After this past year, we could all use a little extra luck. And happily, as gardeners, we need look no further than the Chinese New Year for inspiration. Among the many auspicious symbols for 2021 is this year’s lucky plant, the money tree, or Pachira aquatica. According to feng shui principles, it could ensure a prosperous year ahead.
Symbolism is an essential part of all Chinese New Year’s celebrations, and one in which families (and businesses) invest a lot of time. The money tree joins a list of other lucky charms for 2021, including natural crystals, turtles, ruyi ( a symbolic scepter) and mandarin ducks. All carry specific meanings that represent good luck, prosperity and abundance for the coming year.
ABOUT MONEY TREE
So what is money plant, Pachira aquatica? Not to be confused with Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides), it’s a broadleaf evergreen native to the tropics. Typically found near wetlands and swamps, it loves moist soil. It is also revered for its many feng shui characteristics.
Essentially, the entire plant is considered lucky. But feng shui followers point to the leaves themselves as the main harbingers of good fortune. That’s because most money trees have five or six leaves per stem, and the number five suggests the five main elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Balancing these elements can bring good feng shui to a home, sustaining health, wealth and happiness for all those who live there.
Money tree typically has five leaves to a stem
What’s more, occasionally a tree may have seven leaves, which is considered the luckiest of all. If you discover this, it’s time to buy a lottery ticket.
That being said, in a broader sense, Pachira aquatica is known less for its leaves and more for its stem, which is composed of several plants braided together. It’s the best of both worlds – a tree and a palm. (Incidentally, feng shui followers believe the braid traps good fortune.)
Pachira aquatica’s distinctive braided trunk
THE LEGEND OF THE MONEY TREE
Centuries ago, a poor man found a money tree in the deep recesses of the forest. Seeing its beauty, he brought it home and decided to grow plants from its seedlings. Over time, he created a successful business selling the trees. The business made him wealthy. This story, and others like it, are believed to be the origin of the tradition.
THE LUCKIEST SPOTS
So you’ve bought a money tree, but where should you put it? According to feng shui principles, the best place to promote wealth is in the southeast corner of your home. But if it’s your business you’re worried about, put your plant next to the cash register.
Without question, money tree makes an excellent indoor plant. Plus, it is nearly impossible to kill. Unlike other houseplants that shed their leaves regularly, it stays neat. Moreover, it will grow as large as you’d like, sometimes up to seven feet! Perhaps most importantly, it can withstand errors in watering (as in the common practice of over-watering.) This is one tough indoor plant, indeed.
Yes, caring for your money tree is easy, provided you pay attention to three essential ingredients: water, light and fertilization. Balancing these properly is the key to making all houseplants thrive.
This plant loves moisture, so make sure to water it regularly, one to two times a week. But as with all plants, good drainage is key. Never leave your money tree in standing water (a sure recipe for root rot.) Instead, put it on a watering schedule, watering at the soil surface until the soil is soaked and the water runs out from the base of the pot. Let the soil dry out before you water again.
Yellow leaves? This can be a sign of overwatering, exposure to cold temperatures, or that your money tree needs to be fed. If your soil is soggy, you’re overwatering.
To help your money tree thrive, place it in indirect light. Rotate the container every few weeks to ensure the plant grows evenly. Avoid direct sunlight, however, which can scorch the leaves.
All indoor houseplants benefit from feeding from time to time. Lightly fertilize your money tree a few times a year with a water-soluble fertilizer.