money tree yellow leaves

Why Are My Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow?

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Money trees, Pachira aquatica, are frequently used in the art of Feng Shui because they symbolize prosperity. They are the popular way to promote abundance within a home or business. 

Money trees turn yellow because of inadequate lighting, cold drafts, over and under-watering, low humidity, pest infestations, root rot, and over-fertilization. Solutions to each problem will help you recover your money tree.

You should continue reading if you are interested in learning more about why a money tree’s leaves would turn yellow. We will also discuss how to solve the problems associated with yellow leaves.

Why Are My Money Tree’s Leaves Yellow?

Several reasons can be behind why your money tree’s leaves have turned yellow. Many of them have straightforward solutions. These are the common problems and how to fix them:

  • Too much or too little sunlight: Keep the tree in an area of indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can burn your plant’s leaves, while the correct light intensity – bright indirect light – will help the foliage thrive.
  • Too much fluctuation in temperature: Keep the tree in a temperature-neutral place away from windows and vents.
  • Over-watering: Water the soil around the trunk, allowing it to dry out in the top one to two inches between waterings. Consider switching to a well-draining soil mix with pumice and perlite if you find that there’s still too much water in the soil. 
  • Improper humidity level: Incorporate a mister or humidifier to ensure the humidity level stays high enough.
  • Pests: Using neem oil is a highly effective solution to most pests.
  • Root rot: Take the plant out of the pot and remove the affected roots before repotting.
  • Over-fertilization: Flush the soil with lukewarm water to remove fertilizer buildup and only fertilize during the growing season.
  • Excessively dry soil: Check the soil between waterings to ensure it does not dry out too long. Why Does My Money Tree Have Yellow Leaves?

Several reasons can be behind why your money tree has yellow leaves. You’ll have to go down the list to figure out which one of these is causing your problem. Here are some of the most common reasons why your foliage on your houseplants might not look as beautiful as you’d like.

Over-Watering

Money trees prefer deep watering; however, it must be done infrequently. The number one cause of yellow leaves is overwatering. Adding too much moisture and letting the roots sit in it leads to other problems like root rot and yellow leaves.

Several signs will indicate that you have over-watered your money tree. They include the following: 

  • The plant is wilting but shows no signs of underwatering.
  • The leaves turn yellow generally across the plant.
  • The soil drains slowly after watering.

To improve this situation, ensure your container has a good drainage hole to allow excess water to drain. This should stop your money tree leaves turning yellow pretty quickly.

Root Rot

Root rot is a direct result of overwatering. This is a common reason for money tree leaves to turn yellow. In addition to yellow leaves, you may notice signs like a more earthy or unpleasant smell to the soil.

Unfortunately, most of the initial symptoms of root rot are underground, making it hard to diagnose until it is advanced. The typical first visible sign is extreme yellowing and dropping of leaves. 

As root rot progresses, the trunks of the tree will become affected. You’ll notice at least one trunk is soft and mushy due to the advanced root rot. You may also notice yellow spots or brown spots on the plant’s leaves (or even brown edges) as the plant struggles to produce chlorophyll with all this moisture.

Finally, algae or mold on the plant’s surface can also signify suffering from underground problems.

Pests

Six main types of pests have the potential to affect your money tree. 

Gnats can be a significant problem for your money tree because their larvae hatch and eat the plant’s roots, stunting growth. They’re mainly attracted to moist environments, which takes us full circle to overwatering.

When you have gnats, you’ll most likely notice them rise up during waterings as the soil is disturbed.

You probably have a red spider mite problem if you notice a lot of webbing across your money tree. These pests make quick work of a money tree by eating the sap from its leaves. Look for other signs like small holes in the leaves and tiny moving dots.

A whitefly infestation often manifests as a white cloud of bugs that emerges whenever the plant is disturbed. Whiteflies feed on the sap from the plant, extracting vital nutrients and eventually leading to stunted growth. Look for sticky honeydew on your plant.

Signs of a mealybug infestation include seeing small white bugs, areas of white cottony growth on the leaves and stems, and honeydew on the leaves. Mealybugs are dangerous for your money tree because they can cause withering and dying.

Soft brown scale is another pest that extracts the sap from the plant and produces honeydew on the leaves. The plant is affected by a loss of nutrients that ultimately causes the leaves to turn yellow and fall off.

Not only can aphids cause your money tree’s leaves to turn yellow, but they can also stunt the plant’s growth. Tell-tale signs of an aphid problem include massive amounts of honeydew and tiny green, pear-shaped insects that cluster together in groups on the plant.

Inadequate Light

When your money tree does not get enough light, its growth may decline. In settings with very low light, the leaves will not be able to maintain their green color and will begin to turn yellow.

Cold Drafts

The money tree does not do well with cold drafts. This exposure can result in overall damage and wilting of the leaves. You also want to ensure you do not keep your money tree in an area that is too hot because of potential leaf damage.

Not Enough Humidity

These plants originate in areas of high humidity and need this environment replicated to do well. The combination of dry soil and low humidity can lead to drooping and browning of leaf edges, which is later followed by yellowing of entire leaves.

