Goldfish Plant Care Guide: How to Cultivate without Fuss

Goldfish plant care has always been an interesting discussion among gardeners. Aside from its beauty, this ornamental grower is also fussy about environmental conditions.

However, the complex treatment may be worth the visible results. When blooming, the orange flower uniquely looks like a jumping goldfish. It will perfectly decorate your space!

Therefore, if you plan to bring this beauty to your home, you must understand the goldfish plant care well.

Goldfish Plant Identification

Goldfish plant gets its common name from the long, tubular orange or orange-red flowers that look like everyone's first pet goldfish.
Goldfish Plant

The goldfish plant (Nematanthus gregarious) is a perennial plant originating from mainland America, especially the Central, South, and Caribbean regions.

Under the right conditions, these growers can live long for almost a decade. The hardiness zone ranges from 10-11, with a mature plant stem measuring about 2-3 inches and branches up to 3 feet tall.

Interestingly, it can bloom all year round.

The flower is the most interesting as it is similar to a jumping goldfish. Besides orange, the color is sometimes red or yellow, depending on its type and habitat.

The leaves are thick and waxy, around 2-3 inches long.

It is dark green and generally has fine hair. Because the branches are long enough, the goldfish plant is perfect for hanging plants.

This plant is also classified as an epiphyte because it generally grows on trees in the wild. However, goldfish do not absorb food from the host and produce their nutrients through photosynthesis.

Varieties

There are over 30 different species of goldfish plants. While most goldfish plants have thick dark green leaves, others have hairy leaves. Some goldfish plants also have beautiful variegated leaves.
Goldfish Plant Varieties

The goldfish plant has more than 150 species and hybrids. Although there are various, most of them are beautiful for ornamental hanging plants.

Several common types are:

  • Nematanthus Tropicana: The dark green leaves look beautiful with orange and red stripes.
  • Columnea hirta (Light Prince): Its distinctive feature is the foliage with white streaks that blend with orange and yellow flowers.
  • Nematanthus Green Magic: As the name suggests, this plant is green in leaves and foliage, with bright orange flowers.
  • Columnea gloriosa: It has purplish and hairy leaves. The flowers are red and yellow.
  • Nematanthus Black Gold: Generally, it has dark green leaves with reddish undertones. The flowers are orange and yellow.

In addition to the types above, several hybrid varieties such as Firebird, Aladdin’s Lamp, California Gold, and others are also quite popular. African Violet and Chanticleer can also be good choices for decoration.

Goldfish Plant Care

Goldfish plant needs plenty of bright, indirect light to bloom. Keep out of direct sunlight, which will turn leaves brown.
Goldfish Plant Care

Even though it is relatively demanding, this plant will give commensurate results if it gets the best treatment. Here are some pointers on goldfish plant care:

Soil

The best soil mix for your goldfish plant is two parts potting soil to one part perlite, according to Roethling.
Goldfish Plant Soil

In the wild, it is an epiphyte that grows on a tree. Therefore, the best planting media is easy-to-absorb soil that remains dry, such as fortified type.

Besides, goldfish plant like a light, sandy, and water-resistant planting medium. The recommendations include coarse sphagnum moss.

You can also mix sphagnum moss with vermiculite and perlite.

Light

Goldfish plants prefer bright light, but they don't like direct light. An eastern facing window is perfect. They can also successfully be grown under lights indoors, especially during the winter.
Light for Goldfish Plant

Although they grow on a hitch, these plants are not parasites and get their nutrients through photosynthesis. The best goldfish plant care is to place it in a location that gets lots of light but not direct sunlight.

As the food comes from photosynthesis, ensure the plant gets at least 13 hours of sunlight indirectly a day.

Water

Spring through fall, water thoroughly and allow the top 2 inches (5 cm) to dry out between waterings. Water less often in winter, but don't dry it out completely.
Goldfish Plant Water

Water requirement in goldfish plant care is in the medium category. In summer, make sure the soil remains moist by watering it occasionally.

In winter, do not water it because the soil will become too wet. Also, letting it dry in winter will allow it to flower well in spring.

From spring to fall, watering should be sufficient.

However, please wait until the plant is at least 2 inches dry at the top before watering it again. This method can avoid overwatering.

Temperature and Humidity

Goldfish Plants do well in temperatures between 65-85 degrees. Intense heat burns the leaves of a Goldfish Plant. Try to keep a Goldfish Plants out of drafts and away from heaters.
Goldfish Plant Temperature and Humidity

In goldfish plant care, the best temperature is 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and do not expose to direct sunlight. In the wild, this grower generally takes shelter under other plants.

For maximum growth, place the plant at room temperature.

They will be happy at moderate humidity, and you can occasionally spray them with normal temperature water to maintain them.

Do not spray icy or too-cold water as this will damage the foliage. Generally, this plant cannot survive in frost. The goldfish plant care tip is to place it close to other plants.

Fertilizer

Feed every 2 weeks spring and summer with a high-phosphorus liquid or water-soluble fertilizer (such as 15-30-15) diluted by half.
Goldfish Plant Fertilizer

Providing the right fertilizer is also necessary for goldfish plant care. You can give it weekly, especially during the growth period.

Choose the best nutrition according to the needs of the grower.

The flowering period is summer and spring. For the maximum results, apply liquid phosphorus fertilizer with high intensity, such as 15-30-15. Do it every two weeks.

Goldfish Plant Propagation

Goldfish plants can be propagated by rooting stem tip cuttings. The best time for propagation is spring or summer.
Goldfish Plant Propagation

The propagation method is also an important part that you need to know about goldfish plant care. In this case, the simplest way is by cuttings.

