The Goldfish plant (Nematanthus gregarious) is a beautiful plant that is perfect for indoor growing. It is a flowering perennial that is native to the southern regions of Brazil. The plant gets its name because it generates deep orange flowers with a pouch-like shape resembling goldfish. The flowers can bloom almost anytime throughout the year but typically show in spring and summer.
When the plant is young the branches grow upright. The succulent-like foliage on the plant is small, thick, shiny, and dark green. As the plant grows, the stems can arch outwards and can trail over, making the plant perfect for a hanging basket.
There are 25 different varieties of this plant. It is a cousin of the African violet and some of the plants have fuzzy leaves like their relatives. Similar to the African violet try your best to not water the leaves directly so as not to cause fungal problems. You will find some of the different varieties have orange, red, and yellow flowers, and variegated leaves.
Outdoors the plant typically grows to 3 feet but when growing it indoors it is good to prune the plant to keep it around 2 feet tall. The effect of this is more blooming and a bushier plant.
These plants are also sensitive to high temperatures. If you see the leaves browning or dropping, the temperature is too hot, or the leaves are getting wet.
Additional problems you might find with these plants are leggy growth, leaf drop, or lack of flowering. If you experience these problems the issue is usually overwatering. This can cause mold or fungus growth. It is good to regularly inspect your plant to make sure this problem is found right away before it becomes a major issue.
Goldfish plant should be planted in soil that is porous and allows for good drainage. It should also be rich in organic matter and have an acidic pH. In its natural habitat, the plant is an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows upon other plants. It normally grows on a tree.
Goldfish plants need a lot of light but do not like direct sunlight. Bright, indirect sunlight is best, and an eastern exposure is optimal for this plant. It can also be grown in a location with southern exposure but make sure the light is filtered so it does not get burned. If you can only grow it in a northern exposure, make sure you have a grow light and give the plant at least 12 hours of light a day.
When you grow a goldfish plant indoors, you should make sure that it is watered regularly. In the summer the plant should not be allowed to dry out, as this will reduce the number of flowers and cause damage. Water thoroughly so the water runs out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. The plant has a shallow root system and needs to be kept moist but waterlogging the plant will rot the roots. In the winter you can cut back on watering, allowing the soil to be slightly drier.
Temperature and Humidity
When growing this plant as a houseplant the best room temperatures would be between 65 to 75 degrees F. The plant prefers a warm temperature. To add humidity, you can mist the plant with room temperature water. If the room your plant is in is very dry, consider using a humidifier in the room the plant is in.
Fertilize at least once every two weeks with a weak liquid fertilizer that encourages blooming. You can also use slow-release fertilizer pellets. Do not feed the goldfish plant during the winter months, unless you are seeing new growth, small leaf growth, or the color seems faded.
Pests that bother this plant include, mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. These pests can be identified by their white, waxy appearance and the damage they cause to the plant. Spider mites are particularly harmful because they suck out the plant’s juices and can destroy a plant within a few days or weeks.
Similar to other tropical plants, this one enjoys being pot-bound. When grown this way it will reward you with a stronger plant and more flowers. This means it is best to repot every two to three years. When repotting it is good to prune the roots to boost new root growth. Just repot one size up.
Let us know if you have any tips for growing this beautiful plant.