How to prune a money tree – essential tips for healthier houseplants

Does your money tree need a trim? The experts explain how and when to do it

money tree leaves
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Q: I have recently purchased a money tree for my bathroom. It's in good shape at the moment and not too tall, but will it require pruning as it grows?

A: Money trees, or Pachira aquatica, are attractive indoor trees that are generally easy to look after. However, they do require a trim from time to time.

'Pruning is essential for the plant's health as it removes dead or diseased parts and prevents the spread of infection,' says gardening expert Brock Ingham. 'It also helps in maintaining the desired shape and size, particularly in confined spaces.' This is important, as they are relatively fast-growing and can reach heights of up to 8ft indoors.

What's more, pruning will stimulate new growth, leading to a fuller and healthier tree, Brock adds. But before you get started, it's worth brushing up on the correct technique to use.

Brock Ingham
Brock Ingham

Brock is an experienced gardener with a deep passion for plants, and is studying to become a horticultural expert. With over a decade of experience, he has become gifted at growing unique and rare plants.

money tree in a pot

Money trees often have braided trunks

(Image credit: Socha / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)

Expert tips for pruning a money tree

First, you'll need to identify any yellowing, brown, dead, or diseased leaves and stems. These can all be removed. Note that there are various causes for discoloration, but overwatering is a common one. So, if you've spotted this problem, it's worth reconsidering your watering regime and checking how well the soil drains.

You can then concentrate on shaping your tree by cutting back any overly leggy stems. 'It's important to avoid over-pruning,' highlights plant expert Autumn Hilliard-Knapp of Perfect Plants Nursery. 'Removing more than one-third of the plant can cause stress to the tree.'

'Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch above a leaf node or junction,' says plant expert Tony O'Neill of Simplify Gardening. 'For a balanced look, rotate the plant and prune evenly around the tree.'

After pruning, ensure the plant gets adequate but indirect sunlight and water, Tony continues. 'A balanced, diluted fertilizer can support new growth.'

They are tropical plants, so keeping humidity levels high will help them thrive. Putting a humidifier nearby, such as this well-rated Levoit one from Amazon, can be an effective way to achieve this. 

Top tip: Younger plants can benefit from 'pinching', which involves removing the new growth at the branch tips to encourage a bushier appearance, says Brock.

Tony O'Neill
Tony O'Neill

Tony O'Neill is a gardening expert, author, and educator. With a thriving YouTube channel boasting 405,000 subscribers and over 1.4 million monthly views, along with his award-winning website, he shares his passion for gardening and sustainability. He has also authored Composting Masterclass, Your First Vegetable Garden, and Simplify Vegetable Gardening, empowering individuals to cultivate their own green spaces.

money tree in pot

Avoid removing too many healthy leaves in one go

(Image credit: Lennart Worthmann / Alamy Stock Photo)


When should you prune a money tree?

Plant expert Autumn Hilliard-Knapp recommends pruning a money tree once a year. 

The best time to do this is in the spring or early summer, advises gardening expert Tony O'Neill. 'This timing coincides with the plant's natural growth cycle, allowing it to recover and grow back healthier,' he adds.

Dead and diseased leaves and branches, however, can be removed at any time of the year, as soon as you spot them.

Which tools should you use to prune a money tree?

Opt for high-quality pruning shears, says Tony O'Neill. 'They should be sharp enough to make clean cuts without damaging the plant tissue.' They should also be properly cleaned before you begin.

These pruners from Fiskars at Amazon are perfect for the job – and will be useful for other gardening chores, too, whether indoors or out.

Money trees aren't the only houseplants that benefit from a trim now and again. To keep your indoor garden looking its best, you may need to know how to prune monsteras, succulents, and peace lilies, too. And, if you're looking to expand your collection, remember that healthy plant cuttings can sometimes be used to propagate new plants, depending on the variety.

Holly Crossley
Contributing Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for for two years, Holly now regularly writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.