If you're looking for a unique and interesting houseplant to add to your collection, look no further than the fishbone cactus.
This unique plant, also known as the Ric Rac cactus or zigzag cactus, gets its name from its long, flat stems that resemble a fishbone or a zigzag pattern.
While it may look intimidating to care for, the fishbone cactus is actually quite easy to maintain with the right care and attention.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll take a deep dive into everything you need to know about fishbone cactus care, from when to plant to troubleshooting problems. Let's get started!
All About Fishbone Cactus
The fishbone cactus, or Selenicereus anthonyanus, is a unique species of cactus native to Mexico.
It's known for its long, flat stems that can grow up to 2-3 feet in length and feature a unique, fishbone-like pattern.
The fishbone cactus is a climbing cactus, which means it can grow upwards or trail down when planted in a hanging basket.
When To Plant Fishbone Cactus
The best time to plant fishbone cactus is in the spring or summer when the temperatures are warm and the days are long.
While the fishbone cactus can grow well indoors, it also thrives in outdoor conditions. If you live in an area with mild winters, you can also plant your fishbone cactus outside, just make sure to protect it from frost and extreme temperatures.
Fishbone Cactus Care
Light & Temperature
Fishbone cactus prefers bright, indirect light. It can tolerate some direct sunlight, but too much can burn the plant.
If you're growing your fishbone cactus indoors, place it near a south or west-facing window where it can receive bright, filtered light. Outdoors, make sure to provide some shade during the hottest parts of the day.
Fishbone cactus prefers warm temperatures between 60-85°F (15-29°C) during the day and cooler temperatures around 55-65°F (12-18°C) at night. Make sure to keep your fishbone cactus away from cold drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations.
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Water & Humidity
Fishbone cactus is a drought-tolerant plant that prefers well-draining soil. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and be careful not to overwater. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues.
While fishbone cactus can tolerate low humidity levels, it prefers a more humid environment. You can increase humidity around your plant by misting it regularly or placing a humidifier nearby.
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Fishbone cactus prefers well-draining soil that's rich in organic matter. A cactus or succulent-specific soil mix is a good choice for planting fishbone cactus.
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During the growing season (spring and summer), you can fertilize your fishbone cactus once a month with a balanced fertilizer. Avoid fertilizing during the winter months when the plant is dormant.
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Fishbone cactus doesn't need to be repotted often and can thrive in a slightly cramped container. Repot your plant only when it becomes root-bound or every 2-3 years. When repotting, use a well-draining soil mix and a container with drainage holes.
Fishbone cactus doesn't require frequent pruning, but you can trim it to control its size or shape. You can also prune it to remove any dead or damaged parts.
Use clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors to avoid damaging the plant. Always cut just above a node or joint to encourage new growth.
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Fishbone cactus is relatively easy to propagate. You can propagate it using stem cuttings. Here's how to do it:
Cut a healthy stem from the mother plant. Choose a stem that's at least 4-5 inches long and has a few segments or joints.
Let the cutting dry for a day or two. This will allow the cut end to callus over and prevent rotting.
Plant the cutting in well-draining soil. Water it lightly and place it in a bright, warm spot out of direct sunlight.
Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Within a few weeks, the cutting should start to develop roots and new growth.
Fishbone Cactus Problems Fishbone cactus is generally easy to care for, but it can sometimes develop problems. Here are some common issues and how to address them:
If your fishbone cactus is not growing or has stopped growing, it may be due to insufficient light, water, or nutrients.
Make sure it's getting enough bright, indirect light and that you're watering it appropriately. Consider fertilizing it with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season to give it a boost.
Fishbone cactus is not particularly prone to pests, but it can occasionally be attacked by mealybugs, scale insects, or spider mites.
Inspect your plant regularly for signs of pests, such as sticky or cottony spots on the leaves or stems. If you spot any pests, wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or spray the plant with insecticidal soap.
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Fishbone cactus is generally not susceptible to diseases, but it can sometimes develop root rot if it's overwatered or planted in a poorly draining soil mix.
To prevent root rot, make sure the soil is well-draining and that you're not watering the plant too frequently.
If you suspect root rot, remove the plant from the pot and inspect the roots. Cut off any soft or mushy roots and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are fishbone cactus easy to care for?
Overall, fishbone cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger) are considered easy to care for as they are relatively low-maintenance and tolerant of a variety of conditions. However, like any plant, they do have specific needs that should be met in order for them to thrive.
Why is my fishbone cactus so skinny?
If your fishbone cactus is skinny, it may be a sign of inadequate light or nutrients. Fishbone cactus requires bright, indirect light to thrive and produce healthy growth. If it is not getting enough light, it may stretch out and become leggy, resulting in a skinny appearance. Consider moving it to a brighter location or supplementing with artificial grow lights.
Another possible reason for a skinny fishbone cactus is a lack of nutrients. Fishbone cactus benefits from regular fertilization during the growing season (spring and summer).
If it is not receiving enough nutrients, it may not be able to produce healthy new growth and may become skinny. Make sure to fertilize your fishbone cactus according to the instructions on the fertilizer package.
Finally, make sure your fishbone cactus is planted in well-draining soil and is not overwatered. Overwatering can cause root rot and other problems that can affect the plant's overall health and appearance.
Can you propagate fishbone cactus in water?
Yes, fishbone cactus can be propagated in water. To propagate in water, simply take a stem cutting from the parent plant and place it in a container of water.
The water should be changed every few days to prevent the growth of algae and to provide fresh oxygen to the cutting.
After a few weeks, roots will start to grow from the cutting, and once they are about an inch long, the cutting can be planted in soil.
It is important to note that not all varieties of fishbone cactus can be propagated in water, so it is best to research the specific variety before attempting to propagate it in water.
Do fishbone cactus like to be root bound?
Fishbone cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger) does not necessarily like to be root-bound, but they can tolerate it for a while.
In fact, being slightly pot-bound can help promote blooming in some cases. However, it's still important to repot your fishbone cactus when necessary to prevent it from becoming too crowded and potentially leading to issues with root rot.
A good rule of thumb is to repot every 2-3 years or when you notice the roots are starting to grow out of the drainage holes. When repotting, move up one pot size and use well-draining soil.
Fishbone cactus is a unique and interesting plant that's easy to care for and propagate.
By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can keep your fishbone cactus healthy and thriving for years to come.
Remember to provide it with bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, and moderate watering, and it should reward you with its stunning, fishbone-like foliage.