Fishbone Cactus: A Guide to Growing and Caring for a Fascinating Houseplant

Fishbone cactus, with its intriguing names like Ric Rac, Zigzag, and Fishbone orchid cactus, is a plant that captures the imagination. Its unique leaves, arranged along a central spine in an alternating pattern reminiscent of a fish skeleton, make it a stunning addition to any indoor space. This epiphytic plant has the remarkable ability to thrive in low soil conditions, making it an ideal choice even for those who consider themselves “black thumbs” when it comes to gardening. So, why not bring home a fishbone cactus houseplant and enjoy the mesmerizing zigzag pattern of its succulent foliage?

Unveiling the Fishbone Cactus

Scientifically known as Cryptocereus anthonyanus (syn. Selenicereus anthonyanus), the fishbone cactus belongs to the night blooming cactus family. In its natural habitat, this plant is often found in groups, hanging gracefully from trees with its long, arching stems adorned with serrated leaf nodes. Originating from the tropical rainforests of Mexico, where humidity and moisture abound, it has found its way into garden centers under various names such as Ric Rac cactus or orchid cactus. On rare occasions, it may surprise you with delicate pink flowers that bloom at night, but only for a day.

Cultivating Fishbone Cactus Houseplants

The trailing stems of the fishbone cactus offer a captivating feature for your home landscape. You can choose to display it in a hanging basket, as a tabletop centerpiece, or as part of a terrarium installation. Opt for a basket or an unglazed pot to allow for better evaporation and prevent overwatering. It’s important to handle the plant with care, preferably wearing gloves, as its fine hairs have a tendency to stick into the skin and cause discomfort.

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Nurturing the Fishbone Cactus

Novice gardeners will be delighted to know that growing a fishbone cactus houseplant is a breeze. This cactus thrives in low soil media, such as orchid substrate, but you can also use a blend of cactus mix and compost to provide additional nutrients to the plant. While the fishbone cactus prefers indirect light, it can tolerate periods of bright sun. As with most cacti, it’s best to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. During winter, reduce watering by half and gradually resume normal watering when spring growth begins. To ensure optimal growth, it’s advisable to fertilize the plant with a water-soluble cactus or orchid fertilizer in early spring. Another advantage of owning a fishbone cactus is its ability to withstand neglect, making it the perfect companion even when you’re away on vacation.

Propagating the Fishbone Cactus

One of the remarkable characteristics of the fishbone cactus is its ease of propagation. You can effortlessly share the joy of having this unique plant with your family and friends. All you need is a piece of stem to start an entire new plant. Simply take a fresh cutting and allow it to callus on the counter for a few days. Then, insert the callused end into a low soil medium, such as a mixture of peat moss. Ensure a light moisture level and provide medium light as the new plant begins to grow. In no time, you’ll have new fishbone cactus plants to share with your fellow gardening enthusiasts.

So why not embark on your fishbone cactus journey? Its intriguing beauty, resilience, and simplicity of care make it a delightful addition to any home or office space. Get ready to be enchanted by its mesmerizing zigzag pattern and enjoy the satisfaction of watching it thrive under your care. Begin your adventure with the fishbone cactus and let its unique charm bring joy to your life.

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Fishbone Cactus

Video: Fishbone Cactus Care | Ames Farm Center