Bonsai for Beginners – Part 10 – Money Tree

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You have seen my money tree Crassula ovata before. It is probably my oldest bonsai tree, now somewhere near 60 years old and it is still healthy and it still grows strong. This is how it looked this spring before pruning.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Money tree is probably the best tree for anyone who wants to begin growing bonsai or having just a few of them without spending a lot of time with care. It is extremely easy to propagate – virtually any cutting of any size, including a single leaf, can take root and grow into a new plant. It grows reasonably fast, but not extremely fast – a few cm to a dm a year – and it makes nice, thick trunks in just a few years. It is not very flexible regarding shapes and it cannot be formed by the use of a wire but it can be formed by simple pruning into interesting informal shapes nevertheless.

Money trees are extremely low-maintenance. They survive severe neglect, not being watered for weeks on end. They can survive both in direct sun and in half-shade (although shade makes them spindly and unseemly). Aphids and other common pests leave them alone, and birds and rodents too. They are not choosy about substrate either and they need not be re-planted for years without suffering. Probably the only thing that can reliably kill money trees is a combination of wet and cold – but they can survive a dry cold of around 10°C without a problem.

Here is my tree after pruning.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The tree was cut back a lot and thus it looks a bit unseemly right now but that will be rectified in a month or so. When cutting money trees the cuts do not need to be treated in any way – another plus – because the cut piece will dry and fall off at the closest pair of leaves/buds on its own, leaving a clean and closed surface behind it.

And here is a bucket of pruned offcuts.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Each of the offcuts could be grown into a new tree if I desired to do so. Indeed I have in the past used some of these off-cuts to grow new plants and one of them I gave to one of my friends. That is how I learned its only weakness – his mother was watering the plant too zealously when he was away and it succumbed to root rot. But I have kept some of the pieces that I have cut off in the past and I composed them into a nice little bonsai forest, about 10 years old now.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This demonstrates another specific need for money trees- deeper pots. They do not make strong structural roots like true trees so they need a bit of depth to anchor them properly.

The best routine for money trees: in the summer put outdoors in full sun, out of the wind and rain, and water regularly when the weather is warm. Do not water when the weather is cold and rainy. When temperatures drop to ~10°C at night, move indoors, into a light but cool-ish place, and do not water at all or at the most once-twice a month a bit of splash. In the spring cut back strongly to promote new growth. If kept indoors all year round, the best would be a south-facing window and the plant needs to be turned twice a week at about 90° to prevent it from bending towards the window. Use substrate for succulents and deeper pots with big enough drainage holes. With just a bit of care, you can have a plant that will look well for decades and won’t die on you if you need to go on a business trip and leave it alone for a few days.


  1. nifty says

    Thanks for providing the binomial. In the US this plant is much more commonly referred to as jade plant, with money tree usually being applied to Pachira aquatica.

  2. Jazzlet says

    Nifty, the “money tree” moniker is because of a superstition that if you are given a money tree it will bring you good fortune and wealth, but that buying one will not do this.Does that supersitition apply to Pachira aquatica in the US? In my experience “money tree” and “jade plant” are used around equally, in the UK at least.

    Charly I love them, and I’ve been thinking about getting another money plant for a while, my last succumbed to excessive size and not enough light despite being in a south facing window. I hadn’t realised they could be pruned so easly. What is the small succulent you are using as ground cover in the forrest one please?

  3. nifty says

    For Pachira, from Wikipedia “The name “money tree” is believed to refer to a story of its origin, in which a poor man prayed for money, found this “odd” plant, took it home as an omen, and made money selling plants grown from its seeds.” In my area Pachira does seem to mostly appear as decor in Asian restaurants, possibly as a good omen for business success?
    I’ve lived in the central and western US, and Crassula was always Jade Plant.

  4. nifty says

    Sorry for the add-on, but thanks for the original post, I had never really considered them for bonsai and now I am planning to try it.

  5. fusilier says


    My Beloved and Darling wife has one. It is thriving with little or no care.


    James 2:24

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