Rhipsalis pilocarpa, also known as hairy stemmed rhipsalis, hairy-fruited wickerware cactus, or hairy rhipsalis, is one of several varieties of the Rhipsalis vine, known as air plants, which grow in arid climates around the world.
Native to the semi-arid areas of Brazil, hairy stemmed rhipsalis requires little care or maintenance to thrive in virtually any climate or setting. Although members of the same family as cacti, these plants have no spines and are not considered toxic or dangerous to humans or animals when handled correctly.
The hairy stemmed rhipsalis is a beautiful addition to any indoor plant collection.
Read on to learn more about the care and propagation of this popular flowering cactus in your home or office!
Origin and distribution
Rhipsalis pilocarpa is a hairy rhipsalis that originates from Brazil. It can also be found in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. This cactus is typically found in shady areas of the forest, at an altitude of 1,000-1,600 m. The stems of this cactus are green and have white or brown hairs.
The flowers are small and white with purple or pink stripes. The fruits are hairy and have a diameter of 1-2 cm. When dry, these fruits resemble wickerware. Hence, they get their name: hairy-fruited wickerware cactus. Hairy-fruited wickerware cactus originate from Brazil.
They can also be found in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. These plants grow best in shaded areas of the forest at an altitude of 1,000-1,600 meters. Their stems are usually green with long hair coming out on them that ranges between brown to white color.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa propagation
Rhipsalis pilocarpa, or hairy rhipsalis, is a tropical cactus that is native to Brazil. This cactus is easily propagated from stem cuttings. To take a cutting, use a sharp knife or pruning shears to remove a stem from the main plant. The cutting should be at least 4 inches long and have several leaves.
Allow the cutting to callous over for a few days before potting it in a well-draining cactus potting mix. Place the pot in an area with bright indirect light and keep the soil moist but not wet. If watering is necessary, do so sparingly until new growth starts on the plant. After about four months, you can transplant it into its own container if desired.
Be sure to give your plants plenty of room because they grow very quickly. Hairy rhipsalis do best in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and when watered regularly. It prefers higher humidity than other types of succulents, though high humidity will cause mold problems on the plant’s surface.
When grown indoors, hairy rhipsalis benefits from spraying it with water occasionally so that condensation drips down onto the leaves of the plant
Rhipsalis pilocarpa care information
Rhipsalis pilocarpa is a delightful, easy-to-grow epiphytic cactus that hails from the jungles of Central and South America. It is characterized by its wiry, hairy stems that can grow up to 3 feet long. This plant does best in bright, indirect light but can tolerate some direct sun.
Water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch and fertilize monthly during the growing season. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering to prevent root rot.
This plant prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate lower light levels. If the light is too low, the stems will become leggy and the leaves will lose their color. Rhipsalis pilocarpa can also tolerate some direct sun, but it’s best to keep it out of hot, midday sun.
A well-draining potting mix is essential for Rhipsalis pilocarpa, as this plant is susceptible to root rot. A cactus or succulent potting mix will work well, or you can make your own by mixing equal parts perlite, sand, and peat moss. Be sure to add a layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.
To create humidity around the roots, cover the soil with moss, sphagnum moss, or even plastic wrap. Keep soil moist at all times but never soggy.
This plant likes to be on the drier side, so allow the soil to dry out in between watering. Water when the soil is dry to the touch, and be sure to not over-water. The best way to water this plant is to use a spray bottle and mist the leaves. Try to avoid getting water on the stem, as this can cause rot.
If you see the leaves start to droop, that is an indication that it is time to water. One of the most common reasons for drooping leaves is low humidity levels. Humidity levels should be around 50% during the winter months.
You can maintain humidity by occasionally spraying the plant with water or by putting it near a humidifier or any other area with high humidity levels.
A slow-release fertilizer is best for rhipsalis, since they are light feeders. Apply the fertilizer in spring when new growth begins. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, or one with slightly more nitrogen. Water the plant before and after applying the fertilizer to avoid burning the roots.
