- Rhipsalis Mistletoe Cactus: How To Grow Mistletoe Cactus Plants
- About Rhipsalis Plants
- Requirements for Growing Rhipsalis
- How to Grow Mistletoe Cactus
- Mistletoe Cactus Care
- Rhipsalis ewaldiana
- Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus
- Jungle Cactus (Rhipsalis campos-portoana)
- How to care for Rhipsalis cacti
Rhipsalis Mistletoe Cactus: How To Grow Mistletoe Cactus Plants
Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera) is a tropical succulent native to rainforests in warm regions. The grownup name for this cactus is Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus. This cactus is found in Florida, Mexico and Brazil. Surprisingly, growing Rhipsalis requires shade to partial shade. While most cacti are found in hot, sunny, arid zones, mistletoe cactus is unique in its requirements for moisture and dim light. Take some tips on how to grow mistletoe cactus and enjoy this unique and entertaining looking plant.
About Rhipsalis Plants
Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus is also called chain cactus and grows epiphytically in its tropical forest home. The cactus has pencil thin succulent stems that may reach 6 feet in length. The thick skin of the stems does not produce thorns, but it does have almost imperceptible bumps on the surface of the plant.
These plants are found clinging to tree crotches, in branch nooks and nestled in rock crevasses. The Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus is easy to grow and has very minimal needs. It is perfect for the home interior in a northern or western window.
Requirements for Growing Rhipsalis
Mistletoe cactus is only hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 10. The plant is most often found indoors and may simply be mounted on a piece of bark like an orchid or potted in a good cactus mix. If you are not prone to overwatering, you can plant the cactus in regular potting soil mixed with sand or other gritty material.
The plant is used to living in the understory of the forest, where temperatures are at least 60 F. (15 C.) and light is filtered through the high limbs. Growing Rhipsalis is practically foolproof as long as you mimic its native conditions.
How to Grow Mistletoe Cactus
Mistletoe cacti are easy to grow from cuttings. Seeds take way too long and they require very even environmental conditions. Take cuttings and let the severed end callus for a few days. Plant the callused end in a cactus mix or sand that has been lightly moistened. Cuttings root in two to six weeks.
Seeds can be started indoors in flats filled with sand and peat. Moisten the medium and plant the seeds 1/4-inch deep. Keep the medium barely moist until the plants germinate. Grow young plants in semi-shade and water when the surface of the soil is dry.
Mistletoe Cactus Care
Ensure that your mistletoe cactus is planted in well-drained soil. Potted plants benefit from a saucer filled with rocks and water to increase the ambient humidity in the home interior.
The plant rarely needs fertilizing and has few other needs except moderate light and even moisture. Fertilize with a half dilution of cactus food from April to September, once per month.
Water frequently in spring and summer, but suspend water in winter.
If any of the stems are damaged, you can trim them off with a sharp, sterile knife. Use these as cuttings to start new Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus.
General Care for Rhipsalis ewaldiana “Mistletoe Cactus”
Rhipsalis ewaldiana “Mistletoe Cactus” is the perfect addition to your hanging baskets, especially in areas of your home or garden that don’t receive a lot of light. It does best when planted in a terra cotta or clay pot. In its native jungle growing habitats of South America, Rhipsalis ewaldiana received filtered light through tree branches. Keep this in mind when choosing where to plant your “Mistletoe Cactus.”
Rhipsalis ewaldiana “Mistletoe Cactus” has typical watering needs for a succulent. It’s best to use the “soak and dry” method, and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Where to Plant
Rhipsalis ewaldiana “Mistletoe Cactus” is not cold hardy, so if you live in a zone that gets colder than 30° F (-1.1° C), it’s best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought indoors. It does well in partial shade to full shade. Do not plant near a window where it would receive a lot of direct sunlight, as it has a tendency to burn.
Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus
Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus
- 1. Rhipsalis Mistletoe Cactus
- 2. Summary Rhipsalis is a genus of flowering plants in the cactus family, typically known as mistletoe cacti. They are found in parts of Central America, the Caribbean and northern regions of South America. Additionally they inhabit isolated locations in Africa and Asia, and are the only cactus group naturally occurring in the Old World. This is the largest and most widely distributed genus of epiphytic cacti (those which live on other plants without damaging them). The scientific name Rhipsalis derives from the Ancient Greek term for wickerwork, referring to the plants’ morphology.
