Goldfish Plant Care: Tips to Grow a Columnea Gloriosa

Goldfish plant guide

Goldfish plant or Columnea Gloriosa is a unique indoor spectacle because of its colorful leaves and flowers that appear like goldfish leaping from the hanging pot. This prolific bloomer with a compact growing habit requires plenty of bright light to show off its beautiful bloom in spring and winter. 

It is an easy plant to care for beginners and will reward the efforts of experienced houseplant owners with several blooms over the year.

To grow and care for Goldfish plants, keep in mind the following:

  • Water: sprinkle lukewarm water once each week to keep the soil slightly moist. 
  • Light: provide indirect bright light exposure.
  • Temperature: keep it between 65ºF (18ºC) and 75ºF(24ºC).
  • Soil: a well-draining potting mix with perlite and peat moss is sufficient. African violet potting is a good option.

Proper care will guarantee a spectacular plant that lasts up to ten years with beautiful bloom each spring, summer, and glorious leaves throughout the year. The flowing leaves grow up to 3ft (90cm), giving you a splendid show of dark-green, waxy, and thick leaves.

Let us now look at the specific care requirements for the goldfish plants to guarantee the most beautiful houseplant all year, shall we?

Basic Care Tips for Goldfish Plant or Columnea Gloriosa


Goldfish plants do not require a lot of water, although the soil must never get dry. The waxy leaves preserve a lot of water, allowing the plant to go for days without water. However, dry soil will result in yellowing and eventual withering. Water your goldfish plant at most once a week to keep the soil slightly moist.

The Columnea Gloriosa goes into dormancy during winter, meaning that you can slow down on watering without affecting its growth rate. However, do not allow the soil to become dusty before watering. Consider the temperature indoors during winter because it affects humidity and soil moisture.

Reduced watering encourages intense blooming during spring. Soggy soil will cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall. If the water is too cold, you will shock the roots, causing the plant to wither.


Goldfish plants prefer an environment with high humidity, up to 50% or more. The plant requires daily misting to keep the leaves wet and fleshy. The water used must be at room temperature to protect the leaves. The use of cold water for misting will cause brown spots on the foliage.

Because of the sensitivity to humidity, a monitor will be necessary instead of guessing. A humidity tray will also help to keep the air moist. Because the plant loves hanging pots, plant grouping might not work in enhancing humidity.

Maintaining constant humidity during winter is difficult because of air conditioning systems indoors. Monitor humidity around the plant and keep it away from the AC ducts. Drafts generated by the air conditioning systems cause the air around the vents to dry even though you have a humidifier or humidity trays.


Goldfish plants are not too selective about the soil. However, the soil must generously drain water to prevent root rot and damage on leaves. Remember, if you can master hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil), you can still achieve the most excellent houseplant.

Use an ordinary potting mix for your goldfish plant. The best mix incorporates perlite and peat moss at a ratio of 1:1. If you have trouble choosing the soil, settle for Africa violet potting soil.

In the forest, goldfish plants are epiphytes, meaning that they grow on other plants. Thus, it eliminates the need for too much attention on the soil, especially its fertility. Whichever type of soil you use, it must drain effectively to avoid sogginess.


Bright light is a catalyst for goldfish plants to grow the most beautiful leaves and flowers. However, do not expose the plant to plenty of direct light because it will damage the leaves and affect their appearance. An east-facing window that receives some sunshine in the morning is sufficient, though the plant will still thrive if it gets a little shine in the evening from 3 pm.

Goldfish Plant
Credits: Brewbooks

Do not worry about the absence of natural light during winter because fluorescent bulbs can still provide sufficient light, especially during winter. Between spring and autumn, the light coming through the windows is enough to support and exorbitant bloom.

Light intensity changes through the days and season, meaning that it might take a while before you get the perfect spot for your goldfish plant. You must also keep the plant about 1m away from the window to prevent scorching the leaves.

If the leaves begin to turn brown, you have likely exposed the plant to too much sunlight. Therefore, you should check the plant’s position and adjust to rescue the plant before it withers.


One of the reasons goldfish plants thrive in most homes and offices is their tolerance to average indoor temperature. The plant will thrive in temperatures between 18ºC(65ºF) and 24ºC(75ºF). Just like in the watering process, goldfish plants require a bit of certainty about temperature, meaning that you must protect the plant from sudden changes in temperature.

Goldfish plants can tolerate colder temperatures, especially in winter or at night. The temperature should not go below 60ºF(16ºC). When the temperature goes below 60ºF(12ºC), the leaves will begin to turn yellow and eventually fall off.

