Goldfish Hanging Plant – How To Grow Goldfish Houseplant

Goldfish Hanging Plant – How To Grow Goldfish Houseplant

Goldfish plants (Columnea gloriosa) come to us from the Central and South American tropics and derive their common name from the unusual shape of their flowers, which with some imagination, resemble fish. Under ideal conditions, the goldfish hanging plant blooms prolifically in a variety of reds, oranges and yellows. The leaves are generally 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5) long, thick, waxy and dark green, although there are a few varieties with hairy leaves. The stems are vining and can reach 3 feet (91 c.) long.

Goldfish Hanging Plant Info

Because of its very specific needs, the goldfish hanging plant has a well deserved reputation as a fussy plant rife with problems. With goldfish houseplants, attention to detail is the key to success. As with so many of our windowsill guests, goldfish plant care begins with understanding where and how they grow in their natural state.

Goldfish plants belong to the genus Columnea. They are epiphytes, a type of plant that grows upon other plants, usually a tree. They are not parasites and do not receive nourishment from the host plant, but rather, use it as an anchor or perch. As with most epiphytes, proper goldfish plant care requires them to get most of their moisture and nutrients from the air around them and most of their energy from photosynthesis (where water and carbon dioxide, in the presence of sunlight, combine to form the glucose that is essential for their growth). Its roots are primarily for anchoring the plant and not for nourishment.

How to Grow Goldfish Houseplant

To avoid many of the problems with goldfish houseplants and other epiphytes, you must begin with the proper growing medium. The medium should be light and coarse and should not, in spite of the plant’s needs, hold water for extended periods of time. Coarse sphagnum moss or a combination of sphagnum moss, perlite and vermiculite in equal quantities will work well.

Temperature is also a factor in how to grow goldfish houseplant. Many people assume that tropicals need high heat, but in nature, most of these plants grow under a heavy canopy where the temperature is cooler. In fact, your goldfish houseplants are happiest in average room temperatures of 65-75 F. (18-24 C.).

Because so much of their energy is derived from light, your goldfish hanging plant needs about 13 hours of bright light per day. Avoid direct sunlight as it will dry the plant and scorch the leaves. A good grow-light is an excellent addition to the list of needs for growing goldfish plants successfully.

Humidity is another crucial factor in how to grow goldfish houseplant. These tropical epiphytes need mild to moderate humidity and should be lightly misted on a daily basis with room temperature water. Cold water will cause damage to the foliage. A room humidifier or a humidity tray will be helpful in any circumstance, but particularly in areas where the air is typically dry.

Your plant will bloom heaviest in spring and summer and during that time it should receive a half dose of high phosphorus (10-30-10) liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Water your plant thoroughly spring through fall, but allow the top 2 inches (5 cm.) to dry completely before watering again. In winter, cut watering back slightly.

Problems with Goldfish Plant and Additional Care

Most problems with goldfish plant such as leggy growth, leaf drop, and lack of flowering are directly related to everyday goldfish plant care. Oddly, for a plant that needs such a moist environment, the biggest culprit is overwatering.

Too much space can also cause problems, as Columnea prefers to be pot bound. Legginess, which may be a symptom of low light, may also be the result of normal plant growth. Pinch back your goldfish plant after blooming to encourage branching and bushier growth.

Beyond this, there are several problems with goldfish plants involving both disease and pests. These plants are highly susceptible to botrytis mold, fungal leaf spots and mosaic viruses. Aphids, spider mites, and cottony cushion scale are common. Therefore, careful inspection for these pests and diseases should be a regular part of your goldfish plant care.

In spite of their fussiness, goldfish houseplants offer a high return for their care. These unique plants are a showstopper when in full bloom. So now you know the basics of how to grow a goldfish houseplant, why don’t you give one a try?


How to Care for Goldfish Plants

Goldfish plant, also known as lipstick plant or Columnea, is a tropical perennial valued for its ornamental flowers. The plant is commonly grown in hanging pots to maximize the appearance of the long, trailing stems that extend over the side of the container. Goldfish plant blooms during winter and early spring, producing numerous flowers in shades of red, orange and yellow. The flowers resemble small goldfish, both in color and shape, hence the common name. Native to Central America, goldfish plant requires consistently warm temperatures to thrive, but can be cultivated as a houseplant in temperate regions around the world.

Keep goldfish plant in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight each day, such as a south- or east-facing window. Maintain a consistent temperature of 55 to 65 degrees F at night and 65 to 75 degrees F during the day.

  • Goldfish plant, also known as lipstick plant or Columnea, is a tropical perennial valued for its ornamental flowers.
  • Native to Central America, goldfish plant requires consistently warm temperatures to thrive, but can be cultivated as a houseplant in temperate regions around the world.

Mist goldfish plant twice per day during spring, summer and fall, once during the early morning and again at mid-day, to increase the relative humidity around the plant. Use a spray bottle. Run a humidifier near the plant during winter to increase humidity, as furnace heat dries out the air quickly.