- 3. Summary Cont. Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus is also called chain cactus and grows epiphytically in its tropical forest home. The cactus has pencil thin succulent stems that may reach 6 feet in length. The thick skin of the stems does not produce thorns, but it does have almost imperceptible bumps on the surface of the plant.
- 4. Summary contd. These plants are found clinging to tree crotches, in branch nooks and nestled in rock crevasses. The Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus is easy to grow and has very minimal needs. It is perfect for the home interior in a northern or western window.
- 5. Requirements for Growing Mistletoe Cactus The plant is most often found indoors and may simply be mounted on a piece of bark like an orchid or potted in a good cactus mix. If you are not prone to overwatering, you can plant the cactus in regular potting soil mixed with sand or other gritty material. The plant is used to living in the understory of the forest, where temperatures are at least 15 C and light is filtered through the high limbs. Growing Rhipsalis is practically foolproof as long as you mimic its native conditions
- 6. How to Grow Mistletoe Cactus Mistletoe cacti are easy to grow from cuttings. Seeds take way too long and they require very even environmental conditions. Take cuttings and let the severed end callus for a few days. Plant the callused end in a cactus mix or sand that has been lightly moistened. Cuttings root in two to six weeks. Seeds can be started indoors in flats filled with sand and peat. Moisten the medium and plant the seeds 1/4-inch deep. Keep the medium barely moist until the plants germinate. Grow young plants in semi-shade and water when the surface of the soil is dry.
- 7. Mistletoe Cactus Care Ensure that your mistletoe cactus is planted in well-drained soil. Potted plants benefit from a saucer filled with rocks and water to increase the ambient humidity in the home interior. The plant rarely needs fertilizing and has few other needs except moderate light and even moisture. Fertilize with a half dilution of cactus food in Spring, once per month. Water frequently in spring and summer, but suspend water in winter. If any of the stems are damaged, you can trim them off with a sharp, sterile knife. Use these as cuttings to start new Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus.
- 8. Types of Rhipsalis
- 9. Rhipsalis baccifera
- 10. Rhipsalis cereoides
- 11. Rhipsalis cereuscula is often called Rice Cactus
- 12. Rhipsalis pilocarpa
- 13. Rhipsalis Puniceodiscus
- 14. Capilliformis Mistletoe Cactus
- 15. Elliptica Mistletoe Cactus
- 16. Ewaldiana Mistletoe Cactus
- 17. Pilose Mistletoe Cactus
- 18. Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa (Red Mistletoe)
- 19. Questions?
Rhipsalis campos-portoana Loefgr.
Rhipsalis campos-portoana is an epiphytic cactus with elongated, much branched stems, hanging in large clusters. The branches are slender, light green, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and up to 0.1 inch (2 mm) thick. The flowers are whitish, widely spreading and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long. The fruits are globose and orange in color.
Photo via westlakenursery.com.au
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Rhipsalis do not thrive in direct sunlight. Exposure to afternoon sun can burn the leaves, turn them yellow or lead to spotting. However, without sufficient sunlight, they will not bloom and its growth can be stunted. These cacti do best with morning sun and full shade in the afternoon.
As Rhipsalis is commonly grown indoors, care must be given to the placement of the plants. They should be kept at least 20 inches (50 cm) away from windows that receive midday or afternoon sun. The glass in the windows can multiply the heat from the sun’s rays, causing sunburned leaves. Keep in mind that in its native environment, Rhipsalis is accustomed to receiving light that has been filtered through dense, overhanging tree branches. Picturing this environment can help you adjust your lighting accordingly.
Rhipsalis is not a drought-resistant plant, so regular watering is essential. Overwatering, however, can cause weak stems and rotted roots. Using a watering can may help you measure the amount of water you are providing. The size of the pot compared to the size of the plant, the humidity levels in the home and the type of potting soil used can all affect the watering frequency… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Rhipsalis
Rhipsalis campos-portoana is native to eastern and southeastern Brazil.
