How To Care For A Fishbone Cactus

A fishbone cactus houseplant is the easiest plant a beginner gardener could wish for. In low soil media, such as orchid substrate, the cactus grows. In order to improve the soil, you can also plant it in cactus mixture mixed with compost.

Although it can survive brief periods of direct sunlight, fishbone cactus prefers indirect light.

The fishbone cactus houseplant, like the majority of cacti, thrives when given time to dry out in between waterings. Reduce watering by half during the winter and resume it when spring growth starts.

In the spring and summer, you can place your plant outside, but remember to bring it inside when the weather becomes chilly. Best of all, you don’t need to worry about the cactus while you leave on vacation because it can tolerate some neglect.

How frequently should a fishbone cactus be watered?

The Fishbone Cactus (Epiphyllim anguliger), often known as the Ric Rac plant, is the subject of the third article in our series on plants.

With its fantastically architecturally shaped leaves, amazing smelling flowers, and ease of propagation and sharing with friends, it is a quick and simple plant to grow. Continue reading for information on maintaining and growing Fishbone Cacti.

Native habitat

The Mexican rainforest is home to the fishbone cactus. It can grow on a ‘host’ plant, usually a tree, where its roots can be secured into the crevices of branches, because it is an epiphyte. We can try to replicate their natural habitat’s warm, humid, and shaded environment in our houses to help them flourish there.


The term “cactus” may be deceptive in this case because the Epiphyllum anguliger prefers bright, indirect light rather than the intense sunshine that other cacti do. The leaves will turn yellow from too much direct sunshine.

Mine is located about 2 meters from a south-facing window; when the sun is directly in the window, I close a filtering blind. The plants in their natural habitat grow in the shade of trees, where they are protected from direct sunshine and can get dappled or indirect light.


The Fishbone Cactus seems to be quite thirsty. In the summer, I water once the top few centimeters are dry, which may be once a week. I always water at the sink, letting the water completely drain before putting it back in its attractive pot. The plant will need watering less frequently over the winter, around once every two to three weeks.

The fishbone cactus does a great job of communicating when it needs watering. The leaves will begin to appear a little more wilted and sparse.

These plants are quite tolerant to neglect, in my opinion, and will quickly recover after a decent watering.


Due to the fishbone cactus’ preference for warmth and humidity in its original environment of tropical rainforests, a bathroom or kitchen are suitable locations for this plant. Use a humidifier or place the pot on pebbles in a tray of water to further boost humidity. (Taking care to make sure the pot’s bottom isn’t submerged in water, which might cause root rot.) The humidity around the plant will rise as the water in the tray evaporates.

In contrast, based on my personal experience, I don’t use a humidifier or a water tray, and the fishbone cacti I have are all content without that higher humidity.


Throughout the spring and summer, feed your plant every two weeks using Liquid Gold Leaf.

Winter growth will be slower, therefore there is no need to feed during that time.


The relatively unique and transient flowers are one of the main draws of having a fishbone cactus. A plant is more likely to flower once it has become established and is content. The flowers have huge, frequently light-yellow blossoms.

The aroma is amazing—sweet it’s and strong. I can smell mine blooming as I walk into the room before I ever see the flowers. The fact that the flowers bloom just briefly and only in the evenings or at night makes them all the more spectacular. They can be removed once they wilt, shrivel, and eventually dry out after about a day.

Your plant will flower in the late summer with the help of regular feeding, regular watering, and enough of bright indirect light throughout the summer.


The ease with which this plant can be propagated is one of its many wonderful qualities. I’ve multiplied mine numerous times, both to present to friends and to replant the young into the original pot to grow a fuller plant.

Planting cuttings directly in soil or rooting in water before potting into soil are the two major methods of propagation. I would pick a youngish leaf that is 12 cm to 15 cm long for both techniques. This is what I would do in the spring or summer.

Simply cut a young leaf at the stem with a clean, sharp knife or pair of scissors to allow it to root directly into soil. Place the cutting into the suggested soil mixture above, about 2 cm deep, after allowing it to callus over for a day or so where it was cut. Within a few weeks, roots should start to grow if you keep the soil moist.

Step 2: Place the cut end into a small glass of water after allowing it to callus over for about a day. To maintain the water clean and clear, change it once a week.

Step 3: After a few weeks, roots will start to form. It is ready to plant into the suggested soil above once the roots are a couple of centimeters long and, preferably, have secondary roots sprouting from initial roots.

A brief video on water rooting a cutting and using it to thicken up an existing plant is provided below.

What can I do to make my fishbone cactus flower?

Epiphyllum anguliger, popularly known as the Fishbone Cactus, is often a low-maintenance plant, making it ideal for plant lovers with a bad green thumb. We have already mentioned how beautiful the Fishbone Cactus blossoms are. The Fishbone Cactus blossoms are worth studying up if you haven’t already! Only once the Fishbone Cactus reaches the age of three will it begin to bloom. Additionally, its bloom period only lasts a few days. If you want to see your Fishbone Cactus blossom, you must have patience.

