A Money Tree

When it comes to thumb colors, mine isn’t exactly black but it isn’t green either…it’s somewhere in between. According to James Underwood Crockett, the term a ‘green thumb’ comes from the fact that algae growing on the outside of earthenware pots will stain a person’s thumb and fingers if he/she handles enough pots. Hence, a person who is always working with flower pots has a ‘green thumb’.

My thumb turns color depending on which gardening I’m doing – outside or inside. It tends towards the darker shade of black when planting, landscaping, grass-growing, mowing or finding deer-resistant anything. Longwood Gardens has nothing to fear and my husband would be a happier man today if the money I spent on plants, bushes, shrubs, trees and the ever elusive, shade-loving grass seed had been invested instead.

Success with indoor plants is the exact opposite. There isn’t a Peace Lily, Jade, or Philodendron that has died under my watchful care. My secret? Always look for plants whose instructions read ‘This plant can’t be killed, maimed, or destroyed. It requires no sun, little attention and can go weeks, if not years, without water’. Okay, that a bit of an exaggeration but ‘low-maintenance, hard-to-kill’ plants are definitely a priority for me. That is with the exception of the Money Tree plant.

The Money Tree is a plant that has many legends and beliefs originating from China. There are many tales and stories as to its beginnings, however, two seem to appear more frequently than others. The most common story is that a truck driver in Taiwan had decided to braid the trunks of five small trees in a single pot. A more legendary tale features a very poor farmer who was down on his luck and spirit. One day, he found a very curious looking plant with braided trunks. Upon inspecting the plant, he found it to be very hardy and resilient, and took this as a lesson that he as well should learn to be resilient and strong. From the seed of this miraculous plant, he grew more of them, sold them and became a wealthy man.

Whichever origin is true, the popularity of the Money Tree cannot be denied. They are a favorite, home warming and new business gift because they proclaim to bring wealth and prosperity to whomever they are given. They are also highly idolized by those who practice Feng Shui. This traditional Chinese concept links the destiny of man to his environment. For example, in order to promote harmony, your bed should not face the door, the head of your bed should be against a wall but not sharing a wall with any electronics or a bathroom. Well, in our home what promotes harmony is the laundry being washed, dried and folded by someone other than me, the dish washer emptied and being served breakfast in bed. Now that’s harmony!

The six Money Tree plants gifted to us over the years have all met the same, dark ‘black thumb’ fate. No matter how they were cared for whether low light and minimal watering or full sun and drenching, in a few months their leaves turned brown, the twisted bark unwinds and a croaking sound can be heard throughout the house. I suppose this has been the universe speaking and finally, this older and wiser me has listened…orchids!