How To Propagate A Fishbone Cactus

A fishbone cactus is actually rather simple to grow! Your cactus can be multiplied in water or potting soil using a variety of techniques.

Fishbone Cactus Propagation in Water

Take a pair of tidy, well-kept scissors, and trim one of the stems just above the base. Give the wound a few days to heal and develop a callus.

Insert the slice into a jar filled with lukewarm water. The jar only needs to cover the bottom of the cutting; it needn’t be completely full. Place the jar in direct light that is bright and change the water when it becomes murky.

You can transplant the cutting into potting soil once the roots are several inches long (I prefer to wait until they are two to three inches long). Give the plant a healthy watering and take routine care of it.

Fishbone Cactus Propagation in Potting MixWhole Stem

In a pot with potting soil, plant the clipping. As the roots grow, keep the potting soil moist but not soggy. Put the pot in a spot with strong, filtered light.

If your cutting is tiny enough, you can seal in beneficial humidity by covering it with a clear plastic bag. Remove it approximately every few days to allow in fresh air. Don’t worry if your cutting is too large for this.

You can try gently tugging on your cutting after a few weeks to check for resistance. If you encounter some resistance, this indicates that a root system has formed, and you can begin caring for your cutting as you would a regular plant.

Fishbone Cactus Propagation in Potting MixStem Cuttings

Cut off one of the stems with a clean, sharp pair of scissors. Then, separate the entire stem into a few-inch-long portions. Keep track of which portion of each segment is at the top and which is at the bottom. Allow the areas to heal and develop calluses for a few days.

Now, proceed in the same manner as you would while growing a full stem in potting soil: Making sure to place the bottom half down and the top part up, plant the parts in a pot with potting soil.

As the roots grow, keep the potting soil moist but not soggy. Put the pot in a spot with strong, filtered light. To seal in the beneficial humidity, cover the surface with a clear plastic bag. Remove it approximately every few days to allow in fresh air.

Give the roots of the portions a tug to feel for resistance a few weeks later to check on their health. Any resistance indicates the development of a root system. Now you may separate your small portions into pots so they can develop into full-sized plants and take care of them as you would usually with this plant.

Note: You may also propagate the sections in water by following my water propagation instructions, but it’s difficult to prevent the parts from dropping into the water, so this method isn’t frequently used.

Fishbone Cactus Propagation in Potting MixDivision

Division is possibly the simplest and quickest way to propagate fishbone cactus. Usually, this technique is used while repotting the plant.

Simply detach one or more of the cactus’s root-dependent parts from the main plant. Keep as many of the roots intact as you can by carefully separating them one at a time. If you need to separate any of the roots from one another, use a clean, sharp knife.

After that, plant each one into a distinct container and look after it as you normally would.

This method may require you to handle the cactus stems more, so proceed with caution as it contains little spines.

Can cactus cuttings be propagated in water?

It’s time to get your cutting ready for planting in a pot once it has dried! Cactus propagation can potentially be done in water, just like with other houseplants, but it’s not a very usual procedure because they thrive in soil.

Your brand-new cutting will require excellent drainage to survive, much like other cacti (unless it’s a jungle cactus like the Christmas cactus). The roots of cacti have not developed to become used to extended wet periods. They enjoy a cool splash, but the soil shouldn’t be prone to being wet or humid afterward; instead, it should immediately dry out again.

It’s not too difficult to spot an excellent cactus soil because it will be grippy and contain little to no potting soil at all. You can either purchase a prepared cactus soil combination or create your own by mixing 1 part potting soil, 1 part perlite, and 1 part orchid bark (not too gritty) for your cutting.

As far as planters go, as long as they have proper drainage, you should be set to go. Standard plastic nursery containers are excellent, but some cactus growers like to use clay planters to provide even more drainage. Water can really evaporate through the walls of this substance since it is porous.

Advice: Visit the article on planting succulents indoors for further details on how to grow succulents like cacti.

Are fishbone cacti happy to have their roots bound?

The Fishbone Cactus thrives in Cactus and Succulent Mix but also grows well in Orchid Mix due to its epiphytic nature.

