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Help..I don't know what to do with my gold fish plant.

14 years ago

Please help..This is my first gold fish plant, and I don't know if I am suppose to cut it, or let it grow tall?

Is it suppose to grow bushy and full? Please give me some ideas..

Thanks so much!

Comments (44)

  • 14 years ago

    Sorry, I forgot the picture..


  • 14 years ago

    Can't tell for sure since you don't state the size of pot or how tall but it appears VERY elongated to me...not enough light.
    Google some pics from reputable sites so you know how it should look.

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  • 14 years ago

    It is in a 4inch pot and about 4 inches high from the soil surface..I didn't think it would be that difficult to ask anyone what they would do. Ideas?

    Thanks though..:-)

  • 14 years ago

    I've never grown them so I won't give any advice except I think it needs more light. They are more bushy and full and have seen them in hanging pots.

  • 14 years ago

    I was thinking that there just might not be enough plants in the same pot to make it bushier, or if I need to dead head it to branch out...

    It does get morning light. I just figured if it gets more than this, it might not like it, like let's say the leaves burn in the full sun spot on my window sill.....Hummm

    Thanks alot though for even responding!:-)

  • 14 years ago

    Where did you get it from? The reason I ask is because I've never seen one not bushy with so little. Was it just cuttings someone grew? If so then perhaps cutting it back could force branching. You could probably root the cuttings in perlite. IMO for a flowering plant morning probably isn't enough especially this time of year with the days short. But yes, in summer you wouldn't want to fry it in direct sun. I thought you had artificial lighting.
    You might try cutting one back and see what happens or even pinching it back with the next set of leaves.
    You have time for that experiment until spring to root cuttings. It's probably not growing that much right now anyway.

  • 14 years ago

    I used to have a Goldfish plant. I pinched out the tips regularly to help keep it bushy. And probably bright but indirect light might help.

  • 14 years ago

    I've grown a few.

    #1 It's way too young to be worrying about branching.

    #2 "Morning light" is not enough if you mean less than an hour of direct sun at dawn, and dim the rest of the day. Double check the length and intensity of the "morning light", and the rest of the day, too.

    I suspect that better light, light feeding, and time will solve most of your problems. BTW, I suggest that you rotate your plants regularly to prevent leaning--about a quarter turn a week.

    Kevin : )

  • 14 years ago

    Mike, your Goldfish is doing's still young, so don't worry about pruning, just yet. Unless it starts growing spiindly.
    Mine is in a west 'bathroom' window, sprayed daily,loves humidity and summer it goes outside, in a semi-bright spot.
    Even if grown in a not-too-bright outdoor place, foliage reddens. They need to be rootbound, and at least 7-9 months old to flower..Mine blooms from spring till fall, but I'm starting to think if we lived in a warmer climate, it'd bloom year

  • 14 years ago

    Thankyou so much everyone!

    I wasn't sure if they were suppose to grow long and hang over pots, or short and bushy, or if it was a personal preference. I don't have access to the google anything here at work, so your help in deciding what to do meant alot!

    Goblue, thanks again.

    Bunnygirl and kevin, thankyou!

    Toni and thankyou and BIG hug...So glad to see you here so much lately. You are a master worker at growing plants and kind to help. You know I am a firm beleiver of showering my plants..:-). I think I might try growing mine in the bathroom..It is a toss between my violet, or my goldfish..hum

  • 14 years ago

    Hey Mike..You're so actually found a Gold Fish. Have you ever see its flowers? They truly resemble
    So, the name is appropriate.

    Mike, you know me..Sometimes I'm here four months in a row, then disappear for two or depends on the time of year and my mood..
    There are days I don't even turn on the puter, and other times spent answering emails.
    Once I get started working on my own plants, I don't dare turn on the puter, otherwise it takes twice as long, and it takes long enough as it is, especially when plants get their

    BTW, I hope you're feeling better..Are you? Toni

  • 14 years ago

    Toni..I think I got it figured out!lol

    You disappear in the Fall and early Spring, in order to make time to lug all the pots out and indoors!