Water goldfish plant once every week during spring, summer and fall months to keep the soil moist, but not too wet or soggy. Reduce watering frequency to once every 10 days during winter, allowing the soil to dry slightly between applications.

Feed once per month during spring and summer using a high-phosphorous 10-20-10 NPK liquid fertilizer. Water lightly before applying the fertilizer to prevent root burn and help the fertilizer penetrate the soil. Apply following the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage.

  • Mist goldfish plant twice per day during spring, summer and fall, once during the early morning and again at mid-day, to increase the relative humidity around the plant.
  • Water goldfish plant once every week during spring, summer and fall months to keep the soil moist, but not too wet or soggy.

Re-pot goldfish plant during late spring once every two years to provide additional room for root growth. Increase the size of the container by 2 to 3 inches in diameter each time. Use a growing medium made of equal parts peat moss, potting soil and perlite for adequate drainage and fertility.

Goldfish plant benefits from spending time outdoors during the warm spring and summer months. Transfer the plant back indoors before the temperatures rise above 75 degrees F or drop below 55 degrees F. Keep a humidifier running near the plant throughout the year if routine spraying during active growth is not practical.


Melinda Myers

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Grow your own goldfish, plant that is, in a sunny window indoors.

This plant’s glossy green leaves provide the perfect backdrop for the puffy orange flowers that resemble goldfish.

Show off its beauty by growing it in a hanging basket or set upon a pedestal. Grow it in a bright light location for maximum flowering. Plants will tolerate a bit less light but tend to be leggy with few if any flowers in low light conditions.

Plants prefer summer temperatures in the upper 60’s to low 70’s and a bit cooler in the winter. Cooler temperatures and slightly drier soil in the winter helps stimulate flowering.

From March to November water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is starting to dry. Fertilize with a dilute solution of flowering houseplant fertilizer during this period. Place it near other plants or on a gravel tray for added humidity.

A bit more information: Move plants to a brighter location if they fail to flower or growth becomes leggy. Prune long leggy stems in early spring to encourage fuller, more compact growth.


The Tropical "Goldfish Plant" Is Our New Favorite Houseplant

Here's everything you need to know about caring for it.

If you're anything like us, your houseplant collection has grown in recent months. We've welcome heart-shaped succulents into our abodes. Fake houseplants and real houseplants. A potted ficus tree. The list goes on and on.

Now, thanks to a recent piece in House Beautiful, we can't wait to add the tropical Columnea Gloriosa or Goldfish Plant (it gets that moniker thanks to its red and orange petals), to our living spaces. The eye-catching multi-hued houseplant may look intimidating to care for, but with a few savvy tips, we promise you'll be a flourishing plant parent. Below, Joyce Mast, Plant Mom at Bloomscape and Valerie Ghitelman, Vice President, Product Development & Design, at 1-800-Flowers.com weigh in with their best advice for making your Goldfish Plant thrive.

  1. Make sure your plant has good lighting: "Providing plenty of bright, indirect light is key to obtaining maximum blooms. However, be sure to keep out of direct sunlight, which will turn the leaves brown," offers Ghitelman. "While this plant is a tropical native—it should remain indoors through the summer and year-round."
  2. Water appropriately: "Spring through fall is the time when the Goldfish plant is actively growing and likes the soil to be moist, so it will need to be watered thoroughly, always making sure the excess water can flow freely from the drainage holes," says Mast. "Allow the top 2” to dry out completely before watering again. You can simply push your finger down into the soil to check if the plant needs to be watered again. In the winter, it will not need as much water." You might want to make a note on your calendar to keep track of when you last watered your plant.
  3. Give your plant food: Don't let this tropical plant go hungry. "During its growing season, it will need to be fertilized about every other week with a liquid fertilizer at ½ strength," comments Mast. "Always make sure the soil is damp before applying fertilizer, even when using a liquid."
  4. Repot after two or three years: Yes, you have that long before you'll need to repot your Goldfish Plant. "Goldfish plants like a nice snug fit in the pots, which seems to encourage more flowering. No repotting is necessary until the plant is about 2-3 years old," says Mast. For soil, Ghitelman recommends African violet potting mix or peat-moss based soil mix.
  5. Give your plant some humid love: Like some Southerners, these plants like things on the humid side. "The Goldfish plant prefers a bit of extra humidity, so feel free to mist with room temperature water," shares Mast. Ghitelman echoes that opinion, adding, "Columnea Gloriosa thrives best in warm room temperatures—(65-80°F) throughout the year. It will tolerate temperatures as low as 60°F during the winter. Be careful not to expose the plant to cold drafts from air conditioning vents, windows or doors—as this will cause the leaves to dry and fall. Moderate to high humidity is perfect for this plant." She also notes that the bathroom is a great place to display this houseplant as humidity from daily showers will help the plant stay moist.
  6. Help your plant grow: Don't overlook this important advice."Weekly or even daily, pinch off the growing tips to encourage branching and get a fuller more robust looking plant. Keep the stems at 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) to prevent the plant from getting too thin or leggy," says Ghitelman. Mast says that after your Goldfish Plant has flowered, you can cut back the vine by half. "This will promote great compact growth."

