Rhipsalis cacti are rare succulents, the shoots of which are mostly hanging. This is why amateur gardeners like cacti to cultivate them as an ampelous plant. About 40 species are known that, with proper care, not only develop the leaves or braid-like interwoven shoots, which are unusual for cacti, but also bloom splendidly in spring. Berry-like, smooth fruits develop from the countless small white, cream-colored or pink flowers. They are often kept as indoor plants, but also feel good in the garden in summer. Like all cacti, they are easy to care for and can live for many years.


Rhipsalis cacti do not hibernate and can therefore be kept indoors all year round. Anyone who allows them to stay in the fresh air in summer will be rewarded with a richer flowering. Since these cacti are not hardy, they have to be taken indoors when the temperature drops, in the heated winter garden or in the greenhouse. The most important care instructions are presented below:

  • sunny to partially shaded location
  • protect from blazing midday sun
  • place outdoors protected from rain and wind
  • only watering if the soil is well dried
  • no calcareous tap water
  • rainwater is ideal
  • Avoid waterlogging at all costs
  • Do not let the plant balls dry out completely
  • Evaporation tanks ensure high humidity
  • In winter, additional water-filled bowls on the heater
  • give cactus fertilizer every 14 days
  • only fertilize up to the opening of the bud
  • regularly check for pests
  • water less in winter
  • do not repot during the winter

The ideal substrate for Rhipsalis cacti is a mixture of 2/3 peat and 1/3 sharp sand. This is cheaper than buying special cactus soil, but supports growth and flowering just as well. Since this type of cactus has only a few and very small roots, repotting is rarely necessary. If the planter is still completely rooted, the best time to repot is spring.

Diseases and pests

Like most cacti, the Rhipsalis are not immune to diseases and pests. Often the infestation with mealybugs or mealybugs can be observed, which shows itself through fine, woolly webs on the leaves and shoots. The tiny lice suck out the sap and weaken the cactus. At the same time, they release a poison into the shoots or leaves, which causes a yellow discoloration and ultimately causes the rhipsalis to die. As a first measure, the infected plant should be quarantined so that the mealybugs do not spread any further. Pesticides that are produced from the extract of the neem tree have proven to be successful in combating them. In addition, experienced hobby gardeners report good experiences with the lacewing larvae, which are available in specialist shops.

Rhipsalis vermehren

These cacti are preferably propagated from cuttings, which are cut from the mother plant in spring or summer. The severed shoots are 8 cm to 15 cm long. After cutting, they are stored in a dry and cool place for a few days until they are about 4 cm deep in a suitable cactus substrate or a peat-sand mixture.

The cultivation vessel is placed in a light to partially shaded location that is not exposed to blazing sunlight. The optimal temperature for this phase of reproduction is between 20 ° and 25 ° degrees Celsius. Since the cuttings need a high level of humidity, a plastic sheet is placed over the container and fastened with a rubber band.

In order to avoid the formation of mold, the film is ventilated for a few minutes every day. On this occasion it is checked whether the substrate is slightly damp. Under no circumstances should waterlogging occur here, so the seed pot should not stand on a saucer in which the irrigation water can collect.

As soon as the first young shoots appear, air holes are first cut in the film before it is completely removed a few days later. In this way, the young Rhipsalis gradually get used to the room climate.

Incidentally, an old aquarium is perfect for growing cactus cuttings. This is covered with a layer of gravel so that waterlogging cannot occur. A room temperature of 18 ° Celsius is then sufficient to ensure that the aquarium is around 22 ° Celsius and that there are ideal climatic conditions for the young plants.

Rhipsalis – the cacti with many faces

There is hardly a cactus genus that presents itself in such diverse forms as the Rhipsalis. German hobby gardeners refer to them as coral cactus, rush cactus, whip cactus or rod cactus. The around 40 species of Rhipsalis appear once as leaf cactus, then again with meter-long, thin shoots or triangular branches. In any case, the hobby gardener is spoiled for choice when it comes to cultivating Rhipsalis in his home or in the garden.

The pompous overhanging growing species are the ideal ampelous plants, whereas the species with the lush, short branches do very well in the flower pot. As multifaceted as their growth forms are; The Rhipsalis cacti all have one thing in common: They are very easy to care for, as long as they are given a suitable location. They are not hardy; But they like to spend the summer in the fresh air and thank you for it with a particularly opulent flower. Those who know how to dose the dose of water correctly will enjoy the mostly exotic-looking cacti for many years. Garden enthusiasts who cannot get enough of them can easily propagate Rhipsalis with the help of cuttings.

Species of the rhispalis

The vast majority of Rhispalis species come from Central and South America. Some species have also been discovered in Africa and Brazil. Their visual appearance can be so different that the viewer is sometimes quite astonished that they belong to the genus Rhispalis:

Rhispalis aurea

  • Branches are up to 80 cm long
  • young shoots grow upright
  • golden yellow, bell-shaped flowers
  • spherical, green fruits

Rhipsalis baccifera

  • round shoots up to 4 m long
  • covered with stiff bristles
  • white flowers 10 mm in diameter
  • Flowers appear laterally
  • white to pink fruits

Rhipsalis burchellii

  • 60 cm long purple-colored shoots
  • grows widely branched
  • numerous white, bell-shaped flowers
  • bright red fruits

Rhipsalis campos-portoana

  • Shoots are not very long, but broadly branched
  • beautiful, large, white flowers on the tips of the shoots
  • round, orange-colored fruits

