How To Grow And Care For Goldfish Plants

Updated: 12 Jul, 2023


The goldfish plant, scientifically known as Nematanthus gregarious, derives its name from the abundance of red-orange flowers that resemble leaping goldfish, appearing during the spring and summer seasons. Witnessing a fully mature goldfish plant in full bloom, particularly when suspended in a hanging basket, is truly a delightful spectacle. These plants thrive in proper care and generously adorn their surroundings with vibrant hues. They make excellent cascading plants indoors, brightening up sunny sills or serving as charming additions to baskets.

With adequate attention, goldfish plants can live for a relatively long period, often surviving close to a decade. To ensure their longevity, it is essential to repot them when necessary, although it’s crucial not to overdo it, and maintain a suitable environment free from excessive dryness or cold temperatures. The original goldfish plant has undergone extensive hybridization, so when selecting a plant, consider its robustness and the desired flower color.

The flowering process of a goldfish plant takes approximately six to ten weeks. If you choose to grow them from seeds, it is advisable to wait until the threat of frost has passed before planting them. Witness the captivating beauty of the goldfish plant as it adorns its surroundings, adding splashes of color and an enchanting touch to any space.

How to Grow Goldfish Houseplant

Growing goldfish plants (Nematanthus spp.) as houseplants can be a rewarding experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grow goldfish houseplants:

Light Requirements:
Goldfish plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Place them near a window that provides filtered sunlight. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves. If natural light is limited, you can supplement with artificial grow lights.

Temperature and Humidity:
Goldfish plants prefer temperatures between 65°F and 80°F (18°C to 27°C). Maintain a consistent temperature and protect them from drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations. These plants appreciate higher humidity levels, so misting them regularly or placing them on a tray with water and pebbles can help increase humidity.

Use a well-draining potting mix for goldfish plants. You can create a suitable mix by combining equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and potting soil. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Water your goldfish plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Allow excess water to drain out of the pot. It’s better to underwater slightly than overwater.

Feed your goldfish plant with a balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season (spring through fall). Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the proper dilution and application rate.

Prune your goldfish plant to maintain its shape and promote bushier growth. Pinch off the growing tips or remove leggy stems to encourage branching. Pruning is best done during the active growing season.

Pests and Diseases:
Monitor your goldfish plant for common pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. Treat any infestations promptly with insecticidal soap, neem oil, or natural predators. Watch out for leaf spots or root rot, and address them accordingly with appropriate measures.

Plant Attributes

 Common Name: Goldfish Plant, Flying Goldfish Plant
 Botanical Name: Columnea Gloriosa
 Family: Gesneriaceae
 Plant Type: Perennial
 Mature Size: 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure:  Full, Indirect
 Soil Type: Well-drained, Moist
 Soil pH: Acidic (5.8 to 6.2)
 Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall
 Flower Color: Red, Orange
 Hardiness Zones: Zones 10-12 (USDA)
 Native Area: South America, Central America

Goldfish Plant Care

Growing Goldfish Plants: Care Tips and Guidelines

Goldfish plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Place them near windows that don’t receive direct sunlight or utilize a plant lamp to provide the necessary lighting conditions. Due to their sensitivity to high temperatures, it is best to grow goldfish plants indoors during summer or in areas with intense heat.

Opt for well-draining potting soil, but consider enhancing drainage and maintaining healthy roots by using a mix of perlite, peat moss, and vermiculite. Soggy soil can lead to root decay and nutrient deficiency, so ensure efficient water flow.

Consistent watering is crucial during the goldfish plant’s growing season (spring through fall). Maintain moist, well-drained soil by using containers or hanging baskets with ample drainage holes. Check the top few inches of soil with your hand and water again once it feels dry.

Temperature and Humidity:
Goldfish plants require humidity, reminiscent of their tropical origins. Mist the plant with a spray bottle to increase moisture when growing indoors. Keep temperatures between 65°F and 80°F throughout the year, avoiding extreme fluctuations, cold snaps, strong winds, and exposure to indoor air vents. Unfavorable temperatures can reduce blooming.

During the growing season, fertilize goldfish plants every two weeks. Opt for a liquid, high-phosphate fertilizer diluted to half-strength and apply it to damp soil after watering.

Pruning and Shaping:
To encourage healthier blooms and improve the overall shape, pinch off growth when the goldfish plant reaches two or three feet in height.

By following these care tips and guidelines, you can cultivate beautiful and thriving goldfish plants, whether they adorn your outdoor garden or grace your indoor spaces.

Types of Goldfish Plants

Goldfish plants (Nematanthus spp.) come in various types, each possessing its unique characteristics and flower colors. Here are some popular types of goldfish plants:

  1. Nematanthus ‘Goldfish Plant’: The classic goldfish plant variety with vibrant red-orange flowers resembling leaping goldfish. It is known for its prolific blooming and cascading growth habit.

