How to grow and care for Goldfish Plant Indoors

Houseplant, Goldfish Plant

Botanical name: Columnea gloriosa
Family: Gesneriaceae

Goldfish Plants make attractive houseplants which bear abundant yellow or orange-red tubular flowers year after year and are suitable for the hanging basket or in a pot where its trailing stems can be allowed to hang freely. The tubular flowers look like leaping fish and hence the common name "Goldfish". The stems can grow up to 3 ft and are densely covered by thick, waxy, dark-green leaves. Goldfish plant requires a moist atmosphere around the foliage. It requires regular feeding over the growing season and trimming back of the stems once flowering is over. Though it may survive in poor conditions, the leaves wil fall and flowers will fail to appear. Columnea are native to tropical America and the Caribbean where they grow as epiphytes attached to the tree bark. There are numerous species of Columnea. Columnea gloriosa is an old favorite. Other popular varieties are Columnea banksii with small, dark-green foliage and yellow marked flowers. Columnea microphylla which has 4 ft long stems and Columnea gloriosa like flowers. Columnea stavanger bears smooth leaves, yellow and red flowers and branching stems but the leaves and flowers are larger. Columnea hirta is a smaller plant with creeping stems which produces flowers very freely.

How to Grow Goldfish Plant

Light

Goldfish Plant prefers bright light but away from direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Keep the soil moist at all times for Goldfish Plant and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum of 160C is ideal for Goldfish Plant. Protect the plant from cold and hot draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Goldfish Plant requires for high humidity. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity.

Feeding

Feed Goldfish Plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and it can lead to fertilizer burn. Regularly flush out excess fertilizers by running a stream of water through the soil until it comes out through the drainage holes, allow to run for at least 10 minutes. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Goldfish Plant during the growing season only when the plant is pot-bound. Use a pot that is 1 size larger. Goldfish Plant blooms best when slightly pot-bound. Do not repot a plant that is in flower. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter.

Pruning

Pruning Goldfish Plant is easy. Remove dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Remove spent flowers to encourage more blooms. Pinch off the growing stems to encourage a compact and bushy growth. Cut back the straggly stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Goldfish Plant

Goldfish Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem-tip cuttings.

Propagating Goldfish Plant from stem-tip cuttings
Take 4-6 in. stem-tip cuttings from a healthy Goldfish Plant. Insert the cuttings in moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a warm well-lit spot. Maintain the soil moist through out until the new plants are well established.

Common Problems in Growing Goldfish Plant

  • Brown leaves
  • Brown leaves in Goldfish Plant are caused by direct sunlight on the plant. The plant require bright light but away from direct sunlight.

  • No blooms
  • Goldfish Plant will not bloom if the light is too little. It requires bright light but away from direct sunlight.

  • Leaf drop
  • One reason for leaf drop in Goldfish Plant is cold draughts. Protect the plant from cold draughts to prevent sudden drop in temperature. The other reason is dry air. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity.

  • Pests
  • The common pests in Goldfish Plant are Spider Mites, Mealy Bugs and Aphids.

  • Diseases
  • The common diseases in Goldfish Plant are Root-rot, Botrytis, Leaf Spot and Leaf Viral Diseases.

Toxicity

Goldfish Plants (Columnea gloriosa) are non-toxic to humans and pets.

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