Learn how to Develop and Take care of Goldfish Plant

Columnea spp., Nematanthus spp.

In case you love cultivating houseplants which are comfortable to flower indoors, make sure you put goldfish plant in your wishlist.

With eye-catching foliage, these epiphytic crops bear goldfish-shaped flowers and a few of them bloom all year long. Even higher, these houseplants love dwelling life elevated and are completely suited to hanging baskets.

You’ll have tried rising goldfish plant earlier than – and failed – and wish to be taught what might have gone flawed so you’ll be able to strive it once more.

Or maybe you’re new to this houseplant and are considering including it to your individual private indoor jungle.

A close up vertical image of a large goldfish plant growing in a hanging basket, sporting red blooms and deep green foliage. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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As for me, when snowy winter climate has me caught indoors, the brilliant inexperienced foliage of my goldfish plant (Nematanthus gregarius) is a welcome sight – it makes me really feel like an attractive inexperienced shrub has sprouted in my kitchen!

With out even a thought to the eye-catching blooms, I really like seeing the best way its foliage catches the daylight and admiring the beautiful shine on these waxy leaves.

If this description of my very own houseplant’s foliage sounds unfamiliar to you, relaxation assured, there are literally many several types of goldfish crops, and whereas their foliage and blooms fluctuate considerably from species to species, fortunately their care necessities are related.

Though these houseplants have a popularity as being considerably fussy, when you perceive their wants, you’ll have the ability to hold them comfortable.

On this article you’ll find out about rising necessities similar to mild and water wants, what forms of pests to look out for, the completely different species and cultivars to select from, and even the best way to propagate them.

Right here’s a sneak peek at what I’ll cowl:

What Are Goldfish Crops?

Goldfish crops are flowering houseplants named for his or her goldfish-shaped blooms.

These epiphytic crops have creeping or climbing progress habits, with some being extra vining, and others extra bushy.

A close up horizontal image of the leaves and stems of a goldfish plant pictured in light sunshine.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

They’ve oval-shaped leaves which are bushy, clean, or shiny relying on the species.

Most have medium inexperienced leaves, although some sport a darker tint, and there are additionally cultivars with inexperienced and white or inexperienced and yellow variegated foliage.

As for his or her famend blooms, these are pink, orange, yellow, or pink, and appear like small fish swimming among the many inexperienced foliage.

Flowers develop alongside the leaf axils of the stems and mature specimens might be coated with dozens of blooms without delay.

A close up horizontal image of a Columnea hirta plant with bright red flowers growing outdoors.
Columnea hirta. Photograph by Nicolas Guerin, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

It’s straightforward to confuse these houseplants with their shut relative, the lipstick plant.

However you’ll be able to differentiate these two by their flowers – the blooms on lipstick crops are held on the finish of their stems – on goldfish crops, they’re produced alongside the stems, at leaf axils.

As houseplants, blooming is primarily in spring and summer season, however flowers can seem all year long on some species.

If flowers are pollinated, they are going to produce spherical (or roundish) white, pink, or pink berries.

Cultivation and Historical past

Goldfish plant is a standard identify given to sure species within the Nematanthus and Columnea genera.

Native to Central and South America, these species are members of the Gesneriaceae or gesneriad household, and are associated to such houseplants as African violet, Cape primrose, and gloxinia.

These species originate in humid tropical or subtropical forests, and a few of them come from excessive elevation cloud forests.

A close up horizontal image of the bright red flowers of a goldfish plant growing outdoors in the garden.
Photograph by Bernard Dupont, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

The Nematanthus genus was initially described in 1821 by German botanist Heinrich Schrader. The genus identify means “thread flower” in reference to the looks of the lengthy flower stems on the species N. corticola.

As for Columnea, it was categorised in 1753 by the daddy of taxonomy himself, Carl Linneaus, and named in honor of Italian botanist Fabio Colonna.

Often known as “flying goldfish crops” or “dancing dolphins,” these epiphytes might be grown as houseplants – however a few of them are simpler to take care of than others.

For the extra finicky varieties, gardeners might have higher luck cultivating them in greenhouse situations.