  2. Nematanthus ‘Tropicana’: This variety features eye-catching blooms with a combination of orange, yellow, and red hues. It adds a tropical touch to any space.

  3. Nematanthus ‘Fire Opal’: With its striking deep red flowers, ‘Fire Opal’ is a captivating goldfish plant variety that adds a bold splash of color to your indoor or outdoor garden.

  4. Nematanthus ‘Strawberry Firetails’: This cultivar exhibits charming red and yellow flowers that resemble strawberry-colored firetails. It is a popular choice for adding visual interest to hanging baskets.

  5. Nematanthus ‘Orange Tiger’: ‘Orange Tiger’ showcases unique tiger-like patterns on its orange flowers, creating an intriguing and exotic appearance. It is a favorite among collectors and plant enthusiasts.

  6. Nematanthus ‘Lemon Flame’: This variety displays stunning yellow blooms resembling flickering flames. Its bright and cheerful flowers bring a lively energy to any setting.

  7. Nematanthus ‘Black Goldfish’: With deep red flowers accented by black markings, ‘Black Goldfish’ is a rare and sought-after goldfish plant variety. Its distinctive coloration adds a touch of elegance to your plant collection.

Propagating Goldfish Plants

Goldfish plants (Nematanthus spp.) can be propagated through various methods, including stem cuttings and seeds. Here are steps to propagate goldfish plants:

  1. Stem Cuttings:

  • Select a healthy stem from the parent goldfish plant that is about 4-6 inches long and has several sets of leaves.
  • Use a clean, sharp knife or scissors to make a clean cut just below a leaf node.
  • Remove the lower set of leaves, leaving only a few sets at the top.
  • Optional: Dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone to encourage root development.
  • Prepare a small pot or container filled with well-draining potting soil or a mix of perlite and peat moss.
  • Make a hole in the soil and gently insert the stem cutting, ensuring that at least one leaf node is buried in the soil.
  • Lightly water the cutting and place it in a warm, bright location with indirect sunlight.
  • Mist the cutting regularly to maintain humidity around the plant.
  • After a few weeks, the cutting should develop roots. You can gently tug on it to check for resistance, indicating root growth.
  • Once the roots are established, you can transplant the new goldfish plant into a larger pot or your desired location.
  2. Seeds:

  • Obtain goldfish plant seeds from a reputable source or collect them from mature goldfish plants if available.
  • Fill a seed tray or small pots with a well-draining seed-starting mix.
  • Sow the goldfish plant seeds on the surface of the soil and lightly press them down.
  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of additional soil or vermiculite.
  • Mist the soil gently to provide moisture without causing waterlogging.
  • Place the tray or pots in a warm location with indirect light.
  • Maintain consistent moisture by misting or lightly watering the soil when it feels dry.
  • Within a few weeks, the seeds should germinate and tiny seedlings will emerge.
  • As the seedlings grow, you can transplant them into individual pots or containers, gradually increasing their exposure to brighter light.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Like any other plants, goldfish plants (Nematanthus spp.) are susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Here are some common pests and plant diseases that can affect goldfish plants:

  • Aphids: These small insects feed on plant sap, causing distorted growth and yellowing of leaves. They can be controlled through insecticidal soap or by introducing natural predators like ladybugs.

  • Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, white, cotton-like insects that can infest goldfish plants. They feed on plant sap and excrete honeydew, leading to leaf yellowing and a sticky residue. Manual removal, insecticidal soap, or neem oil can help control these pests.

  • Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny arachnids that suck sap from plant tissues, causing yellow speckling and webbing on the leaves. Regularly misting the plant, using insecticidal soap, or introducing predatory mites can help control spider mite infestations.

  • Scale Insects: Scale insects appear as small, raised bumps on the stems and leaves. They feed on plant sap and secrete a protective shell-like covering. Remove them manually or use horticultural oil or insecticidal soap for control.

  • Fungal Leaf Spot: Fungal leaf spot diseases can occur due to overwatering, poor air circulation, or high humidity. Symptoms include dark, water-soaked spots on the leaves. Ensure proper watering practices and avoid wetting the foliage. Fungicidal sprays may be necessary in severe cases.

  • Root Rot: Overwatering and poorly draining soil can lead to root rot, caused by fungi such as Pythium or Phytophthora. Symptoms include yellowing leaves, wilting, and root discoloration. To prevent root rot, use well-draining soil and allow the top inch of soil to dry before watering.

  • Botrytis Blight: Botrytis blight, or gray mold, is a fungal disease that affects flowers and foliage, causing fuzzy gray-brown patches. It thrives in cool, damp conditions. Improve air circulation, remove affected parts, and apply fungicides if necessary.

