Why is My Money Tree Trunk Soft and Dead?

One of the major problems a money tree could face is a soft trunk. Without timely care, the tree can even die. The soft and squishy trunk is not just unhealthy but is also bad to look at. If you do not fix the problem early enough, the soft trunk may die along with the entire tree.

Why is my money tree trunk soft/dead?

A soft or dead trunk in a money tree can result from overwatering, root rot, or dehydration. Some causes include temperature fluctuations, overfertilization, poor drainage system, low light, hard pruning, and a lousy soil mix. A thorough inspection of the trunk and branches is necessary to find the exact cause of damage.

Here is a detailed overview of the causes of soft and dead trunks in your money plant:

Overwatering

The leading cause of softening and weakening of the trunk is overwatering. Always water the tree when half or three-quarters of the soil is dry because if you overwater your money tree, it absorbs lots of water and holds the excess in the stem. You should check the soil every time before watering the money tree. 

Prolonged overwatering can then lead to root rot. You may notice a soft and squishy trunk at the base of the money tree, just a few inches above the soil. When money tree roots begin to rot, the tree will die from the root upwards. Root rot can accelerate other conditions such as browning, drooping of the money tree leaves, and diseases.

Dehydration

In dry conditions, transpiration and evaporation increase significantly. Avoid leaving your money tree consistently dry for too long because the plant will be dehydrated. Although money trees may try to overcome the stress by folding the leaves, they will be dehydrated if it goes for an extended period without water. 

As a result, the money tree utilizes the stored water in its trunks. When dehydration occurs, you will notice shriveling and peeling of the tree trunk. The woody center of the plant separates from the bark of the tree. Dehydration causes soft trunks that you can feel by lightly pinching the stems. 

Without timely care of the money trees, some or all of the braided trunks may die. 

Sudden temperature fluctuations

Money trees need stable – medium to high – temperatures. Growing them in a place that receives sudden temperature increase and decrease is harmful to the plant’s leaves and trunks. First, the money tree is not frost hardy. For example, due to frost and cold drafts, leaf loss can stress and shock the money tree. 

Freezing and thawing cycles destroy the xylem vessels and cause an irreversible inhibition of photosynthesis. In these cases, the trunk of the money tree will be soft and squishy. The frost bites may be difficult for the money tree to recover from. 

However, since the money tree has a woody stem, a quick care response against temperature fluctuations may help it recover quickly and produce new foliage. It is recommended to keep the tree indoors and away from windows during winter. We will see more about saving a dying money tree in the next section.

Poor drainage

Poor drainage means more water or less water for the money tree. Several things affect drainage, including the size of the growing container, soil type, and water patterns. A large container means a longer lag time. In other words, it takes more time for water to travel to the root of the money tree where it is needed. 

Consequently, if your potting soil is primarily sandy, the money tree will not have enough time to absorb adequate water to maximize its processes. Too much clay soil will also hinder water from reaching the roots and cause soil sogginess and encourage soft trunks, pests, and diseases. For perfect drainage, money trees will thrive in a balanced loamy soil. 

Mix the soil with compost, coarse sand, peat moss, and perlite. If you have the correct soil mix, it is recommended to water thoroughly until water comes out through the drainage holes. When potting a money tree, always put down some pebbles before adding the soil, so frequent watering sessions do not block the drainage holes. 

Low light

Light is an essential component for healthy money trees. It influences the leaf color, stem length, and the manufacture of plant food. In low light, money trees can become sick and weak. Although they do not require direct sunlight to be healthy, money trees can merely last between four and ten days before they die without light.

Before dying due to darkness, the trunk of the money tree becomes weak and soft. Regardless of how much water or fertilizer you feed the money plant in these light conditions, it will not be healthy until you bring it to bright, partial sunlight. 

The plant can recover its green foliage and woody stems if you move it before its biological processes completely shut down due to lack of light. 

How to save a dying money tree

Here are some ways to save your money tree if it’s dying.

1. Water your money tree once every 1-2 weeks

In their native home in Central and South America, Pachira aquatica grows in freshwater swamps and river banks. That means money trees are happy with regular watering. When the soil is dry, and leaves are curling or turning color, the tree is thirsty. Water it every one to two weeks, ensuring excess water runs from the drainage holes, and discard excess water. 

2. Create drainage holes at the base of the container

Drainage holes ensure water does not soak and displace all the oxygen in the roots. They also allow adequate air circulation. That way, money plants will not die of overwatering and poor drainage. Instead, the roots become healthy, which encourages even healthier foliage.

3. Maintain temperatures between 65℉ and 80℉

Money trees are pretty forgiving and can survive ten degrees above or below these temperature ranges. However, as I said before, they are not frost-hardy and can undergo significant stress and damage under extreme cold. So keeping them between 65℉ and 80℉ is ideal for their long-term health and survival. 

4. Provide bright indirect light

Money trees need light every day. Ensure that your plant receives partial and indirect sunlight. Indoors, place it near windows but filter away excess light using a curtain. If the room is dark, you can use artificial but bright fluorescent light. You must rotate the tree every few days, so the leaves get equal lighting.

Should I remove the dead trunk?

You should remove the dead trunk for two reasons. First, you will be protecting the healthy trunks from the soft rotten stem, which may transmit disease or root rot to the other trunks. Second, removing the dead trunk from your money tree will encourage new growth and promote the plant’s natural shape and healthy looks.

When cutting the dead trunk, you should take some precautions. Use clean sterilized tools. For instance, sterilize a pair of scissors using alcohol and use it for the procedure. Since the potting mix is probably affected by the cause of softness and death to the money tree, it is a good idea to repot your tree into a fresh potting mix. 

Note: Be careful not to cut the main trunk itself. Cut about an inch away from the trunk. 

Can money trees grow new trunks?

You must not worry about removing one or two dead trunks from your money tree. Since money trees can grow by propagation, they can form new trunks from the nodes of the parent plant. That is how the Money tree found its name.

A poor Taiwanese found the tree, successfully propagated it, and made so much money selling seedlings from just one trunk. So, yes. Money trees can grow new trunks.

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