Although goldfish plants are quite hardy, they can be more delicate than other tropical plants when it comes to care. Why? As it turns out, these are epiphytes! Goldfish plants do not naturally grow in a hanging basket, garden bed, or even soil. They typically grow on top of other plants, usually trees. The trees are merely for supporting the plants though. Although epiphytes get their nutrients and water from the air and rain, they are not parasitic. Gardeners are able to hanging baskets in place of trees because they are self-sufficient.
If you take good care of a goldfish plant, it can live for approximately 10 years. This plant doesn’t tolerate cold temperatures well and prefers warm weather. The plant does not like hot or humid weather. The goldfish plant prefers consistent conditions once the optimal conditions have been met.
The leaves of goldfish plants typically fall off in the spring and summer, and the plant becomes dormant after that. However, there are some hybrids that bloom year-round. Within 6-10 weeks of planting, red flowers will appear. The flowers have petals that are bent and shaped like a fish. They are all different colors. There are some types of flowers that have a bulge on their underside, making them look more like goldfish. Although they are beautiful, these tubular flowers do not have a strong scent.
Woody stems that grow to 3 feet long support the school of fish flowers. The stems of the plant are lined with dark green leaves that are slightly succulent. Most varieties of the plant have waxy leaves, but some have leaves that are fuzzy like the African Violet plant. This plant is poisonous to humans and animals, regardless of texture.
Types of Goldfish Plants
The term “goldfish plant” refers to many different species within the Gesneriaceae family, not just one plant. They’re split into two genera: Columnea and Nematanthus. Although there are some differences between them, the care requirements for each genus are the same.
Columnea plants in the Goldfish genus are often called Flying Goldfish plants because their flowers are thinner and more arched like the fish are jumping out of the water. Columnea is a plant that is native to many countries in South America. It has a lot of different species. There are two types of Columnea plants that are nearly impossible to tell apart – Columnea gloriosa and Columnea microcalyx.
There is often a lower bulge on the tubular flowers in the Nematanthus genus. This plant is originally from South America, specifically Brazil, but can also be found in southern Mexico. Nematanthus gregarius is a common goldfish plant species. It is often misspelled as Nematanthus gregarious.
The genera Zygopetalum and Maxillaria are sometimes confused with Aeschynanthus, which is also known as lipstick plant. The lipstick plant comes from Asia and the goldfish plant comes from a long way away. They look very similar, but the goldfish plant is a much more distant relative of the lipstick plant.
Goldfish Plant Care
The Columnea gloriosa Flower evolved to live off of neighboring trees, so it mainly survives through photosynthesis and needs long hours of bright light. The plant likes it when the air is moist and prefers to be fed a little bit at a time but often. The plant is fed through its leaves.
The potting soil should be aerated and lightweight so it can retain moisture but also have dry roots in between waterings. There are many varieties of plants that have periods of dormancy, but don’t worry. They soon emerge with a new flurry of blooms.
This plant can grow up to two feet in one year under good conditions. P variegata is a plant that grows well and can produce flowers from spring to late fall with the right amount of light and nutrients.
This plant requires bright, indirect sunlight and a lot of it. It’s energy mostly comes from leaf-based photosynthesis instead of the roots. For health, growth, and flowering, it needs 12 or more hours of bright light per day.
A window that faces east or north will work well, or a window that faces north in a warmer climate; they will need a little protection in a window that faces west. To avoid scorching the leaves, save southern exposures for wintertime and avoid direct sunlight.
Columneas love artificial lighting, so you can use it to supplement natural light or replace it entirely. Put the plant 18 inches from the light and see how it grows over time.
Maintaining a plant indoors is typically easier than caring for one outdoors because you can more easily regulate the light and temperature.
Goldfish Plant Soil
Before explaining how to water your Goldfish plant, we should cover the planting medium. One of the most common mistakes people make when growing epiphytes is using improper potting soil. When the soil is too dense, it becomes difficult to work with and often causes plants to wilt or develop root rot.
The goal is to create a mix that drains water quickly and only leaves behind a damp residue. A Columnea’s roots help to keep the plant in place, but they don’t absorb much water or nutrients. If the soil is too wet, the roots will start to decay.
You don’t want actual soil for your potting mix, it should be mostly comprised of other materials. Even light potting soil is too much. The best ratio of perlite, peat moss, and vermiculite is 1:1:1. Don’t use too much vermiculite, it holds more water then necessary. If you have some untreated wood chips, you can throw them in.
A peat-based potting soil that is mixed with perlite is a good option for African violets. An orchid or succulent mix can work too.
Use a sterile medium to avoid soil-based pathogens. If you are unsure, bake the mix at 180 degrees for 30 minutes to sterilize it. Be sure to store your potting mix in an airtight container after it becomes sterile, so it does not become contaminated.
The Goldfish plant preferably has moist topsoil, however it grows best when the topsoil is allowed to dry a bit in between waterings. Don’t plant until the top two inches of soil are dry. This helps prevent fungus and other problems.
An inexpensive way to measure the amount of water in soil is to push a wooden chopstick into the ground. Do not water again until the top two inches of the chopstick come out dry.
To prevent spotting on the leaves, use lukewarm or room-temperature filtered water that has been left to sit overnight or dechlorinated. Rainwater is fine, too.
Water the plant less often over the winter or when it is not growing, but don’t let the soil become completely dry.
Columneas like warmth but not high heat. The tropical climate is not as hot as one would think because the animals that live there are used to being in trees where there is a breeze and shade. They can withstand low temperatures better than hot ones.
They prefer an indoor temperature of 65-75°F (18-24°C). Tulips can withstand brief cold snaps where temperatures dip into the low 30s, but they will not survive extended exposure to freezing temperatures. They really are houseplants.
