Your money tree could have yellow leaves for several reasons, but it's pretty easy to narrow down the cause and fix the issue once you know what to look for. Here are six reasons your money tree's leaves could be turning yellow.
Too much water is one of the most common causes of yellow leaves in houseplants, and money tree is no exception. Watering too often, planting in heavy soil, using a pot with no drainage hole, or letting plants sit in a saucer full of water can all contribute to root rot. This issue affects your plant's ability to take up nutrients and water from the soil and can eventually kill the plant if left untreated.
Too Much Light
Money tree grows best with bright, indirect light. Too much light—or strong, direct sunlight on the plant, especially from a south-facing or west-facing window—can cause pale, yellowish patches to appear on otherwise healthy green leaves.
Not Enough Humidity
Money trees are native to the tropics in Central and South America and thrive in swampy areas. These plants grow best in a space with at least 50 percent humidity, but indoor conditions in more temperate climates tend to be much drier, especially in winter. Overly dry conditions or blowing air from ventilation systems can cause your money tree's leaves to get crispy brown edges before wilting and dropping off.
If your money tree is located near a heating vent, air conditioning unit, or a drafty window or doorway, temperature fluctuations could cause yellow leaves. The plant prefers consistent warm temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees.
Common houseplant pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale can damage your money tree. These insects feed by sucking the sap from plant parts, which can cause leaves to turn yellow.
Normal Plant Growth
The occasional yellow leaf on your money tree is completely normal. As the plant grows, older leaves naturally yellow, die, and drop off. If the plant is putting out new growth, you've been giving it the proper care and conditions, and there aren't other signs of problems, a yellow leaf here isn't a cause for concern.
How to Treat Yellowing Leaves on Money Tree
If you suspect the yellow leaves on your money tree are a symptom of a problem rather than normal growth, you'll want to identify and remedy the issue as soon as possible. Regardless of the cause, you'll want to trim away yellow, brown, or otherwise damaged leaves with sharp, sterilized pruners or scissors so the plant can focus on its healthy growth.
Check your plant's soil. If it's soggy or wet and you've been watering frequently, overwatering could be the cause. Stop watering and let the soil fully dry out before watering again. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to repot the plant, remove any rotten roots, and replant in fresh soil.
If the yellowing leaves on your money tree resemble pale spots on otherwise healthy foliage and the plant is in a very sunny spot, sunburn caused by too much light could be the culprit. Move the plant further from the light source to a place that still gets some indirect light, or put up a sheer curtain to filter the sunlight.
Temperature and humidity issues can be tougher problems to address. Relocate the plant to a space with consistent temperature, keeping it away from windows, doors, and air vents. To create a more humid microclimate, group your money tree with several other humidity-loving plants, or run a humidifier in the space to add moisture to the air.
Inspect your money tree for signs of pest infestations, like flat brown spots and sticky sap on leaves and stems (scale), cotton-like masses (eggs laid by mealybugs), or thin webs along leaf veins and the axils where leaves meet stems (spider mites). To remove these pests, cover the plant's pot and soil, then spray them off with water. Treat the plant with neem oil to keep pests at bay. Cut off and throw away very infested plant parts, and quarantine your money tree away from other houseplants until it makes a full recovery.
The best way to prevent your money tree's leaves from turning yellow is to give it consistent care, maintain the proper growing conditions, and look out for common problems like pests. When you do spot an issue, act quickly to keep the problem from spreading or progressing. Finally, remember that the occasional yellow leaf on a healthy money tree is nothing to worry about.