Lunaria Annua (loo-NAR-ee-uh, AN-yoo-uh) is a flowering plant species from the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family.
This family of plants is commonly known as the cabbage family and the plants are generally referred to as crucifers and mustards.
While the plant is native to southwest Asia and the Balkans, it has been naturalized in almost all the temperate regions of the world.
The first part of the scientific name of the plant ‘Lunaria refers to its moon-shaped seedpods and it’s also the genus.
The seedpods are the most distinguishing characteristic of Lunaria annua and have also given birth to the plant’s common names:
- Silver dollar
- Dollar plant
- Chinese money
- Chinese coins
- Money plant (Pachira aquatica also used as the common name)
All the money-related names are based on the silver color and the round shape of the seedpods, which make them look like silver coins.
The name honesty, on the other hand, is believed to be based on the translucence of the seedpods.
Silver Dollar Plant Care
Size & Growth
The silver dollar is a small plant and only grows up to 2’ to 3’ feet in height and 1’ to 2’ feet in width.
This fast-growing plant features thin, hairy stems and large, oval and somewhat pointed leaves.
The leaves are coarse, serrated, and hairy.
The lower leaves tend to be long-stalked whereas the upper ones grow directly from the stem and are stalk-less.
The plant grows both as an annual and biennial plant.
Flowering and Fragrance
Chinese money plant produces terminal racemes of fragrant white flowers or violet to purple flowers, from late spring to early summer in its second year.
The blooming period is followed by the production of round or disc-shaped, translucent seedpods, called silicles.
The seedpods originally have slightly light brown tint, but their outermost skin falls off as they get mature and reveal a central membrane, which is silvery-white and translucent.
The seedpods remain on the plant even during the winter season.
Light & Temperature
The annual honesty plant prefers partial shade but can grow successfully in full sun.
However, in areas where the sunlight is too strong or harsh, the plant does appreciate some afternoon shade.
The plant is hardy to United States USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9.
Watering and Feeding
The watering requirements of the honesty plant are moderate.
Since it likes moist soil, water enough to keep the soil damp but make sure the plant is not standing in water.
Also, do not let the soil dry out between waterings.
Fertilizing once or twice a year is enough to keep the silver dollar plant healthy and happy.
Soil & Transplanting
The Lunaria biennis plant grows best in organically rich, moist, and well-drained soil.
A succulent cactus soil mix would work well.
While it doesn’t require too much water, it also cannot tolerate dry soil.
It is also recommended to avoid growing this plant in highly acidic soil types.
Since the dollar plant is difficult to transplant, it is not considered a good choice for growing in containers.
Use mulch and spacing between the plants to allow air circulation and keep excess moisture off of them.
Grooming and Maintenance
Lunaria annua plant is not only easy to grow but is also a low-maintenance and forgiving plant.
Once established, the plant continues to survive with virtually no care and maintenance.
It also happily grows among other plants.
How To Propagate Lunaria Annua
The silver dollar plant is easily grown from seeds.
However, it often doesn’t always produce flowers in the first year.
Sometimes, you have to wait for two years to see your Lunaria plant blooming.
While the mature honesty plants self-seed freely, the money plant seeds are collected and planted in the ground from spring to summer.
But, in the USDA hardiness zone 8 to 10, the seeds are sown in fall.
Cover the plant seed lightly and continue to water regularly to keep the soil consistently damp until germination.
Lunaria Annua Pest or Diseases
While these garden plants are not prone to any serious disease or pest infestations, it may sometimes develop a stem canker and leaf spot.
The plant attracts butterflies and bees and is also pollinated by them.
Silver Dollar Plant Uses
Since the seedpods of the silver dollar plant are showy and attractive, the plant is widely cultivated for ornamental purposes, mainly on beds and borders but also flower arrangements.
The plant is also cultivated in landscapes because it attracts butterflies.
The plant is particularly popular for growing in wildflower gardens, shade gardens, cutting gardens, and open woodlands.
Along with the flowers, the silver seedpods of the honesty plant are also often used in floral arrangements.
Multiple varieties and cultivars of the plant are also available.