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Money Tree Plant: Exploring the Hawaiian Portulaca’s Charms

Portulaca molokiniensis, also known as the Hawaiian Portulaca, Money Tree, or Coin Succulent, is a perennial evergreen herbaceous plant from the Purslane family. Native to the less rainy areas of East Africa, it thrives in sunny, warm, and dry environments. The plant is easy to cultivate, typically propagated through seeds or cuttings. The Hawaiian Portulaca […]

Portulaca molokiniensis, also known as the Hawaiian Portulaca, Money Tree, or Coin Succulent, is a perennial evergreen herbaceous plant from the Purslane family. Native to the less rainy areas of East Africa, it thrives in sunny, warm, and dry environments.

The plant is easy to cultivate, typically propagated through seeds or cuttings. The Hawaiian Portulaca has no primary stem above ground, with variable buds sprouting from its tuber to form large compound leaves.

The small, fleshy leaves are firm and dark green. The underground part of the plant consists of a large tuber. Leaves grow from the roots, with the base of the petiole expanding and becoming woody.

Each compound leaf has 6-10 pairs of small leaves and can live for 2-3 years or more. The plant is also known as the Money Tree because its thick, neatly arranged leaves resemble coins, making it an excellent indoor foliage plant.

I. Basic Introduction

Portulaca molokiniensis

The Hawaiian Portulaca is a perennial evergreen herbaceous plant from the Purslane family. It has no primary stem above ground, with variable buds sprouting from its tuber to form large compound leaves.

The small, fleshy leaves are firm and dark green. The underground part of the plant consists of a large tuber. Leaves grow from the roots, with the base of the petiole expanding and becoming woody. Each compound leaf has 6-10 pairs of small leaves and can live for 2-3 years or more.

The Hawaiian Portulaca is native to the less rainy areas of East Africa. It thrives in sunny, warm, and dry environments, is drought-resistant, but dislikes damp, cold conditions. The plant is generally easy to cultivate, typically propagated through seeds or cuttings.

The Hawaiian Portulaca is also known as the Money Tree, named for its thick, neatly arranged leaves that resemble coins, making it an excellent indoor foliage plant.

II. Growth and Distribution

Portulaca molokiniensis

The Hawaiian Portulaca is native to the less rainy areas of East Africa. It prefers warm, slightly dry environments, semi-shade, and small annual temperature fluctuations.

Although it is drought-resistant, it fears cold, strong sunlight, and heavy, waterlogged soil, which can cause its tuber to rot. It requires loose, fertile soil with good drainage, rich in organic matter, and slightly acidic to acidic.

III. Morphology and Features

The Hawaiian Portulaca has no primary stem above ground, with variable buds sprouting from its tuber to form large compound leaves. The small, fleshy leaves have short petioles and are firm and dark green. The underground part of the plant consists of a large tuber.

Leaves grow from the roots, with feather-like compound leaves sprouting from the top of the tuber. The leaf axis is robust, with small leaves growing opposite or nearly opposite each other on the leaf axis.

The base of the petiole expands and becomes woody. Each compound leaf has 6-10 pairs of small leaves and can live for 2-3 years or more, continually being replaced by new leaves.

IV. Cultivation Method

Portulaca molokiniensis

Soil

The Round-Leaf Portulaca requires a cultivation substrate with good permeability. The cultivation substrate often uses peat, coarse sand or washed coal slag mixed with a small amount of garden soil, adjusting its pH value to between 6-6.5, giving it a slightly acidic state.

Temperature

Every summer, when the temperature reaches above 35°C, the plant’s growth is subpar. It should be cooled by shading with a black net and spraying water around the environment, creating a spatially temperature-appropriate but relatively dry environment.

In winter, it is best to maintain a greenhouse temperature above 10°C. If the room temperature drops below 5°C, it can easily cause the plant to suffer from cold damage, severely jeopardizing its survival.

