The rule of thumb with Rhipsalis is to allow the top third of the soil dry out in between irrigations. Reduce this further during winter to replicate their dormancy period. Instead of pouring water directly through the foliage, irrigate using the bottom-up method by placing the pot on a saucer of water (25% of the pot submerged) until thorough absorption. Saturating the foliage every time you come to hydrate the plant will allow excess moisture to settle, causing the leaves to yellow and rot away. If this has happened, take vine cuttings to root in water, before placing back into the soil to promote a bushier appearance. Under-watering symptoms include little to no new growth, a much-needed transplant, and drying leaves - remember, although they're in the cactus family, they originate in tropical locations meaning soil moisture and humidity should be generous. Over-watering symptoms include yellowing leaves that soon drop off, no or little growth and root rot. These are common with too much soil moisture, an improper soil medium or too low light.
High humidity should be at the forefront of cultivation. A weekly mist, or introducing a humidity/pebble tray will help replicate its natural habitat in the Brazilian forests. Botrytis petal blight and southern blight are caused when excess moisture (from misting or messy irrigations) is allowed to settle in the cubbyholes of the flowers or stem.
Bright, indirect light is favourable; however a darker location won’t do too much harm. A position that offers more than two hours of strong direct light must be kept off the cards, due to their susceptibility to sun-scorch. A location within three metres of a north, east or west-facing window, or below a skylight window are the ideal areas.
Supplement monthly using a houseplant fertiliser. Potassium-based feeds may be used during the blooming process in the spring months to promote longer lasting flowers.
Root rot is a big issue; typical symptoms include yellowing lower leaves, stunted or softened growth often accompanied by vine collapse. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect its root systems. Yellow roots symbolise good health, however, if it's brown and mushy with the soil being quite soggy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.
Yellowing leaves or a naked base are products of excess moisture being allowed to sit on the foliage, commonly sped up by too little light or poor air circulation. Although watering from the top is best, it's recommended to use the bottom-up method if you're a messy waterer. For specimens that have a bare head, improve growing contains by using this method and increasing light levels slightly. Promote a bushier appearance by taking vine cuttings and placing them halfway down into the soil. Immediately remove yellowed or rotten debris as this will harbour both bacterial and fungal diseases that can both spread across to other sections of the plant.
Failed leaf or stem cuttings are a common issue among amateur gardeners, with damaged wounds or too small vines being the usual culprits. Although propagating all tropical cacti is relatively easy, people still find it hard to ace. Not only will the size of the vine dictate its success, damaging the leaves or vine can also hurt the chances of it rooting. For more information about how to take vines, scroll to the 'Propagation' section of this article.
Too much sunlight will cause a red tinge to the foliage. Although Rhipsalis are best grown in locations offering bright light, prolonged periods of intense rays cannot be tolerated. Although the new growth will develop into its original green texture, sunburnt leaves will remain red or yellow for the rest of its functioning life.
A lack of flowers is caused by a insufficient dormancy period, served in the winter months. Locations that offer near-similar temperatures all year round won't allow the plant to go dormant, resulting in poor spring growth. To achieve, situate in a location that dips to around 12°C (54°F) with fewer waters. Allow the majority of the compost to dry out, and provide a humidity tray while the radiators are operating.
Always use lukewarm water, and if you choose to use tap water, allow it to stand for at least 24hrs before application. Tropical cacti tend to be quite sensitive to temperature change, so pouring cold tap water immediately into the pot will not only ionise your roots but could even cause yellow edges, sudden flower loss and stunted growth.
Established specimens (2yrs +) will easily bloom during the spring if its previous dormancy period has been served well in the winter. As ukhouseplants been challenged many times on this subject, we've created an acronym to help you through this process - SHORT. The combination of drying soil, cooler temperatures and dark nights will contribute to better flowers in the following season. Repotting isn't mandatory, but instead might hurt the chances because of transplant shock and stress. The following steps must be taken from autumn to winter, to provide the best possible dormancy period.
