Don’t forget the tips

It’s drag mon… er. Sorry. Pride Month. And what better way to put a prideful spin on this edition of Planting with Jace than by talking about money trees and tipping your drag queens?

June is an exhausting month for everyone. From our loyal four-legged friends parched from the sun. To our pachira aquaticas’ (aka money trees’) dried up yellowing leaves. To our local drag queens lip-syncing for their lives until the sun comes up. June. Is. Tiring.

Baby Bel Bel is a drag queen who performs throughout Toronto and the GTA. Photo by Quinton Cruickshanks


No matter how hard you try sometimes self-care isn’t enough and someone has to slide the bowl of water under your nose before you have the energy to drink; clip the dried edges off your leaves so you can be at your best; and help a queen pay for the rhinestones in her 18th costume change of the night while you stand there with a dumb look on your face taking in her illusion.

Energy spent is energy gained and that’s what we are going to look at today when it comes to caring for money trees and queens.

“Tip your queer artists. It’s how we pay rent and is a way to appreciate our art,” Baby Bel Bel. Photo by Quinton Cruickshanks


Money trees are a fairly popular house plant and can be picked up at nearly any hardware store, IKEA, or plant nursery in early summer. Unlike drag queens, money trees don’t need money to fund their art but they do need someone to prune, water, feed and dust their foliage all summer so they can shine their brightest. Sounds high maintenance. I know.

Toronto Queen Baby Bel Bel, aka Miss Crews and Tangos, has been in the industry for nearly 10 years. And despite maybe wishing her outfit could change colour on its own for her next reveal, no nurturing plant parent wishes a colour change on their money tree. If your money tree has yellowing leaves here are some factors to look at to make sure you are not the problem. Although like Taylor Swift sang in “Anti-Hero,” you are the problem. It’s you.

First here is some background on money trees. Sorry to burst your bubbles, its deep history is not rooted in dropping loonies and toonies on the ground as the seasons change. says the money tree is a plant that has many legends and beliefs originating from China. Although there are many tales and stories as to its beginnings, 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 floats around of a very poor farmer who was very down on his luck and spirit. One day, he found a very curious-looking plant with braided trunks. Upon inspecting the plant, he found the plant 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 plant, he grew more of them and sold them.

It is believed that if you place a money tree in an area that is exposed to areas concerning money, the money tree plant will bring the owner good luck and fortune. Often adorned with red ribbons and symbols, the money tree plant is perfect as an office or business gift because of its ability to grow in low light, minimal watering and care, and the wealth and good fortune it brings.

Because there are so many different reasons money trees’ leaves yellow it can be hard to pinpoint why your plant specifically is dropping leaves or losing its chlorophyll. Start by checking the dryness of the soil. It is so easy to overwater houseplants especially when all you think you are doing is caring for it. But please, please please, don’t water a money tree until its soil feels almost completely dry.

A great way to test this out is to see how heavy the pot feels after a few weeks have gone by without water, compared to how heavy it was when you last gave it a soaking. If it feels lighter than a thick book, it could use a drink. If you have over-watered your money tree, your best bet is to take it out from its container, cut back all affected roots and then replant it in fresh soil.

Another thing to realize is that once a leaf turns yellow you are not going to be able to turn that leaf green again. Chances are the leaf is well on its way to crisping up and falling off. Here’s where you can save the plant from wasting energy trying to fix that leaf by simply removing it. Clipping away yellowing and curling tips encourages the plant to spend all of its energy on what is still thriving, as supposed to what is decayed.

Surprisingly, drag queens in the performing arena need you to care about their tips too.

“It’s an expensive art form. Wigs. Make-up. Costumes. It all adds up,” said Baby Bel Bel. “Tip your queer artists. It’s how we pay rent and is a way to appreciate our art.”

June is peak gig-booking season for several queens and similar to anyone operating their own businesses the small things add up. Spending a few thousand dollars on a closet of clothing sounds reasonable but pair that with using $20 to $30 worth of performance makeup six to seven nights a week and you will see how overworked and yellow a queen’s chequing account might look just to keep us all smiling for the next 30 days.

Tip your queens with paper and keep your money tree leaves trimmed back as needed. As Dolly Parton once said and further supported by American Drag Queen Alaska Thunderf*ck, “It costs a lot to look this cheap.”

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