In late autumn and early winter, when the temperature drops below 8°C, it should be promptly moved to a well-lit indoor area. Throughout the entire wintering period, the temperature should be kept between 8°C-10°C, which is safer and more reliable.

Light

The Round-Leaf Portulaca loves light and has a strong shade tolerance. It should be provided with a sunny but somewhat shaded environment.

Avoid direct strong sunlight, especially after prolonged rain in late spring and early summer, and the intense sun exposure and strong sunlight without any shade or barrier 5-6 hours before and after noon in summer, which can easily cause the newly sprouted tender leaves to be sunburned.

Water

When cultivating Round-Leaf Portulaca in pots, for plants placed in the greenhouse, when the room temperature reaches above 33°C, the plants should be sprayed with water once a day. Since the plant has strong drought tolerance, it is best to keep the pot soil slightly moist and dry.

However, occasionally overwatering or over-fertilizing will not cause root rot. In winter, pay attention to spraying water on the leaf surface and the surrounding environment, so the relative air humidity can reach over 50%.

Fertilizer

The Round-Leaf Portulaca likes fertilizer. Besides adding a suitable amount of fermented cake fertilizer or slow-release compound fertilizer to the cultivation substrate, during the growing season, you can water it 2-3 times a month with a mixture of 0.2% urea and 0.1% dipotassium phosphate.

You can also water it with balanced fertilizer 20-10-20, at a concentration of 200-250 parts per million combined with calcium nitrate. When the temperature drops below 15°C, stop all forms of topdressing to avoid causing root damage under low temperature conditions.

Repotting

Repot once every two years, carried out in late spring and early summer. The potting soil should be slightly acidic and well-draining, using peat, coarse sand or perlite, slag with a small amount of garden soil, and slow-release fertilizer.

Because it has large tubers and well-developed root system, it is suitable for planting in deeper pots. Place more stones or tiles at the bottom of the pot for better drainage.

When planting, you can expose part of the tuber above the soil surface, and sprinkle a layer of pottery or small stones on the surface of the pot to enhance the ornamental effect.

Protection

In the hot summer, or after prolonged rain and good sunny weather, or for potted plants just moved outdoors for restorative care after a long time indoors, direct exposure to sunlight can easily cause its tender leaves to be sunburned, causing its leaf part to lose green and turn white, or the entire leaf to be sunburned, and the necrotic part will turn brown and black in the later stage.

When the winter temperature drops below 5°C, coupled with damp pot soil, it can easily cause the plant’s tender leaves to frost and wilt, and in severe cases, it can cause the tuber to rot, making it difficult to recover.

Prevention method: During production cultivation, the greenhouse temperature should be maintained at no less than 10°C during the wintering period, and the pot soil should be kept in a slightly dry state.

V. Propagation Methods

Seed Propagation

Generally speaking, seed propagation is rarely used in the reproduction process of Roundleaf Purslane, mainly because it is a unisexual flowering plant. Typically, it is difficult for it to bear fruit after flowering, hence artificial pollination is required during cultivation to obtain seeds.

Moreover, seed propagation has a very low germination rate, which largely restricts large-scale production.

Tissue Culture

This involves obtaining tissue cultured seedlings through healing measures and indeterminate bud methods.

The so-called healing pathway means that after the explants of Roundleaf Purslane are cultured in vitro, they first differentiate into callus tissues, then grow into buds, and form a complete plant after rooting.

In practice, it can be seen that the callus tissue effect is better compared to stem, and its effective induction rate can reach more than 88%. Research shows that mature leaves near the main vein of Roundleaf Purslane leaves are easy to form callus tissues.

Division Propagation

In April, when the outdoor temperature reaches above 18°C, de-pot the large Roundleaf Purslane plants, shake off most of the old soil, break them from the weak areas where the tubers are combined, and apply sulfur powder or charcoal ash to the wounds before potting them separately.

