A stunning plant to look at, with very unique blooms, the Nematanthus Gregarius Care is also really easy.
Believe it or not, the Goldfish Plant is a relative of the common African violet plant as they both are members of the Gesneriaceae family. If you ever dealt with African violets, you’ll soon realize that “easy to care for” runs in this family.
*this plant was formerly known as hypocyrta.
Characterized by having long, slender stems that grow alternating thick and almost succulent-like. Well, given the care for Nematanthus Gregarius, you can easily pencil this one down as a succulent.
Its leaves are light to dark green in color. Endemic to the rainforests of Brazil, Southern Mexico, and Costa Rica, this plant can grow up to three feet in height and can become shrub-like.
This plant is known for its very flower head, and it truly is a unique one. Given the correct conditions, this plant produces a gamopetalous flower that is wholly fused, forming a small opening at its tip resembling a pouting fish. With this appearance and bright colors ranging from yellow to dark orange, it has gained its common name, the Goldfish plant. There are at least 25 varieties of this plant with wide variations in their flower to dates. So if you fall in love with one, know you can get many more.
True enough, the flowers resemble a goldfish. Unlike its distant relatives in the Gesneriaceae family, the flowers of this plant are hard and waxy.
Although native to rainforests, they don’t require rainforest-like conditions. The Goldfish plant can either be potted in an upright contained or a hanging basket as the old stems tend to cascade down. Provided that you allow it to acclimatize to your surroundings and take good care of the plant, it will give you blooms all-year-round.
To know more about this plant and its proper care, read on.
How To Care For Nematanthus Gregarius – The Goldfish Plant
- Bringing the plant home
- Light conditions
- Humidity and temperature
- Toxicity Information
- Pests and other common issues
Plant name: Nematanthus
Common names: Goldfish plant, Guppy plant
Native to: Brazil, Southern Mexico, and Costa Rica
Lighting: Very bright, indirect light
Care: To encourage inflorescence, provide very bright light. Water when at least 3 inches of the soil has dried up. It does tolerate dry soil. Can tolerate low humidity levels. Fertilize with weak concentration every week or full dosage every two weeks. Avoid overwatering to prevent shedding of leaves.
Common problems: mealy bugs like to hide under the leaves and in crevices, spider mites, root rot
Toxicity: Considered safe for humans and pets.
Bringing the Plant Home
Quarantine the plant as you bring it home. Keep it away from others for 2 weeks.
It’s very hard to see pests with this plant since it has a lot of tiny leaves, densely packed together. This makes it even more important to check the leaves and stems before allowing your new plant to join your other plants indoors. If you plan on growing it outdoors, checking for pests is still important. You can optionally treat your Goldfish plant with the necessary solutions to rid any lingering pests.
If you bought your plant from a specialty garden, chances are, the media they use is already suitable for the plant. Do not repot your plant immediately and allow it to acclimatize first with its new surroundings. Repotting may induce more stress in the plant.
Remove any dead leaves, and if you happen to buy the plant with blooms, you can cut the yellowing flowers to help the plant get used to the new environment faster. Although with this plant, the chances of it doing well right away are on your side.
What are the Light Requirements for Nematanthus Gregarius?
Bright indirect light. Some direct sunlight will be beneficial to the plant.
Although the Goldfish plant is a very low-maintenance plant, for keeping it alive, you may need to provide very bright, indirect light to get it to bloom.
Indirect exposure to morning light would work best for this. Catching some mild morning sun rays will be OK too. Afternoon sun, as well as when planted outdoors, tends to burn the foliage of your plant as well as its fragile flowers.
Unlike other flowering plants that have a hard time blooming indoors, the Goldfish plant will not mind being inside as long as it gets the right amount of light.
For a home that receives bright afternoon sunlight, do not let the light go to waste. Provide a sheer curtain to filter the light and reduce its harshness. Your plant will love it.
Place your plant at least 2 to 3 ft away from a window that receives direct sun. This plant will also do well with artificial grow lights to help it produce Goldfish-like blooms.
How Often Should You Water the Goldfish Plant?
Depending on the size of the plant, the soil and conditions of your home, you will likely be watering this plant anywhere from biweekly to monthly (or sometimes even less).
Being native to rainforests, this plant does like moist soil, but not as much as many other tropical plants. We recommend that you allow the soil to dry at least 3 inches from the top to avoid overwatering. The Goldfish plant is one of those rainforest plants that can tolerate drought for a longer period than others.
