Nematanthus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Gesneriaceae, native to Brazil, generally an epiphyte in nature and used as a a hanging-basket plant in cultivation.
Species in the genus are shrubs with trailing, branching, and spreading habit and small, succulent and hard-surfaced leaves. The flowers have petals fused into a pouch-like shape, with a small opening. The fancied resemblance of the flower to a goldfish gives the plant its common name.
Sowing & planting
30 - 90
6.3 - 6.9
Plant my goldfish plant
Plant your goldfish plant in a medium usually prepared for moth orchids : 5 parts fresh fir bark, 1 part horticultural charcoal and 1 part sponge rock such as perlite. Avoid using garden mulch in lieu of fir bark, or charcoal for barbecue instead of horticultural charcoal. Goldfish plants are more likely to flower well if kept moderately pot-bound : choose a container which will just accommodate the root system, with sufficient drainage holes. To finish off, water your goldfish plant thoroughly, by simply soaking the plant in a bucket of tepid water for an hour or so, then allow it to drain completely.
Water my goldfish plant
Like moth orchids, these plants dislike overwatering, and they loathe hard water even more. if your tap water is hard and you can't use rain water you can always rely on distilled water, but keep in mind that distilled water - and to a lesser extent rain water - lack some of the minerals that goldish plants need, so you might need to supplement with fertilizers a little more often. Use room temperature water, in the mornings, to allow the pot to dry all day. Always let the water drain through, because the roots of your goldish plant won’t like to sit in water. Remember they are epiphytes and as such they grow on other plants, not in soil, so most of their water needs are actually fulfilled by the humidity in the tropical air.
How much should you water? Don’t splash in a bit of water every other day – on the contrary, water your Phalaenopsis thoroughly when you do. If your goldish plant has gone bone dry, you can even soak it for 10 minutes.
How often? Every week or so from spring to autumn. In the winter the routine should drop to watering every 15 days. Of course, the humidity in your home makes a difference, and whether your beloved goldish plant is in bark or moss too. You might need to water more often in bark than in moss - as moss holds moisture and bark doesn't.
Fertilize my goldfish plant
From March to October, add special liquid orchid fertilizer twice a month.
Repot my goldfish plant
Repot your goldfish plant in the Spring, before new growth starts.
Use a mix made of 5 parts fresh fir bark, medium grade, from ¼ to ½ inch chunks - and not garden mulch! - 1 part horticultural charcoal (and not BBQ charcoal) and 1 part sponge rock such as perlite.
Choose a container which will just accommodate the root system, and if the pot is too large for the plant, the roots might rot because the excess medium retains too much water for them. Oh, of course, choose a pot with sufficient drainage holes.
Just grasp the plant by the stem and gently work it out of the pot. Remove as much of the old potting medium as you can. Gently peel off dead or dying leaves, and any dead tissue on the stem left behind after you removed the leaves. Using a sharp and clean razor blade, cut off any dead tissue from the roots. If in doubt, gently squeeze the roots : dead tissue is hollow when squeezed or looks wiry, while live tissue is solid. When you’re happy with it, proceed with the repotting itself : gently place the roots in the pot and slide them down until the base of the bottom leaf is slightly above the rim of the pot. Push potting medium into the air spaces around the roots, making sure not to leave any air pockets, until the level of the potting medium is just below the base of the lower leaves, and press gently. Breathe, we’re almost there.
Now you just need to water your goldfish plant thoroughly. Simply soak the plant, pot and all, in a bucket of tepid water for an hour or so, then let it dry thoroughly, allowing it to drain completely. One last thing : discard any water left in the drip pan. You did a fantastic job.
Check on my goldfish plant
Watch out for spider mites, aphids and scale insects!
First, those infamous spiders! They're actually not spiders, but a type of mite. They suck the sap, causing the leaves to turn a marbled yellow-white-silver, and the mites sometimes spin tiny webs. These mites mainly attack the back of the leaves : moisten a cotton pad and swab underneath the leaves — if you notice tiny little red marks, someone's home. To get rid of them, here's a simple trick: these spiders hate water! Spray a fine mist of water on your leaves to get rid of them. You can add dish soap, vegetable oil, o rubbing alcohol into the water for extra effect. If you have more than one plants, isolate any web-infested plant, as spider mites breed quickly from pot to pot.
For aphids and scale insects, it's a little easier as those are usually detectable with the naked eye. Should you spot an aphid - recognizable by its pear-shaped body - or scale insects, spraying the soap and water should take care of the problem if the infestation is relatively new. If the insects have established their headquarters on your beloved goldish plant, the next level of treatment is probably a chemical insecticide.
As a general rule, you should always check your goldish plant regularly for signs of infestation and remove potential problems as quickly as possible : the sooner the better. Also, most infestations spread from one plant to the other : always give extra attention when introducing a new plant in your collection. And the final word is : don't give up. If you are battling an infestation, repeat treatments every ten days or so : persistance is the key.