Money Tree Leaves Turning Brown: Causes & Solutions

Money trees, usually known for the fortune they bring, can show distress by turning their leaves brown.

Generally, Money Tree leaves turning brown can be due to improper watering, lighting issues, overfertilization, temperature change, pests, and diseases. To fix these, maintain the right watering & fertilizing schedule, avoid changing temperatures, and look out for diseases and pests.

Get help from this article if your Money Tree already produces unnatural leaves like brown shades on the surface. 

What Causes Money Tree Leaves To Turn Brown? (Solutions & Preventive Measures)

Money Tree, or Pachira aquatica, is a tropical evergreen-deciduous tree native to forests of Central and South America.

The broad and palmately compound leaves of the Money Tree are its main features making it a popular houseplant.

However, money tree leaves turning brown can be due to their natural old age.

The average life span of domestically growing Money Trees is about 10 to 15 years at max, but they can live for 30 years or more in the wild.

Usually, old Money Trees adorn brown leaves, which are at the bottom of the plant.

Unfortunately, it’s alarming to notice the brown leaves in Money Trees when the plant is still young.

So, let’s look at some of these problems, and I will give a few approaches you can employ to save your Money Tree.

1. Watering Issue

Watering issues in Money Trees happen due to underwatering or overwatering. Leaves become dry and look unhealthy if you keep an inconsistent watering schedule.

Normally, it is ideal to give 0.1 to 0.2 liters of water to your Money Tree once in one or two weeks in spring and summer.

Make the watering less frequent in fall and winter when the plant becomes dormant.

Additionally, you must let the soil dry 50-75% between the watering sessions.

Underwatering can dry the leaf tips leaving you hanging with Money Tree leaves brown tips.

Image represents the leaf tips of Money Tree turning brown
Underwatering can result in the Money Tree leaves brown tips as less water gets into the leaves.

Overwatering is a little tricky, as it is associated with root rot which makes the roots unable to breathe oxygen.

Without oxygen, the plant cannot take in water from the roots, and the leaves dry up, causing the leaves to curl.

But you can turn the tables and save the leaves of your precious plant by looking for some solutions.

Treatment and Preventive Measures

  • Check the top 2 to 4 inches of soil between the watering sessions using a finger-dip test every 2-5 days.
  • Hydrate your Money Tree only when the soil dries, during fall and winter.
  • If the days are hot, move the plant to a humid room, such as the bathroom or near a humidifier.
  • Throw the water away from the saucer beneath the pot before and after watering.
  • Add draining elements such as perlite or sand.
  • Place the plant in full sun until the water from the soil dries and moisture returns to normal.
  • Give water to your plant using a bottom-up approach by placing the potted plant in a water bath for 24 hours.
  • Aerate the topsoil by poking holes using a pencil.
  • Use moisture meters to check the soil moisture once in a while. Provide water when the meter reads 3 to 4.
  • Stop watering immediately if excess water seeps from the drainage holes while watering.

2. Overfertilization

Less fertilizer can slow the growth of Money Trees, but overfertilizing the plant is deadlier.

Normally, Money Trees require well-balanced NPK fertilizer of half dosage in spring and summer.

When this tropical plant is dormant in the fall and winter, reduce fertilizer application. Remember that Money Trees are not heavy feeders, but people often miss this.

This is why overfertilization becomes an issue, and leaves turn brown due to fertilizer burn.

After the occurrence of such phenomena, you will be left with Money Tree leaves brown tips.

Similarly, the tender roots also burn down due to the accumulation of excess fertilizer salts in the potting mix.

Treatment and Preventive Measures

  • Use granular fertilizer if you have planted the Money Tree in a large area.
  • If you own a busy schedule and can’t be around to fertilize the plant, apply the feed once every 6 to 12 months.
  • Flush the soil with distilled water 4-5 times to wash out the excess salts.
  • If the fertilizer salts persist, changing the soil and repotting your plant is better.
  • Dilute the fertilizer to half the strength during application to avoid accumulation.

3. Lighting Issue

Money Trees are tropical plants that like to live under the shade of other tall trees in their natural habitat.

It despises direct sunlight and prefers dappling light. So, if you are honing a Money Tree, it’s better to place it near an east-facing window indoors for six hours daily.

But if you have the plant outdoors, choose a spot that receives six hours of indirect sunlight and some dappled or partial shade in the afternoon.

In direct sunlight, the leaves are first affected and scorch, turning their color brown.

Image represents the edges of the leaves of Money Tree turning brown
Sunburn makes the leaf edges of Money Tree turn brown.

The edges of the leaves become brown at first and then become crispy. This is called sunburn!

Follow the tips below for the proper treatment and to avoid the problem overall.

