How to Fertilize Money Trees: Easy Tips for Healthy Growth

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How to fertilize money trees with liquid or granular formulas.

Money trees have lush, dramatic leaves that instantly make it look like the tropics in your home. That’s how I feel about my money tree, anyway! While money trees are overall low-maintenance, I’ve found that my plant does best when it gets a regular dose of high-quality fertilizer applied the right way and at the right time.

Learning how to fertilize money trees properly is simple. Choose a fertilizer with a balanced formula that contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. For liquid formulas, dilute the fertilizer according to package directions and apply monthly during the spring and summer. Apply a granulated formula twice annually, in spring and late summer. Sprinkle a small amount of fertilizer on the soil surface, work it in gently and water the plant well. 

That’s a pretty high-level explanation, so in this post, I’ll walk you through the process in more detail. You’ll learn the reasons why money trees need fertilizer, the products I recommend, how to use them and problems to watch out for.

Let’s get started!

RELATED: Along with fertilizing, pruning your money tree properly is another key way to get healthy new growth!

Why Use a Money Tree Fertilizer

Many potting soils are made to feed plants and help with healthy growth, and money trees aren’t especially heavy-feeding plants. Besides that, plants manufacture their own food through photosynthesis. So why fertilize?

Even with the best-quality potting soil, essential soil nutrients get depleted in about 6 months, making a money tree fertilizer necessary for continued leafy growth. Typically, you’ll only need to repot your money tree every 1-2 years, so your plant will need some supplementary nutrients in between.

And while plants do produce their own food in the form of sugar, the plant needs plenty of minerals and nutrients for photosynthesis to happen in the first place.

So that’s why giving your money tree a fertilizer boost on the regular is a key component for a healthy, lush plant. In my experience, fertilizing a money tree during the active growing season can provide the following benefits:

  • Strong, healthy roots
  • Strong limbs
  • Vibrant new leaves
  • Longer life span

However, while fertilizer is important, always remember that it’s much better to under-feed than over-feed your money tree. There is a true danger in over-fertilization, and once you’ve applied the fertilizer, you can’t take it completely out.

Large, mature fronds on a money tree, one with five leaves and one with seven leaves.

How to Fertilize Money Trees

Money tree fertilizer comes in two forms- liquid and granular, and the steps of how to properly apply your fertilizer depends on the type you choose.

  • Liquid fertilizers are designed to be used as a water-based solution, and they’re available in fluid or powdered form.
  • Granular fertilizers are designed to be applied dry and straight from the package.

I’ll get into the finer details of the pros and cons of each type a little later on, but right now, here are my tips for a safe and effective fertilizing routine.

How to Apply Liquid Money Tree Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizers come in concentrated formulas, and if it’s is too strong, it can damage the root system and prevent water/nutrient uptake. That’s bad, so you must dilute any liquid formula- always. 

Follow any manufacturer’s instructions on dilution, and don’t be afraid to dilute even further. As an example, if a liquid fertilizer calls for 4 teaspoons of fertilizer to 4 cups of water, it’s fine to only use 1-2 teaspoons. 

I use a fluid formula for my houseplants. When it’s time to apply, I always add the fertilizer to the watering can first, then add water to help the fertilizer distribute evenly. Gently stirring or shaking the can is also helpful. What you don’t want is a lot of fertilizer sinking to the bottom, then all coming out at once and overdosing your plant.

A gardener puts a small amount of liquid fertilizer in a watering can in preparation to give to houseplants.
Add the recommended fertilizer dosage.
A gardener adds water to a liquid fertilizer in a watering can, in preparation to give to a money tree.
Add water to dilute.
Liquid fertilizer diluted in water in a watering can.
The mixture should be evenly distributed and pale in color.

Once you’ve got your fertilizer solution mixed up, use it to water your money tree, giving enough so that the excess runs out of the pot’s drainage holes.

A gardener waters a money tree with diluted liquid fertilizer.
Generously water your money tree with the fertilizer solution.

Let your plant sit in the run-off for about 10-15 minutes, then drain it away. Don’t allow your plant to sit for long periods in water run-off; that can lead to over-saturated soil and dangerous root rot on your money tree.

How to Apply Granular Money Tree Fertilizer

Granular fertilizers aren’t the most common or really the best for houseplants. They contain higher concentrations of salt, which can be harmful if it builds up in the soil.

But while I prefer liquid formulas, some houseplant lovers swear by granular ones. And if you want to use one yourself, here’s how to do it.

Use the amount of fertilizer recommended on the package directions. Here again, you can use less than the package calls for, but never use more.

You’ve got a couple of options about how to apply the granules.

One way is to spread them evenly across the soil and around the base of your money tree. Then gently work the granules into the soil with your fingers, being careful not to disturb or damage roots. Once you’ve worked the fertilizer into the soil, water the money tree well. This starts dissolving the granules and helps the fertilizer distribute evenly throughout the soil.

Another strategy is to poke small holes into the soil about an inch deep. Sprinkle the granules in, close the holes with soil and water the plant well. This method places the fertilizer deeper into the root zone, so your money tree can start absorbing the nutrients faster. This video from Healthy Houseplants shows a great demonstration:

How to Choose the Best Money Tree Fertilizer

I know I’ve felt overwhelmed looking at the sheer volume of choices in the fertilizer aisle or online. It’s hard to know which one to pick! So let’s go over some products and how to understand what the numbers and formulations mean.

