How to Take Care of a Goldfish Plant?

Columnea species, the Goldfish plant, requires proper care and optimal conditions to attain its flower hue and correct flowering period. Columnea comprises around 1500 species, commonly known as the “goldfish plant,” and is characterized by its unique curved tubular blossoms that aptly describe its flowers, which resemble leaping goldfish. During the low-light conditions of winter, minimal to no blooming is expected. To stimulate robust spring flowering, it is recommended to maintain dry soil in winter without letting it completely dry out. 

Flying Goldfish plant, Image Source: iStock

Read: Goldfish Plant Care: Dealing with Common Diseases and Pests

Goldfish Plant Care

The Goldfish Plant, scientifically known as Columnea, is renowned for its captivating red or yellow goldfish-like blooms. The flowering period typically spans about one month for species variations, while hybrids have the potential for continuous flowering. This plant exhibits various habits, including trailing, spreading, and upright forms. Keeping temperatures below 85 degrees F is essential to prevent adverse effects. A diluted fertilizer application with each watering (¼ strength) is recommended during the active growth rate period. Well-drained soil is crucial for its maintenance. 

Site Selection  

The success of your houseplant is influenced by the spot you choose, as plants require light for growth. The sunlight angle controls light intensity and duration through windows, indoor and outdoor trees, and reflective surfaces like mirrors. 

Light availability in space varies seasonally, requiring adjustments such as moving plants to brighter spots in winter and shadier areas in summer. However, shading becomes crucial from March to September, as some plants cannot tolerate the full intensity of summer sun. The Goldfish plant benefits from direct sun, preferably less than 2-3 hours daily. 

Read: Goldfish Plant – Care, Propagation, and Varieties

Best Location

Ideal locations include an east or west-facing windowsill or positioning a few feet away from a south-facing window. However, plants on the western side may require protection from excessive heat during the summer. This environment is conducive to flourishing flowering plants like Goldfish plants and herbs. 

Columnea x banksii Goldfish Plant, Image: Source iStock

Light And Temperature

The Goldfish Plant (Columnea), prized for its flowers, thrives in relatively low light conditions, making it an excellent indoor flowering plant. Many Columnea varieties boast extended blooming periods; certain hybrids can bloom throughout the year with sufficient light. In their native environments, indoor temperatures varied from 15 to 26 degrees Celsius during the daytime and between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius at night. Plants can suffer permanent damage if exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit[1]Goldfish Plant Care. Read. Proper light and temperature management are crucial to cultivating healthy and blooming Goldfish plants.

Watering Frequency and Tackling Growth Rate

Like other houseplants, Goldfish plants require varying watering frequencies based on pot type, growing media, and growth activity. A general guideline is 

  • To use room-temperature water and water thoroughly when the topsoil feels dry.
  • Cold water should be avoided to prevent these tropical plants’ leaf spotting and root damage. 
  • A potting soil rich in organic matter is suitable for most Goldfish plants. 
  • Careful hand watering is essential to prevent overwatering. 
  • When Goldfish plants stop blooming, gradually withholding water dries the soil.

Humidity And Moisture

The Goldfish plant typically thrives in moderately high humidity conditions. Room humidification is a straightforward method, ensuring the overall humidity is raised. If humidifying an entire room is challenging, an alternative is to place plants on trays filled with water, creating a localized humid environment. It’s crucial to ensure pots are elevated above the water level to prevent constant soil saturation, which can lead to root rot. Managing moisture and humidity is vital for the well-being of the Goldfish plant.

goldfish plant
Photographer: Ron Myhr Grown by: Steve Kerr

Precautions Considered in Cold Temperature

Taking precautions is crucial in cold temperatures to ensure the well-being of plants like the Goldfish Plant (Columnea). 

  • When watering in winter, it’s advisable to avoid wetting the leaves to prevent issues like stem rot. 
  • Blooming challenges may arise during winter due to lower light levels and shorter days. 
  • Monitoring temperatures is essential, and keeping them above 55 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended to prevent potential plant damage.
  • Sills can be extended using wooden or glass shelves to shield plants from the cold window glass. 
  • The Goldfish Plant may tolerate and sometimes benefit from southern exposure during the winter months.

Bonus Tip: Rest Period Strategy

A rest period typically involves adjusting environmental factors like temperature or light exposure to simulate a natural cycle or trigger specific physiological responses in the plant. This intentional alteration in care conditions often promotes certain developmental stages, such as bud formation or preparation for a new growth phase. However, for the Goldfish Plant (Columnea), inducing a one-month rest period at cool temperatures can stimulate bud simulation. 

Implementing Rest Period Strategy on Goldfish Plant

Inducing a rest period for the Goldfish Plant involves creating conditions that simulate a natural seasonal change. Here’s how to perform a rest period:

  • During the rest period, expose the Goldfish Plant to cooler temperatures. Reduce the temperature to around 55 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly lower.
  • Gradually decrease the frequency of watering during the rest period. Avoid scorching the soil between waterings. 
  • Cut back on fertilization during the rest period. However, it helps signal the plant that it’s time to slow down.
  • While Goldfish Plants generally prefer bright, indirect light, consider providing slightly reduced sunlight during the rest period. 
  • Monitor the plant closely during the rest period. Look for signs of reduced growth and a potential slowing down of blooming. This period allows the Goldfish Plant to conserve energy and prepare for a more active growth phase.
  • After the one-month rest period, gradually return the plant to its usual care routine. Increase watering, resume regular fertilization, and ensure it receives adequate light. This transition should be gradual to avoid shocking the plant.


Proper care, including shading and temperature control, ensures the well-being of the Goldfish plant. The Goldfish Plant requires bright light without direct sun exposure, constant moisture, and frequent misting for enhanced humidity to thrive. This article has demonstrated a caring guide for the Goldfish plant. 


1Goldfish Plant Care. Read