Botanical Name — Epiphyllum anguliger
Common Name — Ric-Rac Cactus or Fishbone Cactus
Plant Family — Cactaceae
Epiphyllum anguliger is a night blooming epiphytic cactus native to evergreen forests in Mexico, where it grows clinging to the limbs and trunks of trees. An oddity in the cactus family, it is native to rainforest conditions, meaning it loves high humidity and more frequent watering. Keep an eye out for showy, fragrant, night-blooming flowers in the fall which only last one night so be sure to stay home for the show.
- Epiphyllum anguliger love a couple hours of direct sunlight, but prefer to stay in partial shade for most of the day. The diffused light of a screen door or sheer curtain will imitate the dappled sunlight of a rainforest canopy.
- Make sure the Ric-Rac has protection from the sun during the hottest hours of the day. They are prone to burn or bleach if grown in too much direct sun.
- Epiphyllum anguliger are tropical plants, meaning they thrive in temperatures between 65 to 80 ºF. They should always be kept above 55 ºF.
- Though they like humidity, they can tolerate and thrive in a normal home environment (most of our homes are low in humidity, especially in the winter). That being said, it can benefit from misting with tepid water or a humidifier.
- Native to the rainforest, the Ric-Rac likes more water than other members of the cactus family. Water when the top layer of soil – about an inch down – is dry. Epiphyllum anguliger’s succulent leaves retain plenty of moisture so be sure to let that soil dry out.
- In the winter, when these plants are not actively growing, ease up on watering even more. Reduce the frequency of watering to about half of what you would provide in the summer.
- Give Epiphyllum anguliger a gritty, well drained soil. A good cacti or succulent mix would suffice. Alternatively, a typical potting soil amended with sand or fine pumice up to 25% will accomplish the aeration and drainage these plants need to thrive.
- Dramatic flowers up to 8 inches in length may bloom in late summer or fall. They have a sweet scent, and only bloom at night.
- The blooms only last one night, by morning they will be wilted.
- Flowers can be white, pink and fuschia. There are many hybrids of this plant on the market with incredible bloom colors.
- Fertilization is during spring and summer up until flowers stop blooming in the fall.
- Apply a tomato or cactus fertilizer every two weeks. Do not fertilize in late fall or winter.
- These plants can be easily propagated by stem or leaf cuttings. They will push out aerial roots from the underside of the leaves, which is how they attach onto surfaces like trees in their natural habitat.
- Due to its delicate root system, Epiphyllum anguliger is susceptible to root rot. Make sure you let soil dry out completely between waterings.
- Fungal leaf rot may occur during spring rains, creating brown spotting and scarring on the stems. Remove infected limbs with clippers.
- Scale, mealybugs, and aphids can be common pests. Remove pests with a cotton ball or q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol, or treat the plant with diluted neem oil. Prune away unhealthy leaves or stems.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- This plant grows and blooms best when somewhat rootbound. Repot every two or three years, moving it to a pot just 2 inches wider.
- These plants are not toxic if ingested by animals and humans.