If you're looking for a real showstopper of a houseplant, look no further than the goldfish plant! With long, cascading branches with dark green leaves and abundant blooms of vivid color, and unique shapes that resemble tiny goldfish, the goldfish plant is truly in a class of its own. This houseplant can live for a decade or longer if cared for correctly! Below, we'll tell you everything you need to know to grow a vibrant goldfish plant.
1.6 ft tall by 3.3 ft broad
Bright but not direct
What Is a Goldfish Plant?
The goldfish plant (Nematanthus gregarius) matches its nickname perfectly - the brightly colored flowers resemble leaping fish! They are often used as a hanging or table plant, where the long stems can cascade down. If you desire a bushier profile, you can clip new stems to keep the plant at a 2 feet height.
Put this exotic trailing plant in a hanging basket or on a pedestal table to show off its spectacular foliage and blooms. You will see 'schools' of bright blooms with the right growing condition.
Goldfish Plant Varieties
The basic variety of goldfish plants sports bright orange flowers and deep green leaves. However, there are many hybrids available! Here are some of the most popular:
"Columnea gregarious" - This variety boasts bright orange flowers all summer long.
"Columnea banksii" - The leaves of this goldfish plant variety are interesting, as the undersides are red. The flowers are also red, with yellow interiors.
"Columnea gloriosa" - Each leaf has a few reddish hairs on them. It also has red flowers with yellow centers.
"Columnea carnival" - The flowers are bright yellow and large!
Goldfish Plant Care Requirements
Like most tropical plants, the goldfish plant needs bright indirect light. In its native environment, it would be growing under the canopy of tall trees. Avoid direct sunlight, as it will scorch it. The goldfish plant would grow wonderfully in an east-facing window. It can tolerate moderate amounts of shade, but it will not produce many blooms.
Keep the soil from ever completely drying out, but be careful not to overwater your goldfish plant. Green leaves fall off a Goldfish plant if the plant is too wet or too dry.
A good rule of thumb is to check the top few inches of the soil in the pot. If it's dry, you can water it. Only use room temperature water - cold water will damage the leaves. In fact, try to avoid getting water on the leaves at all and only water around the base of the plant.
Tropical plants actually don't require high temperatures! As stated above, most tropical plants grow under the canopy of other plants. The typical household temperature of 65 to 75 degrees F is perfect for a goldfish plant.
Goldfish plants need a moderately humid environment. Your basic household humidity during the summer may be ample, depending on where you live. However, during the winter, you may need to supplement with a humidifier. You can also boost humidity by setting the goldfish plant pot on a humidity tray.
Goldfish plants actually grow on top of other plants in their native habitats! When kept as a houseplant, look for a potting mix that is light and drains quickly. You can add peat moss or perlite to a rich potting soil to aerate it. Alternatively, the African violet potting mix works perfectly. The two plants are actually related and have similar soil needs.
You'll see thicker blooms in the spring and summer seasons if you fertilize your goldfish houseplants every week with a water-soluble fertilizer. You could also use slow-release fertilizer pellets, but you may be able to get away with using more balanced plant food. During the winter, drop the fertilizer frequency to once monthly.
Goldfish plants propagate easily from stem tip cuttings. However, keep in mind that even an established cutting will not start to bloom until the following summer!
Look for stem tips that don't yet have flower buds. Find one about 2 to 3 inches long, and cut it with clean garden shears.
Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone. While not necessary, this hormone makes a big difference in how quickly the cutting will put out roots and how strong those roots will be.
Plant the cutting in a pot filled with well-draining soil, and keep the pot in a warm, bright, humid area until you notice new root growth.
Goldfish plants prefer to be slightly root-bound, and they tend to grow and flower more vigorously if their pot is just slightly too small! You will likely only need to repot your goldfish plant every 2 to 3 years. When you do, prune the roots slightly to encourage new roots to secure into the new soil.
It's a good thing the goldfish plant has beautiful, bountiful blooms because it does seem to fall prey to quite a list of problems!
Insects And Pests
Goldfish plants are prone to infestations of aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites. Because of the numerous small leaves, these plant pests can be difficult to clear infestations once they take hold. If you see these pests on your plant, spray them with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
This tropical plant is very sensitive to temperature, humidity, and moisture. Getting any of those factors out of balance can lead to leggy growth, leaf drop, and leaf browning. Make sure the temperature is not too high, and take care to keep the leaves dry.
Plants that require high humidity levels also sometimes struggle with fungal diseases. Goldfish plants sometimes develop leaf spots, botrytis, and powdery mildew. You can prevent most fungal diseases by taking care not to overwater. Remember - humidity requirements are not the same as water requirements!
Is Goldfish Plant Pet Friendly?
The goldfish plant is not deadly to pets or children but is slightly poisonous. You may notice nausea, vomiting, or a rash if a leaf or flower gets eaten.