So, pay attention to these things:

  • Choose any stems that do not have flower buds and cut them into 2-3 inch lengths.
  • Place the cut stem on the soil, and ensure it gets enough light without being exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Take good care and make sure the soil conditions, temperature, humidity, and other factors are ideal for the cutting process.
  • New plants will start flowering next summer.
  • To help propagation succeed, you can add rooting hormones.

Repotting

Because the goldfish plant has shallow roots, there's no need to repot it very often; as long as you keep it inside a healthy potting mix, it should continue to grow.
Goldfish Plant Repotting

This plant does not like to move places and is generally easily attached to where it lives. Therefore you need to repot every 2-3 years.

Do not place them in a bigger pot.

Instead, gently cut off the parent roots to encourage new growth. If the plant size is long enough, you should do propagation and make sure your goldfish plant stays the same pot size.

Goldfish Plant Care Indoors vs Outdoors

Goldfish houseplants are best in room temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They need mild to moderate humidity and can be misted daily with room temperature water.
Goldfish Plant Care Guide

Goldfish plant care outdoors and indoors are not much different. They need lots of light without being in direct sunlight.

In outdoor cultivation, you can place the growers in the shade. For the best goldfish plant care, align it with other plants that can block direct sunlight.

For indoor placement, put it near a window or a transparent roof that can filter light without reducing brightness.

Humidity and temperature also need to be a constant concern.

One more note, goldfish is a type of tropical plant. It is better to keep it indoors, or at least not put it outdoor in the summer to prevent the leaves from turning brown.

Problems in Goldfish Plant Care

Most problems with goldfish plants, such as leggy growth, leaf drop, and lack of flowering, are directly related to everyday goldfish plant care.
Goldfish Plant Problems

Like other plants, goldfish sometimes get sick or grow abnormally. Therefore, you must know how to handle it properly.

The following are common conditions that often occur:

Rot and Damage

Common goldfish plant problems include stem and/or root rot and cold damage. Rot causes the stems to shrivel or the roots to turn mushy.
Goldfish Plant Rot and Damage

Environmental conditions that are not ideal can make plants fall ill. One of the most common is the rotting of stems and roots caused by too high humidity and overwatering.

To avoid this problem, you can review the watering again. If the roots rot, the first thing is to reduce the amount of water.

If it still occurs, do repot to remove the diseased part.

In addition, cold air sometimes brings significant damage and makes the leaves fall. If this happens, set the environment to room temperature and ensure to keep it warm.

Keep the indoor plants away from windows or doors that do not have adequate insulation. The reason is that cold air may be able to enter the room.

Also, keep the grower away from the glacial glass or something condensed. This plant is sensitive to humidity and high temperature.

The wrong condition leads to flower difficulty leaves turn brown, and fall.

Too-wide Space

The Goldfish plant prefers being a bit root bound, so it doesn’t need to be repotted too often. Usually, moving it to a larger container once every 2 or 3 years is more than enough.
Goldfish Plant Space

This plant likes pot-bound conditions, where the roots are firmly attached to the planting medium. Therefore too much soil or too big a pot will make them not grow well and look thin.

Pests, Fungi, and Viruses

Common diseases with Goldfish Plants are root or crown rot, powdery mildew, leaf-spot disease, botrytis petal blight and powdery mildew.
Goldfish Plant Diseases

Goldfish plant care is an activity where you have to prepare yourself for pests, fungi, and viruses. Spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids might slowly eat away at it.

In addition, you also need to be aware of mosaic viruses, molds, and fungi that threaten the health of your plants.

To prevent this, you have to do frequent inspections and give medicine immediately.

Additional Tips on Goldfish Plant Care

Goldfish houseplants are best in room temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They need mild to moderate humidity and can be misted daily with room temperature water.
Goldfish Plant Care Tips

Besides knowing the environmental conditions, you also need to master some tricks in goldfish plant care. Thus, the plant will grow well and perfectly.

Pruning

Keep the stems trimmed to 12–18 inches (30–46 cm) in length. Regular pruning will encourage healthy branching and keep your plant looking its best.
Pruning Goldfish Plant

This plant can reach 3 feet in the wild. However, you do not need to keep it that long and be diligent in pruning if it is too long.

The ideal length for indoor and outdoor plants is about two feet. You can place it aesthetically on a hanging basket or let it spread over other growers.

Another reason you should prune is to make the stems look fatter as they get older. They will creep out of the pot and look pretty when in bloom.

Plant Arrangement

The Goldfish plant has oval-shaped dark green leaves arranged in pairs along woody stems that grow up to three feet long. Its draping foliage is attractive in its own right, but the elegantly leaping goldfish flowers are what makes it so memorable and fun.
Goldfish Plant Arrangement

Even if it is non-toxic, try to keep it out of reach of children and pets, as they may attract vines and damage plants.

In addition, because this is a hanging plant type, you have to make sure the pot is firmly attached so that it does not fall off easily.

Another way is to use a light but artistic container.

Aside from that, if you place it indoors, try to provide a container so that water or dirt does not directly hit the floor during treatment.

Conclusion

The goldfish plant (Nematanthus gregarious) earned its name because of the masses of red-orange flowers that appear in the spring and summer and look a bit like leaping goldfish.
Goldfish Plant (Nematanthus gregarious)

Goldfish plant care looks complicated because of its demanding characteristics. This tropical grower does not fit high humidity. But if you do not let them overwater or grow too long, they will be fine.

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