Overwatered Money Tree (Signs and Solutions)

An overwatered money tree is the biggest threat to this houseplant because it can eventually die.

As such, it is important to avoid excess watering as much as possible.

Unfortunately, it is an all to common problem since many owners tend to be overly generous with moisture.

Therefore, it is important to know the signs of overwatering and how to treat the money tree in case this happens.

How do you save an overwatered money tree? Saving and reviving an overwatered money tree depends on whether there is root rot or not.

If there is no root rot, you can drain the excess water and let the plant dry. But if there is root rot, you’ll need to prune the rotten roots, disinfect the plant and repot it with dry soil.

Underwatered vs. Overwatered Money Tree Differences

One of the tricky things about diagnosing an overwatered money tree is that the symptoms of overwatering and underwatering are very similar.

In some cases, the signs may even overlap one another.

However, it is crucial to identify and differentiate one from the other before you try to apply any solution.

Why?

It can be damaging or even deadly for the plant.

For example, if your plant is overwatered and the symptoms cross with underwatering leading you to think that you have an underwatered money tree.

Therefore, you add more water to an already overwatered plant. This increases the risk of root rot or accelerates the root rot already present.

Similarly, if the opposite happens, then you allow your underwatered money tree to get very dehydrated which can end up damaging the roots.

So how can you tell the difference between an underwatered and overwatered money tree?

Check the soil. Wet, mucky soil usually means excess water. In contrast, very dry soil likely means an underwatered plant.

Also, look at the texture and color of the leaves.

Leaf discoloration can sometime be a bit more misleading since both underwatering and overwatering can have yellow or brown leaves.

But if you look closely and feel the leaves, you’ll immediately notice a difference.

An underwatered plant will have dry, crispy and even brittle leaves. On the other hand, an overwatered money tree will have soft, limp leaves.

Are there any spots?

Spots on a money tree don’t always occur from overwatering or underwatering. But if they do, analyze the spots.

Dry, brown spots mean underwater. In contrast, brown spots with a yellow halo around those spots are a sign of overwatering.

Last by not least, check the base of the plant.

In general, a money tree’s base is well-establish and stable.

So, if you notice a soft, mushy, browning or even unstable base, then it is likely overwatering. Meanwhile, an underwatered money tree will have a dry looking, dusty base.

Again, these are the main things to look out for because many of their other symptoms overlap considerably, making it more difficult to distinguish from one another.

 

Signs of Overwatered Money Tree

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves are usually an easy way to tell that something is wrong with your money tree.

Note that if there’s only one or two yellow leaves, then the yellowing stops, it may not be a problem.

That’s because older leaves will naturally turn yellow then drop. This makes way for new leaves to emerge and develop.

However, if there are many yellow leaves that keep appearing and more seem to appear each morning you check the plant, it means something is wrong.

Again, keep in mind that both overwatering and underwatering can cause a money tree to develop yellow leaves.

So, it is important to check the other symptoms and verify by feeling the soil.

An overwatered money tree will turn yellow because the plant sustains damage due to excess moisture.

And if this happens, never take it for granted. In fact, act immediately.

Why?

It can mean root rot is in progress.

Yellow leaves occur due to overwatering because as you add more water each time to the soil, more and more moisture accumulates in the pot.

After a while, the roots end up swimming in lots of liquid.

This prevents them from breathing air which they need to survive. As they suffocate, they cease to function well.

This causes the roots to absorb less nutrients.

And the lack of nutrients is what leads to the leaf discoloration. It causes them to turn yellow or get pale in color.

Unfortunately, if the water keeps coming and roots stay suffocated, they will eventually die and rot. That’s when root rot occurs.

When this happens, you’ll see some leaves turn brown as well. So, you have yellow and/or brown leaves.

This time, since the more roots are dead and don’t function anymore, not only does the plant lack nutrients but also water.

That’s because even if the soil is wet, the roots cannot absorb the water.

As such, the leaves will eventually dry up, become crispy and turn brown.

 

Droopy Money Tree

 

Pale and Limp Leaves

 

Brown Leaf Edges and Tips

Brown leaves usually occur after yellow leaves. The browning will begin in the tips and edges of the leaves.

But if the cause isn’t treated, entire leaves will turn brown.

