Rhipsalis baccifera (Mistletoe Cactus)

Rhipsalis baccifera

Rhipsalis baccifera, also known as Rhipsalis mistletoe or Mistletoe cactus, is one of the most interesting and uniquely beautiful succulents that you can own. This type of cactus is native to South America and Mexico and belongs to the family Cactaceae, which includes plants such as opuntia, pear-shaped, barrel, and pereskia cacti among others.

There are over 200 species of rhipsalis in the wild; however, it can be difficult to find all of them because they are so similar in appearance.

Origin and distribution

Rhipsalis baccifera is a cactus that is native to the tropical regions of South America, including Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. It can also be found in parts of Central America and the Caribbean.

The mistletoe cactus gets its name from its resemblance to the European mistletoe plant. The cactus grows as an epiphyte, meaning it often grows on other plants or trees. As such, it does not require soil for growth but rather absorbs water and nutrients through the root-like appendages called cladodes that hang from its branches.

Mistletoe cacti will produce offsets once they reach a certain size, which means their small stems grow into new plants.

Rhipsalis baccifera propagation

Rhipsalis baccifera

Rhipsalis baccifera can be propagated by seed or stem cuttings. To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in a well-draining cactus mix and keep them warm and moist until they germinate.

To propagate by stem cuttings, cut a 3-4 inch piece from a healthy stem and allow it to callus for a few days before potting it up. Cover with a damp cloth and place in bright indirect light. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Allow rooting to occur before watering more heavily.

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If using stem cuttings, you can also use rooting hormone on the end of the cutting to promote root growth. Be sure to provide plenty of air circulation around your plants as this helps prevent rot. You may need to mist your plants every day if there is no humidity in the air.

Rhipsalis baccifera care information

Rhipsalis baccifera

Rhipsalis baccifera, or mistletoe cactus, is a popular houseplant due to its easy care requirements and unique appearance. These plants are native to tropical regions of Central and South America, so they thrive in warm, humid environments.

Light requirement

Rhipsalis baccifera needs bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. If you live in a hot climate, it’s best to protect your mistletoe cactus from the intense midday sun by placing it in a shady spot. Rhipsalis baccifera can also tolerate low light conditions, but it will grow slower in these conditions.

The cacti prefers indirect light and thrives when it receives at least 12 hours of sun each day.

Soil/potting mix

A well-draining potting mix is essential for rhipsalis baccifera, as this plant is susceptible to root rot. A cactus potting mix or a DIY mix of one part perlite to one part potting soil will work well. Be sure to water your mistletoe cactus sparingly, as too much water can lead to root rot. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering.

Watering

Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. When you do water, make sure to soak the roots thoroughly. It’s best to water in the morning so the plant has time to dry out before nightfall. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. Mistletoe cacti prefer humid environments and should be kept away from drafts. Use a pebble tray or dish of gravel for moisture retention.

Fertilizer

I recommend using a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content to encourage blooming. A water-soluble fertilizer should be applied every two weeks during the growing season at one-quarter to one-half the recommended dosage. For mature plants, reduce fertilizer to once a month.

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From late fall to early winter, withhold fertilizer completely to give the plant a rest. In spring, resume fertilizing. Use a low nitrogen/high phosphorus ratio fertilizer as appropriate.

Temperature

Rhipsalis baccifera prefers warm temperatures and will not tolerate cold. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will start to experience stress. Rhipsalis baccifera can withstand short periods of time in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is best to keep this plant in a warmer environment.

If you live in an area with cold winters, it is best to grow Rhipsalis baccifera indoors or in a greenhouse.

Humidity

Rhipsalis baccifera, or mistletoe cactus, is a beautiful but often overlooked houseplant. These epiphytic cacti are native to tropical rainforests, so they prefer high humidity. Misting your plant daily or setting it on a pebble tray will help to create a humid environment.

Rhipsalis baccifera is also relatively sensitive to drafts, so keep it away from windows and doors during the winter.

The ideal humidity range is 40-60% with 40% being optimal. If you’re having trouble maintaining that level of humidity in your home, try running a humidifier.

Another option is placing a small dish of water near the plant, which may evaporate enough moisture to increase humidity levels for both plants. Be sure not to over-water rhipsalis baccifera as this can lead to root rot and eventual death of the plant!

Pruning

When and how to prune your Rhipsalis baccifera (mistletoe cactus) will depend on the size and shape of the plant. If the plant is leggy, you can cut it back to encourage new growth.

If the plant is too large, you can remove some of the stems to help control its size. You can also remove any stems that are damaged or diseased. Always use clean, sharp pruning shears when making cuts. Your mistletoe cactus should be watered right after a pruning session.

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Avoid getting water on the cut ends of your plant as this could cause them to rot. Place your plant in a shady area for about a week so that it can heal and seal up its wounds before being placed in a sunnier location.

When to repot

Rhipsalis baccifera can be repotted every two to three years, or when the roots start to become pot-bound. Be sure to use a well-draining potting mix, and water the plant thoroughly after repotting. Allow the plant to dry out completely between watering. The soil should feel dry before you water again.

In high humidity environments, consider using a humidity tray to help prevent rot on the leaves and stems.

Dormancy/Winter rest

Rhipsalis baccifera typically rests during the winter months. During this time, it is important to reduce watering frequency and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

Additionally, misting the plant can help prevent it from drying out too much. If possible, place Rhipsalis baccifera in a cool, dark location during its winter rest period.

Once spring arrives, you can resume regular care. Reduce watering frequency until the plant has fully re-hydrated, but be sure not to overwater and let the soil dry out completely again.

Rhipsalis baccifera flower & fragrance

Rhipsalis baccifera

The Rhipsalis baccifera, or mistletoe cactus, is a beautiful plant that produces small, white flowers.

Growth rate

Rhipsalis baccifera is a fast-growing cactus that can reach up to 12 feet in height. It has long, thin, needle-like spines that are arranged in clusters. The plant produces small, white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. Rhipsalis baccifera is native to Brazil, but it can be found in other parts of South America as well.

Toxicity

Rhipsalis baccifera is not considered to be toxic to humans or animals. However, the plant does contain saponins, which can cause stomach upset if ingested in large quantities.

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Additionally, the plant’s spines can cause skin irritation. If you suspect your pet has ingested Rhipsalis baccifera, contact your veterinarian immediately.

USDA hardiness zones

Rhipsalis baccifera thrives in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. Place them outside for the summer and bring them back inside when it begins to get cold. Make sure that they are not placed where they will be subjected to frost or sudden changes in temperature.

Pests and diseases

Rhipsalis baccifera is susceptible to mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. These pests can cause the cactus to lose moisture and eventually die. To prevent infestation, keep an eye out for early signs of pests and treat immediately with an insecticide.

Rhipsalis baccifera is also susceptible to root rot, so make sure the plant has well-draining soil and does not sit in water. Mist the leaves often. Place it near a bright window where it will receive indirect sunlight. Never place this cactus in direct sunlight as it may burn or become sunburned.