The goldfish plant is a unique houseplant well-known for its beautiful orange flowers. It can be a real talking point in any room, plus it’s relatively easy to care for.
In this guide, our experts reveal their secrets.
What is the Goldfish plant?
The goldfish plant is a flowering plant native to the tropical regions of South America. It gets its name from the shape of its yellow, orange, or red flowers, which look remarkably like goldfish. The plant’s leaves are also showy, usually dark green, with a thick, succulent texture and a slight waxy shine.
When it’s grown in containers, the Goldfish plant usually develops trailing vines which can grow as long as 3 feet (90 cm). You can also trim it down to about half the size if you want a branching, more spread-out appearance. These evergreen perennials will thrive indoors for many years, producing abundant blooms of flowers throughout spring and summer.
Like all flowering plants, the Goldfish houseplant needs more care and maintenance than usual. However, the abundant blooms are a worthy reward for all your effort. Also, the plant is non-toxic to cats and dogs, making it a perfect choice for any indoor gardener.
How to care for Goldfish plant
Goldfish plant has similar care requirements to African violets.
Here are a few tips to bear in mind before we get started.
- The goldfish plant is an epiphyte, growing on the surface of trees in its natural habitat.
- Its leaves are succulent and can be damaged by water if they get wet.
- If you live in a warm climate, you can also grow it as an outdoor plant.
- This plant is a heavy bloomer and needs regular fertilizer applications.
– Light requirements
Place your Goldfish plant in a room that gets bright, indirect sunlight. As an epiphyte, this plant gets filtered sunlight in its natural habitat. When grown indoors, it needs at least 8 hours of light each day for healthy growth. A room that is facing either south or west is ideal for this plant. Keep it at least 2 feet (60 cm) away from the window to prevent sunburn.
Goldfish plants that get too little light will often fail to bloom. On the other hand, too much light will scorch the leaves. Avoid placing it on the windowsill unless you are using sheer curtains to filter some of the sun. During winter, you will need to supplement its light needs with the help of growing lights.
The ideal temperature range for the Goldfish plant is between 65 °F and 75 °F (18 °C to 24 °C). This makes it perfect for growing indoors, as most homes fall within that temperature range. If you live in US hardiness zones 10 and 11, you can also grow this plant in a hanging basket outdoors.
Make sure that temperatures don’t drop below 59 °F (15 °C), especially in winter. The Goldfish plant doesn’t tolerate sudden temperature changes, so avoid exposing it to cold drafts or placing it next to a radiator, heater, or AC vent.
– Water requirements
Water your Goldfish plant weekly throughout spring and summer, then cut back on your watering schedule in winter. The soil should be kept moist but not soaked to prevent fungal problems such as root rot. Ideally, you should only water the plant when the soil’s top inch feels dry to the touch. You can either use your finger to test this or use a moisture meter for more accurate results.
If possible, try to use tepid water for your Goldfish plant. Coldwater can shock this plant, which can cause drooping leaves. Fill a watering can and allow the water to sit overnight until it reaches room temperature. Also, chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride will evaporate from the water.
When watering your Goldfish plant, try not to splash too much water on the leaves. If you already have African violets in your home, you probably know that wet leaves will develop brown spots and mold.
The Goldfish plant tolerates the average humidity in most homes. But if you can, try to raise the humidity to around 70 percent. This is a tropical plant that hails from a humid environment. A humidity boost will be most welcome, especially in winter. If you have a bathroom with windows, it would be a perfect spot in your home for this plant.
To raise the humidity around your Goldfish plant, try placing it on top of a pebble tray or use a cool-mist humidifier. You can also try gently misting the leaves. In this case, avoid using cold tap water; otherwise, you risk shocking the plant. Using tepid water is best.
Give your Goldfish plant an organic, liquid fertilizer solution twice a month throughout spring and summer. The plant doesn’t need to be fed during winter when it’s outside its growth season.
The goldfish plant is a flowering plant, so it needs fertilizers rich in phosphorus to stimulate abundant blooming. Aim for a nutrient ratio of 10-30-10 for best results.
– Best soil for the plant
Like all epiphytes, the Goldfish plant needs a light, aerated, and well-draining soil mix that’s also slightly acidic. The main feature you should aim for is good drainage, as the plant will not tolerate having its roots sit in water. If you can find an African violet potting mix, you can use it for this plant. Or you can mix your soil for Goldfish plant by combining equal parts peat moss, perlite, and garden soil.
