With a curious name and some very striking blossoms, the Goldfish plant is a great choice for an indoor, for those willing to put in the effort.
Whether growing indoors or outdoors, here’s our grower’s guide to propagate, plant and take care of your very own Goldfish plant.
What You’ll Need to Know to Grow Goldfish Plant
Sure, it’s a notoriously fussy plant, but if with a bit of a green thumb and some really good care it grows the most eye-catching red-orange blooms, which some say resembles the shape of a fish.
This cultivar, also known as columnea gloriosa, is native to tropical, central and south America. A member of the Gesneriaceae family, in the wild, you will likely find goldfish plants growing happily upon the branches of other trees.
Whilst it is a tropical plant, your biggest challenge with the goldfish plant will be maintaining the right level of moisture. However, with the right care, plenty of indirect sunlight and the right level of humidity,
You’ll be able to enjoy incredible blooms throughout the spring and summer months. Hybrids of this cultivar carry names like Firebird, Aladdin’s Lamp and the California Gold.
How to Grow Goldfish Plant
Before starting your growing journey, it’s good to know which elements you’ll need to pay most attention to. Specifically, your soil, sun and humidity.
Outdoors, your goldfish plant can grow up to 3 feet. However, indoors goldfish plants are considered fairly slow growing, and will only reach around 2 feet over its lifetime.
Oversized containers don’t lend themselves well to goldfish plants, as they enjoy being root-bound. Be sure to choose a smaller container when beginning growing.
As with most indoor plants, a well-draining potting soil mix will be essential. Waterlogged roots can become problematic, so opt for a fast-draining moss or perlite mix. The lighter and coarser the mix the better. Goldfish plants also prefer a PH level of between 6.1 and 6.5.
Rumor has it, goldfish plants can even be grown in a hydroponic garden, without soil altogether. However, it’ll need far more care.
Goldfish plants do best when they receive about 13 hours of bright light per day. However, you’ll want to ensure it’s indirect bright light, as it’s not accustomed to receiving direct sunlight beneath the canopy of the jungle.
In winter time, it’s even recommended to make use of a artificial growing light to help give your goldfish plant all the light it needs to photosynthesize.
Placing your plant near an eastern facing window is also recommended.
Maintaining the right humidity level is perhaps the most challenging part of growing a goldfish plant. You’ll want a good level of moisture, but too much will also have a negative effect.
As such, it is recommended to place your pots on a humidity tray, or a tray filled with pebbles which will help feed moisture to your plant.
Should you be experiencing a particularly dry season, placing your plant near a humidifier for a few hours a day will help to maintain humidity. Alternatively, the occasional misting can also do the trick.
While the goldfish plant is semi-accustomed to cooler temperatures, avoid keeping it near windows in colder months. The drop in temperature may cause sudden leaf drop.
Propagating Goldfish Plant
Propagation is relatively easy from stem-tip cuttings and should be carried out between spring and summer. It is also recommended to take a few cuttings at a time, as not each will root.
- Step 1. Remove a cutting of stem which has no flowering bud. The stem should be between 2 to 3 inches in length.
- Step 2. Dip cutting into a rooting hormone for about 30 seconds.
- Step 3. Place the cutting, hormone-end down, into a perlite potting mix.
- Step 4. Place in a warm, bright area to root.
- Step 5. Keep soil moist during rooting.
Re-pot into a bigger container once a few true leaves have sprouted.
How to Take Care of Goldfish Plant
Unfortunately, Goldfish plant care requires attention to detail. Any imbalances will cause issues, so be sure to not only water, fertilize, and prune regularly, but to carefully monitor your soil levels, leaves and general look of the plant.
The goldfish plant enjoys some moisture, but waterlogged roots will cause rot. Equally so, allowing soil to fully dry out will also harm your plant.
It is best to water frequently so soil remains moist; in winter you can cut back on watering significantly. On average, allow the top 25% of the soil to dry in colder months.
Some experts will recommend using either rain or distilled water. However, if there is clean drinking water in your area, your goldfish plant will be perfectly happy.
Fertilization is vital during the growing seasons. Nurture your plant weekly with a liquid fertilizer or controlled-release pellets.
Fertilization should be avoided altogether in the autumn and winter months.
Pruning will help you to avoid long spindly shoots and keep your goldfish plant nice and bushy. Simply pinch back leggy stems after blooming.
Be sure to use a sharp pair of scissors or shears which you have sterilized. Keep stems approximately, 12-18 inches long at most.
Cuttings from pruning can then be used to propagate more goldfish plants! To maintain the integrity of the soil and ensure root health it is also recommended to re-pot your goldfish plant regularly.
Unless, yours has over-grown a lot, every 2 to 3 years should suffice. When re-potting, slightly prune back the roots to encourage rigorous growth.
Problems with the Goldfish Plant
90% of the issues you may have with a goldfish plant come from over-watering. So, if you’re monitoring your water, you should be good to go.
However, it’s recommended to regularly inspect your plant, as Goldfish are known to be particularly mold and fungus prone.You may also have incidents with spider mites or aphids, be sure to use a natural insecticide to help you get rid of the problem.
How Do I Get My Goldfish Plant to Bloom?
Blooming will only occur after the second growing cycle, so don’t expect blooms from your freshly rooted goldfish plant. Regular pruning, the right lighting and the right level of humidity are all essential for proper blooming.
Healthy plants will bloom over a six week period.
Why is My Goldfish plant turning yellow?
Leaf yellowing is likely a result of either over or under watering. Be sure to maintain consistent times for watering and the amount per watering. Moisture levels can also be easily monitored with a soil moisture meter.
Why Are My Goldfish Plant leaves turning brown?
The browning of leaves may be due to excessive spikes in temperature or too much direct sunlight. Try to keep your goldfish plant out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
The browning at the ends of leaves, however, could be due to an excess of calcium within the soil. Try to use a low-calcium fertilizing when feeding.
Is Goldfish Plant Toxic to My Pets?
Goldfish plants are entirely non-toxic, so you won’t need to worry about having your plant near pets or children.
Wrapping Up Our Goldfish Plant Guide
No matter where you place your Goldfish plant, as long as you're maintaining the soil, light and humidity levels, you should have a reasonably happy, beautifully blooming indoor or outdoor plant.
Be sure to keep up with regular pruning to maintain a bushy look and curb the spread of issues. Indoor plants are all the rage, so why not consider adding a quirky and bright goldfish plant to your collection?