You might assume a money tree is a single tree, but actually, they’re several trees combined! This gorgeous houseplant, also known by its botanical name pachira aquatica, saba nut, or Guiana chestnut, is made up of two and six individual plants braided or twisted together.
Although they don’t need to be braided and would survive on their own, there’s no doubt letting them grow twisted together can add character and offer a unique look.
So is it hard braiding money trees? Actually, no, as long as you know-how, you’ll find it an easy process.
By weaving the trunks of young money trees together and letting them grow, you can expect a stunning result that should last for years. Let’s take a closer look at how to make and care for braided money trees.
Quick Braiding Tips:
- The best growth for money trees is when they’re left alone and not stressed. That’s why you should not stir it excessively except for yearly cutting and braiding.
- When braiding, ensure that the tree is kept away from direct sunlight as you don’t want to get dehydrated. Additionally, money trees do not require much water to thrive. A watering schedule of 2 to 3 weeks should suffice.
- Once you have completed the first braid and then repeat braiding, you may take off the stakes and string so that the plant can expand more efficiently. But before you do this, be sure you are developing in an upright vertical direction.
- It is essential when braiding the shoots to make sure that you don’t put too much strain on the tree by twisting the shoots too much. If you break a branch, tie the ends back and wrap them in garden tape. They’ll be healed within a couple of weeks.
- If the plant you have is on the old side, it’s not advised to braid them as branches could snap under the tension of the braid.
Why Money Trees Are Special
These hardy trees are native to South and Central America. They’re tropical but still don’t like overwatering. If you can avoid that, you should find them simple to grow.
Money trees are fine with most indoor temperatures as well as indirect or artificial sunlight. You can grow them to your preferred size. With the versatile money tree, anything from a little desk plant to a 6-feet high indoor tree is possible.
This plant doesn’t shed leaves, and you won’t have to keep repotting it like some other plants. It’s simple to look after, lives a long time, and looks pretty with its braided stems. You can maximize the canopy of the lush foliage and create an artistic and unique plant.
Will a Money Tree Braid Itself?
It’s easy to assume these trees twist around as they grow, but this isn’t how they grow naturally. So instead, braiding them is a simple process that you can apply to either indoor or outdoor money trees to make them structurally stronger and enhance their appearance.
Nearly any plant or tree with a soft, bendable stem can be braided, and other examples include azalea, hibiscus, bay leaf plants, and ficus grown in this way. Unfortunately, money trees and lucky bamboo plants are typically sold this way, so it’s rare to find them as single-stemmed plants.
How Many Can You Braid Together?
Remember, braiding doesn’t have to be a three-strand pattern. There are various kinds of braids to choose from, just like braiding hair or fabric. For example, some plants might have just two stems twisted into a spiral, and this can look pretty for plants with densely-packed leaves that form a kind of ‘ball’ on top.
Other plants might have five or even six strands twisted together, which can then be molded into coils, trellis shapes, or the shape of a vase. The stems on money trees are thicker at the bottom and more fibrous than bamboo, for example, so you won’t often see intricately-braided money trees, although a triple-strand braid is trendy.
You can begin braiding money trees while the plants are still supple and young, but wait until they’re at least fourteen inches tall before you start. Braiding the stems can cause permanent growth retardation to the plant and can also result in scarred shoots that stay even after the plant is mature.
Why Do People Braid Money Trees?
There are several reasons why people might choose to braid money trees together as they grow, including the following:
- So they look fuller: these trees can grow up to 60 feet tall in the wild with plenty of shiny, dark green leaves and fat trunks. They can even bear fruit in big pods with edible nuts. This is not practical for your home, and indoor money trees typically don’t get taller than about three feet. Because they grow as a leaf canopy in the wild, they don’t have much foliage further down the trunks. For this reason, a single small money tree can look wispy, so braiding several can give a fuller, lusher appearance.
- For aesthetic reasons: elaborately braided money trees are beautiful. Whether woven or twisted with two stems or several, they can look elegant and exotic in any kind of space. Also, the braiding makes them look high-end, making lovely gifts.
- To give more stability: the tall, thin money tree that has leaves at the top only can be pretty delicate if grown alone. Not only does growing one by itself makes it more likely a stem will snap when you relocate, repot, or prune it, but it also means the plant will probably bend under its own weight eventually. If you want to grow yours three feet high or taller, braiding several together offers more stability so you can handle the plant without risking the stem snapping or causing any damage. Also, you can avoid giving it’ plant shock’ when moving a fragile one by itself.
Tips for Healthy Money Trees
It’s harder to braid unhealthy plants, so make sure your money trees are repotted in a bigger container where the roots are free to spread out. Water it so the soil is never completely dry but never saturated either – try to keep it a little damp.
Leaves turning yellow and brown mean the plant is dehydrated, and you should water it more. Watering once every couple of weeks should be enough unless you see brown leaves. Don’t allow the plant to be in direct sunlight because that dehydrates it fast.
Also, don’t repot the plant just before braiding because money trees take a while to settle into a new container.
How To Start the Braid
When there is at least three green, healthy-looking stalks skinnier than ½-inch, you can begin to braid the trees together. Start by putting a stake on each side of the tree, which reaches up to the leafy part at the top.
Begin the braid from the bottom, crossing the left stem over the middle one, then the right stem over the middle one, and repeat, like how you braid hair. Unlike braiding hair, you should keep the money tree stems loosely so you don’t accidentally snap a step.
Lean over the plants as you’re braiding them so you can easily untangle the leaves at the top while braiding from underneath.
Keep going until you get up to the leafy part, then tie a coir string around the end loosely and tie each end of the string to a stake to keep the braid in place while the plants grow. Duct tape is an alternative to the coir string.
Taking your time when braiding money trees is essential since rushing could cause you to snap a stem inadvertently. If this does happen, you can put the two ends back together and use grafting or medical tape to fix it.
Don’t make the mistake of wrapping it too tightly; otherwise, you might damage the branches when they get a little wider and the tape starts digging into the plant’s skin. Then, when it’s completely healed, you can remove and discard the tape.
How to Look After the Braided Tree
It might be weeks or months before the stems grow enough for you to continue the braid. However, once you have at least six inches of new growth, you can take off the string and braid a little more.
Again, loosely tie the top of the braid using string and secure this to each of the two stakes.
You might have to replace the stakes with taller ones as the braided tree continues to grow. When the plant has grown substantially, it’s a good idea to repot it in a bigger container so the roots don’t get squashed.
It will level off when the tree reaches somewhere between three and six feet in height. Once it’s large enough, keep it in the current pot, and it won’t try to grow further. At this point, you can discard the string and the stakes.
Once the tree is mature, the braids will harden and become permanent. Don’t try to re-braid a fully mature tree because the stems won’t be supple enough to twist around one another, and they will probably snap under pressure.
How to Re-Braid the Tree
The plant will have grown after several months, and then you should re-braid it. For this, you need to discard the garden tape or string that you put on the tree previously and tie it to the stakes.
Keep braiding at the top and leave five inches or so unbraided when you get closer to the leafy top of the plant. Next, add more string and stakes, bearing in mind that you will need longer lengths of string and slightly longer stakes.
Braided money trees make lovely additions to offices or homes, and they also make beautiful gifts. Hopefully, the above guidelines make it easy to braid your money trees together. Take good care of it, and you expect your braided money tree to live for up to fifteen years.
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.