Treatment and Preventive Measures

  • First, check the location and move your plant away from the site.
  • Relocate it near an east-facing window and regulate its lighting to six hours daily.
  • You can provide the Money Tree with some shade in the afternoon for outdoor plants.
  • If you place your plant near a south-facing window, keep it at least three feet away from the light source.
  • Use drapes or curtains to shade the plant if it is hard to move indoors.
  • I don’t recommend pruning the brown leaves, but you can snip them, as they won’t revive. This encourages the growth of new leaves.

To invigorate winter growth, keep Money Trees under grow lights for 10 to 12 hours with an alternate light and dark periods.

4. Wrong Temperature

Money Tree leaves turning brown may result from temperature stress and frost. It’s because Money Trees are well-adapted to hot and humid tropical environments.

You can also grow the Money Tree in hardiness zones from 9 to 11. If you live in these areas, you can cheerily bring the plants home.

However, maintain the right temperature as they cannot tolerate temperatures below 30°F.

Similarly, cold drafts can also harm the leaves of the Money Tree by changing the surrounding humidity.

High temperatures can dry the soil rapidly, resulting in the plant not getting enough water to the leaves.

This can cause the tip of the leaves to turn brown first, and then the entire lamina shrivels, and the whole Money plant dies.

The effect of frost is similar, but browning occurs when ice crystals form in the leaf tissues and kill the cells.

But, it’s not worth frowning as the leaves can revive again from temperature stress within 2 to 3 weeks if given the right care.

Treatment and Preventive Measures

  • Relocate the plant to a suitable area with a temperature between 65°F and 75°F.
  • Regularly monitor the temperature change using a thermometer.
  • Keep the plant away from fireplaces, heaters, coolers, and radiators that can change the surrounding temperature.
  • Mist the Money Tree once a day if you live in hotter areas or during heat spells.
Image represents misting the leaves of Money Tree
Money Tree leaves require frequent misting during hot days when the humidity is low.
  • If the humidity is low, move the plant to humid areas indoors, such as a well-lit bathroom.
  • Use frost blankets to cover the outdoor Money Tree plants in the winter.
  • Growing Money Trees inside a greenhouse requires regular humidity checks. So, daily maintain the humidity levels using a hygrometer.
  • Never let the humidity level go below 50%, and keep it high.
  • Keep the potted Money Tree away from north-facing windows in the winter.

To prevent the change in temperature due to humidity, group your Money Tree with other plants or place this tropical plant on a pebble tray.

5. Pest Infestation

It is rare to see pests bothering your Money Tree, but many bugs like feeding on the plant’s juice.

Food is in liquid form in small pipe-like structures inside the leaves of Money Tree called phloem.

So, pests fond these meals and pierce the leaves of your Money Tree, sucking the sap out of them.

Sometimes you can see some of these pests right away on the leaves, but some like to hide underside of the leaves and do their business quietly.

Hence, you must pay extra attention and take out your handy magnifying glass to look for them.

Not all but most of the pests cause yellowish-brown spots on the leaves.

Although this symptom may indicate other reasons, you must look for the pests to confirm this.

But, each pest may exert different problems in your Money Tree, so symptoms may not be the same in all cases.

PestsOccurrenceEffects
WhitefliesHide under the leaves

Lay pale eggs in circles
Feeds on sap juice

Turn the leaf lamina brown
Spider MitesForm silvery freckles on the leaves' surface

Makes white, cotton-like webs on the underside of the leaves
Suck the sap from the leaf surface

Brown patches appear on the leaves
Scale InsectsPresent on the underside of the leaves

Two types: hard and soft-shelled
Appearance of brown spots

Spots grow to spread over the entire leaf surface
MealybugsCotton-like bugs on the leaf nodes and stem

Also present beneath the leaves
Drink the sap from the nodes and petioles

Leaves dry up and appear brown

Leave honeydews that attract molds
Gnat LarvaeWhite larvae of fungus gnats

Attracted to moist soil
Bore holes in the root

Creates root rot and deprive the leaves of water

Leaves turn brown
AphidsGreen or white, pear-shaped insects

Hide behind the leaves

Stick to the petioles and leaf nodes
Sip the sap from the leaves

Turn the leaves yellow and then brown

As soon as you notice the bugs, take action immediately and eradicate them to prevent the damage from going further.