Be careful not to bury them too deep during planting, the tip of the tuber should be buried 1.5-2 cm below the soil. Additionally, based on the characteristic of latent buds on the tubers of Roundleaf Purslane, large single tubers can be cut into small pieces with 2-3 latent buds.

After the cut wounds dry out, they can be planted in slightly moist fine sand. Once the cut tubers grow into independent plants, they can be potted.

Cutting Propagation

The cuttings can be a single small leaf, a leaf axis with two leaves, or a single leaf axis. From the perspective of rooting effects, the cuttings with leaf axis and leaves root quickly, have a high germination rate, and can easily develop into larger tubers.

Single leaves cut and planted on a mixture of river sand and zeolite will form a small ball stem with roots at the base of the leaf after 10-14 days. After 2-3 months of cultivation, it can grow into a small plant, but generally, the seedling rate is not high.

If a leaf axis or a leaf axis with leaves is used for cutting, the substrate can be general fine sand, or it can be prepared from a mixture of peat soil, perlite, and river sand in a ratio of 3:1:1. The depth of insertion of the cutting should be 1/3-1/2 of the length of the cutting, leaving only the leaves outside the substrate.

After spraying through water, place it in a shady place, maintain an environmental temperature of 25-27°C, and depending on the dryness of the substrate, spray the leaf surface 1-2 times a day to maintain a slightly moist substrate. Do not over-wet, otherwise, it will cause rotting of the cutting and result in failure.

When the cutting forms a certain root system, the middle of the root gradually swells to form a small ball-shaped tuber. The tuber gradually enlarges, and some of the younger cuttings will wither and die due to high temperatures or poor water management after potting, but the tuber can survive.

The old mature leaves and cuttings with a total leaf petiole can also remain green and vigorous. A small number of tubers can sprout and grow new leaves in the same year, but they grow weakly and slowly. The tubers will grow robust new buds and grow normally the following year.

VI. Disease Prevention and Control

Scale Insects

In environments with poor ventilation and insufficient light, the leaves of the Roundleaf Pennywort are susceptible to the harm of scale insects.

Prevention method: During productive cultivation, spray 20% of the permethrin wettable powder at a dilution of 1000 times during the peak hatching period of the nymphs. This method is effective at killing insects.

Brown Spot Disease

The leaf spots are almost round in shape and gray-brown or yellow-brown in color, with slightly darker edges. This disease is likely to occur in high temperature and high humidity environments.

In practice, if a small number of leaves are found to be damaged, it is advised to promptly remove and burn them. At the initial stage of the disease, spray a dilution of 50% mancozeb wettable powder at 600 times or 40% carbendazim suspension at 500 times, once every 10 days, for 3-4 times in a row.

Root Rot Disease

Roundleaf Pennywort root rot is a root rot disease caused by overwatering, resulting in scarce air near the roots and a damp environment conducive to the growth of a large amount of fungi, eventually leading to root rot.

Prevention measures: When necessary, spray a dilution of 27% copper hydroxide suspension at 600 times or 50% benomyl wettable powder at 1000 times, 50% methyl thiophanate-sulfur suspension at 800 times, or 50% carbendazim-sulfur (carbendazim + sulfur) suspension at 600 times.

VII. Value and Others

Main Value

Ornamental: The Roundleaf Pennywort has a beautiful plant shape, and its pinnate compound leaves resemble strings of copper coins. Moreover, its oval leaves have a thick texture, making it highly valuable for ornamental purposes.

Ecological: The potted Roundleaf Pennywort can be placed near televisions and computers to absorb radiation, and it can also be planted indoors to absorb substances like formaldehyde to purify the air.

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Peggie

Peggie

Founder of FlowersLib

Peggie was once a high school mathematics teacher, but she set aside her chalkboard and textbooks to follow her lifelong passion for flowers. After years of dedication and learning, she not only established a thriving flower shop but also founded this blog, “Flowers Library”. If you have any questions or wish to learn more about flowers, feel free to contact Peggie.

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