Indoor Goldfish Plant Care – Should We Plant Goldfish Indoors?

The goldfish plant can be categorized as a house plant, making it an indoor plant also. Some people consider it one of the hardy house plants, but it requires a reasonably experienced or attentive gardener to take care of it. We shall look at this plant’s husbandry requirements and why it can do well in an indoor setting. Meanwhile, the following is a summary of what you need to know about it.

Botanical NameNematanthus gregarious/ Columnea gloriosa
Common NameGoldfish Plant
Size2-3 inch stem and 3 feet long branches
FloweringSpring and Summer
Flower colorRed, orange, and yellow
OriginBrazil, Central America, and the Caribbean

This is a tropical epiphyte. Being an epiphyte means that it grows on other trees. Though it grows on other trees, the goldfish plant isn’t a parasite. It gets no minerals, except for some water through the roots; it gets them through the leaves. This form of metabolism means that the plant’s foliage and atmosphere are vital for its health.

The goldfish plant is exceedingly attractive with its waxy dark green leaves and orange-red flowers. The appearance of these flowers gives the plant the name goldfish plant because they look like little goldfishes. It blooms in spring and summer, and it is quite prolific in its flowering. However, the plant requires certain conditions to be in place to help it bloom properly.

Goldfish Plant Care Indoor

The following are the growth conditions that make it advisable for the plant to be grown in-house.

It has a Big Appetite for Light

The goldfish plant’s metabolism mainly occurs through photosynthesis. As an epiphyte, it requires the leaves to do a lot of work to meet their energy needs. Flowering is one of the most energy-intensive processes in a plant and, therefore, if your goldfish plant doesn’t get enough light, you will not get what you need from it, flowers. Inadequate light also causes this plant to become leggy as it tries to reach for the light. Its stem is supposed to be short, just enough to provide anchorage for the branches, so the plant looks abnormal and unhealthy when it grows tall. Besides this, low light causes the plant to shed leaves.

The fact that it needs an average of thirteen hours of light daily to bloom indicates just how important lighting is to it. Unfortunately, we get sunlight for thirteen hours a day on infrequent occasions. This means you will have to supplement the available sunlight with grow lights to help the plant achieve its daily sunlight needs for the best results. These grow lights work best in an indoor setting, and this is one of the reasons why it is not only possible to grow goldfish plants in the house, it is advisable to do so.

Need for Indirect Sunlight

Still, on light, many people erroneously assume that tropical houseplants require direct sunlight. Most tropical houseplants are small and tropical forests are their natural habitat. These forests have much larger plants, such as trees that block direct sunlight from reaching these smaller plants. The goldfish plant is one of these relatively small tropical plants that we domesticate to decorate our homes.

The size of a goldfish plant is about a three-inch stem that branches into many branches in different directions. These branches can grow up to three feet, which is still no match for other vegetation in the Brazilian tropical forests. As a result, the goldfish plant isn’t adapted to handle direct sunlight. It is often difficult for a plant to encounter direct sunlight growing outside. Keeping the goldfish plant indoors protects it from getting hit directly by the sun’s rays. Direct sun rays often mess up the humidity around the plant and scorch the leaves, causing them to drop off.

You should keep the plant next to the eastern window to get as much sun as possible without encountering the rays. This kind of control is only possible if you own this plant indoors.

Best Temperature for Indoor Goldfish Plant

This plant performs best within a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 24 degrees Celsius). The temperature range is rather specific and narrow. Outdoor temperatures tend to fluctuate rather wildly, and there is an excellent possibility that your plant will fail or, at best, fail to perform optimally in those conditions.

The goldfish plant is not cold-hardy, and any temperatures below zero degrees can be fatal to it. These exceedingly low temperatures will freeze the plant, but they are also usually accompanied by an overcast sky so that this plant doesn’t get its coveted sunlight. If you plant them indoors, you will be able to control the temperature, keep it within the optimum range, protect the plant from frost, and feed it with artificial light. With this information, you can see why it is advisable to grow the plant indoors.


As an epiphyte, the goldfish plant doesn’t need a lot of water. All it needs is for the soil to be moist. Too much water in the soil causes the goldfish plant’s leaves to fall off. There may be too much rain if you plant the goldfish plant outdoors in your environment. The soil where you have planted the goldfish plant may be easy to drain, but there will be waterlogging if the water is uncontrolled.

goldfish plant
Photo by @askkdesign via Instagram


Blooming is the Goldfish Plant’s most intensive activity as far as the need for nutrients is concerned. It blooms throughout the year but most heavily in spring and summer. In these two seasons, you need to feed the plant most heavily. Remember, the plant is an epiphyte, and it is therefore not equipped to take up nutrients from the soil like a traditional plant. The best way to feed it is to use a liquid, well-balanced fertilizer rich in phosphorus.

