The genus Columnea (co-LUM-nee-a) was named by Linnaeus in 1753 to honor the botanist, Fabius Columnea (1567-1640). Columneas are commonly referred to as goldfish plants because their flower shape is reminiscent of a goldfish. Columneas are native to Central and South America. There are about 160 species of the Columneas.
In their native habitat, Columneas are epiphytic, which makes them well suited to culture in a hanging basket or azalea pot. They can be propagated by tip cuttings.
Columneas do best in a soilless mix consisting of one part Jiffy Mix (one part peat moss to one part vermiculite) and one part perlite. They also do well planted in long fiber sphagnum moss. Water plants with one quarter strength of a granular fertilizer like Rapid Gro every time you water. Some growers don’t fertilize the plants when they are dormant (not actively growing). They fertilize them with a high nitrogen fertilizer like a fish emulsion when they are in active growth. Columneas like to be on the dry side. They require less water than an African Violet.
Light requirements are quite low. They like about the same intensity of light as an African Violet (250 foot-candles). Columneas do well in a light garden, on the windowsill or on the porch in the summer. They like a temperature between 65°F to 85°F. Some species need a cooler temperature to bloom.