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Jungle Cactus (Rhipsalis campos-portoana)
Another epiphytic cactus with a mess of fine multi-branched stems that are lime green at the tips and darker at the base. Native to Eastern and South-Eastern Brazil, it looks great cascading over the edge of a shelf or a bench.
Like its cousin Curly Sue, it originates from the jungles of South America where it grew mainly on trees. In the right location it will produce cute little flowers in spring followed by berries in summer. Its best physical feature by far though is its cascading green foliage.
Water when the top 2-3cm of soil in the pot dries out during the Spring and Summer months. Water much less during Autumn and Winter.
Likes bright indirect light and humidity but will also handle a bit of shade. Great for kitchens or bathrooms that get a bit of natural light.
It’s a tangle of beautiful green hair-like foliage can get over a metre long making it a real show stopper when displayed on a high shelf!
Greeting your Jungle Cactus
We package the Jungle Cactus in an approximately 140mm plastic pot within our unique plant packaging system. If you purchase a ceramic pot in the same order we will transport it together in the one delivery.
SERIES 30 | Episode 38
Plant expert David Fripp explains his fascination with Rhipsalis
He became interested in them about eight years ago.
Their nickname is jungle cactus because they often grow at altitude throughout Central America and up in trees but have adapted to be cactus-like.
They are closely related to dragon fruit.
They have adapted to monsoonal conditions, when it can be very dry for long periods, then heavy downpours when it’s wet for weeks but, because they mostly live in trees, they are still very well drained.
David has put them into three categories: the thin spaghetti-types, the flat platter-leafed ones and the hairy plants, but he says there’s always something left of field, such as Lepismium, which have fluffy bits where the leaf joints are.
This includes the very fine Rhipsalis campos-portoana and Rhipsalis puniceodiscus that grows very long stems and Rhipsalis neves-armondii syn. Rhipsalis megalantha, which David says is beautiful but “a twit of a thing to grow” because it tends to rot off after flowering.
Flat-platter or Cladode rhipsalis
Species include Rhipsalis robusta, R. platycarpa, and R. elliptica. Rhipsalis robusta makes a good indoor plant because the large, flat cladodes (a leaf-like, flattened stem) help the plant to catch as much light as possible, so it can cope with low-light conditions.
This is probably the most diverse group, and they tend to be quite stout. It includes Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides will grow in full sun, so they’re perfect for balconies and big, wind-blown areas.
How to propagate:
What you’ll need:
- Five individual long stringy pieces, cut as close as possible to the base.
- A clothes peg or orchid clamp
- Regular potting mix
- Clamp these cuttings together near the base with a peg or orchid clamp to hold them. This makes it quicker and means you’re less likely to get the ends mixed up and ‘plant’ your cuttings upside down!
- Fill the pot with potting mix; David says he finds it the finer mix easier for cuttings but when he pots up the cuttings later he will use orchid mix, which drains more readily.
- Next cut off about 7-8cm off the bottom of the stems, make a hole in the potting mix with a dibber and put in the stem cuttings. Slide the peg up, cut off another length of stems, make another hole and plant these. You will probably get three lengths from your stems, maybe four.
David says leave the potting mix dry; they should all root fairly quickly and, when they do, you can start watering then.
What you’ll need:
- 3-4 cladodes, cut at the base joint
- Regular potting mix
- Fill your pot with mix.
- Remove any flower buds from the edges of the cladodes.
- Create a wide hole in the potting mix and plant a single cladode base down in the mix. Repeat with the other cladodes. Don’t water for 2-4 weeks.
You can also cut individual cladodes to get two cuttings – simply cut the cladode in half, snipping between then ‘veins’ so that you form a downward-V shape at the bottom of the top section. Plant each one in the mix, base down.
The story of Rhipsalis
Very unusual: Rhipsalis is actually a cactus, but without the spikes. This houseplant is a fast grower that hangs down in long messy tendrils or grows upwards in a bushy form. Dark green at the top, a bit wispy at the ends, fabulous for exciting peepholes and tabletop meadows. The plant is also known as mistletoe cactus, and is virtually maintenance-free. Rhipsalis copes pretty well with forgetful waterers, does not give up and is a richly branched beauty under ideal conditions.
