Botanical Name: Columnea gloriosa (and varying hybrids)
Origin: The Goldfish Plant has its origins in South and Central America.
Height: Stems that are not pinched back may grow as long as 90 cm (3 ft).
Soil: This house plant grows best in a potting mix that is peat moss based.
Light: Columnea gloriosa and its many hybrids require lots of bright light in order to bloom, but should not be placed into direct sunlight.
Humidity: A humidity tray - or room humidifiers - will help to maintain the moderate to high levels of humidity this house plant requires. The foliage of the Goldfish Plant should be misted daily, using room-temperature water (cold water will results in brown spots developing on the leaves).
Temperatures: Goldfish Plants prefer to be moderately warm, at temperatures ranging between 18 and 24 degrees C (65 to 75 degrees F).
Water: During spring, summer and autumn, the Goldfish Plant should be watered thoroughly. Between watering sessions, the top 5 cm (2 in) of soil should be allowed to dry out a little. In winter, watering can be reduced to almost allowing the soil to dry out between sessions.
Fertiliser: A high phosphorus (10-30-10, for example) liquid fertiliser should be diluted (1:1) and fed to the Columnea gloriosa every 14 days during spring and summer.
Propagation: Goldfish Plants can be propagated from stem tip cuttings at around 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) in length. Ensuring cuttings do not bear flowers, they should be taken in spring or summer and dipped into root hormone powder to improve chances of success. Newly planted cuttings should be kept in a warm, humid and bright area until growth emerges. The new plants will, by the way, not flower until the next summer.
Description and Care Tips
The exotic perennial Columnea gloriosa is a member of the Gesneriaceae family and owes its common name of Goldfish Plant to its long, tubular and typically orange-red flowers, which give an impression of leaping fish.
The long stems of this house plant are densely covered in dark green, thick and waxy leaves. Trailing up to 90 cm (3 ft), these cascade beautifully over the edge of containers, making a particularly spectacular display of foliage and magnificent flowers when planted into a hanging basket or onto a pedestal.
Giving a mature Goldfish Plant plenty of bright, but indirect, light will ensure an abundance of dozens of gorgeous blooms. Keeping the soil slightly on the dry side during the winter months will also help to encourage plentiful flowers in spring, although it is vital not to allow the soil to dry out completely.
Pinching off the Goldfish Plant's growing tips (which can be used for propagation if so desired) will encourage branching and subsequently achieve a much fuller, bushier appearance. In addition, keeping the stems at a maximum of around 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in) will also prevent them from becoming leggy and bare looking.
As this plant blooms best when it is slightly pot-bound, repotting should only be done when absolutely necessary. When this is the case, the plant should be repotted in spring, using a container with drainage holes to prevent soil from becoming soggy.
Growers around the world have bred a wonderful variety of Columnea gloriosa hybrids, some of which feature the same fuzzy leaves as the plant's cousin, the African Violet (with this variety in particular, it is vital to prevent fungal issues by avoiding getting the leaves wet). Other hybrids feature yellow or red flowers, and one, 'Fire Light', features leaves with a lovely variegated pattern.
Somewhat sensitive to moisture on the leaves and high heat, Goldfish Plants should be checked for browning of leaves/ leaf drop, as these signs indicate that either the leaves are getting wet or temperatures are too high.
In addition, aphids, mealy bugs and spider mites have a penchant for these plants, so checking regularly for and immediately treating infestations of these pests is vital.