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Columnea gloriosa, or goldfish plant, with its orange, fish-shaped flowers, photographed in a hanging basket at Tula Plants & Design. Columnea gloriosa, or goldfish plant, with its orange, fish-shaped flowers, photographed in a hanging basket at Tula Plants & Design.

Columnea gloriosa

Botanical Name —  Columnea gloriosa

Common Name — Goldfish Plant

Plant Family — Gesneriaceae


Background


Columnea gloriosa, commonly known as the goldfish plant for its bright orange, fish-shaped flowers, is native to South America and the Caribbean. Waxy, dark green leaves that cascade make this a beautiful hanging plant with elegant contrasting colors. Pinching of the growing tips will encourage it to branch, giving it a fuller look.  

 

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Growth Requirements


Sun

  • This plant loves bright indirect light. Keep it in a brightly lit room where the sun does not hit its leaves directly for more than an hour. Excess direct sun can burn the leaves.
  • A north facing window is great, but an east of west facing room well away from the window may be better. Avoid southern exposure.

Temperature/ Humidity 

  • Columnea gloriosa like room temperatures between 65 to 75 ºF.  They should always be kept above 55 ºF. Leaves will drop from this plant if it is exposed to lower temperatures.  
  • These rainforest dwellers love high humidity. Hang near a room humidifier or mist daily with room temperature water. 

Water

  • Allow the soil to completely dry to 2 inches down between waterings.  Water thoroughly when dry and let the excess drain out the bottom of the planter.  Water more often during the spring and summer months.  Reduce watering as often in the fall and winter months.
  • If you water less often in the winter, you’ll be rewarded with more goldfish blossoms come spring.

Soil/Roots

  • Use a well aerated and light potting mix. A quality potting soil amended with up to 50% coco coir is perfect.

Flowering

  • Look out for dozens of goldfish blooms on a mature plant come spring and summer. Limiting watering during winter will encourage a dramatic spring with more blossoms.

Fertilization

  • In Spring and summer, fertilize twice a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, diluted by half.

Propagation

  • Columnea gloriosa can be propagated in spring or summer by stem cuttings. Take a 4 in stem tip cutting. Then, to give it a boost, dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder, then secure in moist potting mix.

Health


Diseases

  • The most common insect pests for Columnea gloriosa in homes are scale and mealybugs. Spider mites can occasionally be a problem as well.
  • Overwatering can cause root rot.
  • Leaf spot diseases can be a problem and are usually caused by improper watering. Prune away infected limbs.

Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • This plant likes to be slightly rootbound, and may bloom better in a more confined space. 
  • If it’s spring or summer and growing has slowed, it’s time to repot. Put it in a new pot with drainage about 2 inches wider than the previous pot.
  • Plants can be selectively pruned to keep the vines from getting too long and to also encourage new growth for a fuller look.  You can cut back to 2 inches from if necessary. Also trim any dead or discolored leaves.
  • Dust or wash leaves frequently to prevent dust from clogging the plant’s pores.

Toxicity

  • Columnea gloriosa is non-toxic to people and pets.