Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow? Here’s Why and How to fix it

Healthy leaves of money tree (Pachira aquatica) are meant to be glossy deep green and if they turn yellow there may be many cause; let’s see them. A popular houseplant from tropical Central and South America also called Guiana chestnut, this low maintenance plant is quite sensitive to  a series of conditions that can result in foliage yellowing.

The most common reasons why your money tree leaves turn from green to yellow are excessive watering, bad lighting and too much, or wrong type of fertilizer. There are others too, and we will see them all!

So, get put you plant doctor hat on and get ready to find out exactly which problem is causing the yellowing and, of course, the correct solution!

Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow: Is It Serious?

Now you know that there are many reasons why the beautiful leaves of your money tree are turning yellow; some are more serious, like excessive fertilization, and others less. But it also depends on how far the problem has gone.

So, first, let’s see if your money tree is really ill or if it just has a small problem, like a “cold” for us humans… Let’s start then!

If all the leaves are yellow, the situation is terrible; if the problem is localized or small, then you should be in time to remedy it quickly.

On the whole, problems, including drying up of the leaves, are less severe than those that include rotting with yellowing. So you will need to assess the gravity of the problem first, and for this, you need to look at the following:

  • The type of yellowing is it, whether it is dark or light.
  • How fast it is spreading.
  • If it starts as localized or not, like with spots, rather than large areas and whole leaves.
  • Other signs, like browning, rotting, misshapen foliage, etc.

All these will come back when we look at all the different causes and remedies so we know exactly what the problem is. And we are going to do it – right now!

Reasons Why Your Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow

It is essential to know the exact reason why the green leaves of your money tree are no longer green but yellow. It’s like curing a patient. So, here are all the reasons that can cause this problem it is best to know first

  • Overwatering
  • Underwatering
  • Poor humidity levels
  • Poor soil drainage
  • Wrong fertilization
  • Temperature changes
  • Bad light conditions
  • Some pests
  • Natural leaf death

There are many differences between them, in the way they happen, even in the shade of yellow, and of course in how serious your problem is…

All these will come back when we look at all the different causes and remedies so we know exactly what the problem is. And we are going to do it – right now!

1: Overwatering Causing Money Tree Leaves To Yellow

Overwatering is the biggest cause of plant leaf yellowing and, in general health problems, including with money trees. If this is the cause:

  • Yellowing will look unhealthy, darkening as it progresses.
  • It will proceed fairly fast.
  • It can be accompanied by dark browning.
  • It can be accompanied by rotting and lacerations.
  • The leaves will tend to soften.

And if you notice these symptoms…

The Remedy

We have seen the symptoms of yellowing of money tree leaves due to overwatering, now, it’s time for the solutions.

  • Cut all the yellowed leaves to stop the problem’s spreading; be generous; if a leaf starts yellowing due to overwatering, it is lost, even if the problem is only present on the part of it.
  • Stop watering for a week.
  • Start a correct watering routine; always wait for the top 2 inches of soil to be dry (5.0 cm). This is usually once or twice a week, less in winter. Do not leave your money tree soaking in water.

2: Underwatering Causing Money Tree Leaves To Yellow

Too little water can also cause your money tree leaves to turn yellow, but in a different way from overwatering. Look out for:

  • Yellowing is light in color.
  • Yellowing starts at the tips.
  • It usually progresses slowly.
  • The leaves become hard and dry.
  • If browning occurs, it is light in color.
  • You may notice burns, especially at the tips and edges.

So, what can you do?

The Remedy

Underwatering is usually far less dangerous than overwatering unless it has reached extreme cases, like when all the leaves are dehydrated… The solution is usually simple:

  • Water your money tree.
  • Start a correct watering routine; when the top 2 inches (5.0) of soil are dry, your houseplant is thirsty!

You don’t have to, but if you don’t like the yellowing, you can:

  • Cut the affected leaves or leaflets, even only in part; the yellowing will not spread if you water it.

3: Poor Humidity Causing The Yellowing of Leaves

Money tree comes from tropical forests, where there is a lot of air humidity; in fact, it needs a level of around 50%. Many indoor spaces are far too dry to reach it. In this case:

  • Yellowing will start at the tips and progress slowly.
  • The yellow color will be pale.
  • Drying may also occur.
  • Pale browning can follow as the problem develops.