Common Problems With Goldfish Plants

Goldfish plants (Nematanthus spp.) can encounter several common problems that affect their overall health and appearance. Here are some common issues you may encounter with goldfish plants:

  • Leaf Yellowing: Yellowing leaves can result from various factors, including overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, or exposure to extreme temperatures. Assess the watering routine, adjust as needed, and ensure the plant receives proper light and nutrients.

  • Wilting: Wilting may occur due to underwatering, overwatering, or root problems such as root rot. Check the moisture level in the soil and adjust the watering accordingly. Inspect the roots for any signs of decay or rot, and if present, take necessary steps to address the issue.

  • Stunted Growth: Insufficient light, poor soil conditions, or lack of nutrients can lead to stunted growth in goldfish plants. Ensure the plant receives bright, indirect light, use well-draining soil, and provide regular fertilization with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.

  • Poor Blooming: Inadequate light, improper watering, or nutrient deficiencies can hinder blooming in goldfish plants. Ensure the plant receives sufficient indirect light, maintain a consistent watering routine, and fertilize regularly with a bloom-boosting fertilizer.

  • Leaf Curling: Leaf curling can be caused by factors such as low humidity, extreme temperatures, or pests like spider mites. Increase humidity around the plant by misting or using a humidifier. Protect the plant from drafts and maintain suitable temperature conditions. Check for pests and treat them if necessary.

  • Brown or Dry Leaf Tips: Dry leaf tips may indicate low humidity or underwatering. Increase humidity around the plant by misting or using a humidity tray. Adjust the watering schedule to ensure the plant receives adequate moisture.

  • Pest Infestations: Goldfish plants can be susceptible to pests such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. Regularly inspect the plant for signs of pests, like sticky residue, webbing, or visible insects. Treat infestations using appropriate methods such as insecticidal soap, neem oil, or natural predators.

Frequently Asked Question

How often should I water my goldfish plant?

Water your goldfish plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Ensure proper drainage and allow excess water to drain out of the pot.

What is the best location for my goldfish plant?

Goldfish plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Place them near a window with filtered sunlight or use artificial grow lights if natural light is limited. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves.

How often should I fertilize my goldfish plant?

Fertilize goldfish plants every two weeks during the growing season (spring through fall) using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the proper dilution and application rate.

How do I promote blooming in my goldfish plant?

To encourage blooming, provide your goldfish plant with sufficient light, appropriate watering, and regular fertilization. Ensure it is getting at least 6-8 hours of bright, indirect light per day. Use a bloom-boosting fertilizer or one with a higher phosphate content.

Can I prune my goldfish plant?

Yes, you can prune your goldfish plant to maintain its shape and encourage bushier growth. Pinch off the growing tips or remove excessive leggy stems to promote branching. Pruning is best done during the active growing season.

Why are the leaves of my goldfish plant turning yellow?

Yellowing leaves can be a sign of various issues, including overwatering, underwatering, inadequate light, or nutrient deficiencies. Assess the watering routine, adjust as needed, ensure sufficient light exposure, and provide appropriate fertilization.

How do I propagate my goldfish plant?

Goldfish plants can be propagated through stem cuttings. Take a 4-6 inch stem cutting with a few sets of leaves, remove the lower leaves, and place it in well-draining soil or a mixture of perlite and peat moss. Keep the cutting moist and provide indirect light until it develops roots.


Goldfish plants (Nematanthus spp.) are beautiful and vibrant plants that can add a splash of color to your indoor or outdoor spaces. By following proper care guidelines, you can ensure their health and promote their blooming. Provide them with bright, indirect light, water them when the top inch of soil is dry, and use well-draining soil. Fertilize regularly during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Prune the plants as needed to maintain their shape and encourage bushier growth.

Watch out for common problems such as yellowing leaves, wilting, or pest infestations. Adjust watering, lighting, and humidity levels accordingly to address these issues. Promptly treat pest infestations using appropriate methods to prevent damage to the plants.

Propagation of goldfish plants can be done through stem cuttings. Take cuttings, remove lower leaves, and root them in a well-draining medium. Patience and proper care are necessary to successfully grow new plants.

Mary Lloyster

Mary Lloyster

Mary, the ultimate oracle of indoor gardening! With years of experience and a flourishing indoor expo, Mary has become our go-to expert for all things related to house plants and indoor gardening. Despite her background in Political Science, Mary has discovered a delightful way to blend her full-time job with a touch of relaxation through indoor gardening. Now, she eagerly shares her wisdom and experiences with our readers on a daily basis. If you have any inquiries about house plants, indoor gardening techniques, or caring tips, don't hesitate to leave a comment for Mary in the designated section below!

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