Money Tree Light Requirements: How Much Light Does a Money Tree Need?

By: Matt Slaymaker
December 19, 2023
Money Tree Light Requirements
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Is your money tree looking unhappy lately? Do you see droopy leaves or brown patches all over them?

Perhaps it's time to pay attention to the money tree light requirements indoors. The money tree, or Pachira Aquatica, loves bright but indirect light. Placing it in direct sunlight can sear it. On the other hand, keeping it in complete shade can stunt its growth and affect the vibrant color of its leaves.

So, how should you strike the exact balance?

Don't panic because in this comprehensive guide, you'll learn how to cater to your lucky charm's lighting needs. So keep reading!

Understanding the Sunlight Needs of Money Trees

Understanding the Sunlight Needs of Money Trees

The money tree is a very popular indoor plant among plant lovers. Like all house plants, it needs an optimized combination of water, quality soil, fertilization, and, of course, light.

What Kind of Light Does a Money Tree Need? 

The money tree grows best in bright-to-medium, indirect sunlight. As an outdoor plant, it thrives in a brightly lit but partially shaded area, like a spot under a large tree's canopy. When kept indoors, it needs similar conditions. So, a place with lots of ambient light is ideal. Dappled light trickling through the foliage or filtering in through curtains makes it happy.

In the absence of natural light, it can flourish in artificial grow light. 8-12 hours of white light or a combo of red and blue lights can create excellent growth conditions.

Extreme light conditions can harm this tree. On that note, it can adjust better to low light than intense light.

Also, the money tree tends to reach towards light. So, it needs periodic rotation or location change for an even light exposure to sustain uniform growth.

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How Much Light Does a Money Tree Need? 

The money tree needs indirect, gentle sun exposure for 6-8 hours daily. Overhead fluorescent or LED lights, glowing for 8-12 hours can promote its growth and health in low- or no-light indoor spots or when the sun is a no-show.

Is Direct Sunlight Bad for Money Trees?

The money tree doesn’t need direct sunlight. In fact, it is bad for the tree, especially during hot summers and midday or afternoon hours.

It can scorch the leaves and cause drying, discoloration, and patchiness.

Can a Money Tree Survive in Low Light? 

Money trees can adjust to low light conditions. However, it's not recommended to keep your plant without sufficient sunlight for prolonged periods.

While this species may learn to survive in low light like a trooper, the plant and its leaves can't grow to their full potential. The existing leaves turn pale and limp.

How Do I Know If My Money Tree Is Getting Enough Light? 

How Do I Know If My Money Tree Is Getting Enough Light
Source: Parade

When the money tree doesn’t receive enough light, it will lose its vibrancy and will display stunted growth. There are tell-tale signs to identify insufficient light exposure.

Money Tree: Signs of Low Light Exposure

To understand whether your indoor money tree is not receiving enough light, watch out for the following signs:

  1. Pale leaves - The money tree needs sunlight to produce its green pigments, i.e. chlorophyll. When the plant receives insufficient light, the leaves turn yellow and pale. They can eventually go brown.
  2. Drooping - Money trees need sunlight for photosynthesis - the process of plants making their food. Without sunlight, it can't produce enough food to stay strong and healthy. So, the leaves and branches droop.
  3. Reduced growth - In the absence of sunlight and proper photosynthesis, the plant’s growth rate reduces. It doesn’t have the energy to produce enough leaves. And those that do grow are small and weak.

The Solution: What to Do If Your Money Tree Is Not Getting Enough Light

The solution for insufficient sunlight for the money tree is placing it in a well-lit spot with bright-to-medium ambient light. Your best bet is natural, filtered light. 

If the room lacks enough natural light, like in a windowless office or hallway, use artificial light. A grow light or fluorescent light for 8-12 hours makes up for the absence of sunlight.   

What Does a Money Tree Look Like With Too Much Sun? 

Your skin can develop tanning and sun spots, due to overexposure to sunlight without protection, right? Direct sunlight can cause similar damage to your money tree.

And it’s easy to identify the signs of sunburn.

What Happens If My Money Tree Is Left in the Sun Too Long? 

