Rhipsalis baccifera, or Mistletoe Cactus, is an epiphytic cactus native from Florida to Brazil and Peru, Sri Lanka and tropical Africa. The cylindrical pale green pendent stems are 5 mm in diameter and in nature can reach up to 30 feet (9 m) in length. Areoles are bristly when young, but otherwise the stems are very smooth. They are of easy culture and make wonderful hanging basket subjects.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, Rhipsalis baccifera bloom sporadically all season long, with the best flushes in mid spring and again in late summer. The very small greenish-white flowers are 1/4 inch (6 mm) across. The flowers are followed by small, similarly sized white fruits that resemble the fruit of Mistletoe.
Culture: Rhipsalis baccifera need partial to full shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix that consists of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part sand, with small bark chips added to increase the drainage. During the growing season the plants are kept moist and fertilized on a monthly basis with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter dormancy period, the plant are hardly watered at all. We water only enough to keep the stems from shriveling and fertilizer is withheld during this period. The temperatures are never allowed to drop below 50° F (10° C).
Propagation: Rhipsalis baccifera is propagated by cuttings and from seed in spring.
Rhipsalis baccifera was featured as Plant of the Week August 4-10, 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.