Money tree plants are said to bring fortune and good vibes to their owners, but these stunning tropical trees can appear like they’re fresh out of luck when their large, glossy green leaves start to turn yellow.
So how can this be remedied?
How do you fix yellow leaves on a money tree? You can fix yellow leaves on a money tree by simulating the tropical rainforest conditions it is accustomed to. This entails protecting it from temperature fluctuations, maintaining moist, not dry or wet soil, providing 6 hours of indirect sunlight, and keeping humidity levels at 50% and above.
They may have their fair share of reasons for yellowing leaves, but the more you understand their preferred routine the more you’ll grow to love caring for them.
To help you become a pro money tree owner, we’ve delved into the common causes and their fixes one by one, plus an answer to some common questions about this tropical beauty.
Yellow Money Tree Leaves: 9 Causes (+ Solutions)
Money tree plants are fairly low maintenance, but the following environmental triggers, like temperature inconsistencies and poor lighting, can result in yellow foliage.
Money trees prefer deep but infrequent watering so that the soil has a chance to drain instead of pooling in the pot, where the first signs of root rot (discoloration) may occur.
Water thoroughly every 1-2 weeks until the soil feels evenly moist, and watch it drain fully through the pot’s drainage holes.
Andrew Courtney at Smart Garden Guide also advises to reduce watering during winter, always empty your drip tray, and don’t plant in a pot that is too large.
2. Root Rot
Lower leaves tend to yellow and droop when the roots have been oversaturated and are struggling to transport water. The soil may also smell more earthy and unpleasant than usual.
Slide the plant out of the pot and examine the roots. Rotting roots will appear brown and mushy to the touch.
Remove diseased roots with sterile pruning shears, and wash soil debris off before planting in fresh potting soil. Always allow the top inch or so of soil to dry in between waterings.
3. Overly Dry Soil
Leaves will display crispy yellow tips when your soil type can’t retain moisture well or when you have neglected your watering schedule.
Plant your money tree in a blend of equal parts “peat moss, coarse sand, and perlite” recommends urban gardener Ron Finley over at MasterClass.
The moss and heavy sand will help it hold on to moisture while the aerated perlite (volcanic rock) will prevent things from becoming too moist.
Check the soil frequently between waterings to ensure it doesn’t remain dry too long.
4. Inconsistent Temperatures
Though money trees can handle low temperatures for a time, sudden dips and peaks in your indoor environment can stress it out, reducing the chlorophyll in the leaves.
Maintain temps somewhere between 65-80°F by improving air circulation during warmer periods, and keep your plant clear of A/C vents and sources of cool, windy air like drafts or open windows during winter.
5. Low Humidity
Money trees thrive in tropical humidity levels, so when winter prompts the use of central heating, the dry indoor air soon causes wilting and yellowing.
Enhance the humidity levels by placing the pot on a pebble tray (fill a shallow tray with pebbles or small stones and pour over enough water to cover them).
You can also group your money tree among other tropical plants or invest in a humidifier, like the ultra-quiet model I use for my indoor plants.
6. Incorrect Lighting
Money trees favor dappled sunlight that mimics its growth beneath the rainforest canopies, but too much shade will lead to slow development and yellow foliage.
Place the plant at least 5 feet from a south-facing window for plenty of bright indirect sunlight, or use a grow light to help replicate filtered sunlight in poorly-lit homes.
I recommend this full-spectrum grow light that expands up to 60 inches tall so that it can “grow” along with your plant (the affordable price is nice too!).
7. Fertilization Issues
Money trees are light feeders, so you’ll know you’ve over-fertilized when you spot white salt crusts forming on the soil surface and suddenly droopy, yellow leaves due to root damage.
Flush the potting soil with fresh, lukewarm water to get rid of fertilizer salt buildup, allowing it to completely drain out from the pot holes.
Fertilize only during the growing season, and dilute the recommended strength by half.