Rhipsalis cassutha

  • also called coral cactus
  • especially fleshy leaves
  • can also cope with dry air
  • grows upright at first, later drooping
  • many small, white flowers

Rhipsalis cereoides

  • triangular or square 10 cm long shoots
  • straight edges
  • semi-hanging or upright
  • wheel-shaped, white flowers
  • is on the Red List of Endangered Species

Rhipsalis cereuscula

  • forms branched shoots
  • Main shoot becomes up to 30 cm long
  • white flowers appear on the shoot ends
  • the shoots are covered with bristles

Rhipsalis clavata

  • hanging, lush, branched growth
  • many white bell-shaped flowers
  • large, pink fruits
  • ideal Ampelpflanze

Rhipsalis crispata

  • leaf-like, long flattened shoots
  • many small cream-colored flowers
  • fellow cactus species

Rhipsalis crispimarginata

  • splendid leaf cactus
  • complex growing shoots
  • become up to 2 m long
  • small, white to cream colored flowers
  • lots of pale pink fruits

Rhipsalis dissimilar

  • also called rod cactus
  • initially grows upright
  • later overhanging growth
  • Shoots rotating or triangular
  • pale yellow flowers
  • red, round fruits

Rhipsalis elliptica

  • shrubby leaf cactus
  • flat, dark green, shiny shoots
  • Shoots are separated by constrictions
  • white flowers appear in groups
  • round or oblong red fruits
  • one of the most attractive Rhipsalis species

Rhipsalis ewaldiana

  • three to four-edged shoots 50 cm long
  • white flowers
  • ideal pot plant
  • round, pink fruits 8 mm in size

Rhipsalis floccosa

  • cylindrical, 25 cm long shoots
  • tinted red or purple
  • Remy white or yellow flowers
  • pink to red fruits

Rhipsalis goebeliana

  • interesting, twofold shoots
  • Round at the bottom, flattened towards the tip
  • white and pink flowers
  • white fruits with a hint of pink
  • very rare species

Rhipsalis grandiflora

  • delicate long shoots
  • slightly tinged red at the tip
  • between 5 cm and 15 cm long
  • large, creamy white flowers
  • beautiful cactus for buckets

Rhipsalis hoelleri

  • unusual, very attractive kind
  • splendid, shiny red flowers
  • rare cactus species
  • forms round, red fruits
  • is one of the threatened species

Rhipsalis juengeri

  • very thin shoots
  • become up to 300 cm long
  • bell-like, white flowers
  • Flowers appear in pairs
  • purple fruits
  • rare species occurs only in Sao Paulo

Rhipsalis lindbergiana

  • strongly branched shoots
  • become up to 200 cm long
  • tiny black bristles
  • small, white flowers
  • numerous bright red fruits

Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides

  • cylindrical woody main shoot
  • grows up to 40 cm long
  • first upright, later hanging growth
  • small, white to pink flowers
  • spherical, white fruits

Rhipsalis micrantha

  • strong, drooping shoots
  • Shoots either flat or triangular
  • rounded notched shoots
  • laterally growing, white flowers
  • round, white fruits

Rhipsalis neves-armondii

  • shrubby habit
  • round shoots up to 10 cm long
  • beautiful pot cactus
  • silver-white, wheel-shaped flowers
  • white fruits

Rhipsalis oblonga

  • shrubby leaf cactus
  • leaves with wavy edges
  • triangular main shoot
  • semi-upright shoots up to 12 cm long
  • single, white flowers
  • few, white to pink fruits
  • is one of the endangered species

Rhipsalis olivifera

  • richly branched shoots up to 3 m long
  • dark green leaves change to reddish
  • yellowish white flowers
  • olive-shaped fruits with purple stripes
  • a real eye-catcher for the traffic light

Rhipsalis ormindoi

  • light green, forked growing shoots
  • hanging and overhanging growth
  • club-shaped green side shoots
  • magenta flowers at the tips
  • orange fruits

Rhipsalis pacheco-lion

  • only sparsely growing shoots
  • irregular, branched growth
  • Shoots are covered with wool
  • few, small white flowers
  • is one of the threatened species

Rhipsalis pachyptera

  • typical leaf cactus
  • two to three-sided links
  • grows up to 100 cm
  • grows largely upright
  • dark green shoots later change to reddish
  • yellow and white flowers appear in groups
  • Fruits are round and red

Rhipsalis paradox

  • spreading, branched growth
  • triangular or square, green shoots
  • Shoots show zigzag-shaped notches
  • solitary white flowers
  • small white fruits

Rhipsalis pentaptera

  • is also called rush or rod cactus
  • thin, long shoots
  • branched, intertwined growth
  • largely upright growing
  • therefore well suited for flower pots
  • white flowers on the shoot ends
  • white to pink fruits

Rhipsalis russellii

  • one of the most colorful species
  • flat, dark green shoots
  • with reddish to purple colored edges
  • Creamy white flowers on the sides
  • orange, round fruits

Rhipsalis teres

  • very unusual appearance
  • is also called coral cactus
  • opulently branched, yellowish shoots
  • drooping habit
  • yellowish white flowers, solitary and in groups
  • the ideal hanging plant

From these Rhipsalis species numerous, sometimes pompous growing hybrids were bred, which are offered in specialist shops. Most of these cacti have no thorns, but instead have numerous flowers and fruits. As a rule, these types of cacti do not need pruning. However, if they are too long or too big for you, you can easily cut them into the desired shape. The sap is not dangerously poisonous, but the experienced hobby gardener wears gloves when doing this work.

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