A horizontal image of the waxy foliage of a Nematanthus wettsteinia houseplant.

Goldfish crops require a light local weather – most of them will not be well-suited for rising outside yr spherical besides in delicate tropical or subtropical climates similar to these present in Hawaii.

You’ll be taught extra about particular person USDA Hardiness Zones of various species later within the article, so hold studying!

Goldfish Plant Propagation

The best technique to propagate these houseplants is by taking stem cuttings.

Whilst you can root cuttings in both water or soil, water rooting tends to be sooner and extra dependable so that’s the technique I’ll describe right here.

I’ll additionally information you in transplanting goldfish crops grown from cuttings in addition to nursery-purchased specimens which have outgrown their pots.

From Stem Cuttings

To propagate a brand new specimen from stem cuttings, first collect your provides. You’ll want three-inch pots, rising medium, a jar, water, and sterilized scissors or backyard pruners.

Earlier than taking your cuttings, first sterilize the scissors or snips by wiping the blades down with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.

A close up horizontal image of a goldfish plant in a green pot set on a wooden surface with a bottle of alcohol in the background.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

Take cuttings which are three to 5 inches lengthy from wholesome stems. You possibly can root only one reducing per three-inch pot, or for a fuller specimen, as much as three or 4 cuttings per three-inch pot.

Take away the underside set or two of leaves from every reducing, then stick the cuttings in a jar crammed with water, ensuring that the remaining leaves will not be below water.

A close up vertical image of goldfish plant cuttings in a jar of water indoors.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

Place the jar in a location that stays between 65 to 70°F and has shiny, oblique mild. Change the water out each few days to maintain it recent.

The cuttings ought to develop roots inside three weeks. As soon as they’ve roots which are an inch or so lengthy, you’ll be able to pot them up.

Whenever you’re able to plant the rooted cuttings, put together your pots with rising medium, filling the pots so there’s about an inch of area on the prime.

Want a rising medium?

No matter houseplant rising medium you select, be certain that it’s well-draining, but in addition good at holding moisture, and ensure its pH is in a variety of 6.1 to 7.3.

Whereas some indoor gardeners have passable outcomes utilizing an all-purpose houseplant rising medium for Nematanthus and Columnea species, I want one that’s extra becoming for epiphytes, similar to De La Tank’s Home Plant Combine.

This combine is chunky, offering loads of aeration, however can also be moisture retentive.

A close up of a bag of De La Tank's Potting Soil Mix isolated on a white background.

De La Tank’s Home Plant Combine

De La Tank’s Home Plant Combine is accessible in one-, eight-, or 16-quart baggage from Tank’s Inexperienced Stuff through Arbico Organics.

Moist the rising medium, then poke holes along with your finger, spacing the cuttings one to 2 inches aside or extra, relying on how full you’d like your specimen to be.

Insert the cuttings into the holes, one to 2 inches deep, then pinch the rising medium closed across the stems. Gently degree and pat down the rising medium to make sure good contact.

Place the rooted cuttings in oblique shiny mild, avoiding direct solar for the following week or so.

It’ll take goldfish crops grown from cuttings roughly one yr to bloom.

Discover extra steering about propagating houseplants from stem and leaf cuttings in our information!


Whether or not grown from cuttings or bought through nursery, Nematanthus and Columnea species will must be potted as much as bigger containers when their roots get too cramped of their present pots.

You possibly can all the time pull your specimen out of its container to examine its roots, however there are indicators to search for with out unpotting your houseplant:

Are you noticing roots rising from the pot’s drainage holes? Or are there roots circling round on the floor of the rising medium? Are you required to water your goldfish plant twice per week or extra to maintain it from drying out?

All of those are indicators {that a} specimen must be transplanted to a bigger pot. However, don’t repot extra usually than it is advisable to – barely potbound specimens usually tend to bloom.

A close up horizontal image of a potted goldfish plant in a pot with a larger pot next to it.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

To transplant your goldfish plant you’ll want rising medium and a pot that is only one measurement bigger than the houseplant’s present container, one that’s outfitted with drainage holes.

Take away the goldfish plant from its present container. If it’s in a dangling basket, take away the hanger first.