8. Pest Issues
Soggy or overly dry soil is a perfect invitation for spider mites (brown/green oval-shaped specks) and fungus gnats (grayish-black flies), which weaken and discolor the leaves by feasting on the sap.
Isolate the tree to prevent further infestations and place the soil under running water to eliminate hidden pests and potential eggs.
Prune the worst affected leaves, and spray the entire plant with neem oil (find it here) – use this daily for up to 2 weeks to deter future attacks.
9. Natural Leaf Die-Off
When you spot just a few of the lower leaves turning progressively more yellow, this is a sign of aging foliage and is completely normal.
They’ll eventually turn brown before dropping off the plant, but you can remove them yourself to redirect energy to new growth.
Just pinch them off with your thumb and forefinger, or using pruning shears.
Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off My Money Tree?
It’s wise to cut off leaves that have turned fully yellow (either naturally or through disease) since they’ll eventually turn brown and risk spreading decay to other areas.
Keeping yellow leaves on the tree will also divert energy and resources from new, developing growth, so remove yellow foliage with pruning shears, or by pinching them off by hand.
Can Yellow Money Tree Leaves Turn Green Again?
In the case of a nutrient deficiency due to poor soil, insufficient sunlight, and root damage due to overwatering and excess fertilizing, the overall yellowing trend on money tree leaves can be stopped if basic care needs are restored.
However, yellow leaves will unfortunately not return to their green color.
Why Are My Money Tree Leaves Turning Brown?
Brown and dry leaves indicate your plant is dehydrated, while brown leaves in wet soil point to overwatering, so consider sticking to a regular watering schedule to help the soil stay in a happy balance.
Wait until the soil has dried out in between waterings – you can check the top 1-2 inches with your finger to see if it needs a drink or not. Use a moisture meter moisture meter to help you keep track.
Why Are My Money Tree Leaves Curling?
Curling leaves can indicate dehydration, low humidity, or heat stress in your environment.
Make sure you are watering your plant when the soil becomes dry, and let it bask in indirect sunlight in an east-facing or near a south-facing window.
Also, increase the relative humidity with a pebble tray or humidifier as needed.
Why Are My Money Tree Leaves Turning Light Green?
Pale green leaves can be a sign that your money tree is suffering from low humidity and cold stress.
Ensure the plant is placed away from drafts, especially in colder climates and through the fall/winter so it can enjoy a comfortable temperature range between 65-80°F.
A bathroom placement is ideal to help replicate its native warm, high humidity climate.
How Often Do You Water a Money Tree?
Money trees will benefit from deep but infrequent watering.
“Aim for once every 1 to 2 weeks or more/less frequently depending on how long the top 2-4 inches of soil takes to dry” advises horticulturist Victoria Lee Blackstone from the University of Georgia.
How Do I Make My Money Tree Greener?
Do your best to mimic your money tree’s native environment by keeping it in bright, dappled sunlight for at least 6 hours a day, and treat it to an hour or so of direct morning sunlight.
Water evenly, and rotate the plant regularly for even light distribution.
How Do You Save an Overwatered Money Tree?
Cease watering immediately, and remove the tree from its pot to inspect the roots for signs of rot (brown, soft, and mushy appearance).
Remove infected roots with clean pruning shears, and treat the remaining root system with hydrogen peroxide before repotting in a clean pot with fresh potting soil.
Place your recovering money tree in bright, dappled sunlight with slightly lower humidity levels, and keep relative temperatures in the high 80s to help the soil dry out.
How Can You Tell If a Money Tree Has Root Rot?
Besides checking that the roots have gone from firm and cream in color to brown and mushy, a money tree with root rot will also exhibit wilted or drooping leaves, slower growth, yellow leaves, and an unpleasant mildew-like smell in the soil.
In summary, there are quite a few offenders behind yellow leaves on your money tree, but once you’re familiar with the fairly straightforward needs of this tropical plant, you’ll be able to keep on top of things.
Keep things at a comfortable 65-80°F, provide indirect light and medium-high humidity, and maintain a consistent watering regimen to make your money tree a fortuitous plant once more!