The symptoms are similar to those of underwatering but usually smaller, more localized, and slower.

And here is what you need to do! 

How to fix it?

The best way to raise the air humidity around your money tree is by misting it regularly; you can also use a humidifier. Misting is easier and less expensive but requires more time and effort.

However, if you want to go for a faster solution, here are some tips that might help.

  • Place a tray under the pot’s saucer.
  • Keep it filled with water.
  • You can also add some expanded clay pebbles to prolong the release of air humidity in the air.
  • You can also spray mist your money tree regularly.

Once again, if you don’t like the sight of the yellow leaves, you can cut them or the affected parts, but this is unnecessary.

4: Poor Soil Drainage Causing Yellow Money Tree Leaves

Good drainage is essential for the health of your money tree; otherwise, the leaves may become yellow, and in serious cases, even the roots may rot… the symptoms are the same as with overwatering:

  • Yellowing will tend to darken.
  • It can progress fast.
  • Leaves will soften, not harden.
  • Yellowing will start at the tips.
  • Browning can follow, and it will be dark.
  • Rotting can occur at later stages.

The solution is not super simple, but there is one.

The Remedy

There is only one remedy if the problem that causes the yellowing of your money tree leaves to yellow is poor soil drainage.

  • Repotting your money tree.
  • Start Improving the quality of the soil. Use a well-drained mix made up of ½ succulent potting soil and 1/2 perlite or coarse sand. Alternatively, use ½ peat moss or substitute and ½ perlite or pumice chips.
  • Cut all the damaged leaflets wholly, even if they are only partly affected.

Also, remember you can transfer your money tree to another pot in two or three years.

5: Wrong Fertilization Causing Money Tree Leaves To Yellow

If you feed your money tree the wrong fertilizer or if you fertilize it too much, yellowing of the leaves can be a consequence, but often not the only one. There are a series of symptoms you need to look at.

  • The yellowing start as localized, as with patches within the leaves.
  • Gradual discoloring from green to yellow of whole leaves is a typical sign; leaves lose color gradually; they lose their glossy color, then pale and pale till they turn yellow.
  • Sometimes, you also get misshapen leaves.
  • You can also get some necrosis or death of parts of the leaves.
  • Leaves may fall without apparent reason.

If your plant is intoxicated… it can be severe. So, read on and act fast!

How to fix it?

The remedy you need to take in case your money tree leaves are turning yellow because you (or someone else) used too much fertilizer or the wrong product depends on whether the problem is light or serious.

Light Fertilization Problems

If you see that only a few leaves are affected, or only parts of a few leaves, then try the easy solution:

  • Stop fertilizing immediately.
  • Start a correct feeding routine after months of pause or anyway when you see a clear improvement in your money tree.
  • Fertilize a maximum of once a month in spring and summer, and stop in September.
  • Use half the suggested quantity.
  • Use a high nitrogen fertilizer in spring and summer, like NPK 12-6-6.

Some experts suggest giving a high potassium fertilizer as last in September, but if your plant is intoxicated, less is more…

Serious Fertilization Problems

If the problem has gone too far; if a significant part of the foliage is affected, then you can try to save it anyway:

  • Repotting your money tree.
  • Try to dispose of as much of the old soil as possible without damaging the roots.
  • Start a correct feeding regime after two months of pause or when you see that the money tree has recovered.

These are problems that take time before you see any results; you will need to be patient and wait till your money tree has detoxed.

6: Temperature Changes

Sudden temperature drops or sudden increases can cause money tree leaves to turn yellow. Also, cold drafts may have the same effect. In these cases:

  • Yellowing can be sudden and even extensive, especially if the temperature drops.
  • Leaves turn dry and brittle.
  • If browning occurs, it is usually pale.

And in this case, too, we have found a solution.

Remedy for Yellow Money Tree Leaves Due to Changes in Temperature

The remedy for the yellowing of money tree leaves due to sudden changes or extreme changes in temperature is simply:

  • You can simply move your money tree where the temperature is stable and comprised between 50 and 90o F (10 and 32o C).