If the houseplant is potbound, gently loosen the outer portion of the foundation ball by rubbing it along with your fingers or the palm of your hand.

Place a layer of rising medium within the backside of the brand new container, then situate the foundation ball on prime of this, centered within the pot.

The highest of the foundation ball needs to be about an inch beneath the rim of the brand new container. If it’s too excessive or too low, modify the quantity of rising medium beneath the foundation ball.

When the specimen is on the proper degree again fill with rising medium, then water within the houseplant.

Learn how to Develop Goldfish Plant

To maintain your Columnea or Nematanthus species comfortable, you’ll wish to provide it the absolute best mixture of sunshine, water, temperature, and humidity.


Let’s begin by trying into lighting necessities.

These species are epiphytes that develop partly shade of their pure habitat, to allow them to deal with some direct solar, however shouldn’t be allowed to bake below the solar’s rays for lengthy durations of time.

One of the best case state of affairs could be to supply the specimen some direct daylight within the morning, with shiny oblique mild the remainder of the day.

A close up vertical image of a goldfish plant growing in a hanging pot in light sunshine indoors.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

These houseplants are best candidates for rising subsequent to east-facing home windows.

Some indoor gardeners develop them subsequent to west-facing home windows – however when you select the sort of location in your specimen, be certain that the window isn’t too sizzling throughout summer season.

In case you reside in a northerly latitude like me, an east-facing window might not present sufficient solar through the winter months.

On this case, finding the plant a number of ft from a south-facing window may fit properly for you throughout winter, when the solar is much less intense.

For indoor gardeners utilizing mild meters, the perfect vary for these houseplants is 1000 to 2500 foot candles – however guarantee that the sunshine is subtle.

You could possibly obtain that mild publicity by inserting the houseplant near a south-facing window that has a sheer white curtain on it. However all houses are completely different, so one of the best ways to know for certain is to examine with a lightweight meter.

Learn our information to utilizing and selecting a lightweight meter to be taught extra.


As epiphytes, Nematanthus and Columnea want a well-draining rising medium that is still pretty moist, however not soggy.

Additionally they profit from receiving water rather less incessantly in winter than through the rising season, since days are shorter and the solar is much less intense.

A close up horizontal image of a goldfish plant growing in a pot with a brass watering can next to it.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

So from spring by autumn, water when the highest half inch of the rising medium is dry.

However throughout winter, permit the highest two to 3 inches of the rising medium to dry between waterings.

Be sure you water evenly or leaves can drop – a houseplant watering can with a slim spout can assist with this.


Goldfish crops hail from moist forests, in order that they don’t thoughts excessive humidity.

Nevertheless, they adapt pretty properly to the humidity ranges present in most houses. An indoor air moisture degree of 40 p.c is appropriate for these crops, however increased humidity will enhance the expansion behavior of the Nematanthus or Columnea.

A close up vertical image of a goldfish plant growing in a green pot next to a humidifier.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

When rising a extra finicky species similar to C. microcalyx, you will have a humidity degree of fifty to 85 p.c.

Examine your humidity ranges first, and when you discover your indoor air moisture ranges missing, use a humidifier – particularly throughout winter, when air tends to be dry from heating.


Goldfish crops do finest in daytime temperatures between 70 and 80°F, and nighttime temperatures between 60 and 70°F.

A close up horizontal image of a goldfish plant growing in a green pot set on a wooden surface with a thermometer in soft focus in the background.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

Be sure you hold them at temperatures above 55°F, or they’ll maintain chilly injury.

Additionally, keep away from publicity to temperatures above 80°F, which might trigger leaf drop. Which means these of us in areas with extremely popular summers ought to keep away from summering these houseplants outside.

Rising Suggestions

  • Develop in shiny, oblique mild with some direct morning solar.
  • Water when the highest half inch of soil is dry, or when the highest two to 3 inches are dry throughout winter.
  • Present additional humidity if indoor ranges are beneath 40 p.c.

Pruning and Upkeep

Though goldfish crops are definitely not essentially the most high-maintenance houseplants you’ll discover, they do want a bit extra consideration than pothos or hoyas, for instance.

