How To Fix Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow

One element you don’t want to see on your bonsai is with Money Tree leaves turning yellow. Pachira aquatica represents many good meanings, such as fortune, wealth, prosperity, and more. When it shows you signs that it’s busy dying, you need to take action right away to save it. 

This guide will explain the factors that cause Money Tree leaves to turn yellow, the steps you can take for each situation, and some general information to enlighten you further. It will go a long way in helping you discover how you can save your bonsai companion.

money tree leaves turning yellow

Why are the Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow?

Unlike other different types of bonsais, the Money Tree has a variety of factors that may lead to the leaves turning yellow. There’s no quick answer, so you’ll need to investigate every aspect before turning to a solution.

Here are the top reasons for Money Tree leaves turning yellow:

  • Watering: Both underwatering and overwatering are conditions you need to look at. You need to control how much water the Money Tree receives, as it doesn’t like drying out or being wet for too long. 
  • Humidity: If there’s too little moisture in the air, the Money Trees leaves will turn yellow and then brown. You can measure the levels with a humidity tester available at most local stores. It should be at least above 60%.
  • Insufficient sunlight: While the Money Tree isn’t fond of direct sunlight, having low light for too many hours can cause the leaves to turn yellow. You should aim for medium indirect sunlight so that it can produce chlorophyll for the leaves to remain green.
  • Too many nutrients: Many people love providing as many nutrients as possible when fertilizing. While some species may like this, the Money Tree doesn’t. It causes toxicity in the leaves and damages the roots.
  • New location: Sometimes, a Money Tree’s leaves will turn yellow when moving to a new location or bonsai pot. The main reason is the stress produced from the relocation, and the tree needs to become used to the new conditions.
  • Change in temperature: The bonsai isn’t fond of a sudden change in temperature, which can occur near open windows or vents. It can handle gradual changes, but drastic ones will cause the leaves to become yellow and then fall.
  • Pests and diseases: These infestations love to feed on the sap and nutrients of the Money Tree that’s heading to the upper structure. Since the leaves aren’t getting enough food or chlorophyll, they turn yellow and eventually die. 
  • Natural causes: Like many other plants, the Money Tree sometimes decides to shed old leaves and send the nutrients to younger shoots. It helps the new leaves and stems to grow stronger, which means the bonsai will absorb the last nutrients in the old foliage, making it yellow.

If you’d like a more general care guide not related to Money Tree leaves turning yellow, be sure to read our Money Tree bonsai care sheet.

money tree leaves turning yellow

Steps to Fix Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow

So, you’ve identified the possible issue, but you’re not sure how to solve it? We’ve dedicated this section to providing you with as much information as you need to save your Money Tree bonsai and prevent more leaves from turning yellow. Take these steps to fix the situation.

Overwatering Conditions

The number one culprit of yellow leaves on a Money Tree is overwatering. We know you love giving it as much care as possible, but it doesn’t like its roots being wet for too long. It usually causes root rot, and the leaves are already falling off by the time you discover it.

The symptoms include lower leaves on the Money Tree bonsai becoming yellow and then brown before detaching from the branch. There will also be a terrible smell emanating from the soil, which means it’s soggy and causing root rot.

Here are some conditions causing Money Tree leaves turning yellow from overwatering:

  • Using planters without holes
  • Growing the bonsai in a massive container
  • Watering too often
  • Providing more water while the tray is full
  • Using soil with poor drainage
  • Not reducing watering in winter

There are two ways to fix this condition. The first is to stop watering and wait until the top three inches of soil are dry. You can also wait until it’s completely dry and then bathe the soil in the tub. Secondly, check for root rot. If there is, replace the soil and prune the bad parts of the roots to prevent the spread of the disease.

Underwatering Conditions

On the flip side, the Money Tree leaves will also turn yellow if there’s insufficient water. It can become thirsty in summer, and it needs moisture to thrive, especially if kept outdoors. The difference in symptoms from overwatering is that the leaves will be crisp and brittle. The soil will also obviously be incredibly dry.