    Then somewhere in the middle of winter, the depression sets in from lack of sun. Then in summer, outdoors from the wee hours of the morning, till the wee hours of the night, enjoying the fresh air with your beauties..

    Sometimes, that leaves little room for the puter, not alone all those showers, and family

    I am glad this is a period of time where you can be here with us, reminding us of certain things that our plants require in order for them to remain healthy.

    By the way, my "goldfish" won out. I assured it that it would grow nowhere near the toilet.

    I am doing better, just a bad chest ciold still. From having so many little ones around me so often. They are walking bacteria magnets!

    The sun is shining longer and longer each day on my plants. I am so happy about that, along with the lengthing of days...

    Have fun today and enjoy the sun!

  • 14 years ago

    Hey, Mike!
    I saw these Goldfish plants at the nursery yesterday, and they had a pot full of cuttings that looked just like yours. I agree - don't worry, it's still very young!


  • 14 years ago

    Thanks Josh! I can tell your puter is working now,


  • 14 years ago

    The computer is still acting up...but I'm able to stay connected for longer and longer intervals without the browser crashing or the whole system closing! Oh the frustration of losing a long Post or e-mail reply! By the way, Mike, I sent you a message this morning (with some Threads for you to check out when you can view pics). I won't forget your PUMICE! ;)


  • 14 years ago


    I just went out and bought a Goldfish plant after reading this post. I was at a local nursery and they just got some in!

    The blooms have started on this one already.


  • 14 years ago

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!Vince, what are you trying to do to me...

    I am going to have to put mine on steroids and tones of ST before mine can even start to look like that!!

    God, another plants to add to all your other beautiful ones..Do I sense I had an effect on your new purchase..?lol

    That is such a beauty. Congrats! That is what I hope mine looks like before my number is up..:-)


  • 14 years ago

    Mike, I love your little goldfish plant. I have one very small one from a friend. I would absolutely love to have one the size of Vince though!! AWESOME goldfish plant Vince...thanks for posting.

    Vince, care to share what nursery had that beauty?? I'd love to get one that size **sigh**

    BTW, I know mine didn't like direct fl sun, it might tolerate a little more northern sun, but it fried mine in full sun. Yours looks great Mike, if you want it a little bushier, I would do as suggested above, tip prune or take off short cuttings and plant back in the pot...for a bushier plant.

  • 14 years ago

    Mike, that's pretty much the it..In 2006, there was a personal problem here at home, so I didnt turn on the puter from Nov until Apr...that's the longest..
    I always enjoyed Gw..There were times I'd get on and just read threads..not reply..
    Plus there are other forums here on GW I love.
    You have SUN???? Lucky's pitch black here..has been all week. Very very depressing..sigh.

    Pug, I guess exposure depends where one lives..Since you're in Fl, setting a GF plant in a south or west window might burn..In cooler/colder climates, with day after sunless day, placing a GF and many other plants, in south and/or west windows is necessary, otherwise plants grow spindly. As of the last month, my high-light plants are thriving, thanks to artificial
    As a matter of fact, my GF needs a haircut, even though it's in one of the brightest windows inside. 'no added lighting in the bathroom, lol.' Toni

  • 14 years ago

    No Pug, sorry, may I pls. disagree w/ your suggestion?

    Several people (3 ?) in the above thread have suggested Mike's plant is too young to even think abt pruning or taking stem/tip clippings. Also it's the wrong time of year (plus he's in cold MASS), best to wait 'til Spring. His plant just needs TIME (& patience) to grow.

  • 14 years ago

    Thankyou Pg.

    And yes, thank god the sunsets are getting later in the day...My plants are starting to respond for sure.


  • 14 years ago

    Hi Mike,

    Here is a picture of my GF plant. The place it is sitting in this picture get morning sun. As you can see, it gets enough light to make the leaves nice and dark maroon.