Fertilize every four to six weeks during the growing season. During the winter months, fertilize once a month and water sparingly. Avoid fertilizing in late summer or early fall, because this can stimulate new growth that will not have time to harden off before cold weather arrives.
The temperature for Rhipsalis pilocarpa should be around 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets too cold, the leaves will start to drop and the stems will become brittle. If the temperature gets too hot, the leaves will start to yellow and the stems will become soft.
Both temperatures are extreme conditions that need to be monitored. Make sure that there is plenty of air circulation in the plant’s environment because it needs fresh air to help it stay healthy.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa prefers high humidity and will often do best if given a daily misting. If the leaves begin to turn brown or drop, it is likely due to too little humidity. Try increasing the humidity around your plant by setting it on a pebble tray, using a humidifier, or grouping it with other plants. You can also put a clear plastic bag over the pot and poke some holes in it for air circulation.
The ideal humidity range is 50-70%. To measure the humidity level, use a digital hygrometer. Place it about an inch away from the surface of the soil and read out of direct sunlight.
If you want to keep your rhipsalis pilocarpa (hairy stemmed rhipsalis) looking its best, you’ll need to do some regular pruning. Pruning not only keeps the plant looking tidy, but it also helps encourage new growth.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to pruning your rhipsalis pilocarpa:
- Start by removing any dead or diseased leaves with clean scissors.
- Cut off the tips of any stems that are growing up and away from the center of the plant, leaving an inch or two of stem below where you made your cut.
- Cut back any stems that are growing out in multiple directions and remove weak or dying branches from the lower half of the plant by cutting them at their base on all sides using clean scissors.
- Deadhead blooms as they fade, making sure to remove the entire flower stalk rather than just snipping the head off at its base.
- Pinch out any flowers that form above each leaf node on new shoots as they grow–doing so will promote branching and help your rhipsalis become bushier over time.
- If you’re feeling really ambitious, use clear plastic or garden shears to cut away the whole bottom half of the plant after trimming off unhealthy foliage and reaching a height that suits your home decor.
When to repot
Repotting this plant is best done every two to three years, in the springtime. Be sure to use a well-draining potting mix, as the plant does not like to be too wet. Gently remove the plant from its current pot, and replant it in a slightly larger pot. Water well after repotting. Let dry between waterings.
Take care when moving because it will easily break off at the base of its leaves. Fertilize with liquid fertilizer about once per month or an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer about once per year. When watering, take care not to leave the soil wet for long periods of time, as that can lead to root rot.
The mature size of this plant is usually 2-3 ft high by 3 ft wide but could grow taller if conditions are right. It requires protection during the winter months if grown outdoors because it cannot tolerate frost or cold temperatures.
Many cacti, including Rhipsalis pilocarpa, enter a state of dormancy during the winter months. This is a time of rest for the plant when growth slows and the plant conserves its energy.
During dormancy, it is important to reduce watering and keep the plant in a cool, dark place. Once spring arrives, you can gradually increase watering and move the plant to a brighter location. Make sure that it is getting at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
In early summer, cut back on watering again so that the plant does not get too thirsty as temperatures heat up. When fall comes around, stop watering completely to allow the plant to go dormant until spring.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa flowers & fragrance
The flowers of Rhipsalis pilocarpa are small and white, with no noticeable fragrance. They typically bloom in the spring or summer.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa is a fast-growing plant that can reach up to 1.5 meters in height. It has long, thin, and hairy stems that are covered in small white flowers.
All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Symptoms of ingestion include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect that someone has ingested this plant, call poison control or seek medical attention immediately. The sap can also cause skin irritation so it is best to avoid contact with the plant.
USDA hardiness zones
Pests and diseases
Rhipsalis pilocarpa is susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. Mealybugs and spider mites can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Scale can be controlled with horticultural oil, neem oil, or insecticidal soap.
If plants are heavily infested, they can be treated with systemic insecticides. To avoid future problems, keep the soil moist but not wet and fertilize monthly during the growing season.