Treatment and Preventive Measures

  • Manually remove them by washing the petioles, leaves, and stems with q-tips dipped in dilute isopropyl alcohol.
  • Use decent sprays of distilled water to wash the pests off the plant parts.
  • Prevent their infestation by surrounding your Money Tree with sticky traps.
  • Use all-rounder neem oil or insecticidal soaps to kill the pests from the plants.
Image represents the process of applying disinfectant on the leaves of Money Trees
Remove the bugs from the Money Tree leaves using q-tips dipped in disinfectants.
  • Isolate your Money Tree away from the rest of your houseplants to prevent the extent of the infestation.
  • Rinse off the honeydew drops left by the plants to avoid the growth of molds.
  • Avoid slushy soil conditions to prevent the spread of gnat larvae.
  • Don’t let the water remain in the leaves post-watering sessions.
  • Use a low-power vacuum cleaner to suck the insects from your plant.
  • Routinely apply the pesticides once in two weeks to prevent the infestation outbreak.
  • DIY your pesticide and cure your plant by mixing one teaspoon of mild soap in a liter of water and spraying at the site of infection.

6. Horticultural Diseases

Money Tree is unsafe from diseases if you don’t give your plant proper care, and Fungi are always on the prowl to harm.

Most diseases occur when you use unsterilized tools while trimming or during repotting.

Fungal spores make their way to the surface of the leaves through water or even air, so you never know when the pathogens can make their way into your plant.

Other issues that can cause the leaves to turn brown are physiological in nature.

Hence, it’s ideal to give your plant a checkup once in a while before the problems become acute.

Let’s look at some of the common diseases and symptoms from the table below.

DiseasesCausesSymptoms
Anthracnose Leaf SpotColletotrichum sp. and Gloeosporium sp.
(Fungal Disease)
Affects the mature leaves

Dark brown spots on the leaves' surface

First affects the lower leaves and then spreads throughout the entire leaves of the plant
Foliar BlightPhytophthora palmivora
(Fungal Disease)
Wet and brown inked blotches appear on the leaves' surface

Blotches spread quickly to entire plant leaves

Patches dry and become papery crisp
OedemaPhysiological mismatchPlants take up too much water than they can lose

Watery blisters appear on the surface of the leaves

Blisters rupture and leave behind brown spots that turn hard overtime
Septoria Leaf SpotSeptoria sp.
(Fungal Disease)
Yellow spots appear on the leaves' surface

Spots turn yellow to brown

Lower leaves are affected first and then the infection spreads to upper leaves

Once your Money Tree becomes sick and starts showing the symptoms, it’s already been alarming, but not too late!

But you can always treat and prevent the spread of infection and its onset by following these tips below.

Treatment and Preventive Measures

  • Isolate your Money Tree from the rest of your plant to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Sustain a well-draining soil in the potting mix to give your Money Tree the soil environment it requires for growth.
  • Open the windowsill to allow the air to flow around your plant once in a while.
  • Snip and dispose of the diseased leaves by burning them to prevent the spread.
  • Consider throwing the water present in the saucer below the plant pot after each watering session.
  • Avoid composting the diseased leaves, as the spores can commute back if you accidentally reuse the soil.
  • Prevent the water from running on the leaves while watering. Simply water the top of the potting soil.
  • Spray fungicides with copper as a base element at infected sites to avert fungal infestation.

Make a habit of spraying the fungicides once a month to avoid diseases. During the infestation, spray them once every ten days to alleviate the symptoms.

Should I Cut Off Brown Money Tree Leaves? 

The saddest part arrives when you must put a stone on your heart and trim your plant.

Since the leaves are the main appeal of the Money Trees, you can’t risk losing them.

Similarly, you must also decide whether to relieve the plant from stress by pruning the brown leaves or put the whole plant in peril by keeping damaged leaves intact.

Leaving the infected foliage as it is will do more harm than good, as infection may spread to other parts.

Cutting those awful leaves away will help the plant to divert its energy to bear healthy leaves again.

So, I recommend cutting off the brown leaves, and it’s really easy to do so too! 

  • Grab all the tools required for pruning, such as gloves, isopropyl alcohol, and shears.
  • Wipe the shears with the disinfectant using a piece of clean cloth.
  • Plan out the damaged leaves that you want to cut off.
  • Begin the pruning process by snipping the whole leaf back up to where it connects with the main stem.
  • Don’t just remove the parts of the leaves or leaflets. There’s a high chance that pathogens can spread from them.
  • You can also prune some leggy growths along the way while maintaining the shape of your plant.
  • Place Money Tree in bright but indirect sunlight with the cut areas facing the light source.
  • After you are done, dispose-off the brown leaves by burning them to reduce the chances of disease extent.

You can go through the video below to get details on removing the brown leaves from the Money Tree.

Conclusion

Leaves are an integral part of Money Trees. Not only do they bring positive vibes to your home, but they also keep the plant appealing to look at.

Look at the bright side of having brown leaves as you get a chance to trim your plant back to good and encourage new growth.

But, if you don’t want Money Tree leaves turning brown in the first place, get a grip and start looking after it. Maintain all the necessary requirements as I do.

I have given all the quick tips and tricks to keep your Money Tree top-notch. Be sure to follow them!

Happy Gardening!

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