When your money tree receives excess sunlight, it develops the following signs:

  1. Yellow-to-brown color of leaves - Excessive sunlight can scorch the leaves of your money tree. As a result, the leaves look sunburnt with an orange cast. Leaves can become yellow or brown.
  2. Dry edges and tips - The edges and tips of the leaves may dry out and look diseased. It's a survival technique in plants with large leaves, like the money tree, having a lot of leaf area to spare.
  3. Sunscald - In extreme situations, money tree leaves may develop dark brown or black spots on the surface. These scalding patches might also feature whitish burn spots that look bleached.
  4. Curled leaves - Leaves, especially those near the top, may start curling. Excess sunlight means excess heat, which causes moisture loss. So, the leaves curl to minimize the surface area and prevent water evaporation that leads to dehydration.

Solutions to Money Tree Sunburn

If you notice signs of sunburn, you must take immediate action and remove the money tree from the spot. Take it to a partially covered area or a shade near a window.

You can also add a curtain or blind to diffuse the light coming through the windows.

Placement & Light: Where Is the Best Place to Put a Money Tree? 

Best Place to Put a Money Tree to Get Light

The best place to put a money tree is close to a window. Don't place it on the sill, though.

You can keep the plant pot on the floor or an elevated shelf. In the case of using a grow light, the tree should be 1-3 feet away from it.

In addition, the money tree is believed to bring wealth and fortune. So, to apply the fundamentals of Feng Shui, place the money tree in the southeast corner. But make sure that the light conditions are ideal in this spot.

What Kind of Window Is Best for a Money Tree? 

The best window for a money tree is a sunny one in the east, west, or south, which doesn't expose your plant to blazing sunlight.

Windows with large trees outside letting in streaks of light through leaves and branches are perfect. Those with curtains to diffuse the light are also great.

Related: How to Propagate a Money Tree in Water and Soil

Money Tree Care and Seasonal Adjustments  

Besides giving your money tree the ideal lighting conditions, you should make minor adjustments periodically. For instance, you should rotate the plant once a month so that all parts of it get equal amounts of sunlight.

Furthermore, water your money tree every 1-3 weeks and only when the top layer of the soil is dry to the touch.

Put water till it runs out from the bottom. Also, ensure that you grow your money tree in the temperature range of 60 F and 75 F.

In addition, you should take special care of the plant during the summer and winter months. Consider its specific watering and fertilizing needs, besides optimizing light conditions.

Summer Care Tips for Money Trees

During the summer, the sunlight is more intense and can cause the soil to dry out. Here's how to take care of the money tree during the summer months: 

  1. If the natural light becomes too strong and causes signs of searing in the plant, move it away from the light source. You can pull the curtains or blinds. 
  2. Put a general-purpose fertilizer into the soil every month during the summer. Dilute it properly and ensure that the soil is damp when you feed your plant.   

How Do You Overwinter a Money Tree?

You don't need to make too many changes to your plant's care routine in the winter. The plant may not love cold weather conditions, but it can survive.

However, consider the following winter care tips:

  1. The ambient temperature shouldn’t drop below 41° F. Ideally, it should be above 60° F to prevent stunted growth.
  2. Money trees need a humid environment to remain healthy. You can optimize the humidity level indoors with the help of a humidifier.
  3. There's no need to feed the money tree during winter. Doing so can stress and weaken the plant, leading to insect infestations and diseases.

Money Tree Light Requirements: FAQs

Q: Do money plants like grow lights? 

A: Yes, money trees like grow lights in the absence of natural light. LED or fluorescent light exposure for 8-12 hours can help the plant grow. White light or a combination of red and blue lights, placed 1-3 feet away, creates excellent indoor light conditions.

Q: Do money trees have a dormant period? 

A: Yes, money trees have a dormant period when they exhibit slow growth. It takes place in the cold months of fall and winter.

Money trees don’t shed all their leaves during their dormant phase to conserve energy for spring, though some leaf shedding takes place.

Q: Why are my money tree leaves turning yellow in the winter?

A: Money trees hate drastic temperature changes during winter. Daily fluctuations make its leaves become yellow. This may also be, due to overwatering or iron chlorosis, a typical winter condition that reduces chlorophyll production.

Q: Can I put my money tree outside in the summer?

 A: Yes, you can put your money tree outside in the summer. But you should place it in partial shade, like under a tree's canopy. Avoid direct exposure to searing sunlight during the hottest part of the day in the summer.

Conclusion 

The money tree doesn't just jazz up your indoors with its large, vibrant leaves. It also attracts money and good fortune. While it's an easy care plant, it has specific light requirements. By keeping it away from direct and intense light, you can foster its health and longevity.

You can grow your money tree with some companion plants like an areca palm, a snake plant or the gorgeous ZZ plant, to invite good luck and prosperity into your home.