If you have a goldfish in a hanging basket, pay attention to how it is doing in the heat of the day. Hanging plants are usually in the warmest areas of a room, so you might have to move them to a cooler location during hot weather.
You should also keep your plants away from vents or other drafty spaces.
Fertilizing Goldfish Plants
To maximize the blooms of your goldfish plant, it is best to feed it regularly during the growing season through its leaves instead of its roots.
A water-soluble fertilizer with extra phosphate is their preferred fertilizer. Fertilizers with a ratio of 10-30-10 or 10-54-10 are appropriate for use; they should contain micronutrients as well.
Make a very weak solution using a fourth of the amount of the label suggests in conditioned or filtered water (or rainwater). The plant should be sprayed with the solution every two weeks during the growing season. Do not put the plant in the potting soil as it can burn the roots.
You should reduce the amount of fertilizer you use in the fall, and not use any at all during the winter or when the plant is dormant.
Some people believe that Goldfish plants are prolific bloomers because of the humidity factor, while others have never seen the plant flower. This plant thrives in humid areas such as Florida and the coast. The rest of us have to work at it.
There are four basic strategies to provide higher humidity in arid homes:
- Grouping plants – This can be a great solution for tabletop specimens, but hanging plants may not be helped as much. Water vapor may not rise high enough to reach them, so a floor-level homemade jungle can be ineffective.
- Pebble-filled Trays – Again we encounter an elevation challenge: Goldfish plants in hanging baskets don’t easily benefit from a land-based water tray. You might try one of the hanging basket bottoms meant to prevent drips … the water it catches could double as a humidity booster. It’s seldom mentioned but worth a try.
- Humidifier – The surest method is to get a humidifier for the area. This does bring a new set of chores, but it will help all your plants; You may need an enclosed area to keep vapor from seeping away instead of rising to envelop your hanging specimen. Don’t aim the humid exhaust at the plant directly: a wet draft does more harm than good.
- Daily Misting – Misting isn’t always effective, but it benefits Columneas more than most houseplants. Since they take in plenty of moisture from their leaves, it gives them a sip of moisture as it briefly humidifies the ambient air.
Although it is advised to avoid getting water on their leaves, if you use a fine spray with room-temperature water, it likely will not cause any harm. The problem is the large water droplets that sit in the sun. Nurseries carry the atomizing misters you need.
There are many varieties to choose from. The flowers come in different shapes, some are longer and some are fatter. The flowers of this plant are a deep yellow, orange, or red, similar to goldfish. Some bloom throughout the season; others have dormant phases. A few have variegated foliage.
Doesn’t matter how often you water or how much sunlight these flowers get, they will still bloom beautifully all season long. Routine high-phosphate fertilization supports an abundance of blooms.
After flowering, some Columneas produce inedible white balls as the fruit of their labors. You can leave the fruit on the plant until you’re ready to prune it.
Many Columnea gloriosa varieties go dormant periodically. Many goldfish plant owners become anxious when they see their plant dying, but this is actually a normal part of the plant’s life cycle.
If your plant looks healthy but starts dropping leaves, it may be because you are watering it too much or fertilizing it. Try reducing the amount of water or fertilizer you use. Dormancy lasts from a month to six weeks. When you see new growth, resume normal care.
The goldfish plant grows stems that are 3 feet long, but it is recommended that you keep them trimmed to one foot. Redirecting the plant’s energy into more blooms helps the plant. Pinching also encourages branching, resulting in a bushier plant rather than a leggy one. Trim your goldfish plant in early spring, before it begins to produce beautiful red flowers.
Although they actively grow, these indoor plants prefer to be slightly root bound. Transplant goldfish plants every few years when there is not enough room in the pot for new root growth. You can improve the health of your plant’s root system by pruning some of the older roots.
Goldfish plants are able to reproduce vegetatively, so they can theoretically live for much longer than 10 years. A stem tip cutting is a piece of stem that includes at least one leaf. It is the most common way to propagate houseplants.
Keep the following in mind when taking stem tip cuttings: -they should be 2 inches long -a few dark green leaves should be present Use stems that have no flowers or buds so that all the energy is focused on growing new plants. The parent plant should be healthy and mature.
Dip the cut end of the stem into some rooting hormone then stick it into a small pot of well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil and leaves moist while the cutting develops its own roots. A clear plastic bag can be used as a high-humidity dome as long as it doesn’t touch the cutting. If you give your cutting a good amount of bright light, you’ll soon have a brand-new goldfish plant. The new plants should flower the following year.
goldfish plants will drop some leaves when something is wrong. The distress signal mentioned could signal a few different things. Usually, the culprit will be some sort of inadequate care, such as:
- Dry and/or cold air
- High humidity
- High heat
- Cold water in the soil
Sometimes, if a goldfish plant’s leaves start falling off, it means the plant is going into a dormant phase. Usually, when a plant’s leaves turn yellow, it is a sign that the plant is not getting enough water. This is accompanied by slowed growth and disappearing flowers. Until new growth resumes in approximately six weeks, you should water less frequently.
If the leaves on your goldfish plant are falling off, overwatering is probably the reason. You’ll also notice wilting and discoloration. To help a plant that is being overwatered, repot it in fresh soil and cut back on the amount of water you give it. It’s important to fix this problem before too much moisture invites mold and fungal growth.
If it doesn’t recieve enough bright, indirect light, it will result in leggy growth. Etiolation is the process by which the stems of plants stretch out in search of more direct sunlight. This can hurt the plant’s appearance, but not necessarily the plant itself. If your plant’s stems are stretched out, you will need to cut them shorter. You should also move the plant to a sunnier location and wait for new growth.