    It has bloomed for me almost non stop since I got it as a rescue from a friend. As you can see, it gets long enough that it drapes over the edge of the basket, when it gets long enough to touch the table I clip it back. But the flowers come from new growth, so it rarely flowers on the lower parts.

    When I first got mine, I re planted it into a new pot, and not my usual potting mix. I used african violet mix, its a lot looser than what I use for my hoyas, and stays wet a bit longer too. I have learned they don't like to go dry but not too wet either.

    Contrary to other posts, I root the cuttings I take off of the mamma, and keep them clipped back as well, these are new cuttings mind you. I have traded a butt load of these cuttings with friends, and all have reported good results. If you keep a plant trimmed, new growth that is, it encourages the roots to grow, thus making more plant. I say decide what size you want it to be and trim off anything below that point. And stick the cuttings back in the pot with the mamma, it will fill in before you know it.


  • 14 years ago

    Toni, you're so right about the intensity of the sun...FL def. can fry eggs on the sidewalk in the summer,lol...

    Maid...what an "AMAZING" GOLD FISH plant you have. Thanks so much for posting that picture!! Now, where or where can I buy one half that size,lol...anyone, anyone? Bueller?

  • 14 years ago

    Pug, lol...easier than messing a frying pan..

    Maid, now YOURS is one gorgeous GF. It's huge. Do you fertilize? If so, how often and what type?
    How do you root its cuttings? Just stick w/mom? Do you root cuttings throughout the year or suggest a certain time? Spring/summer?
    My GF definately needs a's spindly. Would you happen to know if leaves grow on old or new wood?
    I Googled but can't find an answer. Girl, you make it sound so other suggestions? If cuttings can be taken now, as soon as you say the word, I'll go upstairs with a pair of scissors and either a second pot or they'll go w/mom. Please LMK.
    You said you rescued your GF..what condition was it in when you got it? Toni

  • 14 years ago

    Thanks Toni and Pug, it is one of my favorites, . . . heck I can't pick a favorite, but I do like it.

    Toni, I got the plant from my neighbor that I clean for, she has some amazing plants that she neglects so bad. Her hoyas are huge and she doesn't water them and they look so abused. . . but I could go on and on. . . anyway she brought it over and set it on my front porch one day, I didn't even know it was there til the next morning. It was summer so it didn't get damaged. But it was in sad shape, spindly, dried up, barely hangin on. I think thats why she gave it to me, she knew it was on its way out. But I nursed it back to health, and now its a beaut.

    When I take cuttings, I stick em in a different pot. A smaller one. Not all of the cuttings make it, mind you. I loose about half of them. But thats all I do stick em in a pot of moist soil, keep em moist in bright light, no direct sun. I have a small pot of them right now that I just clipped to even it out. It looks like a maroon ball.

    I root them whenever I clip em from mom. Not all of them, but I do most of them. I just don't have the heart to throw any living thing away. But I do give a lot of them away after I root them. I use VF-11 on all of my plants, in the spring and once in the summer I use a bloom booster on the ones that flower or are large enough to flower.

    Toni, here's my way of thinkin,. . . if it's growing it can be clipped. I never pay attention to the time of year. One thing to remember with cuttings, they dont have anyway to get water to the leaves, cuz they don't have roots. . . yet. So one must keep the soil moist, not wet, to induce root growth.

    I rooted my first hoya this way, before I knew better. And even tho I know better now, I stil do it this way. I have not lost a singel cutting to this day. . . well a few of the GF cuttings don't make it but most do. . . hope this helps. Oh yea, leaves grow on the entire stem, old and new, but cuttings are best from new growth, not the woody stems.

    Thanks again for the kudos. . .


  • 14 years ago

    I LOVE this thread everyone..Thank you so so much..
    My puter is finally working, so I can come by and and see how much of a beauty you have there Maid..Wow

    It think it will take years for mine to even come close to that. I bought mine this small, and I should of just bought a large one..Oh, well with all the advice here, just maybe I can make it look at least full by the end of this year..

    Again, Thank you!

