Sunday, March 1, 2015

Guppies and Goldfish

Nematanthus flower close up
Here's another plant with a fish theme.... this is the guppy or goldfish plant, botanically  Nematanthus. It is a cousin to the African violet, in the Gesneriad family.  

Nematanthus (Variegated version)
There are quite a few cultivars of this plant, but the three shown here are some of the most common seen in the houseplant industry. The first two pictures are of the variegated form, but I'm not sure of the name. I found one on Glasshouse Works webpage called 'Cheerio', but I'm not certain its the same one. 'Topicana', with its unusual striped flower isn't as easy to find.  I took the picture at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, in Detroit. I don't have a picture of the plain green one, which would usually be the easiest to find. The 'Black Gold' with its dark green leaves, was also seen at the Whitcomb Conservatory. 
The goldfish plant is easy to grow. It takes the same care as its cousin the African violet, but because of its succulent, shiny leaves, takes less water. It also needs good bright light to bloom. 
Nematanthus are native to Brazil and grow epiphytically in trees in the rainforest there. So that means that a very porous, well drained soil is the best for them. Keeping them evenly moist but never sitting in water is the preferable watering method. Raising the humidity to mimic their jungle existence makes for a much happier plant. The pouched flowers with their tiny opening are visited often by hummingbirds (obviously not in your home...). 
Nematanthus 'Tropicana'

Nematanthus 'Black Gold'

Nematanthus 'Black Gold'

These plants have shiny, gorgeous leaves and even without the flowers are pretty houseplants. But, given the right conditions and light, they will have adorable orange guppies in profusion!

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