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.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

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…
How long does it take for a cactus to grow? Here’s what we know
Cacti can be slow but steady growers
A collection of potted cacti

When it comes to durable houseplants for people who want something green in their home but don’t have time to devote to a lot of care, cacti are a great option! Sure, they appear aloof and unapproachable (and should be kept out of reach from children and plant-loving pets), but they add quite a beautiful touch to your space. There are so many varieties of unique colors, shapes, and sizes, which often leaves people wondering: How long does it take for a cactus to grow?
How fast do cacti grow (and why)?

How fast a cactus grows depends on the variety you’re working with, but there are a couple of key factors across the board. In general, you’ll find that most varieties only grow between one and three centimeters per year. Knowing the kind of cactus you have can help you tailor your environment for optimal care, but there are two things you can’t change: the fact that they’ve adapted for survival and the fact they don’t have leaves.

Read more
Elephant ear plant care guide: What you need to know
How to grow the gorgeous elephant ear plant
Elephant ear plant leaves

Foliage plants are often used as a backdrop or filler, but there are some species that truly deserve to be the star of the show. While most showy foliage plants are colorful, some rely on size and shape to make an impression. Elephant ears are one such plant. These large, gorgeous plants will capture you and your guests’ attention, whether you grow a small indoor variety or let one of the larger plants take up space in your yard. To help you get started growing these beautiful plants, here is our elephant ear plant care guide.

Planting elephant ear plants
Elephant ear plants grow best in rich, well-draining soil. Amending the soil with compost before you begin can help improve poor soil if you aren’t sure that the soil in your garden is rich enough. Choose a planting site in full or partial sun. Elephant ears need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day, so avoid planting them too close to larger plants or structures that could cast shadows over them. Additionally, choose a space that is at least a few feet away from other plants. Elephant ears can grow quite large, so it’s important not to crowd them.

Read more
How to propagate your own stunning rubber tree plant from a cutting
Propagate your rubber tree today with these tips
Red and green rubber tree in a gray pot against a white background

Rubber trees, also called rubber figs, are a popular houseplant native to several parts of southern Asia. These low-maintenance ornamental plants are Ficus elastica, not to be confused with Hevea brasiliensis, another plant commonly referred to as a rubber tree. In addition to being easy to care for, rubber trees have beautiful, glossy leaves and make great office plants.

If you already have one, or if you know someone who is willing to share theirs, then you may want to know how to propagate a rubber tree plant so you can grow more. Luckily, propagating rubber trees through cuttings is easy! This guide will walk you through how to do it.

Read more