Money tree plants make such striking houseplants, and they’re generally quite easy to grow. However, they can run into issues from time to time, including leaf discoloration. I’ve dealt with money tree leaves turning yellow myself, and most of the time, I’ve found that it’s been a fairly simple fix.
There are five main reasons for money tree leaves turning yellow: watering problems, incorrect light exposure, the normal aging process, nutrient deficiencies and transplant shock.
It can be difficult to keep your tree’s beautiful green leaves looking that way. So if they appear unhealthy, it could be because of an underlying problem.
- Watering too much or too little is the top cause of leaf discoloration. Give water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry.
- Money trees prefer bright, indirect light to keep their leaves vibrant and green.
- Older leaves at the base of the leaf canopy turn yellow at the end of their natural lifespan. This is normal and no cause for concern.
- Money tree leaves may turn yellow when nutrients, especially nitrogen, are lacking in the soil. Apply diluted fertilizer monthly during the spring/summer/early fall.
- Yellow leaves can be a stress response to repotting. Ensure a good environment and care, and the money tree should recover in a week or two.
5 Reasons for Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow
If you’re asking “why are my money tree leaves turning yellow?” it’s likely to be due to one of these 5 reasons:
1. Watering Problems
Giving too much or too little water is the #1 cause of houseplant problems, and it’s the most likely scenario for money tree leaves turning yellow too.
Overwatering can harm your plant in two ways:
- Water fills the natural air pockets in soil- essentially drowning your plant by depriving it of oxygen.
- Constantly wet soil invites harmful microbes to multiply, causing decay and death in the root system. This is known as root rot in money trees, and the rest of the plant will suffer when the root system dies.
Alternatively, under-watering your tree can cause similar problems due to dry soil and parched roots.
Whether it’s overwatering or under-watering, the older leaves at the bottom of the leaf canopy are typically the first to show signs of yellowing.
How to Fix Yellow Money Tree Leaves From Watering Problems
Giving too much or too little water can both harm your plant, but in my experience, under-watering is the lesser of the two evils because the damage process is slower and easier to reverse.
I recommend waiting until the soil feels dry about 2 inches deep before giving the plant another round of water.
2. Incorrect Lighting
Over-exposure to sunlight damages leaves in a way that’s similar to sunburn in humans. This is especially dangerous in the summer, and it can make the leaf look yellowish and less vibrant.
On the other hand, if your plant gets too little sunlight, it won’t be able to produce enough food through photosynthesis. This causes a sickly yellow hue on leaves rather than the normal bright green.
How to Fix Yellow Money Tree Leaves From Incorrect Lighting
Your money tree will do best in that sweet spot that most houseplants love: An area that gets plenty of bright light from a window but is out of the direct sun rays.
I’ve found that my money tree is happy in a spot several feet back from my large south-facing window. It gets a little direct sun in the late afternoon, but it’s mostly indirect light:
A west-facing window would be another good spot. But keep in mind the season as well- a window that provides perfect light in the winter might let in too much harsh light in the summer.
If you don’t have a sunny window, a grow light is a great way to safely give your plant the UV rays it needs.
3. Normal Aging
If your plant is getting adequate water and light, normal aging could be why you see discolored leaves.
Leaves will naturally turn yellow and drop off trees over time. This may happen more frequently during the wintertime when the plant is resting in preparation for the active growth season starting in the spring.
How to Fix Yellow Money Tree Leaves From Normal Aging
First, make sure you’re giving your money tree good care and that there are no other stress factors that could be causing the yellow leaves.
As long as your tree is otherwise healthy and the yellowing is confined to a few older leaves at the bottom of the tree, it’s probably safe to assume that aging is behind the discoloration. This is completely normal, so no need to panic.
You can trim away the dead leaves with clean, sharp scissors, but in my opinion, it’s better to let the leaves fall off naturally. This lets the plant reabsorb any nutrients it can from the dying leaf.
4. Nutrient Deficiency
Plant nutrients are minerals found in the soil that plants absorb and use for various life functions. In particular, nitrogen supports chlorophyll production and gives our plants their lovely green color.
When older leaves turn yellow and new leaves are very light green, it may indicate a nitrogen deficiency.
How to Fix Yellow Money Tree Leaves from Nutrient Deficiencies
During the active growing season in spring, summer and early fall, give your money tree a monthly dose of houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
But don’t go overboard- too much fertilizer may harm your plant, so use it sparingly. Use the amount recommended for that specific brand, watering thoroughly to distribute the fertilizer evenly through the soil.
5. Transplant Shock
If you spot money tree leaves turning yellow after repotting, it may be experiencing transplant shock. In nature, plants seldom, if ever, have their roots disturbed, so repotting can be stressful for a plant. It may respond by turning some leaves yellow.
How to Fix Yellow Money Tree Leaves From Transplant Shock
If your money tree is looking sad after repotting, it will benefit from a little pampering for a couple of weeks:
- Ensure your money tree is in ideal lighting, temperature and humidity.
- Don’t move your plant excessively while it’s recovering from repotting- put it in a comfortable area and leave it there.
- Avoid overwatering- give light waterings to keep the soil moist without adding the extra stress of too much moisture.
- Do not fertilize for at least 4 weeks after repotting- you’ve already added nutrients through the fresh soil, and processing fertilizer is an added task on your plant.
You should start to see your money tree perking up in a week or two after repotting.
Frequently Asked Questions about Money Tree Leaves Turning Yellow
Don’t ignore yellow leaves- treat them as an indication that you need to investigate a bit. In my experience, finding yellow leaves on your money tree is problem that usually resolves once you address the underlying issue.
With a few readjustments to your care routine, there’s a good chance your money tree will bounce back and start producing healthy new green growth!
I’d love to hear from you! Are there any other questions you have about money tree leaves turning yellow? Learning from one another’s experiences is the best way to grow all collective gardening knowledge, so please share your thoughts in the comments!