Rhipsalis micrantha (Mistletoe Cactus) plant can be confusing because there are over 500 different species of cacti in the genus Rhipsalis, and all but one of them are native to South America.
Blooming houseplants can add life and color to your home, but many people don’t know how to care for them properly or even how to tell if they are alive or dead. If you own a rhipsalis mistletoe cactus, you’re in luck, because these plants are the easiest indoor plants around and very easy to take care of in small spaces like apartments and dorm rooms.
A popular houseplant, Rhipsalis micrantha needs minimal attention to stay healthy and alive indoors, making it an ideal plant to grow with little prior experience.
Here’s what you need to know about growing and caring for Mistletoe Cactus plants!
Origin and distribution
Rhipsalis micrantha is a cactus that is native to Brazil. It can be found in the wild in the rainforests of Brazil, where it grows as an epiphyte on trees. It is also found in cultivation in other parts of South America, as well as in Europe and North America. In some areas, this plant has become naturalized.
The geographical distribution of this species appears to be centered around Rio de Janeiro state in southeastern Brazil. Rhipsalis micrantha may grow at altitudes of up to 1,500 meters (4,921 feet). Most often growing with others in clumps or trees near rivers or streams, the stems cling to tree branches for support. They also grow high up in palms or other trees near water sources.
Rhipsalis micrantha propagation
Rhipsalis micrantha can be propagated by stem cuttings or seeds. To propagate by stem cuttings, take a cutting from a healthy plant and allow the cutting to be callous for a few days before potting it in a well-draining cactus mix. To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in a well-draining cactus mix and keep them moist until they germinate.
Once they have germinated, water them sparingly and give them plenty of light. The mistletoe cactus is sensitive to too much heat and cold so you will need to provide some shelter if temperatures outside are very high or very low. Maintain average room temperature indoors year-round, with an additional 5°F at night when temperatures are below 55°F and an additional 10°F when temperatures drop below 45°F.
Give your plants moderate water as needed. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. You may find that your plants do better when they are given less frequent but more thorough watering sessions, rather than being watered every day but just lightly.
It’s also important not to overwater because this could lead to root rot and other problems that could prove fatal for your plants.
Rhipsalis micrantha care information
Rhipsalis micrantha, or mistletoe cactus, is a beautiful and unique plant that is native to Brazil. It is an epiphytic cactus, which means it grows on other plants or trees. In its natural habitat, it can be found growing on rainforest trees. Rhipsalis micrantha is not a difficult plant to care for and can be grown indoors or outdoors.
Rhipsalis micrantha does best in bright, indirect sunlight. If you live in a hot climate, it’s best to keep this plant in a shady spot to protect it from the intense afternoon sun.
Rhipsalis micrantha can tolerate low light levels, but will grow slower and produce fewer flowers in these conditions. Keep your mistletoe cactus away from drafts that might cause leaf drops.
Rhipsalis micrantha cacti enjoy a well-draining potting mix. A good mix for this cactus is two parts perlite to one part potting soil. You can also add a little bit of sand to the mix to help with drainage. Remember, it’s important to not let your cactus sit in water, so make sure the potting mix is well-draining.
Water your mistletoe cactus when the soil is dry to the touch. Be sure to empty any water that collects in the saucer after watering. These plants are drought tolerant, so you don’t need to worry about over-watering. During the winter months, you can reduce watering to once every two weeks.
Fertilize your mistletoe cactus every two weeks during the growing season with a half-strength solution of balanced fertilizer. Mistletoe cacti are light feeders, so be careful not to overdo it.
Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. In the winter, fertilize monthly.
During this time, you should reduce watering and keep the temperature above 60 degrees. If you’re keeping your plant in a container, use an organic orchid mix as they don’t need drainage holes. It’s normal for the leaves to shrivel up and turn brown as they get older, but they will regrow if they’re watered enough.
Rhipsalis micrantha prefer a warm environment and will do best in temperatures between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate brief periods of cooler temperatures, but prolonged exposure to cold will damage the plant. If you live in a climate that gets colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, it’s best to grow Rhipsalis micrantha indoors.
Rhipsalis micrantha comes from the jungles of Central and South America, so it’s used to high humidity. Misting your plant regularly, or setting it on a pebble tray will help increase the humidity around your plant and prevent the leaves from drying out and browning.
If you live in a dry climate, you may want to consider investing in a humidifier to keep your mistletoe cactus healthy.
The ideal humidity range is 45% – 70%. This will keep your plant’s foliage green and healthy, but not too damp. It’s very important to know how much humidity is right for your mistletoe cactus because they do not tolerate being either too dry or too wet.
Rhipsalis micrantha can be pruned to control its growth habit and to encourage fuller, bushier growth. When pruning, cut back the main stems by about one-third their length. In general, plants should not be cut any shorter than halfway down the stem or node below a leaf cluster.
To promote branching, remove side shoots that develop near the end of each stem when it is 1 in diameter or less.
When trimming, use sharp scissors or shears and make clean cuts above a leaf node where there are no leaves so you won’t accidentally damage them. Cut the branch off flush with the rest of the plant and dispose of it carefully so as not to harm other nearby plants. Trim away old, dead branches at least once per year for a well-manicured appearance.
When to repot
Rhipsalis micrantha is a fast-growing cactus and will need to be repotted every one to two years. The best time to repot is in the spring after the plant has had a chance to rest. When choosing a pot, make sure it has drainage holes and is only slightly larger than the current pot.
Gently remove the plant from its pot and loosen any roots that are bound. Place the plant in the new pot and fill with cactus mix. Water well and allow to drain. After about a week you can apply diluted fertilizer.
Be careful not to overwater this succulent! A mister or water dropper makes for an easy way to water your Rhipsalis micrantha without accidentally overwatering.
Rhipsalis micrantha will enter into a state of dormancy or winter rest when the temperature drops and the days become shorter. During this time, the plant will stop growing and may even lose some of its leaves. It’s important to not water the plant during this period as too much moisture can lead to rot.
Once spring arrives and the days start to get longer, you can begin watering your Rhipsalis micrantha again and it will start to grow. You’ll want to be careful with how much water you give the plant because if it gets too wet, then mold can form on its surface. Just misting your Rhipsalis micrantha once or twice a week should suffice.
Rhipsalis micrantha flower & fragrance
The Rhipsalis Micrantha can grow up to 12 inches tall and produces small, white flowers. The flowers have a sweet fragrance that is reminiscent of vanilla.
Rhipsalis micrantha is a slow-growing cactus that can reach up to 12 feet in height. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. Water regularly during the growing season, but allow the plant to dry out between watering.
Rhipsalis micrantha is not toxic and therefore considered safe around pets and children.
USDA hardiness zones
Rhipsalis micrantha grows best in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. It needs a minimum of four hours of sunlight each day and needs to be watered during the summer months.
Pests and diseases
Rhipsalis micrantha is susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and fungal diseases. Mealybugs can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Spider mites can be controlled with a miticide. Fungal diseases can be controlled with fungicides such as potassium bicarbonate.