The Goldfish Plant is epiphytic – happily growing, hanging from trees in mainly tropical areas – rainforests in particular. The trees are simply the anchor points for growth and are not host by way of feeding. As with all epiphyses, the Nematanthus take most of their nutrition direct from the air, with added access to the rotting debris at its anchor point – normally in the crotches of trees.
When growing Nematanthus – or Hypocyrta – as a houseplant, it would be as well for the long term health of the plant, if you bear its origins in mind and try to emulate them as much as possible.
Even if you cannot replicate a a rainforest indoors, the goldfish Plant is still a relatively easy plant to grow, and quite adaptable to growing in a hanging pot.
The Plant: The Goldfish Plant has leathery, shiny dark green leaves borne on tough stems, and striking orange elongated tubular flowers with lipped opening attached close to the stems.
Goldfish Plant - Nematanthus gregarious - Nematanthus radicans
Its needs: A loose open-draining potting mix is essential – loam free being best - as are warmth, humidity and strong light to promote good flower production for the Goldfish Plant
The Nematanthus should be watered freely in spring, but only given a monthly liquid feed. Reduce watering at end of summer and through the autumn and winter. The plant tips can be pinched back in spring to maintain a compact bushy plant. The Goldfish Plant rarely suffers from pest attack.
Good for: Nematanthus is ideal for growing in hanging containers or pots. An interesting feature plant when in flower and easy to maintain.
Aphids are the main problem to look for – but mainly on blooms and new growth. Otherwise generally free of pests. The exception being, that if the plant is grown in dry atmosphere, red spider mite could become a problem.
Cuttings of Goldfish plants are the normal way forward, with 10cm long tips inserted in compost in pot or heated propagator. Spring or early summer best, and keep in humid conditions with clear plastic bag over pot and cutting.
Good for: Nematanthus is ideal for growing in hanging containers or pots. An interesting feature plant when in flower. Easy to maintain.