Right here’s what you’ll wish to learn about:

Encouraging Flowering

The principle attraction of goldfish crops are their “faculties” of colourful goldfish-shaped blooms – and also you’ll wish to know the best way to encourage them to make an look.

Scale back watering in winter to encourage spring blooms, as famous above within the watering part.

Additionally, make sure you hold these houseplants in cosy pots – and don’t repot too usually.


As famous beforehand, retaining goldfish crops in considerably cosy pots will encourage flowering, so don’t be overeager to repot your houseplant.

Pot up roughly each two to 3 years, ideally in late spring throughout a interval of energetic progress, and comply with the directions indicated within the transplanting part above.

A horizontal image of a goldfish plant in a small pot set in a decorative cachepot.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

When repotting make sure you improve to a container with drainage holes that is just one measurement bigger than the present pot.

Meaning there ought to solely be about an inch of room between the sting of the previous pot and the brand new one – you’ll be able to place the potted specimen into the brand new pot to examine for this.

Undecided in case your specimen wants repotting?

As beforehand famous, it might be time to repot a specimen whether it is drying out too rapidly, or if roots are rising from both the drainage holes or the floor of the rising medium.


There are a number of completely different causes you could want to prune your goldfish plant: to deadhead spent blooms, to create a bushier specimen, or to maintain the stems at a desired size.

When pruning to reshape your Nematanthus or Columnea, wait till the plant has achieved flowering in spring or summer season.

No matter your objective for pruning – if you pull out these scissors or snips, be certain that to wipe down the blades with hydrogen peroxide first to sterilize them, and clip stems proper above a pair of leaves to maintain the specimen trying its finest.


Fertilize each 15 days from spring by autumn, whereas the plant is actively rising.

Use a mild, balanced fertilizer, similar to Dr. Earth’s Pump and Develop Indoor Home Plant Meals.

A close up of a bottle of Dr Earth Pump and Grow isolated on a white background.

Dr. Earth Pump and Develop

Dr. Earth’s Pump and Develop Indoor Home Plant Meals is accessible in a sixteen ounce pump bottle from Arbico Organics.

This fertilizer might be added to your watering can when watering the goldfish plant however make sure you use plain water no less than as soon as a month to flush any fertilizer salt buildup from the rising medium.

Goldfish Plant Species and Cultivars to Choose

When in search of a goldfish plant to buy, you’ll find a number of choices.

Typically recognized merely as “goldfish plant,” you could wish to take into account that oftentimes, the scientific names of those crops are improperly listed.

Listed below are a number of the most generally accessible species and cultivars, although some are simpler to search out than others:

Broget Stavanger

‘Broget Stavanger’ is a Columnea cultivar that grows very lengthy vines, as much as six ft lengthy, and has superbly variegated, inexperienced and white foliage.

The 2-toned leaves of ‘Broget Stavanger’ are small, and flowers are massive and pink.

A close up of a small goldfish plant growing in a pot isolated on a white background.

Columnea ‘Broget Stavanger’

You should purchase a ‘Broget Stavanger’ specimen in a two-inch pot from Bubble Blooms through Walmart.

Dibley’s Gold

A cultivar of N. gregarious, ‘Dibley’s Gold’ has beautiful foliage with internal variegation.

A close up horizontal image of a 'Dibley's Gold' Nematanthus plant with variegated foliage and bright orange flowers.
N. gregarious ‘Dibley’s Gold.’ Photograph by David J. Stang, Wikimedia Commons, through CC BY-SA.

Foliage is darkish inexperienced with mottled, yellow markings on the facilities of leaves, flowers are orange, and vines attain as much as three ft lengthy.


Often known as “clog plant” or “guppy plant,” N. gregarious is without doubt one of the mostly cultivated forms of goldfish plant.

Guppy plant has medium inexperienced foliage that’s extraordinarily shiny, small orange flowers, and a bushy progress behavior – vines develop upward earlier than trailing right down to a size of 4 ft lengthy.

A close up of the long waxy vines of a goldfish plant spilling over the sides of a pot.

