Money Tree Light Requirements for Optimal Growth Indoors

Money tree plants (Pachira aquatica) need plenty of bright, indirect sunlight to thrive indoors. The right type of sun exposure will produce attractive foliage and healthy growth throughout the year. In this article, I’ll take a look at the optimal light requirements for money tree plants to thrive.

Money Tree Plant Light Requirements for Optimal Growth Indoors

Key Takeaways:

1. Plenty of Bright, Indirect Light is Ideal:

  • Money tree plants need approximately four to six hours of bright, indirect light daily. An east or west-facing window behind a sheer curtain is ideal. 

2. Rotate Your Money Tree Plant Periodically:

  • Like many indoor plants, the Money Tree will naturally grow towards the nearest light source. To encourage even growth and prevent the plant from becoming lopsided, rotate it every 2 to 3 weeks.

3. Avoid Dark or Low Light Conditions:

  • Money Tree plants will grow much slower in low light conditions and may even shed leaves.

4. Adjust the Location of Your Money Plant According to the Season:

  • When sunlight is less intense in winter, move your Money Tree closer to the window to get the necessary brightness. Moving the plant back approximately 3 to 4 feet in summer from very bright or south-facing windows is prudent.  

5. Monitor Your Money Tree Plant Throughout the Year:

  • Pay attention to the overall health of your Money Tree plant. If the leaves are yellowing or have brown, crispy edges, they might be getting too much direct sunlight. If the plant becomes leggy, it’s most likely suffering from a lack of sunlight. 

The Importance of Light for Plant Growth

Green glossy leaves of a money tree plant growing indoors

Light is essential for plant growth because it is necessary for photosynthesis. This is the process that allows plants to manufacture cellulose – the basic building block of plant tissue.

During photosynthesis, plants use the green pigment in their leaves, known as chlorophyll, to absorb solar energy. Plants then combine this with carbon dioxide and water to produce glucose. The glucose is then burnt as fuel to produce cellulose, which plants use to construct new stems, leaves, and flowers.

If plants don’t receive enough light, they will struggle to produce enough cellulose to build healthy stems or leaves. Plants that aren’t getting enough light typically end up with leggy or stunted growth. This makes the money tree plant weaker and more vulnerable to diseases and pests.

Although plants need sunlight, getting too much light can also cause problems. The attractive foliage of most plants can get burned if exposed to too much direct sunlight. As well as losing color, the leaves will also be severely damaged. That’s why providing the right amount of light for each plant is so important.

Types of Light for Houseplants

Different types of houseplants need different amounts of light. This is often influenced by each plant’s native habitat. There are three main types of light for houseplants:

Low Light

Plants that require low-light conditions prefer to spend most of their day in the shade. These plants are often susceptible to bright light. Plants that prefer low light still require approximately three hours of morning sunlight. Rooms with north-facing windows are ideal for low-light plants.

Bright, Indirect Light

Most houseplants prefer several hours of bright, indirect light. These plants require at least four hours of direct light in the morning. These plants should then get some shade during the afternoon, especially in the summer. Plants that need bright, indirect light grow best when positioned approximately 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window.

Bright, Direct light

Plants that thrive in bright, direct light require six to eight hours of full sun daily. These plants should be positioned close to south, southwest, or west-facing windows. This category of light is ideal for plants like cacti and succulents.

Native Light Conditions Money Tree Plants Receive

Pachira aquatica plants are native to parts of Central and South America. These tropical trees typically inhabit swamps and other wetland areas such as river banks. As such, money tree plants receive lots of bright, indirect light with some shade provided by larger trees.

Money tree plants also need warm, humid conditions and cannot handle cold temperatures. These tropical plants can only be grown outdoors all year round in USDA Zones 10 to 12.

Signs Plant Isn’t Getting Enough Light

Like most houseplants, money tree plants will struggle to grow properly if they don’t get enough light. Here are a few signs that your money tree plant isn’t getting enough light:

Discolored or Drooping Leaves

If your money tree plant’s leaves are drooping and losing their color, the plant probably isn’t getting enough sunlight. In low-light conditions, money tree plants will lose their color as they are unable to photosynthesize properly.