High temperatures above 80ºF(26.6ºC) will also interfere with the beauty of your goldfish plant. It reduces humidity around the leaves, causing the leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall.

The best way to protect your goldfish plants from temperature fluctuations is to keep it away from drafts coming from doors, windows, and air conditioning vents.

Advanced Care for Goldfish Plants (Columnea Gloriosa)

Goldfish plants appreciate when you go the extra mile to provide the best care. Such extra care is aimed at imitating the Central and South American environment where the plant is a native. It also helps you to avoid some problems like diseases and pests that would interfere with the beauty of your houseplant.

Pay attention to the following requirements, and you will get the most beautiful goldfish plant.

Let’s begin.


Goldfish plants have some of the most beautiful blooms among houseplants. This plant blooms between spring and summer. It requires a lot of light and slightly dry soil to produce the most beautiful bloom during that time.

Towards the end of spring, reduce the amount of water to leave the soil slightly dry. Add half a dose of high phosphorous liquid fertilizer twice a month during spring to enhance blooming. Fertilization enhances the frequency and intensity of blooming.

Once the blooming period begins, increase the amount of water without turning the soil soggy. High temperature is also necessary to stimulate flowering. A little bit of misting will also enhance the beauty of your bloom, giving you a spectacular bloom.

The beauty of your goldfish plant also lies in the leaves. The shape of the leaves helps to distinguish different varieties of goldfish plants.

Avoid watering the leaves and flowers directly during the flowering season.


Since goldfish plants grow on tree trunks and other plants, they do not require a lot of fertile soil. However, it requires substantial nitrogen-rich soil to support vibrant foliage growth. Fertilization needs will also change depending on the growth-season and flowering intensity.

Goldfish plants require phosphorus fertile soil during planting. Too much fertilization is also unfavorable for the plant when it matures. Nevertheless, the robust growing season between spring and summer requires a lot of fertilizer, which also enhances the intensity of blooming.

Goldfish plants do not require a lot of fertilization during winter. Since liquid fertilizer is recommended, overfertilization could also affect soil moisture and humidity.

Too much water and fertilizer will delay blooming and lower the glow of the flowers. Apply liquid fertilizer once a month during winter to avoid overfertilization.


Goldfish plants are aggressive growers and will require regular trimming to keep them younger. Pruning also promotes robust foliage growth, which will result in intense blooming. The plant will bloom best when you keep the blooms between 30-45cm(12-18 inches).

Pruning will also help you to control the growth rate for your plant. Trim the stems to keep them within your desired length and maintain the intensity of bush you want around the pot. Prune in early spring so that the plant can recover and begin to flower.

Pruning should target the older stems and stalks, especially those that are withering. Trim the stems and leaves that are diseases or pest-infested. Pruning also helps you to reduce overcrowding, which may affect aeration.


Goldfish plants do not quickly outgrow their host container and will. Therefore, they can take several years before requiring repotting. It will take two to three years before the plant requires repotting. However, your pruning habit will determine the frequency of repotting.

Other factors might necessitate repotting, including soil damaged by waterlogging or chemical fertilizer. Use the next container size and add a new soil mix to improve its quality. Repot in early spring so that the plant will have recovered in time for flowering. Expect delayed and reduced intensity flowering after repotting.


Goldfish plants are propagated by root stem cutting. Stick several stem cuttings to improve the chances of sprouting. Propagate during spring when the weather is warm enough to support root development. Rooting hormones will increase the pace of regeneration.

Pest Prevention

The numerous small leaves provide a hiding spot for the pesky parasites, making it difficult to control pests and diseases. The common pests are aphids and spider mites.

Spray the pests using the recommended solutions, but first, test the insecticide on a few leaves to see that it does not damage the leaves.

Frequently Asked Questions About Goldfish Plants (Columnea Gloriosa)

Is goldfish plant safe for cats?

Goldfish plants are not poisonous to cats. The cats like munching on the leaves because they help with digestion.

Why is my goldfish plant sticky?

The plant could be infected with scales, some tiny insects that perch on the leaves and suck their moisture. The sticky mixture is their excretion called honeydew.

Why are leaves falling off my goldfish plant?

The soil is either too wet or too dry. If you do not have a watering problem, the plant could be going into dormancy, which is not necessarily an issue.

How fast do goldfish plants grow?

Goldfish plant is a perennial species that reaches maturity within two years. However, the size of foliage and intensity of blooming will depend on fertilization, water, lighting, and humidity, among other care factors. The plant will remain vibrant up to ten years if you provide adequate care.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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