Nematanthus Gregarius

You should purchase N. gregarius in a six-inch pot from Fisher Nursery through Walmart.

Mild Prince

‘Mild Prince’ is a cultivar of C. hirta that has fuzzy, variegated inexperienced and white leaves, and reddish orange flowers.

This compact cultivar has a ramification of simply 18 inches.

Columnea Hirta ‘Mild Prince’

You should purchase a small ‘Mild Prince’ specimen in a two-inch pot from Bubble Blooms through Amazon.


‘Melissa’ is a Columnea cultivar that has fuzzy inexperienced leaves, and flowers which have a beguiling pink and yellow sample.

A close up square image of a Columnea 'Melissa' plant in a hanging pot set on a dark gray table.

Columnea ‘Melissa’

You’ll discover a C. ‘Melissa’ specimen in a six-inch hanging basket, accessible for buy from the Plant Farm through Walmart.


C. microcalyx has three foot lengthy vines with burgundy coloured foliage coated with hairs that give it a delicate, velvety texture.

Leaf margins are turned below, and are held on lengthy vines, whereas tubular, hooded flowers are three inches lengthy and pink with yellow throats.

A close up of a Columnea gloriosa plant with velvety leaves and red and yellow flowers pictured on a soft focus background.
C. microcalyx. Photograph by Pseudopanax, Wikimedia Commons, Public Area.

Considerably temperamental to domesticate, C. microcalyx will not be thought-about beginner-friendly because it wants a mix of excessive humidity and shiny mild that may be troublesome to attain indoors.

Of be aware, some botanists contemplate C. microcalyx to be the identical species as C. gloriosa.


‘Tropicana’ is a Nematanthus hybrid that has darkish inexperienced leaves with hanging, small, yellow and maroon striped blooms. Vines attain 18 inches lengthy or extra.

Nematanthus ‘Tropicana’

You’ll discover ‘Tropicana’ specimens in six-inch pots accessible for buy from the Plant Farm through Amazon.


A simple to develop species, N. wettsteinii has small inexperienced leaves and petite flowers that transition from orange to yellow on the tube opening.

A close up horizontal image of a goldfish plant with orange flowers pictured on a soft focus background.
N. wettsteinii.

The vines of N. wettsteinii attain 18 inches lengthy.

Managing Pests and Illness

In case you’re an skilled houseplant guardian you may be acquainted with the most typical pest and illness issues that indoor gardeners should cope with.

However, if cultivating houseplants is a brand new passion for you, right here’s what to look out for when it comes to pests and illnesses:


In case you see what appears like fluffy, white particles on the stems of your goldfish plant, you’re doubtless seeing mealybugs. These sap-sucking pests wish to congregate on stems and roots.

My most popular houseplant therapy for mealybugs and different pests is neem oil, which is unhazardous to people, cats, and canine.

Emily’s Naturals makes a neem oil package that features an empty spray bottle and packets of neem oil focus and castile cleaning soap.

You simply combine the neem oil and cleaning soap within the spray bottle with water if you’re prepared to make use of it.

A close up of the contents of a neem oil spray kit isolated on a white background.

Neem Oil Plant Spray Package

You’ll discover this Neem Oil Plant Spray Package for buy from Emily’s Naturals through Walmart.

Whilst you ought to all the time comply with the producer’s instructions when making use of pesticides, unhazardous or not, there are a number of different ideas you’ll wish to comply with when utilizing neem oil in your houseplants.

First, make sure you spray the rising medium and roots, in addition to totally drenching the leaves and stems.

After spraying with neem oil, be certain that to maintain the plant out of direct solar, since solar falling on oil coated leaves could cause them to scorch.

Plan to reapply the product as soon as per week for 3 to 4 weeks.

In case you’ve struggled with mealybugs earlier than, you may wish to faucet into much more steering. Be taught extra about treating mealybug infestations in our article!

Scale Bugs

Whereas mealybugs may be essentially the most simply acknowledged houseplant pest, scale could also be one of many hardest to identify.

That’s as a result of scale bugs are well-camouflaged, and may have you questioning, “Is that scale, or is that only a spot?”