Leggy or Stunted Growth

Money tree plants that aren’t getting enough light won’t be able to produce as much cellulose. As such, your plant may only be able to produce leggy, weak, or stunted growth. This includes leaves that are smaller than expected.

Curling Leaves

Money tree plants that have curling leaves may not be getting enough light. However, this can also be caused by cold temperatures or low humidity levels.

Signs Your Plant Is Getting Too Much Light

Although money tree plants prefer bright, indirect light, they can suffer if exposed to too much direct light. This issue is more common during the summer. Here are some signs that your money tree plant is getting too much light:

Burnt Leaves with Brown Tips

If your money tree plant has brown tips or edges on its leaves, it may be getting too much light. Too much exposure to direct sunlight can burn the leaves and damage the plant. Filter the light using blinds or sheer curtains or move your plant a few feet away from the window.

Drooping, Yellowing Leaves

Money tree plants with drooping or yellowing leaves could be getting too much sunlight. Intense direct sunlight can cause the leaves to lose their color and turn yellow. Again, this impairs your plant’s ability to photosynthesize properly.

The Best Light Exposure for Money Tree Plants

Green pointed leaves of a money tree plant growing indoors in a sunny room

Money tree plants require four to six hours of bright, indirect light daily. These plants should receive some direct light during the morning when sunlight is less intense. Protect money tree plants from direct afternoon sunlight, which can burn their beautiful leaves.

Position your money tree plant approximately 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window. This provides plenty of bright, indirect light and some shade in the afternoon.

During the winter, you may need to place your money tree in a brighter location. Allow your money tree plant to get a little more direct light during the winter. This helps compensate for the shorter days at this time of year.

Can You Grow Money Tree Plants Under Artificial Lights? 

While natural sunlight is preferred, if you don have challenging light conditions in your interior space, then grow lights or artificial light sources can be used to grow your Money Tree plant. 

If you’re considering growing Money Trees or supplementing their light with artificial sources, here are some guidelines:

  • Use LED Grow Lights: These are energy-efficient and produce less heat than other types. Plus, they can offer a broad or targeted spectrum of light to support healthy plant growth.
  • Ensure Proper Light Intensity: Money Trees prefer bright, indirect light. When using artificial lights, it’s essential not to place them too close to the plant to avoid stressing or burning them.
  • Provide Adequate Light Duration: I’d aim for at least 6 to 8 hours of artificial light daily. 
  • Monitor & Adjust: Watch for signs of stress on your Money Tree plant, such as yellowing or browning leaves, which might indicate the lights are too close or too intense. Slow or leggy growth are common signs the light needs to be set at a higher intensity. 
  • Grow Lights Can Get Hot!: Always ensure suitable ventilation in rooms where you’re using artificial lights and monitor the soil for moisture (which can dry out quickly under grow lights). 

For more, see our in-depth guide to growing plants with artificial light

Money Tree Plant Light Requirements FAQs:

How Much Light Does a Money Tree Need?

Money tree plants need several hours of bright, indirect light each day. However, money tree plants can’t handle long periods in direct sunlight. These tropical indoor trees also cannot tolerate low-light conditions.

Can a Money Tree Survive in Low Light?

Money trees will struggle to grow properly in low-light conditions. Instead, Pachira aquatica plants need approximately four to six hours of bright, indirect light daily. Avoid placing money tree plants near north-facing windows, as these locations do not provide enough sunlight.

Do Money Trees Like High or Low Light?

Money tree plants prefer moderate light levels, which means they need bright, indirect sunlight. Provide four to six hours of direct morning sun with some shade during the afternoon.

Where Do You Put a Money Tree?

Position money tree plants approximately 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window. This provides plenty of bright, indirect light as well as some afternoon shade.

Wrapping Up

Money tree plants grow best in bright, indirect light. As such, these plants need approximately four to six hours of direct sun during the morning. Money tree plants need some afternoon shade to protect them from direct light. Place your money tree plant a few feet away from an east or south-facing window.

For more, see our in-depth guide to Money Tree Plant care at home, how to fertilize money tree plants, whether money tree plants are pet friendly, and when and how to repot money tree plants.

Contributing Editor | | Full Bio

Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.

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