Overwatering will cause the leaves of your plant to go soft and eventually drop from its stem. It’s way easier to overwater this plant than not to water it enough. When watering your plant, give it a good soak while allowing the excess water to run off.
There are a few things you can look for to find the watering rhythm. This plant will tell you if it is being underwatered as the leaves will start to droop or wilt.
Expect to water your plant more frequently during summer and springtime especially if the specimen is placed outdoors or in a spot that receives very bright light. Cut back on watering during winter.
Do not use cold water on your plant as this will induce shock and potentially damage the plant.
We recommend bottom watering your plant.
Does it like high humidity? How about temperature?
Since this plant normally lives under big trees in rainforests, it does well with higher humidity levels. However, your Goldfish plant will not have any problems with acclimating to your usual humidity around the house and even thriving in low humidity. This makes it easier to place it anywhere inside the house.
Nematanthus is one of those plants that can survive low-temperature conditions. Although it prefers to live in an environment with average warm room temperature, your plant will survive temperatures as low as 50°F / 10°C and even lower for a short period of time.
Cleaning your plant
Unless you are an avid fan of cleaning tons of leaves, it will be very difficult to remove all the dust on your Goldfish plant.
You can occasionally rinse your plant’s foliage with clean water and let it sit in a well-ventilated area to remove the water on the leaves. It does get rain in its natural environment, after all. This will help remove some of the dust on the leaves of your plant.
When in bloom, cut the flowers that are starting to wilt. This step may even encourage the plant to show off even more blooms. Keep your plant tidy and well kept by pruning the leggy stems or to your desired size. Similarly, pruning also encourages the growth of stems from the side and will give you a fuller look.
Fertilizing your plant will help it flower
For a low-maintenance plant, your Nemantanthus Gregarius does not require too much fertilizing.
Although, if you want it to profusely produce blooms, supply it with a recommended dosage (as per box instructions) of liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
Provide your plant with micronutrients as well to encourage blooming. If you are the busy type and do not want the hassle of preparing your own fertilizer, opt to use slow-release fertilizers that can work wonders all-year round.
Overfertilizing will negatively affect your plant and can cause it to shed leaves. It’s better to fertilize less than more.
Cut back during winter.
Repotting your Goldfish plant
You would not have to think too much about your Goldfish plant when it comes to repotting, as far as bigger pots go. In fact, this plant prefers to be rootbound and will produce more blooms that way.
Supply your plant with more nutrients by replenishing the soil at least every two to three years.
If you are moving the plant into a bigger pot, try to keep the same soil and only go up a pot size (two max) at a time.
When repotting, always choose a container with drainage holes to allow the excess water to freely escape the pot.
The right soil for your Nnematanthus Gregarius
Check your local store if they carry an African Violet soil mix, these are commonly sold and are perfect for your Nematanthus Gregarius plant.
Most members of the Gesneriaceae family prefer a medium that is rich and porous potting mix. The Goldfish plant is not an exemption to this. It can grow well in a fast-draining media composed of garden soil, perlite, and peat. This mixture ensures enough space in the soil to allow the roots of your plant to breathe.
Since the Goldfish plant is relatively fast growing and will turn into a full head of plant in no time, get ready to propagate it fast! The best way to do so is through stem cuttings.
They can also be propagated from seed.
Is the Nematanthus Gregarius toxic to cats, dogs, or humans?
With the vibrant color of the flowers and the deep green, succulent-like leaves of the Goldfish plant, it is quite prone to be nibbled by your pets. While this behavior should not be encouraged, the plant is considered non-toxic and safe for household pets.
* There have been no negative health issues reported with the goldfish plant. Keep in mind toxicity information on plants can change. This is something that is best talked about with your veterinarian. Even with non-toxic plants, nibbling plants should be avoided, and keeping plants away from pets, especially if they like to eat them, is best.
What pests do you need to look out for?
Because your Goldfish plant can live with lower humidity levels, and the leaves make it hard to inspect your plant, it is possible to miss pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. These common pests can target your Nematanthus Gregarius.
Spider mites and mealybugs can hide at the bottom of your plant’s leaves or in between the node and the leaves.
Aside from root rot which is brought by excessive watering and poor-draining soil, your Goldfish plant is also susceptible to botrytis and fungal leaf spot. Fungal diseases can also infect the flowers of your plant, particularly by botrytis. Caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, this disease will induce discoloration on your rather vibrant blooms and eventually cause them to wilt.
To prevent these fungal diseases from attacking your plant, do not lump your Nematanthus with previously infected plants. In addition, provide it with good ventilation to prevent excess moisture surrounding your plant from attracting molds.