With an overwatered money tree brown leaves are a more serious sign than yellow leaves. That’s because it almost always means that root rot has set in.

Yellow leaves occur due to lack of nutrients which happens when the roots are stressed or suffocated and don’t function 100%.

But once you see brown leaves develop alongside yellow leaves, it means at least a portion of the root system has rotted.

Brown leaves occur due to lack of moisture.

With an overwatered plant, this happens when roots get damaged, die and rot.

Once enough roots have rotted, the remaining healthy roots can only absorb a fraction of the water the original root system could.

This results in lack of moisture which causes brown leaves.

 

Brown Spots on Leaves

Brown spots on leaves are different from brown leaves as well as brown leaf tips and edges.

In the case of brown spots, you’ll see small spots initially.

But after a while, these spots will develop into patches or splotches that get bigger as time goes if untreated.

These brown spots of leaves will usually be water soaked. And you’ll also notice a yellow halo or ring around the brown spot.

Note that brown spots also occur with some bacterial and fungal diseases. Although, for each of these, the spots will somewhat look different.

Either way, brown spots on leaves are usually a bad sign because they don’t only signal an overwatered money tree, it can mean root rot is happening or the possibility of some infection.

Just like brown leaves, foliage affected by brown spots will not recover and turn green again. So, your best bet is to prune these leaves and let the plan grow new, healthy ones.

 

Leaves Dropping

Leaf drop happens later on. As such, if you see this happening, it means whatever the problem is, it is already at the middle or later stages.

This makes it a more serious symptom.

That said, dropping leaves in money tree plants can occur in both an underwatered or overwatered money tree.

One way to tell the difference is that in an underwatered money tree, the leaves that tend to drop are the older, larger and lower leaves.

In contrast, with an overwatered money tree, leaves can drop from anywhere, old and new leaves will fall off the plant from any part of the plant.

 

Base of the Stem is Soft and Mushy

A soft, weak and mushy stem base is another sign of an overwatered money tree. It will also have a foul smell.

This is fairly serious as its signifies either stem rot starting or beginning to happen. Or it means there’s root rot occurring. And the symptoms are now moving upwards.

Either way, it is important to take immediate action when you see this.

 

Root Rot

Root rot is the telltale sign of overwatering. Unfortunately, it also means there’s serious damage already occurred.

This is when you go into emergency mode since you need to save the plant.

There’s no more hoping the plant can recover or wishful thinking at this point.

If there is root rot, it means the plant is in danger and the damage will keep increase each day you do not do anything.

Root rot presents many different symptoms above the soil including yellow leaves, wilting, brown spots and more.

But to verify it, you need to take the plant out of its pot and check the roots.

White, firm and pliable roots mean the roots are healthy. Black, mushy, soft and stinky roots are those that have rotten.

In most cases, if there is root rot, some roots are rotten while others are healthy.

 

How to Revive Overwatered Money Tree

Now that you know the symptoms of an overwatered money tree are and how to differentiate it from an underwatered plant, it is time to take action.

The most important step before this is to confirm that the money tree is in fact overwatered. And that the signs you’re seeing are caused by this problem.

Once you verify this, the next steps are fairly straightforward.

But your course of action will vary depending on whether:

  1. There is root rot or not already happening
  2. If the root rot is serious and has damaged majority of the root system

I’ll explain each scenario below and discuss in detail the solution for each.

 

How to Save an Overwatered Money Tree that Does Not Have Root Rot

The best scenario for an overwatered money tree is that there is no root rot present.

In this case, you’ll see many of the symptoms above. But once you take the roots out of the pot, you’ll see they are all healthy and white.

There are no black, rotten roots.

If this is the case, consider yourself lucky as you’ve just dodged a bullet.

But you still have some work to do.

Now that you’re sure there are no rotten roots, it is time to decide.

  1. Do you want to repot the plant into a new pot with, fresh dry soil to allow the plant to recover immediately?
  2. Do you want to keep it in its original pot and drain the excess moisture out manually?

The first option takes more work.

However, it is a more conservative approach. And it ensures that plant and its roots are immediately in a dry location. This allows them to start recovery.

The second option is easier and faster.

But after draining the excess water, the soil will still be somewhat moist or a bit wet at the least. This means the plant will stay in this condition for a little while longer as the soil dries.

