What Causes Brown Leaves On A Money Tree (+ Solutions)

The money tree is a tropical plant that is believed to bring luck to those who keep them as houseplants. 

What Causes Brown Leaves On A Money Tree (+ Solutions)

That said, without the proper care and maintenance, you may begin to notice brown leaves forming on the tree. 

As a result, you may be wondering: what caused this? Well, let’s find out. 

The primary problem when it comes to your money trees leaving turning brown is overwatering – this causes the root to rot. 

As such, your plant won’t be able to absorb its required nutrients and water, creating brown leaves. 

Some other causes of brown leaves include inappropriate lighting, pest infestation, and under-watering. 

With this in mind, this guide will explore everything you need to know about why your money tree’s leaves are turning brown, including problems, signs, and solutions to keep your plant happy and healthy. 

Let’s get straight into it. 

1. Dehydration

When you notice the leaves of your money tree turning brown, you should ask yourself the question: have I allowed my money tree to get too dry?

This is generally the case if the lower leaves are crispy and brown, while the other leaves are showing brown edges or tips. 

Moreover, dehydration is more likely to affect plants in the earlier and older stages. 

Alas, the money tree is likely to show the same signs when it comes to the plant receiving too much or too little water – which is unfortunate. 

For an under-watered plant, the soil is more likely to feel dry and the pot will be lighter. Plus, the foliage will be wilted yellow or brown – feeling dry and crunchy. 

You should notice the entire plant wilting dramatically. That said, if you provide it with some water, it should begin reviving almost immediately. 

Other signs to look out for include shriveled, curled-up, or wrinkled leaves. Plus, there may be general stunting of growth, too. 

Underwatering typically takes place when you forget to water your plant or it needs more water than usual. 

For instance, during the spring and summer months, you may want to water your fast-growing plant more frequently. 

Dehydrated Money Tree Solution

When the soil becomes too dry, the leaves are more likely to turn brown. If this is the case, you’ll want to give your money tree a good watering. 

Below, we have outlined some step-by-step instructions to do so. 

  • Before beginning, you’ll want to fill a sink or basin with 3-4 inches of lukewarm water. 
  • Remove your plant from its container and allow it to soak in the water. 
  • Leave your plant for 30-45 minutes in the water or until the soil is thoroughly soaked. 
  • After 10 minutes of being replaced in the container, empty the cachepot or drip tray. 

If your plant is rootbound or in an overly small container, you should re-pot your money tree. 

2. Over-Watering


When it comes to money trees, they aren’t easy to overwater. That said, since they love their growing medium to be moist, they should be watered regularly, making overwatering easier. 

Your money tree is more likely to die if the soil becomes too soggy or wet. This is because if there is too much water, it’ll be hard for the soil to get oxygen – causing the roots to stop working, and, inevitably, root rot. 

Likewise, even if you keep your plants medium adequately moist, overwatering can also cause your plant to wilt. 

Moreover, you’ll want to keep a lookout for yellowed or brown foliage, too, especially on the lower leaves as this can be an indication of disease. 

Below, we have outlined the most common signs of an overwatered money tree plant:

  • Mildew or mold growth on the surface of the soil. 
  • After watering, the soil drains slowly. You can smell a rotting odor from the soil – this is a result of root rot. 
  • Leaf shedding indiscriminately. 
  • The stem is swollen, rotting, or weak. 

While it is only natural to believe that frequent watering is the sole cause of over-watering your money tree, you’d be mistaken. 

If your soil is too soggy or wet for an extended period of time it can result in overwatering, too. 

Below, we have outlined all the different factors that influence your money tree leaves to turn brown, these include:

  • Planting your money tree in a medium that is poorly drained. 
  • During winter dormancy, you reduce the watering frequency. 
  • You don’t ensure the topsoil is somewhat dry before watering again. 
  • After watering your money tree, you forget to empty the cachepot, drip tray, or saucer. 
  • Your plant is kept in a container that doesn’t contain many drainage holes. 
  • Your container is too large for your plant. 

If you keep your plant overwater for a longer period of time, it is more likely to develop root rot. 

When removing your plant from its pot, you’ll notice dark brown, black, or mushy roots. Plus, it may emit a rotting smell, too. 

