How To Take Care Of 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 fish-bone 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.

Do I need to mist my fishbone cactus?

Be sure to maintain soil moisture. Especially in the spring and summer, mist your Fishbone Cactus frequently to give it an extra burst of moisture. In the summer, it must remain between 60 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. It can endure wintertime temperature drops of approximately 50F.

Does the fishbone cactus need exposure to the sun?

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.

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.

My fishbone cactus can I place outside?

The fishbone cactus, also known as Epiphyllum ‘anguliger,’ is a unique type of desert cactus. This particular cactus is an epiphytic cactus, meaning it lives on organic matter (like decomposing leaves) that accumulates between the branches of established trees in humid, tropical woods. It is indigenous to Mexico’s highland regions.

When it comes to its growing requirements, the fishbone cactus is comparable to an orchid plant. In fact, the name “zig zag” or “ric rac” orchid cactus is frequently used to describe it. The fishbone cactus has what appears to be leaves, but they are actually flattened, long stems that resemble a fish’s backbone and gently arch over the side of pots and containers.

Although fishbone cacti are normally kept as indoor houseplants, if you’d rather, you can place them outside in the summer. They should be placed in a well lit, shaded area; however, direct sunlight should be avoided as it can harm the plant.

Light and Temperature Requirements

The fishbone cactus receives indirect light in nature and develops in the understory of trees. Its flattened stems have evolved to capture and utilize sunlight in dimly lit environments. It can withstand brief periods of direct sunshine during the day, but it should be positioned where it gets bright, indirect light instead. This can be achieved by positioning the plant 2 to 3 feet away from a window that receives direct sunlight or by placing sheer curtains in front of the window.

The room’s temperature should also be taken into consideration. If the temperature falls below 50 degrees, the fishbone cactus will suffer. It enjoys temperatures between 60 and 78 degrees. Keep them away from places that experience chilly drafts or sudden heat spikes from your heater during the winter.

Fishbone cacti thrive in humid environments and may flourish in damp areas like the kitchen or bathroom. To avoid dry air around the plants in the winter, put them with other plants on a pebble tray filled with water.


More watering is needed for the fishbone cactus than for the desert cactus, although it can also be finicky. The fleshy stems may become mushy and collapse as a result of either overwatering or underwatering. When the top two inches of dirt in the plant pot have dried, you should typically water your fishbone cactus.

Since their roots are delicate to cold water, it is crucial to water your fishbone cactus with room-temperature water. They may also be vulnerable to contaminants in municipal water. Tap water should be poured into a watering can and left to stand for 24 hours to let any additives evaporate and the water warm up.

Before watering your fishbone cactus again, let it dry out so that water may flow easily through the bottom of the container. After watering your fishbone cactus, don’t let any standing water remain in the saucer. Winter irrigation should be minimized.

Soil & Fertilizing

Although cactus and succulent mixtures could be too heavy for the fishbone cactus, it prefers loose soil that drains well. To create the best soil for the fishbone cactus, use one part perlite, one part peat moss, and one part commercial cactus soil.

Apply liquid fertilizer to fishbone cactus according to the specified application rate. Make sure the fertilizer is labeled for cacti and succulents.

Deadheading and Pruning

Although the fishbone cactus doesn’t need much maintenance, it can be clipped to keep the size and length of the arching stems as desired. Simply use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut the arching branch to the desired length. Typically, new branches grow underneath the cut as a result of this.

This cactus does bloom, and it does so with several-inch long, extremely fragrant yellow blooms. Usually blooming in the late fall or early winter, the flowers only open at night. Only one day are left of this spectacular bloom. If your fishbone cactus starts to develop buds, be sure to check on it at night to see its spectacular flowers.