A guppy plant, Nematanthus spp., (goldfish plant) is a very unique plant. The guppy plant gets its name from its flowers that resemble the shape of a guppy fish. Guppy plants offer striking glossy foliage and unusually-shaped, brightly colored blossoms on vining stems. Find facts and information on growing and caring for guppy plants. They do well with other gesneriads such as, gloxinias, african violets, and episcia.
Guppy Plant Facts
Nematanthus plants often reach 2-4’h x 2-4’w. They are gesneriads that take on a trailing habit and are often used in hanging baskets, as houseplants, or greenhouse plants. The guppy shaped flowers may be orange, red or yellow.
Place the plant in bright to medium light, away from direct sun to keep your plant looking its best. If the plant won’t flower, move it into higher filtered light. Provide temperatures of 65-80 degrees for the plant to blossom. In winter, reduce temperatures to 50-55 degrees and reduce watering as well. High humidity is a necessity, as with most other gesneriads. A pebble tray works well to achieve this.
Care of Guppy Plants
Guppy plants are somewhat epiphytic, so allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. When the plant is not actively growing, avoid wetting the foliage or it may develop fungal leaf spots. Reducing watering for 6-8 weeks may induce flowering.
Feed the plant every 2 weeks with half-strength plant food for blooming plants during active growth. Every month flush the soil with clear water to wash away fertilizer salts.
Repotting is seldom needed as the plants prefer to be more pot-bound. You can also learn how to make your own homemade potting mix if desired. Prune back wayward stems regularly to keep the plant full and appealing. Guppy plants will drop its leaves when it gets too cold or too dry, or if it is overfertilized.
Propagation is by stem or tip cuttings. When you prune back long stems to keep the plant looking good, simply insert the cuttings in rooting hormone, then into sterile potting soil. Cover the plant with plastic to keep the humidity up, and in a few weeks the cuttings will be rooted.
Pests and Diseases include aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. The plant will generally not have a problem unless cultural details are not attended to.
N. crassifolius which has dangling orange-red blossoms.
N. corticola has orange flowers that dangle on 3-4” long flower stalks (pedicels).
N. gregarius ‘Golden West’ has variegated foliage.
‘Christmas Holly’ has intensely glossy foliage and bright red flowers.