Overly Dry Soil

While money trees are not high maintenance regarding watering, they are sensitive to not receiving enough. One of the first indications that you have not been providing enough water is dry soil that goes beyond one to two inches deep or pulls away from the container.

After enough time is spent sitting in dry soil, the leaves will be affected. They can curl in on themselves, turn yellow, or completely dry out and turn brown. 

Over-Fertilization

Too much fertilizer can be damaging to your money tree. If you feed your plant regularly and have noticed yellowing or wilting leaves, it’s a sign that you may be feeding it too much.

You can also cause root damage by fertilizing too much. In addition to the leaf damage that comes from this, you may notice a buildup of fertilizer crust on the top of the soil.

Nutrient Issues

When you’ve ruled out everything else, consider that you may have a nutrient issue. This issue can stem from leaving your plant in the same potting soil for too long, allowing all the nutrients to be depleted. 

How to Save a Money Tree With Yellow Leaves

Luckily in most cases, a money tree with yellow leaves can be saved and restored to its former glory. You will need to take specific steps for each type of situation.

How To Fix Over-watering

You should scrap your watering schedule completely. Your money tree should only be watered when the top two inches of the soil are dry. 

If you notice your water takes a long time to drain, ensure you have the correct type of soil. You need a well-draining potting mix that stays moist enough to allow the plant to run its biological processes but not so wet that it’s drowning.

You’ll also want to make sure you have adequate drain holes. When the drip pan fills with water, it’s essential to remove it immediately to prevent the roots from sitting in the water. 

Using the right size pot is also critical. You’ll need to ensure you don’t have your plant in a pot that’s too large, as it will take longer for the soil to dry out.

Remove Roots and Trunks Affected by Root Rot

If you have found that your money tree is affected by root rot, you need to work quickly to remove the damaged roots and trunks. 

Initially, you’ll need to temporarily stop watering your plant to allow it to dry out. Remove it from its pot if it is highly saturated, and let it dry with its roots exposed to the air.

You’ll also need to remove any dead or dying leaves to free up essential resources that could be used to help combat the root rot. 

Once the root ball has sufficiently dried out, you’ll need to cut back any affected roots. Remove all the excess dirt from the roots and look for those that have turned mushy, black, or brown. Try not to remove more than one-third of the root system.

Typically, the money trees you can buy in a store are multiple trees braided together. If one of the trunks becomes affected by root rot, you can easily unbraid it from the rest and remove it to prevent further damage to the plant.

Ensure the container you repot your money tree in has adequate drainage. If you plan to use the same container you took it from, thoroughly wash it before placing the tree back into it.

Do not reuse any of the soil from the previous planting. It could be contaminated with the root rot fungus.

Combatting Pest Issues

To stop fungus gnat issues, ensure you are not watering too often and allow the top two inches of soil to dry out. Doing this will kill the larvae in the soil. You will have to use alternative means, such as a yellow sticky card, to clear out the adults.

For spider mites and whiteflies, you’ll need to make a homemade insecticidal soap by combining one teaspoon of mild soap with one liter of water. Spray this mixture on the affected areas of the plant to kill the infestation. 

Mealybugs can be killed instantly by swabbing them with rubbing alcohol. Additionally, homemade insecticidal soap is another option.

You must use spray oils to clear up a soft brown scale infestation. These oils will destroy the infestation and the sooty mold accompanying it.  

You can use homemade insecticidal soap or Neem oil to remove an aphid infestation. Also, you may find that you need to remove the most heavily affected parts of the tree for the most successful recovery. 

Move Your Plant to an Area With Indirect Light

Your money tree will thrive in an area of indirect light and can even handle exposure to medium light. If your leaves are yellowing due to inadequate light, move the tree to another area where the lighting is ideal.

Additionally, do not place the plant in full sun. Doing this can result in scorching the leaves.

Keep Your Plant at the Right Temperature

Money trees love to be kept at a temperature between 65℉-75℉ (18℃-23℃). You will need to ensure the room you keep the plant in does not experience severe temperature decreases at night or significant cold drafts. 

Boost the Humidity

If the humidity level is low in the room where your money tree is, you will need to boost the level. You can use a humidifier, mister, or pebble tray. Adding this extra humidity will prevent your leaves from drying and turning yellow.

Handling Under-Watering

You’ll need to check your plant more often to judge when it needs water. Not letting it completely dry out is critical. You can also move your plant to a room with higher humidity as long as it provides enough light for the plant to thrive.

How To Resolve Over-Fertilization Issues

If you have overfertilized your money tree, you must take action on the soil. You can either repot the plant using new soil or flush the soil that it’s in with lukewarm water. You’ll need to thoroughly soak the soil and allow it to drain to remove the fertilizer completely.

Provide Fertilizer During the Growing Season

You’ll need to apply fertilizer during the growing season to combat nutrient deficiency. The best fertilizer will be balanced, such as a 20-20-20. Dilute it to half concentration before applying.

Final Thoughts

While there’s no guarantee that a money tree will grant you endless prosperity, it will make an excellent addition to your home’s decor. Identifying, diagnosing, and treating the causes of yellow leaves will ensure your money tree’s long, healthy life. 

Learn more about how to care for a money tree on our blog.

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