Phosphorus is vital for the plant’s flowering; dilute the liquid fertilizer with an equal measure of water and feed every two weeks. Fertilize at longer intervals in the rest of the seasons because the plant will still flower. You should be careful not to over-fertilize because this can lead to the death of the plant.


Since the roots are either forming or getting into the soil, all humidity has to come from the leaves. You will ensure the plant is well watered by increasing the moisture in the atmosphere surrounding the plant. You can do this by spraying the leaves with water. It is much easier to maintain the humidity to a certain level indoors than outdoors, so you should propagate the goldfish plant indoors.

Amount Of Light For Indoor Goldfish Plant

The cutting also needs many hours of light every day for effective metabolism. It requires a lot of energy for rooting, and therefore light is vital. You will need to keep it indoors to supplement natural light with grow lights because light from the sun won’t be enough. With this information on the importance of controlled humidity and light, it is clear the best place to care for this plant where its propagation is concerned is indoors.


After you have taken care of the goldfish plant to produce a healthy plant, it will be naturally beautiful in the leaves and deliver flowers. However, there are specific ways you can groom it to make it even more attractive. You get the best out of the goldfish plant’s appearance when you position it in a hanging basket.

It is recommended that you cut the branches from three feet and maintain them at two feet. This gives it a uniform appearance all around. More importantly, for the topic of discussion, hanging gardens appear best in sheltered locations instead of the outdoors. Grooming of the goldfish plant, therefore, is easier indoors than outdoors.


The best way to propagate the goldfish plant is by cuttings or plant division. Plant division usually happens during repotting. If the potted plant had several cuttings potted together, you can then pull apart some of the shoots and plant them in a different pot as you repot the rest. People often plant several plant shoots to increase is the thickness and allow them to grow foliage fast.

The other option is through cuttings. You cut off live edges of branches that font have branches and root them using sphagnum moss or clean water. During rooting and afterward, you will need to maintain these plants in similar conditions that would be necessary for them to grow.

Common Problems

The following are some indicators that your plant is unhealthy and what they could mean.

  • Legginess: This plant is supposed to have a very short stem from which branches proceed all over the pot. Legginess is when it has a long stem; it makes the plant lose its aesthetic appeal. It is usually caused by poor lighting. Nematanthus gregarious prefers constrained spaces like growing in a pot. It is likely to get leggy if you don’t grow it in a pot.
  • Leaf browning and drop: This is usually a result of overwatering. This plant is also averse to too much water. Overwatering being a problem for this plant can sound a bit off since we have also seen that it loves humidity. The problem is when there is too much water coming through the roots. The plant isn’t equipped to handle such. Leaf drops can also be caused by low light; the Goldfish Plant needs intense light for long hours every day.
  • Not flowering: The goldfish-like flowers are this plant’s greatest attraction throughout the year. The plant misses an important quality without flowers. Failure to flower either means the plant isn’t getting enough fertilizer or it is not getting sufficient light.

Pests and Diseases

The Goldfish Plant is highly vulnerable to attacks of botrytis mold, mosaic viruses, and fungal leaf spots. You can keep the diseases at bay by being diligent in keeping the plant in a healthy environment. However, if the goldfish plant gets infected, you can treat it with recommended antifungal and antiviral interventions.

This plant is also susceptible to pests such as aphids, plant scale, mealybugs, and spider mites. Like in the case of diseases, the best way to control these pests is to prevent the plants from being infected. If, however, the plant gets infected, you can cure it using natural remedies.

You can keep the plant safe from pests by applying neem oil. Neem oil is a systemic pesticide that makes the succulent unpalatable to pests. Also, you can use organic pesticides such as hot pepper spray, garlic spray, and biological controls such as introducing predators that eat the pests. Other simple ways of getting rid of these pests include rubbing the infected areas with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol.

The alcohol should have at least 70% concentration. Spraying the infested plant with a water mixture and liquid soap or pesticide soap also helps. Always spray a single leaf before spraying the whole plant. Testing the plant this way lets you see if using the pesticide would negatively affect the plant.

beautiful goldfish plant
Photo by @tj_caron760 via Instagram

Final Thought

The goldfish plant needs attention if it is what you intend for it to be. The temperature, humidity, and light must be maintained within specific ranges for the plant to hold on to its leaves and produce flowers. The two elements of the plant are what people seek after.

Maintaining the conditions necessary for the health of the plant’s leaves and flowers is easier indoors than it is outdoors. Except for the plant’s natural environment, human intervention is always necessary. This is why the goldfish plant can firmly be said to be an indoor plant.


Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

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Posted in Perennial Plants