To increase the drainage qualities of the soil for all of my plants, I like to add a significant amount of Perlite.

Repotting your plant slowly is advised! The Fishbone Cactus is content to be root-bound and doesn’t have a large root system.

When I urge to not rush upsizing your plant’s pot, what I really mean is to not rush repotting it.

However, even if the pot size doesn’t need to be changed, I firmly believe in renewing plants’ soil once a year (and I urge all of my readers to do the same).

Once a year, when replacing the plants’ nutrient-depleted soil, is a great time to cleanse the rootball and look for pests and illnesses. You can read more about the advantages of repotting houseplants here.


I started my own plant from cuttings that a buddy supplied me. I’ll give a brief explanation of the process I used to propagate my plant before discussing Fishbone Cactus maintenance.

A single leaf can be divided into numerous cuttings, each of which can be rooted (technically, a leaf is a modified stem).

Just be careful not to flip the cuttings over upside down or they won’t root. The cutting’s end that roots will be the portion that was closest to the pot.

Make each slice approximately 3–4 inches long. There’s no need to lengthen them. Your finished plant will be fuller the more cuttings you have!

Like any succulent or cactus, after you’ve made your cuttings, you must wait for them to callus over and dry out before propagating them. This will prevent your cuttings from becoming bad.

After a few days, you may either directly plant them into a pot of soil or put them in a vase with water to root. I submerged mine as depicted below.

Plant your roots into your potting mix (I’ll explain what that is in a moment) once they are about an inch long or so.

You could have placed the cuttings directly into the soil after callousing over and they would have rooted that way as well. Keep the soil just moist enough to promote roots.

Remember that during the growing season, in the spring or summer, it is always preferable to propagate. Try to avoid propagating plants throughout the winter, when they are often not growing very much.


In front of a window with an eastern exposure, I have my own plant. With a few hours of sunlight, these plants thrive indoors, but don’t overdo it. Your fishbone cactus should be placed directly in front of an Eastern or Western window.

Maintain appropriate indoor conditions because these plants require warmth to grow. You should never let the temperature drop below 50°F (10°C), so bear that in mind if you decide to summer your houseplant outside.

Searching for a Fishbone Cactus to buy? Etsy is one of my favorite and most useful one-stop sites for purchasing almost any plant. Today, have a look at the Fishbone Cactus collection (link to Etsy).


Always water completely and let any extra water run out of the drainage hole. Since these plants are epiphytes, they should never be submerged in water.

Before watering again throughout the growing season, let the top inch of the potting soil dry out.

You can wait a little longer (or even altogether) before watering your soil again in the winter when it may be cooler inside and there is less light.


As long as your potting mix is exceptionally well drained, you can use a variety of potting mixtures.

I used a succulent mix for my own plant, to which I added approximately 1/4 pumice to improve the drainage.

If you mix together 2 to 3 parts succulent mix with 1 part of either perlite or pumice, this will work beautifully. Instead of using perlite or pumice, you could also use 1 part orchid bark. Or a mixture of any or all of them.

The goal is to have a very quickly draining potting mix and there isn’t one magic potting mix. It can be of many kinds!


I apply Dyna-Gro Grow, my go-to all-purpose fertilizer. It is an AMAZING, high-quality fertilizer that is complete with both the micro and macronutrients required for plant development.


For a variety of causes, plants develop aerial roots, and epiphytes are no exception.

Epiphytes are plants that use the support of other plants, such as trees, to flourish. They adhere to their host tree with the help of their aerial roots, which they also use to collect water and nutrients from nearby sources as well as from any organic waste that may be lying around.

Therefore, it is very natural to find aerial roots on your fishbone cactus. The worst-case scenario is that it can be a warning indication that your plant needs watering because it is dry. If the soil is really dry, make sure to check the potting media and give it a good watering.

Also keep in mind that fertilization should be a regular component of your maintenance regimen. I heartily endorse Dyna-Gro Grow!

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.

This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you click over and buy something, I might receive a small compensation.

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.