Botanical Name — Hatiora salicornioides
Common Name — Dancing bones cactus, Spice cactus
Plant Family — Cactaceae
A member of the Rhipsalideae tribe, Hatiora salicornioides grows natively as an epiphyte in the tropical rainforests of Brazil. Club-shaped, segmented stems that branch in every direction give this plant an interesting shape and texture and inspire the common name, Dancing bones. Adapted to life in the tropics, these plants will require somewhat different care to thrive than their terrestrial counterparts. Protect them from harsh sun and provide ample humidity. These are a fun addition to any houseplant collection.
- Dancing bones will tolerate bright, indirect light, but grow best in full sun, at least 5 hours a day.
- They are more sensitive to sunlight than their terrestrial counterparts, so protect them from harsh, mid-day sun. Late afternoon sun is ideal. Grow in a sunny south or west-facing window, or outdoors in a lightly shaded area.
- Spice cactus will thrive in warm temperatures. Ideal temperatures range between 60 and 90 ºF. When outdoor nighttime temperatures drop below 55 ºF move these to a sunny spot indoors.
- These plants will also prefer more humidity than land-grown cacti. They can tolerate average household but will really thrive with moderate to high levels of ambient moisture.
- Owing to their native tropical climate, these plants are slightly less drought tolerant than their terrestrial counterparts. Allow the soil to dry out entirely and then water thoroughly. Avoid letting the soil remain parched for several days.
- Provide these cacti with a well-draining soil that is still moisture retentive. Cacti or succulent mix would work great. You can also amend potting soil with pumice and coco coir to create a mix that slightly more water retentive.
- Yellow to orange flowers are borne at the tips of young branches and add a colorful accent to these plants when they bloom. Dancing bones plants flower in the spring around March or April, followed by small translucent fruit.
- These plants do not require fertilization but it can be applied to give them a boost during the growing season or to replenish nutrients in the soil.
- Fertilize once or twice during the spring and summer with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength.
- These cacti can easily be propagated by stem segments. Select a stem that has multiple branches and separate by twisting the stem at the joint where two segments join.
- You can also take a cutting, but be sure to allow the would to callous over for a day or two before placing it in soil.
- Though this plant is not particularly vulnerable to any issues, humidity can increase the susceptibility of this plant to diseases and pests. Be vigilant of mealy bugs, scale, and other common plant pests.
- Prune any unhealthy parts.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- No special maintenance is required to care for the Dancing bones plant. Prune away any unhealthy looking parts.
- Like other terrestrial cacti, tropical cacti prefer to be somewhat rootbound. Repot once every two to three years in a vessel 2” inches larger in diameter.
- These plants are non-toxic to pets and humans.