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How to Grow Gold Fish Plant — Nematanthus

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Nematanthus is an easy-to-grow houseplant with foot-long arching or trailing branches. The orange, red, or yellow flowers, about an inch long, look puffy with pinched “goldfish mouths.” Thus the plant is commonly called goldfish plant or candy corn.

The species was formerly classified in the genus Hypocyrta.

Get to know Nematanthus

  • Plant type: Tropical perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 11-12
  • Hardiness: Tender; best in 70° to 75°F (21°-24°C) range
  • Height and width: Trails to 12 inches (30cm) or more
  • Foliage: Glossy dark green leaves on arching or trailing branches
  • Flowers: Puffy, tubular flowers 1 inch (2.5cm) long resemble a pouch narrowing to a tiny opening with 5 petals
  • Bloom time: Given sufficient warmth and humidity plant may produce flowers all year long.
  • Uses: Houseplant
  • Botanical name: Nematanthus
  • Common name: Goldfish plant, candy corn plant
Nematanthus, also called goldfish plant
Nematanthus, also called goldfish plant

Where to plant Nematanthus

  • Nematanthus like bright filtered or reflected light and responds well to a couple of hours of direct, cool morning sun each day.
  • Grow Nematanthus in an African violet mix.

How to water and feed Nematanthus

  • Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water with tepid water only.
  • Boost humidity by frequent misting or by placing the pot on a humidity tray.
  • Fertilize every 2 weeks with a mild, complete fertilizer, except in autumn and winter.

Nematanthus care

  • Nematanthus blooms best when somewhat potbound.
  • Prune straggly branches to retain nice shape.
  • Mealybugs, red spider mites, scale, and whiteflies may occasionally bother Nematanthus.

Nematanthus propagation

  • Propagate by division, stem cuttings, or seeds.

Nematanthus varieties to grow

  • Nematanthus fritschii has speckled lavender flowers.
  • N. nervosus has spreading growth and orange and red flowers.
  • N.  perianthomegus has yellow orang flower with maroon stripes that appear throughout the year
  • N. wettsteinii has thin, pendulous stems and profuse yellow and red flowers.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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