How to Care for a Goldfish Plant


If you are looking for some color for your indoor hanging basket, consider the goldfish plant. The stems can reach 3 feet in length and it blooms in 3-inch, goldfish-colored flowers. Goldfish plants (Columnea rubra) are epihytic plants, native to Panama. They can be a challenge to grow successfully, and need to be pampered, says Ron Smith, horticulturist at the South Dakota State University Extension. Given the right amount of light and water, however, this cheery, orange, flowering plant will thrive.

Step 1

Place your goldfish plant in an area where it will receive bright light, but not direct sunlight. It also requires temperatures above 60 degrees F, without drafts.

Step 2

Water the goldfish plant to maintain slightly damp, not moist, soil. If the plant begins to lose leaves, cut back on watering. Some varieties prefer to dry out between waterings. When you do water the plant, give it a good drenching, allowing all the water to drain from the bottom of the pot. In the winter, water every 10 days.

Step 3

Mist the plant three times a week with a water bottle. Like African violets, a relative, the goldfish plant has high-humidity needs.

Step 4

Fertilize the goldfish plant with a high-phosphorous, water-soluble fertilizer, such as 8-14-9, once a month during spring and summer. Fertilize the plant immediately after watering.

Step 5

Trim the plant back to 18 inches every three months using gardening shears. This will encourage the plant toward more growth and make it bushier.

Step 6

Repot your goldfish plant every two years in the spring, with equal parts of sphagnum moss, perlite and vermiculite.

Things You'll Need

  • Water bottle
  • Fertilizer
  • Gardening shears
  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Vermiculite
  • Perlite


  • North Dakota State University Extension
  • "The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual: Essential Gardening Know-How for Keeping (Not Killing) More Than 160 Indoor Plants;" Barbara Pleasant; 2005
Keywords: grow a goldfish plant, care for a goldfish plant, epiphytic plants

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.