This may or may not worsen the condition and the symptoms.

Both options work. And it is up to you to decide what you prefer to do.

The other important thing to is adjust your watering schedule so overwatering never happens again.

Plus, make sure to keep the plant in bright, indirect light in a moderate to warm location.

 

How to Save an Overwatered Money Tree with Root Rot

In case the overwatered money tree has root rot when you inspected the roots out of the pot, then your approach to treatment will now be different.

 

Step 1: Remove All the Soil from the Root System

Once you’ve confirmed root rot, you now want to take the plant and remove all the soil from the root system.

For a smaller money tree, you can do this in a large sink or bathtub.

But for larger money trees, just take it outside and use a garden hose.

I’ve found that watering the soil away is the easiest method to clear out any soil from the roots.

Be careful how do you this because you don’t want to scatter the soil all over the place. You want it neat to make it easy to dispose of the soil later.

That’s because the cause of the root rot may have been a fungal disease.

If this is the case, then you want to throw away all the soil and never let it come into contact with other plants.

 

Step 2: Prune the Rotten Roots

Once all the soil is off the root system, spread out all the roots to make it easy to see.

Your goal is to prune or cut off all the rotten roots. Avoid snipping any healthy roots as you’ll want as many of them as you can get to try and save the plant.

Make sure to sterilize the cutting tool with rubbing alcohol before cutting away.

Also, make sure to re-sanitize the blade after you’re done pruning the roots. This way, you don’t infect any other plants with the fungal infection (if there is any).

While pruning the rotten roots, take note of how much of the root system you cut off.

A rough estimate like a quarter, half or a third is good enough.

 

Step 3: Prune the Leaves

If you trimmed off more than 1/3 of the root system of the original plant, you’ll need to prune the same amount of the leaves of the plant.

If you pruned less than this, then you’re good to go.

Why?

A smaller root system that’s trying to save itself and recover will have a better chance of doing so if it is not overwhelmed by the size of the plant above the soil.

Since you pruned a significant portion of the roots, the remaining ones will need to work overtime if you don’t prune enough leaves.

This makes it harder for the plant to recover.

When you’re done, remove any damaged, yellow, brown or mushy leaves as well.

Those are not going to turn green again.

 

Step 4: Disinfect the Roots

In case the roots still harbor some fungi, it is always a good idea to treat them with fungicide before repotting.

Otherwise, if you don’t, the fungal infection may destroy the plant after you repot it.

If that happens, it is harder to save the plant since it is already weak.

The simplest way to disinfect the plant’s root system is to dunk them or soak them into a fungicide solution.

You can do this in a large sink or container.

Other options are to use hydrogen peroxide solution or a bleach solution.

Once done, take the roots out and leave them somewhere to dry.

Don’t forget the sanitize the pot thoroughly with the same solution. This will make sure that there are no remnants of the fungi in the pot.

 

Step 5: Repot the Plant

Finally, repot the plant in fresh, dry, well-draining potting mix.

In all likelihood, if you pruned the roots, you’ll be repotting in a smaller container.

Don’t water the plant for at least a week to let it recover.

 

What If the Overwatered Money Tree Cannot Be Saved?

The last case scenario is the most dire one unfortunately.

But I need to mention it.

This way, in case someone comes across this situation, there’s still some hope of saving their money tree.

When the root rot problem is very serious and it has destroyed all or almost all the roots of the plant, it is likely that there’s no saving an overwatered money tree.

Thus, the next best option is to propagate it.

This way, you are able to grow a new plant that will grow up and become a clone of the original plant.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Take a healthy cutting. In this case, I highly suggest looking for any stems that are healthy with leaves that are still healthy. If you can, go with more than one cutting just to make sure.
  2. Ensure that the cutting you get is not damaged or affected yet. Also, it needs to have at least a node on it.
  3. Snip off the cutting just below a node.
  4. Then apply rooting hormone on the cut end. Skip this step if you don’t have rooting hormone one hand.
  5. Plant the cutting into a pot with fresh, well-draining soil.
  6. Water the soil but only until it is moist. Then cover the cutting with a plastic bag to increase humidity.

In will take 4-6 weeks for new roots to develop. And in a couple of months aster, you’ll see the plant start growing.

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