Repotting Money Tree Plants: Step-By-Step Photo Tutorial
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I recently realized that my money tree needs repotting- it’s been in the same pot since I bought it, and it’s starting to look a little stressed out! Before I did the whole process, though, I decided to do a little research on how and when of repotting money tree houseplants.
Money trees need repotting into larger pots when they become top-heavy, root tips poke out through the soil surface and drainage holes or there are concerns for root problems, like root rot. Remove the money tree from the current pot, brush away some soil to examine the roots, and trim if needed. Replant the money tree in a pot 2-3 inches larger than the root ball, and fill the sides in with fresh soil.
Let me share what I learned with you–including a step-by-step illustrated guide to money tree repotting!
How to Tell When It’s Time to Repot Your Money Tree
According to Missouri Botanical Garden, money trees can grow up to 30 feet tall in their natural habitat. As a houseplant, though, they generally top out at a much more manageable 6 to 8 feet. Plus, if you want to keep it even smaller, you can treat it like a bonsai and selectively prune your money tree to maintain a short stature.
So how do you know when your money tree is ready for a larger pot? Generally, money trees need repotting every 2-3 years. But instead of going by a strict time-based schedule, you’re better off looking for signs that your plant is getting too big for its current home.
I’ll show you how I could tell that it was time to repot my money tree. And I apologize for the pinkish light you see in some of the photos. I have seedlings under a grow light in this room, and I didn’t realize it was casting a strange light until I was partway through the repotting. Sorry!
The big giveaway that it’s time to repot my money tree is that it’s so large and top-heavy. It’s still in its starter nursery pot, and it definitely needs to size up:
I’ve also spotted roots starting to grow on the surface of the soil. That shows that my money tree is searching for space to expand its roots:
Root tips poking through the pot’s drainage holes are another key indicator your plant has run out of room. I’m kind of surprised that’s not happening to my plant:
It also seems like I’m frequently watering but my money tree is still always wilting and looking under-watered. What that means is that there’s not enough soil to hold the moisture my plant needs- the space has all been taken up by roots.
On the flip side, sometimes your may have to repot your money tree because of problems.
Root rot, for example, occurs when the soil is too wet for too long, and anaerobic bacteria start growing on and breaking down the root tissue. Classic symptoms include yellow discoloration on the leaves, stunted leaf growth, gnats in the soil, and visibly brown or black roots that have an unpleasant smell.
I’ve dedicated a post to the topic of root rot in money trees, so stop by to learn how to identify it and treat the problem.
Do Money Trees Like to be Rootbound?
“Rootbound” is a term that means a root ball that is confined in a small space, such as a pot. For many landscape plants and houseplants, this is a problem, but others don’t mind it and can do fine.
Money trees come right down in the middle of this one. They can tolerate being rootbound for a while, but eventually the tree will begin to experience stress. If this happens, you’ll see leaf discoloration, dropping, and wilting.
Stress usually leads to stunted growth and greater vulnerability to pests and diseases, so it is obviously to be avoided. Don’t wait too long before repotting- if you see any of the signs I listed above, it’s time to move to a larger pot.
Choosing the Right Pot and Soil for a Money Tree
I’m a big proponent of non-plastic pots. While plastic is lightweight and cheap, it is usually less attractive and also less porous, so there is less airflow around the roots. This makes root rot and other problems more likely.
Instead, I prefer porous materials like terra cotta or porcelain. These allow air and water to cycle more freely, which creates a healthier root system.
However, plastic or other non-porous pots will also work as long as you’re careful in your watering and care routine. And any pot you use for any houseplant should have one or more drainage holes in the bottom.
Size-wise, a pot for a money tree should be 2 to 3 inches wider than the current root ball. Wider pots are generally better than taller ones because roots naturally grow outwards. Here’s a comparison of the current pot and the larger one I’m moving my plant into:
For soil, I’m using a bagged potting soil blend that’s light and fluffy:
You can also use ordinary potting soil with some extra perlite or coco coir mixed in. This helps create more pockets for air in the soil, which the roots of tropical plants really like, and also allows water to drain more easily, preventing waterlogging.
How to Repot a Money Tree: 4 Steps
Now that we’ve gone over the preliminaries, let’s get down to business: Money tree repotting.
1. Prepare the Work Surface
If the weather permits, you can do your repotting outdoors and not worry about any set-up at all.
When working indoors, I like to put down newspaper or a plastic tablecloth on my work surface to protect it from water and dirt. You can re-pot smaller houseplants on a table or counter, but larger houseplants are easier to deal with on the floor– less chance of dropping them!
2. Remove the Money Tree From Its Current Pot
Watering the plant thoroughly a day or two ahead of time to make it easier to remove, so advance planning ca save you some time here.
Run a pencil, chopstick, or plastic knife around the inside of the pot to loosen the root ball from the edges. Then, tilt the pot onto its side, and gently coax the root ball free. If your plant is in a plastic pot like mine was, it should come free pretty easily:
Avoid tugging on the trunk of the money tree; this can cause damage or even snap it off. If needed, use your chopstick or knife to push up from the drainage holes on the root ball. You can also lift and gently tilt the pot forward to let gravity help you out.
3. Examine Roots
Now that the root ball is out of the pot, you can examine the roots for any signs of pests or diseases. Brush away an inch or two of the soil from the outside of the root ball.
My plant’s roots are looking pretty good:
Healthy roots will be white or beige and firm to the touch. If your soil has coco coir mixed in, the roots may be stained brownish, like mine are here. But as long as they feel firm and don’t have an odor, they’re just fine.
Unhealthy roots affected by root rot will be black, mushy, and smelly. Typically, the soil is so wet it has become slimy. Prune out unhealthy roots using sharp, sanitized shears. Follow the bad roots back until you find white, healthy sections, and trim the roots back to this point.
For roots that are too long, cut them back to an appropriate length. Roots that are circling the bottom or sides of the pot should always be pruned back.
4. Settle the Money Tree in the New Pot
Once you’ve checked out the roots and dealt with any problems, you can get your money tree into a new pot.
If the pot is deeper than the root ball, add some soil on the bottom to bring the surface of the root ball up within an inch of the lip.
When the root ball is sitting at a good height in the new pot, add soil around the sides. Tap down the soil as you add it with your fingers or with a pencil or chopstick. Leave some room at the top to make watering easier.
And here’s my newly-repotted money tree, looking much more comfortable in a larger home:
Caring for Your Money Tree After Repotting
After repotting, let your money tree hang out in its usual spot. Keep a close eye on it for the next few days. As the soil settles, you may need to add a little bit more to fill in any gaps.
If you did any root pruning, don’t water the money tree for three to four days. This gives the plant time to seal over the wounds made in the root material, which will keep out fungi or bacteria.
If your tree discolors or wilts significantly after repotting, try giving it a little more sun or a grow light. This will help it generate more sugars and carbohydrates to overcome the transplant shock.
After a week or two, you can add give your money tree fertilizer, systemic pest treatments, and water as you did before.
Frequently Asked Questions about Repotting a Money Tree
I’m glad you came along with me while repotting my money tree. I hope you’ve found it helpful, and have more confidence in repotting your own plants. In my experience, money trees are quite hardy, so don’t be afraid to repot yours!
I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any more questions about how or when to repot a money tree? Are there any tips you’ve discovered along the way to make the process easier or faster? There’s no better way to learn than from each other, so please share your thoughts in the comments!