A Midwinter Splash of Color

Every time I make the rounds to water the plants, I see another interesting one to tell you about -- and in winter, no less!

This week, it's the Columnea Nematanthus, better known as a Flying Goldfish plant because of the unique shape of its flowers.

I bought this plant when it was only a few inches tall and, with bright but indirect light in a north-facing window, it has blossomed into a hot, gorgeous mess of long tendrils with a couple dozen flowers ready to bloom.

I can see why these are often planted in hanging pots, as it would drape beautifully, but mine is happily curling up and around an old tomato cage at the moment. 

The goldfish plant isn't an orchid, but it has a lot in common with some of them. It's an epiphyte, which means in the wild, it grows on trees or other plants. It prefers high humidity (too bad at my house -- the best I can do is spritz it with a water bottle whenever I think about it), and too much heat will burn the leaves.

It's best to fertilize the plant at half-strength, like orchids, and not with every watering. And the soil needs to dry out a bit between waterings.

Another important note: Flying Goldfish plants are poisonous, so this is the kind of fish you want to keep the cat away from!

You'll find Flying Goldfish for sale on numerous gardening websites, including Houseplant411, which also has a good rundown of care tips for them.