Overwatered Money Tree Solutions

If you notice the leaves of your money tree wilting or turning brown, then you should follow the outlined steps, below, to save your plant: 

  • Ensure your plant is placed in well-draining soil and in a pot with holes. 
  • Only water your money tree when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry. 
  • If the soil is taking too long to drain, repot your plant in peat-based soil. To improve the drainage, add sand, perlite, or some gravel to the bottom of the pot. 
  • Move your plant to a sunny area where it can benefit from more sunlight and excess moisture. Plus, the additional heat helps to dry out the soil. 
  • Ensure your pot has plenty of holes for drainage. 
  • Ensure your pot is the right size for your plant. 
  • If your over-watering results in root rot, you’ll want to take immediate action. Therefore, remove any affected roots, wash away the old soil, and repot your plant with new soil.
  • After watering your money tree, empty the drip tray, cachepot, or saucer after ten minutes of draining. 

3. Diseases

You should keep in mind that money trees are prone to diseases. Below, we have outlined the most common diseases, especially if your soil is too moist:

  • Root Rot – Fertilizer burn, over-watering, or other issues that can cause root damage will result in this fungal disease which arises opportunistically. These affected roots are generally spongy, and mushy, and feature a black/ brown appearance. Moreover, a pungent odor will emit from the rootball. 
  • Anthracnose Leaf Spot – This type of fungal disease is more likely to appear on mature leaves in the form of dark brown to tan spots. However, this usually only occurs on the lower and inner leaves. That said, it can quickly spread to the entire plant. 
  • Powdery Mildew – If you notice white spots located on brown leaves, this is usually an indication of powdery mildew infestation. Leaf wilting, drooping, and circling are signs to watch out for. 

These types of fungal infections can cause your plant’s leaves to rapidly brown or wilt. When left untreated, your money tree will likely die. 

Solutions to Disease

  • When it comes to fungal root rot; this is a severe issue. Here, you’ll want to remove all the diseased roots and then re-pot your plant in fresh soil. Likewise, a fungicide treatment can be beneficial, too. 
  • If your plant is suffering from anthracnose leaf spot disease, then this can be prevented by maintaining proper sanitization practices. Here, you’ll want to remove and dispose of all the dead components, including twigs, leaves, etc. In addition, pruning decaying and dead plants regularly can help prevent this disease. 
  • To treat your money tree from powdery mildew, you’ll want to use a fungicide that has propiconazole. Likewise, you should improve the lighting and circulation in the plant’s location. 

4. Sunburn

Generally speaking, money trees are plants that thrive in the sunlight – since they can survive the outdoor rays. 

That said, indoor money trees have to be shielded from the sun’s harsh rays. Otherwise, you’ll begin to notice the leaves turning crispy brown and sunburnt, especially around the sides. 

Usually, sunburn can be identified by large brown spots on the leaf’s surface. Plus, in extreme cases, the sunburned money tree leaves can turn brown, too. 

Sunburnt Money Tree Solutions

If you notice your money tree’s leaves turning brown, it is likely the result of sunburn – depending on its location.

To ensure your plant is receiving enough light, but not too much, you can use a light meter during different times of the day. 

You should keep in mind that sunlight shouldn’t hit your plant for over 6 hours a day. 

If direct sunlight is the issue, then you should relocate your money tree to an area that receives medium to bright, indirect sunlight. 

For any sunburnt leaves, you may want to cut off the areas that have been affected since these won’t return to their original color. 

5. Old Leaves

Generally speaking, money trees will turn brown as a result of age. As such, new and more vigorous leaves will take their place. This is the natural and inevitable plant aging process. 

Eventually, even the healthiest of money trees will develop brown leaves. These old leaves can be found at the bottom of the tree. 

That said, if these leaves can be found at the top of the money tree, then it may be the result of a bigger problem. 

Aging Leaves Solution

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to combat browning leaves as a result of age. If these leaves are unsightly to you, you can always prune off the partially-browned leaves. 

As your plant begins to deplete in resources, you’ll notice the leaves turning yellow. Eventually, these will turn brown and fall off. 

6. Pest Infestation

Pest Infestation

Pests, including fungus gnats, whiteflies, mealybugs, spider mites, scale insects, and aphids, can attack your money tree. 

These sap-sucking bugs can create yellowish-brown spots on your money tree’s leaves because they drain it of its essential life and juice. 

Over time, the leaves will turn yellow and brown and, eventually, lead to catastrophic damage. 