Maintain your Fishbone Cactus in a cool location between 11 and 14 C (52 and 57 F) to aid in blooming. Keep the potting soil slightly dry. Check for buds next; if any are forming, move your Fishbone Cactus slowly to a warm location, water it, and give it tomato feed. To begin a brand-new Fishbone Cactus plant, you need a piece of stem in terms of propagation. Take a new cutting, then let it in a dry place for a few days to calluse.

The callused end should be inserted into a peat moss mixture. Give the right amount of water, light, and humidity. You’ll soon have fresh Fishbone Cactus plants to give to your gardening relatives. Here is all the information you require regarding how to take care of your fishbone cactus.

Fishbone Cactus Care Tips

Fishbone Cactus maintenance is so simple that even a novice gardener can accomplish it. Follow our instructions on how to take care of your Fishbone Cactus, from the amount of sunshine it needs to common issues and how to fix them.


Give your Fishbone Cactus plenty of bright, indirect sunlight as the first step in taking care of it. It can tolerate a few hours of direct light or a little less light, but bright, indirect light is best for growth. Your Fishbone Cactus will reward you by blooming if it receives the right quantity and quality of light throughout the year!

Dark patches on your Fishbone Cactus are an indication of leaf burn from too much direct sunshine, which is a common issue.

Cut off the scorched leaves, then relocate your Fishbone Cactus to a more shaded area.


Next on our list on how to care for your Fishbone Cactus is to water it when the top inch of the soil is dry. Usually, once every week is plenty. Additionally, it depends on the climate. When it’s sunny, drink more water. The soil must be moist, however excessive moisture should be avoided as this might cause root rot.

Common issue: limp, splotchy, and crunchy Fishbone Cactus leaves indicate a lack of water.

Your Fishbone Cactus needs a little extra water, which is the fix. Between waterings, make sure the top inch of the soil is dry.

Note: It’s better to use distilled water or a water filtration system because some houseplants can be sensitive to salts in tap water. If this isn’t possible, overnight storage of the water in an open container is advised.

Humidity & Temperature

Put your Fishbone Cactus in a room with a little extra humidity to add to our list of things to take care of it because it thrives in a humid climate. If you wish to enhance the humidity, we advise misting it frequently, putting it close to a humidifier, or using a pebble tray.

Can fishbone cacti endure in low light conditions?

Disocactus anguliger, sometimes known as the fishbone cactus, is not your typical cactus. This Mexico-native tropical epiphytic cactus is ideal for cactus enthusiasts who lack the proper circumstances to maintain the common desert varieties. It thrives in damp environments and does well without direct sunshine.

The fishbone cactus, also known as the zig zag cactus, ricrac cactus, and the orchid cactus, is cultivated for its distinctive, angular toothed stems. To properly appreciate your fishbone cactus’ gorgeous leaves, place it in a hanging pot or planter.

How much light is required by a fishbone cactus?

For the majority of the day, fishbone cacti require strong indirect sunshine. The optimum location for your fishbone cactus is somewhere that receives a lot of early sun but largely afternoon shade.

Avoid exposing the plant to direct sunlight for an extended period of time as this might scorch it and cause serious harm. A little bit of occasional direct sunshine won’t harm the fishbone cactus, but prolonged exposure won’t be good for it.

Make sure your fishbone cactus receives plenty of sunlight from late summer to early autumn if you want it to flourish; doing so will considerably improve the likelihood that it will blossom.

Are fishbone cacti uncommon?

If you recently bought a fishbone cactus home, you have a pretty special plant on your hands.

They are a rare plant that is difficult to find.

Fishbone cactus care is ideal for novice plant parents because it requires relatively little upkeep for a somewhat uncommon plant. Your cactus will grow well in bright, indirect sunshine and with a light watering once every 7–10 days.

The fishbone cactus, also known as a zig zag cactus or ric rac cactus, is easily recognized by its lengthy and scaly-appearing leaf, but don’t worry, they are all the same plant.

It is known by the scientific name Disocactus anguliger (formerly Epiphyllum anguliger).

Given that the foliage is relatively smooth and lacks the typical cactus spines or prickles, it almost resembles a regular succulent.

The fishbone prefers a little bit more moisture and humidity than your normal arid or desert-loving cactus because it is a native of the Mexican rainforest.

The fishbone cactus is a great choice if you have cats, dogs, and young children running around because it is non-toxic to pets (still, best to not let anyone snack on it just in case).

Even better, it makes the ideal hanging plant due to the long stems’ inherent tendency to droop and trail.

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Fishbone cacti bloom or not?

