Origin and Distribution
The money tree (Crassula ovata), also known as penny tree, thick leaf, elephant tree or bacon oak, is one of around 300 different species of the thick leaf family (Crassulaceae). The succulent plant is originally at home in South Africa, where it thrives in the company of other succulents such as aloe or euphorbia on barren, rocky ground.
- Maintaining the Chinese money tree - tips on proper care
- Hibernate money tree properly for abundant flowering
- What is the ideal temperature for the money tree?
The attractive shrub with its large, thick leaves has been cultivated as an uncomplicated house plant for many decades. Since the plant, which comes from hot Africa, is not hardy in our country, it is not suitable for a pure garden culture. However, you are doing something good for the money tree if you prepare a pleasant spot for it on the balcony or terrace in the warm summer months and bring it back into the house when the temperatures drop in autumn.
Appearance and stature
Crassula ovata develops within a few years from a small, single-shoot mini-plant to a tree up to 100 centimeters high with a thick trunk and strong branches. The species can be many decades old and very extensive: While the evergreen shrub can reach a height of up to 2.5 meters in a natural location in its home, it can grow significantly larger than up to one meter - and at least at least - even in pots just as wide.
The money tree increases in height and size, especially at a young age. If, on the other hand, the plant is a bit older, the trunk and branches in particular increase in size. individual main shoots can reach a diameter of up to six centimeters. This growth in thickness is especially important because otherwise the strongly branched shrub can no longer support its numerous, very thick leaves. The bark is usually gray-green to brownish in color and peeled off in older specimens in brownish, horizontal stripes.
The fleshy, dark green leaves of the money tree have an oval shape with a domed top and flat bottom. They sit without stalks or with only very short stems directly on the branches of the plant, which, very characteristic of thick-leaf plants, are green at the beginning of the shoot and only later turn brown. The leaves are arranged opposite each other and can be up to nine inches long and four inches wide. The leaf margins, in turn, are often reddish in color, but not always. It is an evergreen plant.
Flowers and fruits
Many people do not even know that a money tree can develop a lush blossom with numerous filigree blossoms and, under certain conditions, is able to do so even with a pot culture. However, the pretty pink or white, star-shaped florets are only formed from around ten years of age, and a noticeable temperature difference between the summer and winter months is also required.
To stimulate this, simply place your money tree on the balcony or terrace over the summer months and bring it back into the house at the beginning of autumn. This change alone is often enough to get the flowering going. In its home country South Africa, however, the flowering time of the money tree is in the South African winter between June and August - when it is comparatively cool there. With us, too, the potential flowering time is in the winter months.
After fertilization, Crassula ovata forms capsule fruits with numerous tiny seeds. In potted culture, however, there is usually no fruit formation, as the appropriate insects for pollination are missing in winter.
The money tree is neither poisonous for humans nor for animals and is therefore ideal for households with children or curious pets such as cats and dogs.
Which location is suitable?
The money tree, which comes from sunny and warm Africa, needs a light and warm place in the apartment. A place next to a window facing east or south is ideal, provided that the plant behind it can be protected from direct sunlight - especially around noon. The money tree does not tolerate a location in full sun either and reacts to it with leaves that turn brown. In summer, it is best to place the pot with the plant outside, although you should also prefer a light, partially shaded place here. If it gets cool and / or rainy, however, the plant should be brought back inside. While it can get really hot in summer, you can place Crassula ovata much cooler over the winter at at least ten degrees Celsius.
Plant the money tree in loose, well-drained and rather nutrient-poor potting soil, which you thin and loosen up with sand or gravel and expanded clay (€ 17.50 at Amazon *). Cactus soil mixed with sand and perlite (€ 32.90 at Amazon *) is also very suitable. When choosing the substrate, pay attention to the quality, which is reflected in the composition: Inferior soils are often heavily mixed with peat, while high-quality soils are based on compost.
It is very important to have good water permeability and ensure that the pot has adequate drainage. For this purpose, the bottom of the pot should have a large drainage hole and should be placed in a planter or on a saucer to collect excess irrigation water. Cover the hole with potsherds so that it does not become muddy and drainage becomes ineffective.
Plant money tree properly
In addition to good drainage, the money tree needs a wide and heavy pot, for example made of clay or ceramic. The reason for this is that the plant often becomes very heavy, especially in the upper area because of the large, water-storing leaves, then becomes overweight in a light and small planter and simply tips over with the tub. On the other hand, if you plant it in a pot that is as wide as possible with a wide base, you will effectively prevent this risk.
You should transplant Crassula ovata into a larger pot about every three to four years. This is definitely necessary when the old planter is completely rooted and the roots may even already grow out of the pot. If this is not the case, take the plant out of the container, remove the old soil, clean the pot and put the money tree back in fresh substrate. Press the newly inserted plant firmly into the substrate so that it does not tip over immediately. But be careful not to damage the roots.
After repotting, the money tree is a bit sensitive due to the plant shock and should therefore be treated with special care for around two to three weeks and above all protected from direct sun. However, it will soon recover and then continue to grow healthily.