Rhipsalis is a tropical succulent which is native to the rainforests of Central and South America, Africa and a couple of islands in the Indian Ocean. It’s the only cactus to grow in the wild outside North and South America. There are some 60 different species, most of which grow on tree trunks. In the wild they flower with many small white, yellow, orange or red flowers, which produce berries when fertilised. This rarely happens in the home. Rhipsalis’ jungle background means that it’s a houseplant with air-purifying properties according to research by NASA.
What to look for when buying Rhipsalis
- The tendrils should already have some length, and Rhipsalis should comfortably fill the pot. Also check the leaf arrangement and that the plant has an attractive, full shape.
- Rhipsalis is not particularly prone to diseases, but check for mealybug.
- The plant must be offered in special packaging for hanging plants for shipping.
- The temperature must be above 12°C for storage and shipping. So also wrap it up carefully when selling to the customer in chilly autumn weather.
Rhipsalis is available in many varieties, from a compact tabletop plant with coral-like greenery (R. pilocarpa) or a messy green tangle (R. cassutha) to a hanging plant with long tendrils (R. baccifera). The leaves can be slightly twisting ribbons or a sort of green spaghetti. All the varieties are offered in sizes ranging from S to XL.
Care tips for consumers
- The plant likes to hang in a light spot, and can even tolerate full sun, but will also cope with less light.
- The soil can be allowed to dry out somewhat between watering. Water moderately once a week on average. If Rhipsalis is hanging in the sun, it will need a bit more water. It also likes to be sprayed from time to time.
- A bit of plant food once a month.
- If the tendrils get too long, they can just be cut back into shape.
Sales and display tips for Rhipsalis
Display different varieties of Rhipsalis together and emphasise the jungle feeling of this green spectacle. Hence the hanging plants will appeal to the imagination more if they are hung off a tree trunk or a sturdy branch, and the plant varieties will look nice amongst some decorative wood and attractive stones. Select pots with a robust and natural appearance: ceramic with a bark pattern, wood or a dish with natural shades. November is a rather intimate, restrained month. The hanging forms of Rhipsalis particularly emphasise that sense of enclosure.
Images of Rhipsalis
You can download and use the images below free of charge if you credit Thejoyofplants.co.uk
You can download the poster using the link below.
How to care for Rhipsalis cacti
- Lighting: bright with some morning or evening sun
- Watering: moist but not wet
- Feeding: half diluted given monthly from april to september
- Temperature: room temperature the year round, a winter minimum of 15 °c (59 °f)
- Soil: regular mixes for cacti and other succulents
The members of the genus Rhipsalis grow best if located bright the year round with some morning or evening sun. Winter sun is also tolerated. Do not place them in the midday sun in summer, unless you place the pot at least at a distance of 50 centimetres behind the window. Otherwise the leaves can burn.
If a shaded from rain and the direct midday sun spot is available they can be placed in the garden or on the balcony during summer. But they must get used to the sun not being filtered through a window pain.
If the temperatures start to fall to lower than 15 °C (59 °F) lastingly, then they should be replaced indoors.
The soil should be well drained and contain minerals; a general cacti mix can be used. Anyone who does not tend to overwater can also use a regular potting mix, which however, holds the water longer. It can be made more permeable if you mix in some clay granules, perlite, spaghnum or small orchid bark.
How often Rhipsalis cacti should be watered depends on various factors, like for example the size of the plant in relation to the pot, the temperature and the substrate.
From spring to autumn they can be waterd copiously. Give as much water as the earth can take. Any excess that leaks into the saucer has to be removed after a few minutes. Stagnant water can lead to rotting of the roots. Allow to dry before watering next.
If water is needed can be gauged by the weight of the pot, a wet soil is heavier than dry.
They can be feeded with a half diluted fertiliser for green plants or cacti given from april to september monthly. Newly purchased or freshly repotted plants need no fertiliser in the first twelve months.
The members of the genus Rhipsalis can be grown at room temperature throughout the year with a winter minium of 15 °C (59 °F). At this temperature range watering has to be reduced, a feeder must not be given.