Last Updated on June 11, 2022 by Gary Stephen
I grew up with my mom’s favorite saying: “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”. So, when I heard about the Chinese money plants, I was immediately interested!
While this tree doesn’t literally grow leaves that will turn into paper money, nor will it bear seeds or fruits that become a shiny penny, the origin and the beliefs surrounding it make one heck of an intriguing plant.
In this article, I’ll discuss 7 fascinating things about the Chinese money plant. I can guarantee you it is something that can spark great conversations among your house guests.
Facts about Chinese Money Plants
Fact #1: Why is it called a “money tree”?
Well, this all started in ancient Chinese folklore.
The story goes that there was a poor farmer who prayed to the Gods to grant him bountiful wealth. Then, one day on his farm, he came across a beautiful tree. He was so enchanted that he decided to plant and grow more. It did not take long for other people to take notice and appreciate the tree’s beauty too. Soon after, people started to offer the farmer money in exchange for the plant. Since then, a once poor farmer became the wealthiest man in the village.
Thus, it was coined as the “money tree”<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> because of the fortune the farmer made from selling the plant.
Fact #2: The “real” origin of the Chinese money tree
Well, a legend is just a legend. But truth be told, the Chinese money tree was actually created by a Taiwanese truck driver in the 1980s.
The man cultivated 5 bonsai varieties of Pachira aquatica or Guiana Chestnut plants. He decided to intertwine the trunks to somewhat create a single plant out of it. Thus, the birth of the Chinese money tree.
The unique braided look of the tree became an instant hit. Its popularity has quickly spread to Japan and throughout East Asia.
Fact #3: What does the Chinese money plants symbolize?
The Chinese money tree is a slow-growing and low-maintenance houseplant. But apart from that, the tree also gained recognition because of what it aims to symbolize. There are actually several things that it symbolizes:
Wealth – From the ancient story itself, the money tree is believed to bless its owner with good wealth. Thus, it is also often displayed in the place of business and offices to attract customers and more income.
Prosperity – The same as with wealth, many people perceive the money tree as a symbol of prosperity. Through this, it yearns to achieve a happy and abundant life.
Good Luck – A money tree is also a popular gift in Asian countries. Gifting the plant symbolizes that the giver wishes the recipient good luck.
Feng Shui – Following the traditional Chinese geomancy, the money tree symbolizes the 5 elements. Each trunk represents Earth, Water, Wood, Fire, and Metal elements.
Fact #4: Why are the trunks braided?
The act of braiding the trunks is believed to prevent fortune from escaping. Keeping the plant tight-knit seals your blessing within the folds. Thus, you won’t ever have to worry about running out of luck.
Fact #5: Seven leaves means extra luck
Often, you would find the money tree branch to have 4 to 6 leaves each. But, in special cases, it would grow up to 7 leaves. This is said to be a rare occurrence. So, if your money tree happens to have it, then you are being considered extra lucky!
So far, I haven’t had 7 leaves on my money tree. But if I ever do get 7 leaves, I’d sure be buying lottery tickets to test my lucky number 7!
Fact #6: The money tree is taller than it seems
When grown indoors, the money tree can grow an average height of 3 to 6 feet. But because the trunks are often braided, it can appear much smaller than what it actually is.
Nevertheless, it can surprisingly reach as tall as 60 feet if it was freely grown in the wild. So, just imagine how big a money tree can actually be outdoors!
Fact #7: A money tree is a good air purifier
The money tree isn’t just for good luck and fortune. It has the ability to filter the air from harmful pollutants too.
According to the NASA Clean Air Study, the plant has a natural way of removing toxins in the atmosphere. This may well include benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. So not only are you adding a touch of green or inviting in fortune, the money tree is actually purifying the air you breathe too.
How to care for the Chinese money plants?
Light – The money tree thrives best when exposed to an area with medium to bright sunlight. From time to time, it is ideal to rotate the position of your pot. This ensures that all sides of the plant will receive even lighting. The money tree can also be grown indoors. You can alternatively use a grow lamp to provide supplemental lighting.
Water – As with any other houseplants, it is ideal to water only when the top 2 inches of the soil already feels dry to touch. When it does, make sure to water it thoroughly. You should see excess water dripping out of the drain hole. Doing so allows for even hydration and the prevention of mineral buildup.
Soil – Money trees are best planted in well-draining peat moss-based potting soil. Furthermore, sand is also incorporated into the soil mix to promote aeration and provide a more stable hold.
Temperature – The money tree rests comfortably at typical room temperature. For optimal growth, though, it is ideal to maintain the temperature within the range of 65°F to 80°F.
Humidity – Money trees love ambient humidity. In fact, a relative humidity of 60% to 90% suits its liking best. Thus, it is important to maintain this level as much as possible. A simple misting will do the trick.
Fertilizer – This low-maintenance plant doesn’t need much plant food. It can get by just fine feeding it at least once a month during its active growth in the summer and spring seasons. You can use a balanced all-purpose fertilizer diluted at half-strength.
Where to buy a Chinese money tree plant?
Wrapping Up about The Chinese Money Plants
Pachira aquatica or the Chinese money plant is truly a little gem (that actually grows much larger than we think!). Not only is it basked in fascinating stories and beliefs, but it brightens up any space and even purifies the air. Now, if only I could find one with 7 leaves…