Here are some causes for underwatering conditions:

  • A sudden increase in temperature
  • Change of season
  • Rapid increase in growth during spring and summer
  • A tiny pot
  • Forgetting to water your bonsai
  • Too many roots in the soil
  • Weeds taking over

Most of these causes can be resolved by increasing the watering frequency. Keep an eye out for when the top layer of soil becomes dry. You can also buy a larger container or prune some of the leaves. Never let weeds grow out of control and remove them at first sight.

Soil and Drainage Issues

Some soil types hold water for long periods before releasing it through the drainage holes. There are bonsai species that love these conditions, such as the Bald Cypress. While the Money Tree loves water, it prefers not to leave the roots in moisture for too long.

If you’re not watering frequently, but the moisture isn’t draining, here are some possible reasons:

  • Soil type retains water by nature
  • The container is too large, so the water doesn’t get the chance to drain
  • No drainage rocks in the soil
  • Using mulch on the surface at the wrong time

You can easily improve the drainage with other substrate materials, such as perlite or pumice. We also recommend asking for bonsai soil that drains readily, usually containing pieces of bark. If the pot is too big, consider getting a smaller one suitable for the Money Tree’s size.

The Trouble with Sunlight

There are two issues with sunlight that may be the cause of the Money Tree leaves turning yellow. You see, you need just the right balance for them to form chlorophyll, which is what makes them green in the first place. Too little, and you can expect them to change colors.

If there’s too much direct sunlight, the leaves’ edges will burn before turning yellow and brown. On the other hand, if there’s very little light for the leaves to perform photosynthesis, they won’t have enough chlorophyll to maintain that wonderful green hue.

Some of the reasons for the sunlight causing issues include:

  • Being placed by a window with direct sunlight
  • Living outside with direct sunlight overhead in the peak afternoon
  • Hiding in a dark corner of your home without much sunlight
  • Sudden relocation from dark to light or vice versa without a gradual change

If you don’t want the leaves turning yellow, you’ll need to find the optimal spot to place your Money Tree bonsai. Look for a location with partial shade for most of the day, but make sure there’s enough sunlight to make chlorophyll. You can also use a grow light if it’s too dark in your home.

Humidity Levels

Most bonsais love high humidity levels, and the Money Tree is no exception. The foliage loves moisture in the air, and it quickly becomes disgruntled when there isn’t enough. While your region’s humidity isn’t something you have control over, you can improve the conditions around your bonsai.

Besides your region having a dry climate, your air conditioner may also be a problem. When warming your home in winter, the AC causes the air to dry out. You’ll notice how quickly the Money Tree’s leaves turn yellow when there’s too little moisture in the air.

While you can use a mist bottle to spray the leaves, it won’t be enough. It only lasts for a moment, and then the droplets on the leaves can lead to mold or leaf burn. We recommend either investing in a bonsai humidity tray or a humidifier.

money tree leaves turning yellow

Feeding your Money Tree

If you’ve been providing liquid fertilizer every week, it’s time to slow down. The Money Tree bonsai doesn’t like too many nutrients in the soil. While you may see bright green leaves at first, it won’t be long before the toxicity causes them to turn yellow or brown.

Another issue is potential damage to the roots. If this occurs, the bonsai won’t be able to absorb water as it usually would. It leads to underwatering and malnutrition, which will also cause the Money tree leaves to turn yellow.

If you suspect over-fertilizing to be the cause, you can either replace the soil completely or wash the nutrients out with regular watering. We recommend doing the former to prevent overwatering. You should also avoid feeding your Money Tree bonsai in autumn and winter. Pay attention to any crystal deposits on the soil as a sign of too many nutrients.

Drastic Change in Temperature

The Money Tree loves any temperature between 65°F and 85°F. While it can handle any gradual change between seasons, it’s not fond of a sudden switch between high and low. You’ll notice how quickly the leaves become yellow if the bonsai is near an open window or vent.

Heading into winter can cause the severe cold to set in, but be careful of turning on that heater. If you’re warming your bonsai area, start at a lower temperature and work your way up to the ideal one you’re aiming for. It’s helpful if you have a digital thermometer in the room.

Some people have bonsais in their office to motivate them at work or encourage productivity. You’ll need to make sure the windows are closed, or your tree isn’t near an opening where a chill breeze may blow on your Money Tree. Open-plan offices with remote-controlled air conditioners are dangerous, especially when employees adjust the temperature all day long.