Also, as prevention, or just in case this was the root cause of the problem, Keep your money tree away from the following:

  • Heaters and heat sources.
  • Windows and doors that cause drafts.
  • Vents, air conditioners, etc.

Remember that where money trees come from, the climate is very stable; these are not plants that withstand big or sudden changes.

7: Bad Light Conditions

Money trees need bright indirect light indoors; this means lots of light, but filtered. If the light is too much, your houseplant’s leaves will be yellow. In this case:

  • Yellowing starts as localized on parts of the leaves.
  • The yellowing will tend to pale, not darken, with time.
  • Browning can follow, and it is dry and pale.
  • Sunburn may occur.
  • You can also notice a general paling of the green color of the leaves; your money tree is reducing its production of chlorophyll because there is too much light.

I bet you already guessed the solution…

The Remedy

The remedy for the yellowing of your money tree leaves if the light is wrong is simple:

  • Move your money tree where it receives 6 to 8 hours of bright indirect light daily.

In practical terms, money trees prefer east or west-facing windows, but keep them at least 2 feet (60 cm) away. This houseplant can also tolerate south-facing windows, but only at a distance of at least 5 feet away from it (1.5 meters). 

Again, you can cut the damaged parts of the leaves, but it is not necessary because the yellowing is dry and wilted.

8: Pests Causing Money Tree Leaves To Yellow

Some pests like aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale insects can cause your money tree leaves to go yellow. In this case:

  • Whole leaves can fall off.
  • The yellowing will be pale.
  • You will notice the pests, especially at the base of the leaflets, near the petiole, and on the under pages of the leaves.

Money trees are more susceptible to pests indoors than outdoors, but there is a solution.

Remedy for Yellow Money Tree Leaves Due to Pests

Of course, if pests are the problem, the only solution to yellowing your money tree leaves is to get rid of them. It depends on the type of pests, but… do not use any chemicals! They will weaken your houseplant.

The best idea is to prevent infestations: 

  • Keep your money tree in a well-ventilated position (but not drafty)! 
  • Avoid excessive humidity.
  • Stick cloves into the soil; it scares them off.
  • In summer, spray your money tree plant with water and a few drops of natural pest repellant, like Diatomaceous Earth, peppermint, clove, cinnamon, or rosemary essential oils.

But if it is too late, it depends on the exact bugs you have; having said this, for aphids, spider mites, and scale insects: 

  • Melt a tablespoon of natural soap in 500 cl of water.
  • Add a few drops of a repellant essential oil.
  • Add two tablespoons of neem oil.
  • Pour into a spray bottle.
  • Shake well.
  • Spray your money tree abundantly, and don’t forget the undersides of the leaves!
  • Repeat every 7 to 14 days if necessary.

In case you have mealy bugs, it is a bit harder:

  • Melt a tablespoon of natural soap in 500 cl of water.
  • Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
  • Pour into a spray bottle.
  • Shake well.
  • Spray abundantly, making sure you cover the undersides of the leaves.

Then…

  • Take a cotton bud or soft cloth.
  • Dip it in the solution you have just used to spray.
  • Gently rub all the plants.

Repeat both processes as necessary.

Natural Yellowing Of Money Tree Leaves

Of course, yellowing leaves are also normal when they are old, and your money tree has decided to drop them… It simply withdraws all their energy and nutrients and saves them for new foliage. In this case:

  • The yellowing will be dry and pale rather than dark.
  • Only old leaves will be affected.

And you know what you need to do…

9: Remedy for Yellow Money Tree Leaves Due to Natural Causes

Here is the good news: you need to do nothing! When they get all yellow, you can snip them off just before they fall with your fingers if you wish.

But I would suggest you don’t do it too early; till there is some green, it means the plant is still withdrawing energy.

You won’t cause much damage if you remove them at this stage, so do it if you don’t like them, but always remember that Nature knows best what to do…

Deep Green Money Tree Leaves

So, finally, you know how to remedy and avoid the yellowing of money tree leaves; this way, they will always look that bright, deep, and glossy green that we all love!

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