There are a lot of plants out there going by the nickname of the money plant, but one of the most famous is the money tree (Pachira Aquatica).
These South American plants have an undeserved reputation for being fussy when watering.
However, it’s easy to ensure your money (Pachira Aquatica) tree has just the right amount of water using the proper technique.
It’s easy to find information on overwatering money trees, but what happens if you’ve been underwatering it?
Here are the key signs of underwatering and how to use the proper technique to ensure you never accidentally underwater or overwater your money tree again.
Underwatered Money Tree (Signs And Step-by-Step Solution)
There are several signs to watch out for, but most of these relate to damage the plant’s already suffered.
The good news is one sign is an early warning and can be used to prevent the plant from stress or damage.
Signs Of Underwatering
Here are 5 different signs of underwatering, the last of which is the only sign you want to see.
When a plant is severely dehydrated, you may begin to see brown spots forming on the leaves.
These spots won’t have a yellow halo (a sign of overwatering) and show up because the leaf is beginning to die.
If you continue to let the plant dehydrate, these spots will become necrotic, and the leaf will have to be removed.
Curling And Wilting
Wilting can be a sign of several problems, but if you see the leaf also curling, this is a sign of underwatering.
If caught early enough, this symptom can be safely reversed.
Dry, Discolored Leaves
Dehydrated leaves on a money tree will generally turn yellow, then brown as the dehydration progresses.
This particular sign can also signal several other problems, making it less reliable.
However, these drying leaves will also feel brittle and will often begin browning from the margin inwards.
Leaf drop can be a sign of several problems, but there’s a little trick to tell if it’s due to underwatering.
In underwatered plants, the leaf drop will be limited to the plant’s lower leaves, whereas other causes will be indiscriminate or focus on other plant portions.
This is the one sign you actually want to find, as the soil’s moisture levels can tell you when it’s time to water long before any other symptoms appear.
It’s also a critical factor in adequately watering your plant.
Dealing With A Severely Underwatered Money Tree
This can be a real chore, as the tree has already suffered potentially extensive damage.
An outdoor plant is harder to cure, sadly.
For indoor plants, sit the entire plant, pot and all, in your tub or sink and add water around it.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Let the plant sit for about 30 minutes to allow the soil to soak up enough water.
- Follow this up by pruning away the leaves showing serious damage.
- You may need to leave some with minor damage until the plant can recover and replace the ones it’s already lost.
- As a general rule, you should never remove more than ⅓ of a plant’s foliage in one go.
- You don’t have the option of bottom soaking for outdoor plants, so you’ll just have to saturate the ground around it.
- Be careful not to saturate the soil to the point that water begins pooling on the surface, as this can lead to rot.
Follow this up by pruning the plant as described earlier.
Preventing Future Watering Issues With The Soak-And-Dry Method
The soak and dry method is one of those secret techniques that should be common knowledge.
This technique uses simple, easy-to-identify signs to tell you when a plant needs to be watered and when it’s had enough.
You don’t need any special equipment, and it’s easy to master.
Checking Dryness Using The Finger Technique
The finger technique is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to tell when to water a plant.
Do you remember when we said that soil dryness is the one sign you actually want to find?
The soak and dry method rely on soil dryness as a clear sign of when to water.
Finger Measuring 101
The distance from the tip of the index finger to the first knuckle is approximately 1” inch on an average-sized adult human hand.
If you’re unsure due to having a smaller or larger hand, just lay your finger beside a ruler and make a mental note of where an inch is.
After using this trick a couple of times, you’ll get used to the feeling of submerging your finger and where to stop.
Checking The Dryness
Here’s how to do it:
- Stick your finger straight down into the soil. The depth to check for will vary from one species or cultivar to another because different plants have different root depths.
- Check 1″ to 2″ inches down for the money tree.
- If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.
- Because this species has a range, you can water as soon as it’s dry 1″ inch down or wait until it’s dry 2″ inches down.
However, it’s generally best to water closer to the deeper depth, so you don’t accidentally wait too long.
Pull your finger straight back out if you can’t tell the soil’s damp or dry from feeling alone.
Dry soil will be dustier and slightly lighter, whereas damp soil will be a bit darker and tends to stick to your finger.
Using The Soak-And-Dry Method
Once you’ve determined it’s time to water, you can grab a cup or small watering can and fill it with room temperature water (distilled water or natural rainwater are the healthiest choices for your plant).
The big trick to this technique is you want to pour slowly.
You’ll know you’ve got a decent pour rate if the soil soaks up the water immediately.
Work your way around the plant, avoiding any foliage and getting even coverage on the soil surface.
You’ll know it’s time to stop on both indoor and outdoor plants when the soil can no longer absorb the water at the same rate you’re pouring.
Container plants have an additional sign you can watch out for.
Keep an eye on the base of the container and stop when you see moisture beginning to seep out.
Both of these signs mean the soil has been fully saturated, and continuing to water may lead to overwatering.