01/09/2012 08:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sprout Home Plant Of The Week: The Money Tree

Flickr Photo by mauroguanandi

To assure the new year will be even more fabulous than the last, you might want to align yourself with a plant that is not only good looking and dependable, but is also associated with good fortune, wealth and luck. Money trees, or Pachira, have five shiny leaves at the end of each branch resembling an open hand that many believe symbolizes the five fundamental Feng Shui elements; metal, wood, water, fire and earth. If a space is not balanced according to these elements, a money tree will assist in creating harmony by adding the missing element. The common name 'money tree' is believed to be derived from a tale of a man who was given a Pachira in response to his prayers for wealth. The man figured out how to propagate the plant from seed, and became wealthy by selling the plants.

You do not, however, have to subscribe to Feng Shui or believe in folklore to fall in love with a money tree. Their fresh green limbs are easily trained, you will often find them for sale with a braided or shaped trunk. Although you rarely see it flowering as a cultivated houseplant, the money tree produces an amazing bloom that looks like a peeled banana with hair like bright stamens. They also produce edible nuts grown in woody pods which I am told taste like peanuts.

Money trees like to be kept in bright filtered light to part sun. Do not allow the tree to bake in direct sunrays all day because its leaves can get burnt. Let the soil surface become dry to the touch in between waterings and make sure that your potting media allows for ample drainage. Depending on the conditions in your home and size of container this may be once every 5-7 days. Some growers will utilize a layer of glued rock to the topsoil of the potted plant for decoration, which I recommend removing for easier care. If the leaves start to turn yellow it is most likely a sign that your money tree has been overwatered -- adjust your watering schedule and make sure your plant is never sitting in water. You should not need to prune your Pachira unless it is to foster new growth or to shape your plant. Their limbs can become a little leggy so it is recommended that you rotate your plant once in a while to make it well rounded in regards to proportion.

The money tree looks best when given the opportunity to grow into its own space without getting visually cramped. Because of its lush green leaf structure and sculpted trunk, giving it its own display area to let its limbs roam is only appropriate. Whether you need some good juju for 2012 or you are filling the void for a dependable and adaptable plant, the money tree might not necessarily bring you luck, but its definitely worth more than just a shot.