Ric Rac Cactus: Care And Propagation

Ric Rac Cactus 

Ric Rac Cactus are the unique looking cacti with distinctive glossy green and lobed fleshy leaves in an alternate wavy pattern. Their stems are clustered densely at the base and can cascade dramatically over the pot. They are the members of the night blooming cactus family. So, it’s pretty rare to see their white to yellow to pink orchid-like blooms.

Ric Rac Cactus

They open at night and last for a day only. They are tropical, evergreen, perennial cascading cacti which looks best in hanging baskets.  They are mostly kept indoors in a place where they can get indirect sun. If kept outdoors, they are fed with morning sun and then transferred to shady areas in the afternoon. Their branches can trail over 12 inches. The mature plant can reach to the height of 3-16 inches and width of 16-20 inches. They are non-poisonous and totally pet friendly.

In their native environment, you’ll find them in tropical rainforests of Chiapas in Mexico. They grow more like air plants or staghorn fern and they will root in the crotch of trees where a stem meets a trunk. They grow as epiphytes in their natural conditions. Their botanical name is Disocactus anguliger formerly Epiphyllum anguliger which is frequently conflicted with Selenicereus anthonyanus. They are both known as fishbone cactus but they differ in their flower colour.

Ric Rac Cactus flower

Ric Rac Cactus flower

Ric Rac Cactus are somewhat rare and non-invasive plants. They are known by other common names like fishbone cactus or zig zag cactus or Orchid Cactus, clearly getting their names from their interesting stem structure and growing pattern. They are fast growing succulents and can be grown in USDA Hardiness zones 10B, 11,12 .

Their blooms are very interesting looking, lightly fragrant and rarely seen in mature plants only. However, their bold foliage structure is a major attractor that urges people to keep them as a houseplant. The Ric Rac cactus growing in their original habitat, Mexico produces edible fruits after their bloom which are said to taste similar to gooseberries. But, they don’t produce any fruits when grown as a houseplant.

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Botanical Classification

Kingdom:     Plantae

Clade:          Tracheophytes

Clade:          Angiosperms

Clade:          Eudicots

Order:          Caryophyllales

Family:         Cactaceae

Sub-Family: Cactoideae

Genus:         Disocactus

Species:      anguliger

Is It Toxic To Cats?

Ric Rac Cactus is not toxic to cats or any other pets. It’s pet friendly, safe to keep around cats, dogs or childrens. However, the plant should not be consumed as it may cause digestive upset. 

Ric Rac Cactus Care

We treat this type of cactus differently. They need more humid and moist conditions than the typical ones. Also, if you see any of the leaves forming buds and getting ready to bloom around fall, you can increase the amount of light and water you’re giving them which can help in bloom production.

Light

Unlike other cacti, Ric Rac Cactus are used to more dappled light situations. They should be kept inside during the winter. You can still put it in a bright spot though. You can just set it away from  a south facing window or west facing window where they’re not sitting right in the direct sun but they’re still able to soak in some of that bright light. If you’re putting them outside like other houseplants, they’ll need protection from the afternoon sun. So, a little tiny bit of morning sun is okay but intense light can burn their leaves and cause quite a bit of damage.

Temperature

They prefer temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can’t tolerate  freezing temperatures. So, they must be kept inside during the winter season.

Soil

A well draining and well aerated soil which can hold the moisture and can provide moist environment to the plant should be prepared. They don’t want wet or soggy soil. Materials like perlites, coco-peats, pumice can be added to the organic soil mix to increase drainage.

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Water

In case of watering, they should be kept more moist than regular cactus and succulents.  You can put your finger down there to check the moisture content of the soil. If the soil feels cool and a little bit of soil sticks to your finger, that’s quite perfect. Watering can be done every 10 days or more based on the size of container or soil reservoir and the seasons. Extra moisture can be given in their active growing phase that is during spring and summer. If the plants are taken outdoors during their growth phase, watering is changed dramatically because it will dry out a bit faster.

Humidity

Ric Rac Cactus prefer more humidity than the regular cactus because they come from rainforests where it’s more humid. Although they thrive in humid conditions, there’s no need for an extra humidifier in order to create a favorable environment for them.