Money Tree Fertilizers I Recommend

I highly recommend Dr. Earth Pump & Grow House Liquid Plant Food as a fertilizer for money tree plants-I’ve had great results with it on mine. Also, I love what the company stands for and how they use human-grade organic materials for their products. Even though you won’t be eating your money tree like you would your vegetable plants, in my opinion, an organic formula is still worth investing in.

These are some other good options from trustworthy producers:

NPK Ratio: What It Means and Why It Affects Money Trees

You know how every package of fertilizer has three numbers on it? That’s the NPK ratio, which The University of Massachusetts Soil Testing Laboratory defines as the concentration of essential nutrients that plants need most for healthy growth.

  • N: Nitrogen for photosynthesis and stem and leaf growth
  • P: Phosphorous to grow healthy roots and blooms
  • K: Potassium regulates water intake, a plant’s response to disease, and makes plants more resilient when the environment is not ideal

NPK ratios are always listed as three numbers: 10-10-10 means 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium for a balanced fertilizer or 15-5-10 which is higher in nitrogen at 15%, 5% phosphorus, and 10% potassium. 

Simply speaking, the same percentages of NPK are best for supporting green leaf growth and a healthy root system. 

Different plants have different fertilizer requirements. Money trees benefit most from a balanced fertilizer because it grows lots of green leaves, and the root system is sensitive to both too much and not enough water.

For houseplant fertilizers, you’ll typically see low NPK ratios, like 4-4-4 or 5-3-3. The one I use is 1-1-1:

NPK analysis on a bottle of liquid plant fertilizer.

Liquid vs Granular Formulas: Basic Differences

We’ve already established that there are both liquid and granular fertilizers, but now let’s compare the two. 

Liquid formulas:

  • Are quick release, meaning that the plant can take up the nutrients quickly.
  • Need to be reapplied more often since they break down faster.
  • Are easy to measure and allow for more accurate dosing.
  • Are concentrated and need proper dilution in water before use.

Granular fertilizer:

  • Is slow-release, meaning that the fertilizer breaks down more slowly and makes nutrients available over time.
  • Needs less frequent application.
  • Contains higher levels of salt that could damage roots in large amounts.
  • Are harder to dose accurately and distribute evenly through the soil.

According to Michigan State University Extension, one is not better than the other. But as a matter of personal preference, I find liquid formulas easier to use and less likely to cause chemical root burns.

Organic vs Synthetic Formulas: Basic Differences

In reference to fertilizer, organic and synthetic refer to their sources. 

Organic fertilizers:

  • Come from natural sources like plants or animals and their by-products which include horse manure, worm castings, compost, bone meal, and alfalfa meal. 
  • Are naturally degradable, economic, safe, and generally better for soil health and the environment. 
  • Don’t undergo processing, which means they degrade in and enrich the soil over time to provide necessary nutrients to plants. 

Synthetic fertilizers:

  • Come from mineral deposits, petroleum by-products, and other biodegradable chemical materials. 
  • Do not enrich the soil- they only feed the plant. 
  • Are less expensive and act quickly.
  • Have specific nutrient ratios to meet specific plant needs. 

Is one better than the other? Not necessarily- it’s a personal preference.

Young leaves on a money tree houseplant.

When to Fertilize Money Tree

If you have purchased a new money tree, plan on fertilizing it about 6 months after purchase. By that time, the nutrients in the original soil have likely been utilized- so you need a fresh dose.

For liquid formulas, give a monthly dose during the spring, summer and early fall. Then pull back to one dose every two months during the late fall and winter, while the tree is in its seasonal dormant (resting) phase. While the tree is resting, it’s not producing much new growth, and adding too much fertilizer during dormancy could burn the roots.

If you’re using a granular formula, apply a dose in the early spring, at the beginning of the active growing season. Then apply a second dose about 5-6 months later, in the late summer or early fall.

Potential Problems Fertilizing Money Trees

You’ve heard me mention fertilizer burn here a couple of times. The minerals in fertilizer are usually in the form of salts, which can damage plant roots if they build up to high enough levels in the soil.

Here are some signs a money tree has been over-fed:

The best thing for an over-fed money tree is water. Put your plant, pot and all, under a running faucet or shower for 3-5 minutes and let it drain from the drainage hole. This will help flush out any excess fertilizer. 

Then avoid fertilizing the money tree again for a few months and be sure to dilute the fertilizer well.

I’ll say it again: It’s better to err on the side of using too little fertilizer than too much- remember, you can always give more later, but you can’t take it back out.

Infographic outlining how to fertilize money trees.

Frequently Asked Questions about Money Tree Fertilizer

Yes, coffee grounds contain high levels of nitrogen, which is essential for green, leafy plants like money trees. Add used coffee to the compost, then use the finished compost in your money tree’s soil. You can also run a second round of water through your used morning coffee grounds, allow it to cool, then use this weak coffee solution to water your plant.

Stimulate new growth on a money tree by feeding a diluted, balanced fertilizer monthly during the active growing season, weekly watering, and 6-8 hours of gentle sunlight daily.

Yes, Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfur, which can improve nutrient uptake, deter pests, and promote greener leaves. Add 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to a gallon of water, mix well, then use the solution to water your money tree.

Final Thoughts

I’ve found that my money tree does so much better when I’m diligent to fertilize consistently and properly, and that holds true for your plant too. You’ve got choices as far as liquid/granular and organic/synthetic, but as long as you follow the basic principles, your money tree will thank you and thrive for years to come.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any other questions about how to fertilize money trees? Or do you have any helpful pointers to share that you’ve discovered yourself? There’s no better way to learn than from one another, so please let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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