Below, we have provided further information about all the different types of pests, these include:

  • Scale – These insects drain the juices of leaves – creating brown spots of leaves over time. In addition, they can be found on the underside of leaves. 
  • Whiteflies – These types of pests hide underneath the money tree’s leaves – hiding from the elements and predators, alike. Their eggs resemble circles of pale dots. They feed on brown leaves, sap, and damaged foliage. 
  • Spider Mites – Dots and silvery stippling on leaves are an indication of spider mites. The back of your money tree’s leaves will feature cotton-like webbing. Plus, they accumulate in hot and dry conditions. As a result of leaf damage, brown spots, and patches will appear. 
  • Fungus Gnats – These pests are mosquito-like bugs with blackheads, slender legs, and gray or transparent wings. They are similar to fruit flies, however, have thinner legs and larger bodies. If you notice these gnats, it could be an indication that their eggs and larvae are in the soil. This larva can create severe root damage, resulting in moisture and nutrient deficiency, as well as leaf browning. 
  • Aphids – These pests prefer to place themselves on the back of leaves. Here, they sip the sap and deprive your plants of their essential nutrients, creating yellow and, eventually, brown leaves. Common symptoms include curled, distorted, or stunted leaves, as well as sooty black mold. 
  • Mealybugs – These pests are capable of attacking your money tree. Here, they drink the essential sap and cause the leaves to turn brown. Plus, these pests secrete honeydew, promoting the growth of sooty mold. 

Solutions To Pest Infestations

To prevent infestations, you’ll want to regularly inspect your money tree for any signs of pests. If you find any pests, you should isolate and prince your money tree as soon as possible. 

Once done, you’ll want to take the following measures to treat the problem and keep things under control. These include:

  • Hose/ wash them off – With a strong stream of water, you can wash the leaves of your money tree. Most pests, including aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and gnats should be removed. 
  • Manual removal – Using cotton swabs of a washcloth soaked in isopropyl alcohol, wipe the leaves, stems, and other parts of your plant. This is the most effective solution to fighting mealybugs. 
  • Insect traps – You can take yellow sticky traps to capture and remove whiteflies. Plus, they can be effective in removing fungus gnats and adult flies, too. 
  • Insecticidal sprays – There is a range of ready-to-use sprays you can use on your money tree. Some recommendations include soil sprays or organic soap containing pyrethrin, neem oil, vinegar, rosemary oil, mild dish soap, and more. 
  • Natural predators – These can help fight money tree pests, that said, it isn’t the most effective method. When you want to remove soft-bodied insects, such as mealybugs, spider mites, scale insects, and aphids, you can use generalists, such as grace lacewings and ladybug larvae. 

7. Nutrient Deficiency

As previously mentioned, money trees aren’t voracious eating plants. That said, a lack of essential nutrients can cause the leaves to turn brown. 

Before turning brown, the malnourished foliage will appear weak and yellow. 


You only need a small amount of fertilizer for your money tree – remember, a little goes a long way. 

Here, you’ll want to use a standard, water-soluble liquid fertilizer. Although, you’ll want to ensure that this is diluted to half the recommended concentration. 

8. Fertilizer Burn

While money trees require some attention, they aren’t heavy feeders. Therefore, it can be easy to over-fertilize your plant which can cause the roots to burn. 

As a result, the leaves will become brown and dry. You should first notice this on the edges of the tips of the foliage. 


  • To reverse any damage, you’ll want to flush the medium thoroughly. This will help dilute and wash away any excess fertilizer salts. 

9. Transplant Shock

After transplanting or re-potting your plant, you may notice your leaves turning brown. That said, this is generally nothing to worry about. 

When it comes to repotting your plant, it will undoubtedly influence some stress to your plant. This is especially true if you have to manipulate the root system, prune leaves, or perform any other procedures that can be seen as invasive. 


  • After repotting your plant, you’ll want to ensure you provide your plant with proper maintenance, such as enough humidity, airflow, light, etc. 
  • If you have repotted your money tree into an adequate pot and a suitable medium, it should be able to make a full recovery. 

10. Temperature Stress And Frost Damage

These plants are native to a humid and hot environment, like South and Central America. In these areas, the temperatures are generally consistent. 

While money trees are pretty hardy when it comes to USDA Hardiness Zones 9b-11, they don’t tolerate frost or temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Any sudden changes in temperature, including frost or drafts, can cause the leaves of your plant to turn brown. 

This is likely to occur if you’re frequently taking your money tree outdoors in the summer months. 


  • Remove your money tree from any areas that are draft, too hot, or cold. 
  • Move your plant to an area that has a consistent temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 24 degrees Celsius). 
  • Keep your plant away from heaters, fireplaces, air ducts, and any other potential draft sources. 
  • Don’t expose your plant to any sudden and dramatic changes in temperature. 

Final Thoughts

As plant owners, you’ll want to ensure you’re providing your plant with the very best care possible. This is the same when it comes to money tree plants. 

Therefore, when you notice your plant’s leaves browning, this can be a cause for concern. Brown leaves can be the result of many different factors, and, with the help of this guide, hopefully, you’ll determine the issue to find a solution. 

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with everything you need to know about the causes of brown leaves on a money tree.

Diane Peirce

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