WATCH: 10 Easy Houseplants Even Beginners Can’t Kill


How to grow Columnea?

Goldfish plant propagation can be done in two ways:

  • By stem cuttings: take cuttings from not flowering stems and root them during spring or summer. Keep them warm (between 20 and 25 ° C).
  • By sowing: Take seeds and put them in moist soil during spring. Be sure to keep the substrate moist without excess. Germination takes 1 to 2 months. Then, transplant the small plants into individual pots as soon as they can be handled.


Goldfish Plant

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005

I have a goldfish plant. It is hanging in the west window. It likes bright light, but not direct light. It also likes frequent misting. I thouroughly water it once a week. In the winter I don't water it very much at all. This past spring it was loaded with blooms. After it quit blooming I cut it back and used rooting hormone and put the cuttings back into the pot. I think they are beautiful when in bloom. Good luck with your plant!

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Without faith life has no meaning.

You are welcome! If you notice spots on the leaves (kind of an orange color) you are misting too much. I learned that one the hard way!

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Without faith life has no meaning.

For a Goldfish plant (Nematanthus ‘Tropicana’ formerly Hypocyrta) to bloom well in the warmer months this plant needs a rest period in the cooler months. From November through March do not fertilize, keep temps on the cool side, and water just enough to keep the plant from wilting, allowing the soil to become quite dry. Growth will be minimal and there will be no flowers during this rest period.

In April, resume normal watering, keeping the soil moist, and fertilize monthly at half strength. It must be in a sunny window (south or west) to thrive. Expect flowers from July-September. Prune long stems back to within a few inches of the soil to keep the plant full and bushy.

I haven't experienced spots on my lipstick plant. I have not even fertilized it at all. I did cut it back and use root stimulator on the cuttings and inserted the cuttings back into the pot. My plant was getting pretty long.

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Without faith life has no meaning.

My daughter got a goldfish plant - it died off quickly but I don't think she was paying much attention to it.

She did try to re-pot the pieces, but not much happened.

It was very pretty when she got it.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.


Goldfish Plant FAQ

Is the Goldfish plant toxic to cats?

The goldfish plant is non-toxic to cats. If you are specifically looking for cat-safe houseplants, you might want to have a look at our article: 18 cat-safe houseplants your kitties will surely enjoy

Is the Goldfish plant toxic to dogs?

Columnea Gloriosa is non-toxic to dogs.

What is the scientific name of the Goldfish plant?

The scientific name of the Goldfish plant is Columnea Gloriosa. However, also other species of Columnea are commonly referred to as (Flying) Goldfish plants. Also, plants from the Genus Nematanthus are equally referred to as Goldfish plants.

Will Columnea Gloriosa thrive in direct sunlight?

Direct sunlight is not recommended because it causes the leaves to burn.

Can the Goldfish plant also be grown using artificial growth lights?

Yeah, that’s totally doable.

Is the Goldfish Plant suitable as a houseplant for the bathroom?

Yes, you can keep it in the bathroom, as Goldfish plants enjoy locations with high humidity. However, there are house plants that are even better suited for the bathroom. You can find these in our article: The 12 best houseplants for your bathroom.

How long does it take for goldfish plant cuttings to bloom?

Newly rooted Goldfish plant cuttings need to grow for at least 12 months before they start blooming.

Can I keep my Goldfish plant outdoors in summer?

It is advised to keep Columnea Gloriosa indoors in summer, as too much light (especially direct sunlight) and also high temperatures can potentially harm your plant (e. g. brown leaves). Also, low night temperatures can have a detrimental effect on your plant as they do not correspond to the natural environment of the Goldfish plant.

What are some common pests found in Goldfish plants?

Goldfish plants are prone to Aphids (also called greenflies), scale bugs and spider mites.

What are some other exciting species and cultivars of the Goldfish plant (Columnea)?

Let’s be honest, Columnea Gloriosa is already pretty spectacular. However, if you would like to go for something a little bit different though, you could try a Columnea Hirta, a.k.a “Light Prince.” This species features white variegated foliage with stunning, orange/red flowers. Moreover, these plants are known to be very hardy and if you do not (yet) have a green thumb, the Columnea hirta “Light Prince” might just be the ideal plant for you.

Any displaying tips for Goldfish plants?

Goldfish plants are perfect for hanging baskets. It’s the perfect way to show off its spectacular foliage and flowers. Moreover, Goldfish plants produce very long stems (up t0 95 cm).

Are there other plants than the Columnea Gloriosa that are often referred to as the Goldfish plant?

Absolutely. Another houseplant that is often referred to as Goldfish plant is Nematanthus wettsteinii.

Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.

Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.


Watch the video: Repotting Goldfish Houseplant. How to repot a Goldfish Plant