Skip to main content

Goldfish plant care: The tips and tricks you need to know

How to care for your goldfish plant and keep it thriving

If you're looking for a beautiful plant that will captivate your guests, then you should take a look at a goldfish plant. The goldfish plant, or nematanthus gregarius, features beautiful red-orange blooms that look just like leaping goldfish. These stunning flowers stand out against the plant's waxy dark green leaves, making them look even brighter.

Although it has a reputation for being tricky to grow, goldfish plants are relatively hardy houseplants if you know how to care for them! In this guide to goldfish plant care we'll answer all your questions so you can grow this amazing plant in your own home.




45 minutes

What You Need

  • Goldfish plant

  • Humidifier

  • High-phosphorous fertilizer

  • Rooting hormone for propagation (optional)

  • Well-draining potting mix with perlite or pumice

  • Neem oil for pest removal

  • Pair of scissors or shears

Goldfish plant
Olga_Anourina / Shutterstock

How to care for a goldfish plant

With thick, waxy leaves, the goldfish plant resembles a hoya (or wax plant) in many ways. Goldfish plant care is pretty similar to hoya care as well.

Step 1: Fill a pot with loose, well-draining soil that has perlite or pumice mixed into it.

Goldfish plants have shallow roots, so there’s no need to repot it very often. As long as you keep it inside a healthy potting mix, it should continue to grow.

Step 2: Use a humidifier to prevent dry air from damaging the plant's foliage.

Without adequate humidity, you might start to see the plant's leaves pucker and wrinkle. If you notice that, increase the humidity level until the leaves fill out again.

Step 3: Water your plant thoroughly when the top inch or two of the soil feels dry to the touch.

Keep the soil moist without drowning the roots. While it stores water in its fleshy foliage, the goldfish plant appreciates a healthy dose of moisture to thrive — it’s from tropical environments in Central America and the Caribbean, after all.

Step 4: Keep the plant at temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do not let it linger in temperatures outside this range for long, as extreme hot or cold temperatures will almost certainly lead to your goldfish plant dropping its leaves.

Goldfish plant stem
ChWeiss / Shutterstock

How to get your goldfish plant to bloom

Its dark green leaves and cascading, bright orange blooms make the goldfish plant a beautiful hanging plant. Most commonly, you’ll find plants with red-orange blooms at your local nursery, but other varieties can yield yellow, red, or striped flowers. Whatever color plant you get, how do you encourage it to flower?

Step 1: Keep your goldfish plant in a spot with bright indirect light to help it develop its leaves and blooms.

The light will not only encourage beautiful orange flowers, but will also prevent your plant from becoming leggy. Just don’t keep your plant in direct sunlight — this will cause their leaves to burn.

Step 2: Give your plant a half dose of a high-phosphorus fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season to help the goldfish plant develop more blooms.

Seedling surrounded by fertilizer
Foto2rich / Shutterstock

How to propagate a goldfish plant

Propagating a goldfish plant is relatively easy. Here's what you need to do:

Step 1: Cut a stem that is 2 to 3 inches long, with two or three leaves on it but without any flower buds, using a pair of sharp, clean scissors or shears.

Remember to leave two or three leaves on it so that your cutting can still undergo photosynthesis and grow. Don't worry — if you’re hesitant to snip your foliage, remember that cutting back a goldfish plant will actually help it grow back fuller!

Step 2: Dip your cutting into rooting hormone, if desired.

Step 3: Place the cutting into a small pot filled with a well-draining potting mix and allow several weeks for the cutting to properly root.

To ensure success, place more than one cutting inside of your pot.

Spray bottle being used on garden plants
Andris Tkacenko / Shutterstock

How to remove pests from your goldfish plant

The goldfish plant can be a host for pests such as mealybugs, thrips, and spider mites. Unfortunately, these critters may go unnoticed sometimes because of how the leaves cluster together on a goldfish plant.

Step 1: Check your plant regularly for signs of pests, paying close attention especially to the vines and undersides of the trailing leaves.

Step 2: Remove small pests with a spray of water.

Step 3: Apply neem oil, a natural pesticide, to the leaves to prevent future infestations.

Step 4: Repot your plant, to remove any potential eggs that are in the soil, in the case of repeated infestations.

A goldfish plant blooming in a dark room
Rafael Rodrigues / Pexels

Are goldfish plants safe for pets?

If you own pets, it's a good idea to check every plant you bring into your home, since some of them can be quite toxic to our furry friends! Luckily, you don't need to worry about goldfish plants. Nematanthus gregarius and other plants of the same species are listed as safe and non-toxic for both cats and dogs by the ASPCA.

However, you may still want to keep your goldfish plant out of reach of your pets. Being chewed on or knocked to the ground is a major source of stress for plants that can weaken them, making them more vulnerable to pests and diseases. If you cat or dog is particularly curious, it might be a good idea to keep your goldfish plant somewhere your pets can't get to. If your pets do get to your plant and stress it out, don't panic. Keep following your goldfish plant care routine and it should recover over time.

The goldfish plant has a reputation for occasionally being finicky, but even beginner plant enthusiasts can take care of it with a little due diligence. To keep your goldfish plant happy, leave it at room temperature with plenty of humidity, water, and bright indirect light. With foliage that resembles that of highly coveted plants such as hoya, the thick, glossy, green leaves of the goldfish will be well worth your effort. And in the spring and summer, your hard work will pay off as you witness beautiful red-orange blooms cascading down your goldfish plant!

Editors' Recommendations

Stacey Nguyen
Stacey's work has appeared on sites such as POPSUGAR, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, The Balance, TripSavvy, and more. When she's…
Don’t know how often you need to water your cactus? We have answers that might surprise you
How to tell when to water your cactus and keys to fixing its watering woes
A person holding a small potted cactus with several other cacti in the background

Cacti may conjure images of giant prickly plants in the middle of the desert or memories of cartoon characters running into them and coming away with spines embedded all over. Although they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, the most popular houseplant cacti are small, hardy, and often regarded as great plants for beginners.

One pitfall that beginners often fall into, though, is overwatering. Cacti are desert plants, and they're able to withstand long droughts. They do still need some water, but not as much or as frequently as other houseplants. So how often should you water a cactus? This guide to watering your cactus will answer all your questions!

Read more
Thanksgiving vs. Christmas cactus: How they’re different
How to tell if your Christmas cactus is really a Thanksgiving cactus or vice versa
Thanksgiving cactus in bloom

Friends and families share holiday cacti every year, but how do you know if you have a Thanksgiving cactus plant or a Christmas one? When comparing a Thanksgiving cactus vs. a Christmas cactus, it's easy to see why people are unsure. These cacti are closely related and are difficult to tell apart. Even their flowers look alike! What makes it worse — department stores, plant shops, and garden centers often mislabel these plants, which contributes to the confusion.

To properly care for your cactus, you need to know what kind of cactus it is. Here's your handy guide to telling these two cacti apart, plus tips on how to care for them so your cactus will last long past the holiday season.

Read more
Cordyline care: How to make your cordyline plants thrive and bring the tropics indoors
Make sure your cordyline thrives with these tips
Potted green cordyline plants on the ground

Cordylines are beautiful tropical plants native to the Pacific Islands and portions of Southeast Asia. With their striking colors and vibrant leaves, they can add some color to any garden. However, tropical plants are not always easy to grow outdoors. Unless you live in a tropical region or have a greenhouse, you'll need to grow cordylines indoors. Luckily, these plants are fairly easy to grow indoors and add both color and interest to your houseplant collection! This guide to indoor cordyline care will help ensure your new cordyline thrives.

Read more