Fertilizers

Fertilizing these is quite easy. Common cactus fertilizer can be used and fertilizing them once a month is sufficient for them. During the winter time when they are powering down, you can skip a few months of fertilizing schedule and start right after the initiation of their active growth phase. If you do notice your plant forming buds and is starting to bloom, you can switch the type of fertilizer to the one with high phosphorus content to stimulate more buds and blooms. 

Potting And Repotting

You can use a designed cactus soil mix or prepare a well-aerated potting mix adding pumice or perlite or coco-peats along with the organic soil. The potting mix should be able to hold some moisture and facilitate some drainage. Fill up the pot, plant them and grow them in a moist condition, not too dry and not too wet by following the watering schedule.

Ric Rac Cactus potted plant

Ric Rac Cactus potted plant

Repotting is practiced when the trailing stems become way longer or their roots start growing out of the pot or their potting mix gets exhausted in early spring. It’s not necessary to repot this cactus frequently and can be done once in a 2-3 years interval.

  • The plant is first taken out of the old pot.
  • Unwanted stems and rough overgrown roots are removed.
  • A new potting mix is prepared in a new pot and the plant is then tucked in. 
  • Try to remove the old soil as much as possible before placing them in a new pot.

Training And Pruning

They don’t usually need pruning. However, you can prune the discolored, dried up, diseased  stems right after they finish blooming.

Propagation

The propagation of Ric Rac cactus is pretty easy and is done through the stem cuttings directly in soil or indirectly in water and then to the soil. 

Ric Rac Cactus propagation

Planting material of Ric Rac Cactus

a. In soil

  • Pinch a few inch long stem wearing gloves because the tiny fine thorns, rarely visible can prick you.
  • Let it get callused for a day or two.
  • Plant it in a well draining soil mix.
  • Keep the planted cuttings under the moist conditions with indirect light.
  • The cutting will then develop roots and grow into a new plant

b. In water

  • Pinch a few inch long stem wearing gloves.
  • Place the bottom of the stem in the water without submerging the entire stem part.
  • Replenish the water periodically until the new roots are seen.
  • When the roots grow more than an inch long, the rooted cutting is then transferred to a well aerated and quick draining soil mix prepared for them.

Price

The price range of ric rac cactus is quite wide and it starts from 17 USD to 72 USD based on their size.

Ric Rac Cactus Price

Common Problems

  • Overwatering leads to diseases like root rot.
  • As in other houseplants, they are affected by pests like aphids, Mealybugs, Scales, etc. On appearance of their infestation symptoms, the stems are treated with a high pressure water hose, rubbed with alcohol and the leaves are wiped up keeping the plant isolated from others. Pesticides can also be used if available.
  • Yellowing of leaves due to underwatering.
  • Too much sunlight may lead to sun-scorch and cause a red tinge to the foliage.
  • The leaves turn brown due to excess supply of water or excess sunlight. The soil should be left to dry between watering’s and the plant should be provided with indirect sunlight only.

Pros

  • They are not toxic and can be kept in any household with pets and children.
  • They don’t require pruning.
  • They can be kept in a hanging basket for their beautiful glossy trailing stems.
  • They don’t need large space and can be grown under minimal care. 

Cons

  • They need more water compared to other cacti.
  • Overwatering leads to root rot and ultimately death.
  • It’s quite difficult to prevent them from sun-scorching and provide enough sunlight at the same time.

Conclusion

Ric Rac Cactus is truly an amazing creation of nature. Their exceptional wavy, alternate stems clustering together creates an eye-appealing sight in your indoor space. Since they don’t need direct sunlight, they can be fitted in a small space in any corner of your house with indirect sunlight. Pruning and Repotting is not quite necessary and can be done in an interval of 2-3 years. Moreover, the ones with pets and children need not worry because the plant is not toxic and they are safe to keep around. One who can follow a proper watering schedule and keep them moist shouldn’t miss out on this houseplant. Therefore, if you’re looking for a pet friendly, beautiful and unique houseplant, Ric Rac Cactus is the one. It will definitely prove itself a worthy purchase.

Author

    by
  • Sochan Limbu

    A graduate of the Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal, Mr. Sochan Limbu is an agriculture professional. The author has worked in the gardening field for more than three years and has practical knowledge on how to handle and care for succulents. Get started gardening with his articles.

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