Money Trees (Pachira Aquatica) are becoming more and more popular among houseplant beginners and enthusiasts alike. I personally have one that my grandmother bought me that is about eight years old, and it is one of my most prized plants. Eventually, if you have a plant as old as mine, you will start to notice the leaves collecting dust and grime.
How do you clean Money Trees? The size of your plant will determine the method you should use to clean its leaves. For small trees, wash them off in the sink or dunk them in water. Large trees can be sprayed off in the shower, and plants that are difficult to move can be wiped down with a damp cloth.
No matter which method you choose, you’ll want to make sure you work gently with your plant. Money Trees are hardy, but if handled roughly could lose a few leaves. Also, using the proper water temperature is extremely important when washing houseplant leaves.
Why You Should Clean Money Tree Leaves
You should clean your Money Tree for the same reason that you clean other things in your home: because they get dirty! Dust and grime settles onto the surface of your plant’s leaves in the same way that it does on your counters and shelves. And while dust won’t kill your Money Tree, removing it from time to time can encourage your plant to thrive.
Like the trees we have outside our homes, indoor Money Trees use photosynthesis to create food for themselves. Part of this process includes collecting sunlight and CO2 through their leaves. Their ability to do this goes down when their leaves are covered with a thick layer of dust. Keeping your Money Tree leaves free of dust and dirt will keep them functioning at their highest level.
Give Your Leaves a Wipe Down
Whether big or small, the most common way people clean Money Trees is by simply wiping them down. With just a damp cloth, you can clean away most anything that has settled onto your plant. To avoid bruising and cracking, work your way out from the center of each leaf, being careful to support the entire leaf and stem with your other hand.
While certainly not the most time-saving method, wiping down plant leaves is definitely the most thorough. Wiping down individual leaves makes sure that each portion of your plant gets the attention that it needs. Also, this is an excellent option for plants that are large, heavy, or difficult to move.
If you find that water alone isn’t doing the trick, you can add a drop of dishwashing detergent into the mix. A small amount of dish soap goes a long way, so be sure to go easy with it.
Though a common dishrag will undoubtedly do in a pinch, microfiber cloths or cheesecloths are the best options for cleaning Money Tree leaves. Be sure to ring your cloth out before wiping down your plant, as you will only want it to be damp.
Give Your Money Tree a Shower
Using your sink or shower to clean off your Money Tree is definitely the quickest option for removing dirt and grime from its leaves. I have a few different sizes of Money Trees, so depending on the one I’m taking care of, I will choose the sink or the shower.
Once you’ve moved your Money Tree to the sink or shower, use your sprayer on a low pressure to spray off the leaves. This should remove any dirt from the plant, but beware! High-pressure sprayers can break leaves or stems.
After cleaning your Money Tree, allow it to dry out in the sink. Remember, no houseplant is fond of living in standing water. If your Money Tree is planted into a container with a drainage hole in the bottom, all the excess water will run out and down the drain.
If your Money Tree is not in a container with a drainage hole, I do not recommend cleaning your leaves with this method. Soaking the soil of your plant without allowing it to drain will not be a good idea for your tree. If this is the case, use one of the other methods I discuss in this article and consider moving your tree to another pot.
Only use lukewarm water when showering your Money Tree. Extremely hot or icy cold water will shock your tree as they are somewhat sensitive to environmental changes.
Give Your Money Tree a Quick Dunk
If you have a small, table-top-sized Money Tree, you may want to consider dunking the leaves of your plant into a bucket of water to clean it. When dunking a plant, place your hand over the pot to keep the soil in place, flip it upside down, place its leaves down into a bucket of lukewarm water and swish it around from side to side.
If you are worried about losing soil from your planter when you flip your tree upside down, you can water it first. Wet soil will stay in place better than dry, especially when you’ve got your hand stretched over it to hold it down. For extra caution, use some plastic wrap to wrap the base of the plant before flipping it.
Make sure that you do this entire process gently! Excessive force will cause the leaves and stems of your Money Tree to break off. Also, remember that the proper water temperature is important. Room temperature water is the least likely to upset your plant.
Again, you’re going to want to let your plant drain and dry out after cleaning it. Remember, no plant wants to sit in soggy soil.
Scrub Down Your Money Tree Pot
From time to time, you may find the container your Money Tree is planted in will need a scrub down. It is common to find a white ring around the interior rim of your pot as salt or other minerals tends to build up in this fashion. When you find one of these in your Money Tree container, cleaning it up will add the finishing touch to making your plant look its best.
To clean a planter, gently remove the plant and set it to the side or in another pot for safekeeping. Using a diluted bleach solution (one-part bleach to ten parts water), clean the pot both inside and out. To get rid of the white layer of minerals, use a brush to scrub the area. Rinse the pot thoroughly and allow it to dry out entirely before repotting your plant.
What About the Mayo Trick or Commercial Leaf Shine Products?
There is a popular hack where people apply a layer of mayonnaise (alone or in a mixture) to the leaves of their houseplants and wipe clean to make the leaves extra shiny. I do not recommend this as it can clog the pores of your plants, interfering with their ability to photosynthesize correctly.
Also, stay away from commercial leaf shine products and things that promise to leave your leaves looking brighter. Water, and sometimes a tiny hint of dish soap, is all you need to keep your natural green and shiny leaves looking their best.
How Often Should You Clean Your Money Tree Leaves?
Your Money Tree will not need to be cleaned daily. Depending on the conditions of the area you live in, your home may be more or less dusty than others. The simple answer is to clean your plant’s leaves when you notice dust or dirt building up on them. Cleaning every few weeks to once every month or two should be all your plant needs to continue thriving.
One Last Note on Water Temperature
I’ve already sprinkled this warning throughout the article, but I thought it deserved its own section. Be sure that you are using an appropriate water temperature when dunking or showering your plant.
If you think of your Money Tree as the tropical plant that it is, you’ll want to mimic rain in its natural habitat when putting water onto it. I always like to use lukewarm water to clean my plants, similar to what it would be rinsed with in nature. When in doubt, err on the cool side.
This is important because water that is too cold can leave spots on the surface of the leaves. And extreme heat or cold can shock the root system of your Money Tree, causing long-lasting damage. When it comes to water temperature, think like Goldilocks: not too hot, not too cold, but just right!