The plant’s scientific name is Cryptocereus anthonyanus (also known as Selenicereus anthonyanus), and it belongs to the same family as night blooming cacti. The fishbone cactus, which is best recognized for its long, arching stems covered in serrated leaf nodes, is found in groups that hang from trees in their natural habitat. The plant is native to Mexico, where tropical rainforests produce an atmosphere that is damp and humid.

It is frequently identified in garden centers under the names Ric Rac and, on occasion, orchid cactus. The plant will occasionally bloom with delicate pink blooms that open at night and last just one day. Like its relative the orchid, the fishbone cactus houseplant benefits from comparable growing conditions.

My fishbone cactus is rotting, why?

That’s pretty much it. You only need to put in that much effort to produce a beautiful fishbone cactus. There is no easier situation than that. Regarding maintenance, the cactus doesn’t require a lot of your time or effort because it is a tough plant that can take care of itself.


The fishbone cactus thrives in hot climates because it is a tropical plant. For growing or completely grown plants, you should keep the temperature between 50 and 75 degrees. You might want to bring it inside if it starts to get cold outside. Avoid keeping it in direct sunlight throughout the summer, as it doesn’t like it. It will develop more quickly and its delicate blossoms won’t be harmed by some light shade. In general, you shouldn’t leave it in the sun for longer than an hour.

Light for the ric rac cactus

Although the fishbone cactus dislikes the sun, it is not a shade plant. It still requires a ton of light. These cacti have the peculiar characteristic of rarely flowering inside. You should take it outside when the weather is warm enough for this purpose, among others. This is true for both the cultivars and this species. You should start placing the cactus in the sun for an hour each day in the late summer and early fall before shifting it to the shade. Flowers will develop and bloom soon.

Watering the ric rac cactus

If you’ve ever raised cacti, you’ve probably heard that they don’t need a lot of water. That isn’t the case with our fishbone cactus, either. The cactus requires a lot of water throughout the hot summer months, much like any other flowering plant. But be careful not to overwater, as its roots may decay if they become waterlogged. After flowering, wait a few weeks before applying water. Before you irrigate the pot once more, make sure the topsoil is dry.


The fishbone cactus can thrive in virtually any type of soil. Although a well-balanced, all-purpose fertilizer will be useful just before the summer flowering season, it won’t require plant food additives. Don’t fertilize after the flowers have finished blooming. In terms of dosage, one gallon of water only requires about half a spoonful of fertilizer. This ought to be sufficient for a large number of fishbone cactus pots.

Aerial Roots

The roots of a healthy fishbone cactus plant will emerge through the zigzag leaves. Up to seven aerial roots may protrude from the top side of each leaf. These tendril-like roots aid the plant in grabbing hold of nearby trees and plants for support. The roots absorb nutrients and moisture just like underground roots do. If the plant has more aerial roots than typical, the cactus may be dehydrated.


Even though the fishbone cactus isn’t renowned for growing quickly or occupying more area than it should, you might need to prune it occasionally. The majority of its uses are ornamental and decorative. Eliminate any wilting leaves. Verify that there are no broken or damaged leaves. This motivates the plant to grow new leaves and preserve its attractive appearance.

Your fishbone cactus has to be repotted, as is necessary for many plants that live for more than a year. On average, it will outgrow its pot every three years. More than the actual leaves or stems, the root system requires more room. Take the fishbone cactus out of its current container, put it in a bigger pot, and then add potting soil and compost to it. Make sure the roots are healthy by inspecting the root system. Lower the root ball into the new pot after removing any rotting or twisted roots. Water right away after covering with dirt.

Disease and Pests

It would be an understatement to suggest that a variety of diseases and pests are drawn to this tough fishbone cactus. This plant offers a lot to bugs, from the delicate aerial roots to the fragrant flowers and juicy leaves. Aphids, scale, spider mites, mealybugs, and vine weevils are a few of these pests.

It’s crucial to watch out for the early signs of an infestation because you will be using this houseplant more indoors than outdoors. Don’t wait until the insects grow in number and engulf the entire plant. Your fishbone cactus might not be able to be saved by that time. Hand-pick the insects and carefully dispose of them. You can either apply neem oil or drown them in a pail of water.

There is no shortage of diseases. Root rot is the most typical illness that a fishbone cactus will experience. Waterlogging is a common cause of root rot. Yellowing leaves that appear soft and squishy are one of the signs. Wait for the plant to recover its health before ceasing to water it. If that doesn’t occur, repotting it will be beneficial.

Other illnesses include leaf rot, powdery mildew, botrytis petal blight, and leaf-spot disease. The majority of these are brought on by bacterial, occasionally viral, and fungal diseases. Repotting the plant and removing the diseased leaves will help you save it and help it flourish once more. You won’t have much choice but to throw out the entire pot in some situations, such as with leaf-spot disease and botrytis petal blight. The plant uses its aerial roots to reach out to other plants, which would spread the disease, therefore be careful not to infect the other nearby plants.