– When to repot
The Goldfish plant prefers being a bit root bound, so it doesn’t need to be repotted too often. Usually, moving it to a larger container once every 2 or 3 years is more than enough.
Use a new pot with a drainage hole at the bottom, which’s about 2 inches (5 cm) wider than the previous one. Avoid using too large containers, as the soil will retain too much water, suffocating the roots.
What type of container is best for the Goldfish plant? We recommend using clay pots. Plastic containers retain water, which might cause root rot later on, especially if you’re overwatering. On the other hand, Clay is porous, allowing the water to evaporate and keeping the ideal soil moisture requirements for this plant.
– Pruning the plant
Goldfish plant is grown indoors usually reaches a length of up to 3 feet (90 cm). To keep it in shape, trim the vines to the desired length once a year, either in spring or summer.
To encourage blooming, regularly pinch back the tip of the stems. This will also enable the plant to branch out, giving it a fuller look. After the flowers have wilted, pinch them back as well, so that the plant can spend more energy producing new ones.
How to propagate the Goldfish plant
Let’s see what you’ll need for each propagation method.
– Stem cuttings
- Use a sharp, clean knife to cut a stem section about 4 inches (10 cm long). Pick stems that don’t have any flowers or buds on them, and cut below the leaf node.
- Take 3 or 4 cuttings and plan to plant them together in the same pot so that the new plant will have a bushy style.
- Remove any bottom leaves from the stem so that the bottom inch is left bare.
- Place the cuttings in a container with water, and avoid submerging the leaves. You can also use a rooting hormone if you want to encourage them to root faster.
- Keep the cuttings in a warm, bright spot but away from direct sunlight.
- Change the water weekly.
- The cuttings should develop roots in about two weeks. Wait until the roots are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long before transplanting them to the soil.
- Plants propagated through stem cuttings will only flower once they’re fully established in spring or summer the following year.
– Propagation by division
- The best time to use this method is when you’re also repotting your Goldfish plant.
- Gently remove the plant from the soil, taking care not to damage the roots.
- Wipe as much soil from the roots as you can.
- Using your hands, gently pull the stems and roots apart to divide the main plant. Depending on how big your Goldfish plant is, you can divide it into 2 or 3 bunches.
- Pot each divided plant in a 6 inch (15 cm) container filled with loose, well-draining soil.
Can you grow the Goldfish plant from seeds?
Growing the Goldfish plant from seeds can be very tricky. The main reason for this is that flowers growing outside their natural habitat are difficult to pollinate. If there’s no pollination, the seed will not develop. As a result, finding Goldfish plant seeds for sale is often almost impossible.
If you want to grow more of this plant in your home, we recommend propagating it through either stem cuttings or division. Both methods work well for the Goldfish plant, and they’re more reliable than growing it from seed.
Goldfish plant problems
The Goldfish plant is very susceptible to fungal infections, such as root rot or botrytis mold.
Often, these problems are caused by overwatering, leaves that are allowed to stay wet or soils with poor drainage. If you notice any fungal problems, trim off any infected areas (roots, stems, or leaves), and treat the plant with a fungicidal solution. Likewise, if your goldfish plant is dropping leaves, you might be giving it too much water.
Suppose you notice that your Goldfish plant is leggy or has faded leaves, which usually indicates that the plant is not getting enough light. Move it to a brighter spot, and make sure that it receives at least 8 hours of bright, indirect sun each day.
Check your plant regularly for pests such as spider mites, scale, or mealybugs. To get rid of them, a solution of water and isopropyl alcohol gently rubbed on the leaves and stems will do the trick.
Plant Is Not Blooming
The Goldfish plant usually takes between 6 and 10 weeks to bloom, which happens throughout spring and summer. If a couple of months go by and there are no flower buds, it could be a sign that your plant is distressed.
Make sure that it receives the proper amount of light, and apply a phosphorus-rich fertilizer once every two weeks. If the plant has been in the same container for over three years, consider repotting it to stimulate flowering and new growth.
The Goldfish plant is a stunning houseplant, bursting with vivid shades of orange and green. With this guide, growing your own at home has never been easier.
Here are the essentials:
- The Goldfish plant originates from tropical areas, so try to replicate the conditioning;
- That means relatively high humidity and warm temperatures;
- Avoid giving it too much water, though, which can lead to fungal problems and encourage pests.
So, if you want to add a unique houseplant to your home, try the Goldfish plant!
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