  • 14 years ago

    Maid, has your neighbor seen her 'ex' plant lately? Wonder if she'd want it

    One more thing, if you don't mind..Do you cover the pot w/plastic? Thanks so much for taking time to answer. Direct sun??? That's not a problem since we don't even have diffused sun

    I don't use rooting hormone so dont have any lying around..hope that isn't a problem..
    I've never tried rooting Nematanthus. Well, in a bit I'll prepare a small container, take cuttings, add ST and place in medium light..If half make it, that's fine.

    What's the chance of destroying buds by clipping? My Lipsticks start blooming from late Feb on. GF set buds the same time, I Will pruning prevent or set back buds? Thanks, Toni

  • 14 years ago

    Hi guys,
    Thanks Mike. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how fast your GF will become a full grown plant. If you notice it getting spindly, reaching for the light, trim off the *legs* and move it closer to the light. I think you'll do just fine.

    Toni, It's the next morning- did you take your cuttings already? If so, I'm rootin for ya :)

    Yes, my neighbor has seen the plant, she doesn't say much. She has a lot of plants but she's not a *plant person* if that makes sence. I have a huge hoya carnosa from cuttings from one of hers. She has commented a few times about how pretty that one is. Then she tries to offer me some of her advise. . . no thanks :) When I took the cuttings 3 yrs ago, I didn't know they were supposed to be dark green. Her mamma is so pale, withered up, and sad looking. It makes me so angry b/c hers bloom all the time, I can't get any of mine to bloom. But, ALL of her plants are in her sunroom facing south, right up against the windows. I don't know of many plants that can withstand that much light.

    As for the cuttings of GF. I don't cover with plastic. I just put them in moist soil with good drainage and make sure they don't dry out. You are going to have some that wilt and loose leaves. If you can, try to leave those alone, sometimes they will surprise you and root. Due to the small and soft tissue you are rooting, they may rot before they root.

    It shouldn't make your blooming plant stop blooming. But they do bloom from new growth. So if you want flowers, don't trim away all of the new growth. They will eventually bloom from the new growth you inhibit by trimming it.

    I don't mind all of the ???'s. I may be breaking a lot of rules in doing what I do, but it works for me. I hope it works for you too. I try and try to help my sister with her plants. I root all kinds of plants for her I give her insructions on how/where to grow them but she doesn't listen. Then blames me or worse yet. . . the *stupid plant* so I guess what works for me doesn't mean it will work for you. . . Good luck. . .

    Hers a pic of a small pot of cuttings I have going now. This is about a month old or so. . . I just trimmed it yesterday to help even it out.


  • 14 years ago

    Oh, that is soooo beautiful!!! I love the orange coloring in it!!

    I love all the information you are sharing with us...really appreciate it!

    You said you don't play by the rules sometimes. Lol, who wants to? Look at the great job you are doing. I can only hope mine looks as nice at yours..:-)

  • 14 years ago

    Maid,'re 'rooting' for pun?
    No, didn't take cuttings yet..I was waiting to see if you answered about the plastic..I'll get to it today..
    Maid, who follows rules??? lol..Don't get me wrong..I'm careful w/watering and fertilizing, but after years growing, you get a feel for it..For instance, even though I suggest newbies test soil before watering, this isn't something I do...but I did in the beginning, after receiving 3 plants, watching them die. I bought a plant book, Hyponex, being the first, read and reread.
    But no true rules.
    Your GF is amazing, so following your advice is enough proof for me.. :)

    God, your cuttings look better than my they rooted? Maid, don't worry, if they don't root, it's not anything you suggested..I have more luck rooting in water..and I expect some, if not all, to kick the bucket.
    Have you ever rooted these guys in water? Thanks so much for all your information..

