If you’re looking for an indoor plant with some stature, the lucky bean plant could be the ideal choice. These miniature trees grow from a large and distinctive split bean on the soil surface creating a unique look in your home. They are also easy to care for and can grow just fine indoors without any direct sunlight.
Read on to learn how to grow and care for these glossy green-leaved houseplants.
This tropical evergreen tree of the pea family is the only member of its genus. In its natural rainforest environment, they can grow to over 120 feet (36m) tall to compete for light in the jungle canopy. Fortunately, they can be kept much smaller indoors if pruned and kept in a container.
The attractive glossy green foliage consists of compound leaves that measure up to about 2 feet (60cm) in length. The leaves have a characteristic cucumber smell if bruised or cut. These plants are unlikely to flower indoors, but mature specimens can produce beautiful red and yellow flowers and showy seed pods in the spring.
They make a beautiful and bold houseplant and grow slowly indoors so that size management is easy. It is important to note, however, that like so many other houseplants, it is rather toxic. Although the seeds are edible and have a long history of use by Australian first peoples, they require careful preparation to make them safe for human consumption (1).
|Scientific name||Castanospermum australe|
|Common names||Lucky bean plant, magic bean plant, black bean, Moreton Bay chestnut, Australian chestnut|
|Plant Type||Houseplant, Tropical tree|
|Height and Width||5–7 ft. tall (indoors), 2–4 ft. wide (indoors)|
|Origin||Coastal rainforests of Eastern Australia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia|
|Flower colors||Red and yellow|
|Foliage color||Glossy dark green|
|Sun Exposure||Bright indirect light|
|Soil Type & pH||Well-drained fertile soil, slightly acidic to neutral|
|Special features||Low Maintenance, Large houseplant|
How to Grow a Lucky Bean Plant
The magic bean plant is an evergreen tree that does very well as an indoor or houseplant in a container. They look best when multiple specimens are grown in the same container to create a denser look. These beautiful seed-grown trees grow actively in the spring and summer and are relatively easy to care for. Read on for more details
The best way to propagate new lucky bean plants is to grow them by seed. These large seeds germinate on the soil surface and provide the seedling with a long-lasting source of nutrients as the plants start their life on the forest floor. The seeds need temperatures of 64-77°F (18-25°C) to germinate.
Growing this plant from stem cuttings is very challenging and time-consuming. Nevertheless, you may wish to try your luck after pruning the plant. By using bottom heat, rooting hormone powder, and maintaining humidity, you should have your best chance at success.
In nature, these plants grow in moist, fertile, and well-drained soil, and this is what you should aim for when growing them in containers. Any well-drained, airy soil like a commercial potting mix will work well. Some growers have reported good success with commercial cactus mixes.
Pruning is a great way to give your plant a fuller, bushier growth form. The lucky bean plant is a large tree species, so regular pruning will be necessary to maintain the plant at a manageable size.
This plant responds well to pruning and removing the lower leaves will help to encourage a stately tree-like growth form. Removing dead or dying growth is also advised to prevent attracting pests and disease.
Repotting and Transplanting
Your lucky bean plant can be repotted every second year. Use a container that is one size larger than the current pot and has drainage holes at its base. Be sure to water the plant thoroughly the day before repotting to minimize transplanting shock.
This plant has a robust root system and is said to be very useful for preventing soil erosion in the landscape. This also means that you should select a sturdy pot to avoid damage or bursting as the roots fill in.
How to Care for a Lucky Bean Tree
The lucky bean plant is an easy and undemanding plant to grow. With the right lighting and access to water, you should have no trouble keeping this species happy and healthy in the home environment. Read on for more details.
The magic bean plant is native to a relatively wet and humid environment. The best advice is to water this plant whenever its soil feels dry. Avoid overwatering, however, as this may result in root rot.
Water your plant every week or two as necessary and watch your plants for signs of drying out. In a very hot, dry climate, misting may be necessary to keep the plant’s foliage healthy. Misting is best done in the morning to allow the foliage to dry off as the day progresses.
This plant grows actively in the warmer months and does not require as much water during the winter. The soil should not dry out completely even outside of the active growing season, however.
In nature, the plant starts its life out on the forest floor which is a very dark environment. As it grows older and taller, the plant will gain access to more direct sunlight.
As a result, the lucky bean plant is able to tolerate a wide range of light conditions, as long as changes are made gradually (2). A brightly lit part of the home with or without limited direct sunlight is ideal.
Temperature and Humidity
The lucky bean plant is a tropical plant that enjoys warm conditions. Regular household temperatures between about 60 and 80°F (16-27°C) are ideal for indoor growth while plants will survive outdoors down to USDA hardiness Zone 11.
Your plant will grow well in regular indoor humidity levels as well. Bear in mind, of course, that this species is native to rainforests and won’t feel at home in a very dry climate or in a position with a drying drought.
Providing a slow-release fertilizer when first potting the plant can be helpful, although the stored nutrients in the bean provide for the plant’s needs when young. After its first year, you can feed the plant with a granular or liquid fertilizer of your choice from spring until summer. Be sure to follow the usage instructions of your product.
Pest and Diseases
The lucky bean plant is generally very pest-resistant as a houseplant. Reported issues include scale insects and spider mites that have been known to affect the plant, and overwatering may cause fungal root rot.
The lucky bean plant makes a large, fine houseplant that needs little attention and will provide years of great looks and clean air. The only possible downside to this species is its toxic properties if eaten. This plant will make an excellent addition to any home, provided you can keep your plant away from the attention of animals, children, and uninformed persons. Happy growing!
- Pritchard, K. Oxford Plants 400, Plant 218 Castanospermum australe A.Cunn. & C.Fraser (Fabaceae) Moreton Bay chestnut
- Debevec, M. Black Bean, Moreton Bay Chestnut – Castanospermum australe A.Cunn. ex Mudie
*image by alex_yakunina/depositphotos