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A perennial, evergreen, perennial plant native to South America; there are many species, but generally the most cultivated as apartment plants are three: Nematanthus gregarius, N. weittsteinii, N. stigilosus; once it was called Hypocyrta. In nature these plants have epiphytic development; they produce long prostrate stems, which reach 40-50 cm in length, quite branched and flexible; the leaves are small, 3-4 cm long, oval, dark green, slightly fleshy.
In summer, from the leaf axil, small, slightly fragrant, orange or reddish flowers of particular shape, slightly swollen, similar to goldfish, bloom. Easy to grow plants, they are generally planted in hanging baskets. After flowering it is advisable to shorten the stems slightly, to prevent the plant with time tending to undress in the lower part.
Nematanthus gregarius plants prefer very bright locations, but away from direct sunlight; in summer it is possible to place them outdoors, but during the cold months it is good to grow them in the apartment, with minimum temperatures above 10-12 ° C as, being a plant of tropical origin, it cannot stand the low temperatures that the plant would bear goldfish at the rapid death.
The plants of Nematanthus gregarius or goldfish need to be watered quite regularly, from March to October, leaving the substratum to dry between one watering and another; they can withstand short periods of drought and fear water stagnation, so it is advisable to water a little less than to keep the soil soaked in water for a long time. During the cold months we water only sporadically. From March to September, add water to the watering fertilizer for flowery plains, every 15-20 days.
The specimens of this particular variety of plant with flowers that look like red fishes prefer soft and light soils, very well drained.
In general, they are repotted every 2-3 years, in autumn, choosing a new container slightly larger than the previous one, so as to allow the roots to have the space necessary to develop without problems.
It is essential to check that the soil in which these plants are planted has good drainage, to prevent water stagnation forming which is not tolerated by Nematanthus gregarius.
The multiplication of plants of this type occurs by cuttings, in spring or in autumn.
The cuttings should be placed in special containers in which soil has been placed mixed with peat and sand, to have a good draining power. It is necessary to place the containers in a sheltered and protected place with a temperature around 20 ° C. The soil should be kept moist but not soaked. When the cuttings present the new shoots, they can be transplanted into different vessels, where they can continue to grow.
Red fishes - Nematanthus gregarius: Pests and diseases
Generally these plants are quite resistant and are not attacked by pests or diseases; excessive watering can, however, favor the development of root rot. It is essential to check that the soil does not retain the water for too long and avoid over-watering.