    Mike, how are you doing today? You guys getting snow? I watched the WC after hearing CA got hit w/snow..lots of it. They mentioned the east coast, but never did hear anything about
    It's pouring rain here.,.sigh..Toni

  • 14 years ago

    Hi Toni,
    Yes, I have rooted them in water. I put some in a shot glass and wrapped the cut end in spagnum moss to help keep them in the water. When they rooted (like in a week, no lie) I planted moss and all into the soil. A nice gentleman from one of these forums looked at my photobucket account and saw a picture of my Goldfish plant then contacted me to see if he could get some cuttings from me. I just sent him the already rooted ones. He was so thrilled. He contacted me before Christmas and showed me a picture of what they look like now. He did a good job, the plant is very healthy and BIG . . . ! So, yes, it can be done. If you have better luck doing it that way, I'd say go for it.

    Yes, the cuttings have rooted. I've trimmed them a few times already. Just the new leaves tho, nothing worth keeping to root. The cup they are in is clear, as you can see, so I see the roots are quite large already. Filling in the pot nicely.

    Again, good luck. . . don't be afraid to ask if you have more ???'s. . .


  • 14 years ago

    I purchased my plant at Mostardi's Nursery

    They claimed to have JUST gotten them in and I remember Mike's post about the little guy so I added one to my family.

    Mike, you did have a effect on my addition, and thank you :)

  • 14 years ago

    Aw..Your welcome..I am sure it is going to be vert HAPPY sitting at the end of your finger tips!

    From reading, I didn't think these things were so easy to root..Great!

    Toni, it didn't snow at all..In fact it is pouring out today..It was in the 20's yesterday, and today in the 50's just like that..It was 22 degrees at 5am, then by 7am, it was 51..We are suppose to get thunder and winds of up to 55 miles per hour..Crazy I tell you.

    Lol, I was going to stick a few of my larger plants outside today to get a good wash, fresh air, and a good drink just for a day, but I forgot too!


  • 12 years ago

    I am new to the forum. Hi all! I have a GF plant that I bought last summer. I has NEVER had more than three blooms at a time, if I'm lucky! Mine is in a South window so it gets plenty of light. I mist it daily, but do not over-water it. I know I need to cut it back as it is quite straggly. My other issue is alot of the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. What am I doing wrong? The base of the plant has very few leaves on it. Thanks in advance! Robin

  • 12 years ago

    Hi Birdie and Welcome.

    Humidity, bright light, proper watering and fertilizer is important.

    Did you summer your Gold Fish/Nematanthus outdoors last year? They do great outside, usually flower profusely.

    Depending on species, Nems bloom different times of the year. Some are winter-bloomers.

    Like many, 'not all but some Gesneriads,' allowing soil to dry completely, then giving a hardy drink will promote flowering.

    Do you fertiilze...if so, what brand and NPK?
    Try a flowering plant fertilizer, middle number higher. Example 5-10-5 or 10-15-10.

    Misting, showering and humidity treys increase humidity..adding a humidifer is not only good for plants, but people/pets, too.

    Since stems are spindly, get ready to prune. Cuttings can be rooted so don't discard.

    Tight-fitting roots also help promote flowering so try not to over-pot. Unless roots are growing out of drainage holes there's no need to repot.

    Hope this helps. Toni

  • 12 years ago

    Hi, Birdie. How long has it been since your last repot? One of the symptoms of tight roots is shedding of lower and interior foliage. If the internodes (distance between the leaves) are growing shorter, your plant needs a repot, but winter and early spring are poor times to consider repotting - especially for plants that are stressed and very low on energy reserves. Root congestion can promote blooming in some plants, but root congestion IS a stress, and as such limits growth and vitality to a degree that varies with the amount of congestion. I think the wise thing to do would be to get your plant healthy again, and THEN worry about blooming. Sound reasonable?

    When did you last fertilize? Often, plants starved for nutrients, particularly nitrogen, shed foliage after 'harvesting' mobile nutrients from older leaves so new leaves can grow.

    Culturally, you can treat your plant like most succulents. Letting it dry down completely IS a stress, so try to time it so you're watering just before soil is completely dry.

    Humidity is no problem for this plant. It's glossy leaves are very high in cuticular wax, which helps guard against low indoor humidity.