Provide a bright location with a splash of winter sun. Darker settings will significantly reduce the chance of flowers.
Reduce watering so that the soil almost becomes, for the prevention of root rot and to replicate its dormancy period.
One or two feeds using Cactus & Succulent Fertiliser is all that is needed for supplementation over this period, as too nutritious soil will reduce the chance of blooms in the spring.
This one is a reminder to reduce everything - especially the temperature.
Reduce the temperature by around 5℃ or place in a room which is within 15℃ - 18℃ (59 - 65℉). As most houseplants are sensitive to temperature change, we can't empathise how important this is to replicate their dormancy period. If all of the steps are fulfilled, an established specimen could produce beautiful clusters of flowers in the spring, lasting several weeks.
|Time of Year||Care Requirements|
|January & Early February||Resting/Dormancy Period. Reduce irrigations and fertilisation.|
|Late February||End of Resting/Dormancy Period. Increase waters and feed using a nitrogen-based fertiliser at monthly intervals.|
|March||Pre-Flowering Period. Use a potassium-based feed fortnightly during this period. Water once the top their of the soil dries out.|
|April||Flowering Period. Maintain moist soil and fortnightly potassium-based feeds.|
|May||End of the Flowering Period. Gradually decrease both water and fertiliser intake in the soil. Remove spent flowers as they wilt.|
|June - August||Water once the top third of the soil dries out. Supplement using houseplant feed or a general plant fertiliser, at monthly intervals.|
|September - December||Resting/Dormancy Period. Reduce irrigations and fertilisation.|
If yours hasn’t flowered during the spring, it's most likely due to incorrect care and its environment throughout the year. During the winter, reduce irrigations so that the soil almost dries out, along with reducing the temperature a few degrees. Provide an area that has at least twelve hours of complete darkness, with an absence of artificial light during the night. The buds may start to drop off if it endures persistent droughts or has been relocated in another room. The table above shows a basic timetable in which you can follow to significantly increase the chance of flowers during the spring.
Rhipsalis consists of thirty-five species that originate from tropical or subtropical locations around central America, and in isolated parts of Western Africa. They can either grow on trees (epiphytic), on rocks (lithophytic) or rarely on the ground (terrestrial). The genus was first formally described back in 1788 by Joseph Gaertner (hybridiser of the Easter Cactus) who initially classified it as part of the Cassytha. The scientific name, Rhipsalis, comes from the Greek word for 'wickerwork', referring to its morphology.
10°C - 26°C (50° - 78°F)
H1b - can be grown outdoors in summer in a sheltered location, but is fine to remain indoors. If you decide to bring the plant outdoors, do not allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as this will burn the leaves. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, most notably aphids and mealybugs.
Up to 2m in length with its width solely relying on diameter of the pot that it's in. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 8 years to achieve, but can live over twenty-five years or more in the right care.
Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Vine cuttings can be taken to halve the vine-length of the specimen, as well as doubling your stock.
Via seed or leaf/stem cuttings. To learn about the essentials with sowing seeds, be sure to click on this link - Seed Propagation Tips.
Rhipsalis will flower each spring with small rosette-shaped blooms, that sport either red, yellow, pink or white appearances. Each flower will take several weeks to develop, lasting up to two weeks whilst open.
Repot every three years using Cactus & Succulent Compost and a larger pot, during the spring. This is an excellent time to check the roots' condition, as well as division. As all tropical cacti are prone to root rot, have a look around the bottom half of the root ball for any brown or broken down roots. If this is the case, remove the affected areas with clean utensils and ease off with the irritations. Click on this link to learn about how to perform the perfect transplant.
Typical diseases associated with Rhipsalis are root or leaf rot, leaf-spot disease & powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for scale, aphids, spider mite, mealybugs & vine weevils. For more information on how to address any of these issues, click on this link. Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases
This genus is classified as non-poisonous. If large quantities of the plant are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur.