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Overwatered Money Tree: Telltale Signs & Easy Solutions

Overwatered money tree
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / CynLam

Money trees are relatively easy to care for. While overwatering a money tree is possible, if you look out for signs of illness in your plants, you can remedy the situation quickly.

Pachira aquatica, also known as the money tree or jade plant, is a popular house plant said to bring good fortune and positive energy. They are characterized by their dark green leaves and braided trunks made up of several stems. While the plants are native to Latin America, they are very popular in East Asian countries as well.

Money trees are commonly sold as small indoor bonsai plants. For owners who are not familiar with caring for bonsai plants, they may have a harder time taking care of these guys. Overwatering is a common mistake with many houseplants – but if recognized in time, an overwatered money tree can be revived. 

Signs of an Overwatered Money Tree

The money tree is part of the bonsai plant family.
The money tree is part of the bonsai plant family.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ilyessuti)

Due to the wide variety of issues that houseplants can have, it can be difficult to diagnose the problem. If you notice any of the following signs, you might be dealing with an overwatered money tree:

  • Yellow and brown leaves are a sign of overwatering. While dry, crispy brown spots may indicate dehydration, brown spots with yellow halos are a clear sign of too much hydration. You many also notice brown leaf tips and edges.
  • Discoloration may be due to overwatering. Overall discoloration due to overwatering often results in loss of dark green pigment. The money tree will become lighter and more yellow in color. 
  • Wilting or curling leaves typically indicate overwatering. Check for further signs to figure out what’s going on. 
  • Drooping, limp and falling leaves are a tell tale sign. If the leaves are weak and limp, this usually is due to overwatering. If you notice defoliation, this can be due to both too much and too little water. Whereas dehydrated plants lose older and lower leaves, overwatered plants lost leaves seemingly at random. These include leaves at all different stages of growth, of all colors and all areas of the plant. 
  • Stunted growth can be an indication of overwatering, so check for other signs as well. 
  • Consistently wet soil is a problem. The plant must have proper drainage to dry out in between watering. If the soil remains wet for several days, the plant is overwatered. 
  • Mold is a definite sign of overwatering. Fungus needs a moist environment to grow and thrive, so if your plant’s soil is wet enough for mold, it’s been overwatered. Moldy soil is a common but fixable problem in many house plants. In money trees, it can look like a white powdery substance. Other fungal growths may include algae or mildew.
  • Root rot is the worst result of overwatering as it will lead to the death of your money tree. You can recognize root rot in several ways:
    • If the plant’s stem has become weak and soft feeling, it may be due to root rot.
    • You can also inspect the soil or remove the plant to look at its roots.
    • If you’re dealing with root rot, the soil will be loose and foul smelling.
    • While roots should be white and firm, rotting roots are usually dark in color, wet and mushy. 

How to Fix an Overwatered Money Tree

  1. Carefully remove the plant from the pot and brush away the soil.
  2. Check if the soil is smelly, wet, or moldy. If it is, make sure to dispose of the soil rather than saving it for future planting. 
  3. Inspect the roots for root rot. Healthy roots should be firm and white. If the roots are dark and mushy, they are rotting. 
  4. If there is no root rot and the soil is in good condition, simply return the plant back to its pot and leave it alone to dry out over the next week or two. You can help the overwatered money tree drain itself by poking some holes in the soil with a pencil, or your finger. This will aid the plant in getting needed fresh air so excess moisture can evaporate. 
  5. If the roots are rotting, they must be cut away. Using clean scissors, carefully cut away any roots which are dark in color, slimy or mushy. The remaining roots should be strong, firm and white. 
  6. Do some pruning. Limp, wilted and discolored leaves must be cut away so that the plant can direct its energy toward growing new, strong leaves and roots. 
  7. Using a clean pot with multiple drainage holes, repot the plant in fresh, dry soil. If you decide to stick with the same pot, make sure to clean it out with hot water and mild soap first. 
  8. Place the Money Tree in a spot that gets lots of indirect sunlight. Leave it alone to recover from the trimming and repotting. Do not water the plant for at least a week. 

Taking Care of a Money Tree

Place your money tree in an east-facing window to avoid direct sunlight.
Place your money tree in an east-facing window to avoid direct sunlight.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Scott Webb)
  1. Do not place your money tree in direct sunlight, they prefer lots of indirect light.
  2. Water sparingly. Money trees generally only need to be watered every one to two weeks. In the summer, they will need a bit more frequent watering. Check if your plant needs watering by inserting your finger into the top inch of the soil. The inch should be dry before you watering. If it’s still a bit moist, wait a few more days.
  3. Open windows frequently to provide fresh air and ventilation. This helps to prevent overwatering. 
  4. Use a pot with many drainage holes and place a saucer underneath. This is imperative to your plant’s health, as your plant needs to be able to get rid of excess water. If you’re watering from the top, keep an eye on the saucer. Once it starts filling up, stop watering. Wait ten minutes for the plant to settle, then throw out the excess water. You can also do bottom watering by filling the saucer with water and letting your plant drink it up. Just remember to throw out the excess water after ten minutes. 
  5. Place the money tree in a humid environment if possible. Money trees love humidity, but you can’t replace humidity with extra watering. This leads to problems like root rot. Instead, try to keep your plant in a humid spot like the bathroom. You can also occasionally mist its leaves with a spray bottle.

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