Transplanting Stress

Many bonsai trees suffer from a condition called transplanting or relocation stress. The former refers to when you move it into new soil and container, while the latter is when you bring your new bonsai home. If you buy your Money Tree online, there’s a goods chance you’ll see yellow leaves in the first few weeks.

It happens because your bonsai is becoming used to the new area. It’s absorbing fresh air and new light conditions, and there may even be a temperature change. You may find it difficult to replicate the same environment where it stayed before, but you don’t need to be alarmed.

Both causes are natural, and the tree should sort out the yellow leaves in a few weeks. You’ll see them drop off in favor of new, green leaves. Just make sure you give it all the love and attention it needs during that time. Also, read our guide on how to repot a Money Tree bonsai.

Pests and Diseases

Unfortunately, many insects and pests love to feed on the Money Tree. Some examples include spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scales. They drink on the sap from the leaves and stem, reducing the nutrients and chlorophyll formation. That’s when the leaves turn yellow.

It’s always best practice to inspect your bonsai daily for critters eating on the tree. You can quickly wash them off with soap and water. Another option is purchasing insecticide, but there are more organic routes you can take.

As mentioned before, the top disease that leads to Money Tree leaves turning yellow is root rot. While powdery mildew may also form on leaves, they don’t really cause the same effect. You can read our detailed guide on how to fix root rot on a Money Tree bonsai.

Old Leaves

One of the more natural causes of yellow leaves on a Money Tree is old age. While the bonsai may live several centuries, the same can’t be said for the foliage. At some time, they run their course, and the tree needs to focus on new ones.

In this situation, all you need to do is remove any yellowing leaves from the tree. You should only see a few of them, while new green ones will appear elsewhere. The Money Tree usually sheds them from autumn to winter, and then you’ll see the replacements appear in spring. 

money tree leaves turning yellow

General Information on Money Tree Yellow Leaves

The section above gives you several steps you can take to fix the issue. Before we leave, we want to address a few more questions regarding the topic we’ve found online. If you have any others you’d like us to address, please feel free to ask in the comments.

Do Yellow Leaves Cause Damage to a Money Tree?

The yellow leaves themselves aren’t causing any damage to the Money Tree. Rather, it’s giving you a sign that something else is. Since the top causes are overwatering and root rot, be sure to check for these conditions first. 

Can Yellow Money Plant Leaves Turn Green Again?

Chlorophyll is what makes a leaf green in the first place. When the leaves lose chlorophyll due to poor conditions, the tree abandons them so that they can use the nutrients somewhere else, which is why they die and fall. However, you’ll see new green leaves appear when the issues are resolved. 

money tree leaves turning yellow

How Do You Know If Your Money Tree Is Dying?

While yellow leaves on a Money Tree signify that something’s wrong, it doesn’t mean your bonsai is dying. You need to look for other symptoms. For example, check if more leaves turn yellow or brown or fall off too quickly. You’ll also notice that the branches and trunk look like they’re wilting.

Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off?

Don’t cut the leaf off while turning yellow on your Money Tree. The bonsai will try to take as many of the nutrients back as possible, a process that you need to allow to happen. Wait until it’s completely yellow before you remove it. Of course, if you notice pests or mold on it, you can cut it immediately.

Restoring Your Money Tree

Now that you know how to fix Money Tree leaves turning yellow, you can take corrective action to restore your bonsai. We know identifying the cause may be challenging, but we hope this guide has helped you in some way. If you’re still not sure, please send us a message.

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Shaun has two passions in life that combine into an extravagant show on Bonsai Alchemist. The one is for writing and the second bonsais. He’s been writing fantasy and horror novels since 2000, while also creating online content since 2015. He’s involved with writing for films and games. Finally, he’s also the owner of a book publishing company.

He received his first bonsai as a gift in 2009 and has been growing several species in his quiet home in South Africa. He prefers propagating new life instead of buying bonsais at the store. His son and daughter share his love for nature, while his wife stares on at her introverted hermit husband.


Shaun M Jooste


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