    I'm sorry, but I disagree that a fertilizer with a high middle number is a good choice for any containerized plant. There are no plants that use more P (the middle number) than either N or K (first and last numbers). The excess P adds unnecessarily to the level of salts in the soil and can actually contribute to leaf loss and deficiencies of other nutrients ...... particularly iron and manganese. That may be more information than you need, but others too, may be curious as to why high P fertilizers are not such a good choice for container plants.

    Best luck - let me know if there are any other questions you think I might help you with.


  • 12 years ago

    Birdie. Gold Fish/Namatanthus are high-humidity plants. There's no two ways about it.

    Anthuriums have glossy leaves, yet w/o proper humidity leaves and leaf tips brown, among other problems.

    When it's time to fertilize, go to your local garden shop and choose a fertilizer that says, For Flowering Plants. Toni

  • 12 years ago

    Birdie - I'm really sorry, but this type of contradiction happens regularly. I tried to explain why I offered my thoughts so there would be less cause for confusion. I grow this plant at work where there is no supplemental humidity, so the environment is (literally) drier than the Sahara Desert. While it's not good to let this plant go completely dry, I often do. Even in view of that, the foliage remains perfect. A picture if you'd like to see it - I work tomorrow.

    In a recent conversation with the CEO of Foliage-Pro Corp, I was discussing fertilizers. Dave Neal makes himself available, so anyone who would like to call him for his thoughts can do so. In our conversation, he confirmed that there is essentially never (his word) a time that it would be appropriate to use a fertilizer with a middle number higher than the first or last numbers. In particular, he mentioned that everyone (again, his word) using his formulation 7-9-5, a high-P fertilizer, should actually be using 9-3-6 or another fertilizer with a 3:1:2 ratio (12-4-8 and 24-8-16) are other 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers.

    I apologize for the information overload, but I think it's important that growers get solid information, and I'm sure others will be reading the thread. If you're confused, don't hesitate to ask questions. The more you know, the more you'll be able to squeeze out of the growing experience.

    Best luck.


  • 12 years ago

    meyermike, here's a photo of my goldfish plant (Just found out today what it is, thanks to Rhizo). This photo is about seven years old; the plant itself is 28 years old. The second photo is a closeup of a bloom, taken from a start I gave someone. It's much bushier and less straggly now since I started cutting it back.

    I'm not a very good "mother"; I water about once a week. The plant tells me, though, when it's thirsty because some of its leaves start to lose their gloss. I live in a very low-humidity area.



  • 12 years ago

    Its BEAUTIFUL Susan! In fact, if there was a way to get a few cuttings from you, I would pay! I have a variegated one and a plain orange one.

    My orange one took off after a transplant this past summer and now it has already fill the They LOVE the outdoors under a tree with morning or late afternoon sun. You can tell they love the outdoors better than inside although mine now is still looking very nice
    It has finished flowering just last month and now is very green but shortened and curled until the humidity and long days of summer return.

    I will take a recent pic for you tomorrow!:-)

    Wait, I never showed you what it looked like after less than 2 years, YES, less than 2 years after that photo was taken. I can't wait till you see and you will never believe it. Be right back.



  • 12 years ago

    mayermike, your photos are great. Isn't this an amazing plant? I really like my striped and spotted tropicana, but your "fish" look much more realistic; very nice. Good luck!

  • 12 years ago

    Good job, Mike. You're new foliage shouldn't be coming on in anything other than dark green - wassup w/that? ..... a trick of the light or is the new growth chlorotic?


  • 12 years ago

    That's 'your', not you're. I know the grammar police watch closely. ;-) My bad.


  • 12 years ago

    Lol Al!

    It has to be a lighting trick! You know that plant is growing with an extension of your hand too:-)

    No chlorotic leaves yet as of tonight, at least from what I see. Don't scare me like that. My last gold fish of hundreds did bite the dust two days ago though:-(


    Susan it is and thank you for your kind comments! I have to tell you though that I need to find one like yours"-) By the way, my plant is half the size now it was just last month! It needed a huge trim to fit in that window.
    It's amazing how fast they grow when we treat them right. The happier they are, the more