Rhipsalis paradoxa, or chain cactus, is an epiphytic cactus with long pendent stems, which is native to Brazil. The stems are 0.75 inches (2 cm) thick, sharply 3-4 angled with nearly whorled areoles. Internodes are 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) apart, and the angles of the internodes alternate with those of the next. They are great cactus for hanging baskets and are very easy to grow.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the cacti bloom in the early spring. The small, 0.75 inch (2 cm) across white flowers are followed by small red fruits. They are quite showy when in bloom or in fruit.
Culture: Rhipsalis paradoxa need partial shade to high interior lighting with a light, well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part sand, with small bark chips added to increase drainage. During the growing season, the plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. The plants are fertilized every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ˝ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, we drop the temperatures to 48°F (9°C), water plants only enough to keep the stems from shriveling, and fertilizer is withheld during this period. The cool temperatures help in promoting blooms in spring. Once flower buds start to appear, watering needs to be stepped up and the fertilizer regime needs to be put back in place.
Propagation: Rhipsalis paradoxa plants are very easily propagated from cuttings or from seed.
Rhipsalis paradoxa was featured as Plant of the Week March 3-9, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.