Sap suckers like mealybugs, scale bugs feast on vitamins from these crops, weakening them, and finally killing them.

Neem oil can be utilized to deal with scale in addition to mealybugs.

Be taught extra about figuring out and controlling scale bugs right here.

Spider Mites

You might also should take care of spider mites in some unspecified time in the future.

These tiny pests have a tendency to hang around on the undersides of leaves, making them troublesome to identify.

The primary signal you discover could also be a houseplant that appears unwell, with stippled yellow dots on the leaves. Because the infestation progresses, you’ll doubtless see webbing on the foliage.

In case you discover spider mites – or every other pest – in your goldfish plant, place the houseplant into quarantine to keep away from spreading these pests to any of your different houseplants.

Neem oil can be utilized to deal with spider mite infestations as properly, so comply with the steps outlined above.

You possibly can be taught extra about coping with spider mites by studying our article!

Root Rot

As for illnesses, your greatest concern shall be root rot – fortunately, it’s also very straightforward to stop!

But when your goldfish plant is drooping, has yellowish foliage, and damp soil, root rot is probably going already an issue.

Right here’s the best way to stop this illness: intention for a rising medium that’s saved moist however not soggy.

There are a lot of elements which might result in soggy soil – a pot with out drainage holes, letting the pot sit in a saucer stuffed with water, and crops which are potted in outsized containers.

If it’s too late for prevention, I’ve to warn you that it may be very robust to assist a plant get better from root rot – it doesn’t all the time end up properly.

However when you’d wish to strive, take away the specimen from its pot, examine and trim any rotting roots, deal with the problem inflicting the soggy soil, and repot if wanted into recent, well-draining rising medium, and an appropriately sized container.

Be taught extra about root rot and the best way to cope with it in our information.

Finest Makes use of for Goldfish Crops

All goldfish crops look proper at dwelling in hanging planters, whereas the cascading foliage of C. ‘Broget Stavanger’ and C. microcalyx appears particularly spectacular when elevated and allowed to path.

A close up vertical image of a large, mature goldfish plant growing in a hanging basket next to a window.

The bushier varieties like N. gregarius are engaging in hanging baskets as properly, however can even grace desk tops when pruned to remain compact.

And since goldfish crops are thought-about to be unhazardous, they’re protected to be used in households with pets and babies.

A close up of the stems of a houseplant with a cat in soft focus in the background.
Photograph by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin.

For these in delicate climates, Nematanthus and Columnea species might be saved outside yr spherical – simply make sure you examine your USDA Hardiness Zones to the hardiness of the sort you’re rising, since this varies from species to species.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Kind: Evergreen epiphyte Flower/Foliage Shade: Pink, pink, orange, yellow/inexperienced, variegated, burgundy
Native to: Central America, South America Upkeep: Average
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 9-12, relying on species Tolerance: Humidity
Bloom Time/Season: Spring, summer season Soil Kind: Chunky combine for epiphytes
Publicity: Oblique shiny mild, with some direct morning solar Soil pH: 6.1-7.3
Time to Maturity: 1 yr from cuttings Soil Drainage: Properly-draining
Planting Depth: 1-2 inch (cuttings), prime of root ball (transplants) Makes use of: Hanging baskets, houseplants
Peak: 8-12 inches Order: Lamiales
Unfold: 18-48 inches Household: Gesneriaceae
Water Wants: Average Genus: Columnea, Nematanthus
Widespread Pests and Illnesses: Aphids, mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, thrips; Botrytis bud rot, root rot Species: C. hirta, C. microcalyx, N. gregarius, N. wettsteinii

No Pond Required

Absolutely, you already love your goldfish plant, and now know the best way to rework that love into the superb care this houseplant deserves.

A close up horizontal image of a Nematanthus gregarius goldfish plant with orange flowers.

Which kind of Nematanthus or Columnea are you rising? Have you ever tried your hand at propagating some cuttings? Tell us within the feedback part beneath.

And when you want any assist troubleshooting an issue, be happy to put up your pictures and questions there too.

Would you wish to hold exploring new and thrilling houseplant picks? We’ve extra choices for you proper right here:

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