Love how goldfish look without wanting to actually take on the responsibilities of pet ownership? We’ve got great news for houseplant enthusiasts! The goldfish plant, or nematanthus gregarious, features beautiful red-orange blooms that look just like leaping goldfish. Because of its thick, semi-succulent dark green leaves, this plant is a relatively hardy houseplant, despite being finicky from time to time. Ahead, we’ve rounded up tips on how to care for your goldfish plant to ensure that it thrives!
With thick, waxy leaves, the goldfish plant resembles a hoya (or wax plant) in many ways. Its care requirements are pretty similar as well. You’ll want to keep your goldfish plant in loose, well-draining soil that has perlite or pumice mixed into it. Because the goldfish plant has shallow roots, 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.
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. Without adequate humidity, you might start to see its leaves pucker and wrinkle. To prevent dry air from damaging its foliage, give your goldfish plant plenty of humidity and keep the soil moist without drowning the roots. Water your plant thoroughly when the top inch or two of the soil feels dry to the touch. While this plant appreciates temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you never want to leave it in excessive heat (i.e. above 90 degrees) for too long. Extreme hot or cold temperatures will almost certainly lead to your goldfish plant dropping its leaves.
Its dark green leaves and cascading, bright orange blooms make the goldfish plant a beautiful hanging plant. But how do you encourage it to flower? In general, the goldfish plant enjoys bright indirect sunlight to develop leaves and blooms. 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 would cause their leaves to burn. A half dose of a high phosphorus fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season will also help the goldfish plant develop more blooms. Most commonly, you’ll find plants with red-orange blooms at your local nursery, but other varieties can yield yellow, red, or striped flowers.
Propagating a goldfish plant is relatively easy. All you need is a two to three-inch long stem tip without any flower buds on it — remember to leave two or three leaves on so that your cutting can still undergo photosynthesis and grow! Dip your cutting into rooting hormone if you so desire, then place it into a well-draining mix and give it a few weeks to properly root. To ensure success, place more than one cutting inside of your pot. If you’re tentative about snipping your foliage, remember that cutting back a goldfish plant will actually help it grow back fuller!
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. From time to time, embark on a careful inspection of all the trailing leaves and make sure to check on the undersides. If you notice any creepy crawlers, give your plant a good spray with water to physically remove the bugs. Then, apply neem oil, a natural pesticide, to the leaves to prevent future infestations. Should the issue persist, consider repotting your plant in fresh soil.
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 and bright indirect light. Resembling the foliage on coveted plants such as hoya, the thick, glossy green leaves 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!
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