Water the money tree
Overall, water the money tree rather moderately, as a small amount of water is sufficient for the thick-leaf plant even during the growth phase. Water in such a way that the substrate is just superficially moistened. Too much water - as well as insufficient drainage in the pot - leads to over-watering, which in turn causes the roots to rot.
Remove excess water from the saucer or planter immediately so that the money tree does not stand permanently in the wet. During the dormant period between November and February, however, just make sure that the substrate does not dry out completely. Water sporadically and very cautiously during these months.
Do not use cold tap water for watering, but rather stale, room warm tap water or collected rainwater. Since the money tree prefers slightly acidic to neutral substrates, the irrigation water should not be too calcareous. Restraint is also required when it comes to humidity: In contrast to many other indoor plants, which often come from the rainforest, the money tree should be in the dryest possible environment.
Fertilize money tree properly
With regard to the supply of nutrients, the money tree is pleasantly uncomplicated. Fertilization is only used during the growth phase between March and October, when you supply the plant with a low-dose cactus fertilizer every four to six weeks. During the winter rest period between November and February, however, there is no fertilization.
The dosage also depends heavily on the size of the money tree and the substrate chosen. Large plants need more nutrients than small ones, while specimens standing in humus materials have to be taken care of more sparingly than money trees standing in mineral substrates.
Properly cut money tree
As long as the money tree is in a sufficiently bright location and is cared for there according to its needs, pruning is at best for educational purposes. A pruning ensures that the shrub grows more compact and, due to the increased branching, it grows more densely. Otherwise, the plant usually develops lush, bush-like growth on its own.
However, if the plant forms too many sprouts - for example because the branches are too long and therefore susceptible to overhanging and breaking - or if the plant develops sparse growth due to a lack of light, it is time to prune. It is best to proceed as follows:
- cut off any drooping shoots
- work out a distinct stem with a contiguous crown
- remove any excess branches to do this
- shorten too long and weak shoots
- always cut in close proximity to form a ring
- the money tree sprouts from these again, since it has no dormant buds
- Remove the last two leaves from shortened twigs
- at this point the branch branches
It is best to make such a pruning during the sap dormancy in late winter. Then the bush will shoot again.
You can correct the growth of branches that are growing in the wrong direction with the help of support rods. However, do not use wire for this purpose, as it will injure the soft branches and grow in quickly. Since the money tree is quite compatible with pruning, it is easy to train to become a bonsai.
Propagate money tree
The money tree probably owes its reputation as a lucky plant mainly to the fact that it can be propagated very easily using head and leaf cuttings and that it takes root on almost all of the branches that are planted. The branches, which are preferably cut in spring, can be rooted in a glass of water or directly in a container with a growing substrate (€ 9.05 on Amazon *). If the cutting is rooted in soil, you must keep it slightly moist at all times.
For a leaf cutting you only need a leaf, which you place on a pot with moistened substrate and wait until new roots have developed from it. Here, too, the soil must be kept slightly moist.
In principle, you can cultivate the money tree all year round at a constant temperature in the living room. However, if you want to make the plant bloom, you should cultivate it outside in summer and in winter at around ten degrees Celsius, with little water and without fertilization. With a little luck, the shrub will then develop flower systems.
Diseases and pests
The robust money tree is rarely attacked by pathogens. If that is the case, there are usually maintenance errors behind it. Above all, excessive moisture poses problems as it causes roots and shoots to rot. In this case, with a little luck, you can save the money tree in question by repotting it in fresh and dry substrate. In doing so, cut back all soft and rotten roots.
Pests are also rare. Mealybugs and spider mites mainly attack the money tree in the winter months when it is dry. You fight the plague by rinsing the plant in the shower and treating it with an insecticide if necessary. Aphids, on the other hand, appear primarily in the summer months and must be combated immediately, as they often cause fungal infections.
These signs indicate diseases in the money tree:
- Money tree throws off leaves: Money tree is too dark and / or too damp, high temperatures in winter can also be the cause
- yellow leaves: too dark location, waterlogging, lack of nutrients, infestation with spider mites
- brown leaf spots: sunburn
- soft shoots and leaves: over-fertilization, but also too high humidity or damp root balls
Red leaves, on the other hand, are not a sign of disease, but are completely normal in some varieties and species. The leaf color comes about through intense sunlight.
Species and varieties
The popular houseplant is available in numerous variants, some of which have unusual leaves or a particularly interesting color scheme. These popular varieties, for example, are particularly distinctive for room culture:
- 'Hobbit': also known as the spoon tree, light green, spoon-shaped leaves
- 'Gollum': leaves turn red when exposed to sunlight
- 'Variegata': distinctive green-yellow variegated leaves,
- 'Tricolor': three-colored leaves with a yellow-green interior and a reddish edge
Money tree Crassula 8.82 EUR Buy at baldur Pancake plant 15.65 EUR Buy at baldur Pachira 'Aquatica' approx. 100 cm high 44.15 EUR Buy at baldur