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Rhipsalis Cereuscula (Coral Cactus) Care in a Nutshell

Rhipsalis Cereuscula (Coral Cactus) Care in a Nutshell

Rhipsalis cereuscula is a bit of a mouthful, that is why it is more commonly called the Coral Cactus or Rice Cactus. Although called a cactus, it is an evergreen and epiphytic succulent.

Epiphytic simply means that it is a tree-dwelling plant. The Rice Cactus is native to South America. It can be found growing under trees in regions like Brazil Uruguay. 

The Rhipsalis cereuscula gets its name from its interesting looking foliage. Rhipsalis is an Ancient Greek derivative for the word meaning “wickerwork”. This refers to the morphology of this plant. 

Cereuscula means small torch or small candles which refers to the shape of the plant. But, these are not its only names. The Rice Cactus has other scientific names too. Namely, Hariota cereuscula and Erythrorhipsalis cereuscula. 

 


 

Rhipsalis Cereuscula Care Guide

The Rhipsalis cereuscula would rather a spot in partial to full shade than direct sun. However, temperatures below -1°C (30°F) need to be avoided. They also like a more humid atmosphere. As with most succulents, the soil used for this plant needs to be fast-draining. Watering is only required once the soil has dried out completely. And feeding, although not necessary, can be done during the plant’s growing season. 

 

Soil

This succulent is like all succulents and requires fast-draining soil. A cactus or succulent potting mix will do well. Regular soil should never be used on its own. For added drainage, you can add materials such as perlite, pumice, or coarse sand. 

Rhipsalis cereuscula grows well in soil that is slightly acidic. Although alkaline soil is good too. Ideally, the soil you choose for your Rice Cactus should be potting or gritty soil. 

Organic matter mixed into your plant’s soil, although optional, may add to its growth. 

 

Light

As this plant originates from rainforests and is used to growing under trees, light needs to be considered. It is quite important when deciding on a spot to place your Rhipsalis cereuscula, to keep this in mind. It has a low light requirement.

Rice Cacti have adapted to receiving light that has been filtered through trees. But this does not mean the only place for your plant is under a tree. They make excellent indoor plants! 

It should be stress that you do not place your Rhipsalis cereuscula close to a window, however. Windows that get quite a lot of direct sunlight. When the sunlight filters through the glass of the window, it can burn your plant if it is too close. 

This is not a plant that will thrive in bright or direct light. It prefers filtered sun or partial shade. If your plant is kept outdoors, it should be kept in an area that is shaded all day. 

In the mornings when the sun’s rays are not too harsh, you can place your plant in direct sunlight. Your Rice Cactus will benefit from this little bit of direct exposure. Be sure to note, however, that they do not thrive in direct sunlight. 

 

Watering

Typical of a succulent, the Rice Cactus does not require an excessive amount of water. Having a low water requirement means not only does it not need a lot of water. It also means that you will not need to water it regularly. 

Having said that, different from other succulents, the Rhipsalis cereuscula is not drought-resistant. All this means is that it will not be as forgiving if you do not water it for an excessive amount of time. 

The best method of watering your Rice Cactus is the soak and dry method. This is easy to do and almost impossible to get wrong. 

All that is necessary when using the soak and dry method is to slowly add water to your plant’s soil. Stop adding water as soon as it begins to drip out of the drainage holes. Then all that needs to be done is wait! 

You need only to wait until your Rhipsalis cereuscula plant’s soil has dried. Once dry, you may repeat the watering. 

If in doubt, do not! Words to live by when thinking about watering your Rice Cactus. Rather than overwatering, check your plant’s soil. If the topsoil, about 7.5cm (3in), is still moist wait a little bit longer before watering your plant. 

The Rhipsalis cereuscula requires the most water during its growing season. As a guide, watering can be done every four to five weeks. But it is best to check your plant’s soil every week or so. This will ensure you do not underwater your Rice Cactus. 

During the months leading to winter, the amount and frequency of watering should be reduced. Watering should be avoided completely during the winter months. The Rhipsalis cereuscula enters a dormant state during this time. 

The only time your Rice Cactus would need extra water is if the weather is particularly hot and dry. 

 

Temperature

Rice Cacti are not exceptionally cold or frost hardy. They should be kept in temperatures above -1°C (30°F). It is always a good idea to plant your Rhipsalis cereuscula in some sort of container. This makes it easy to move it around if need be when the conditions are not quite suitable. 

If there is a risk of freezing temperatures, placing it indoors under a grow light is an option. Otherwise, simply moving it to a sunny window sill is perfect too. 

Ideally, these succulents prefer to be in temperatures between 21°C to 24°C (70°F to 75°F) during the day. At night they are comfortable with temperatures between 16°C and 21°C (60°F to 70°F). 

To add a standard to work with, as an outdoor plant, temperatures should be 15.5°C (60°F) and above. Anything less than that and your Rice Cactus would be more suitable as an indoor plant. 

 

Humidity

Your Rhipsalis cereuscula is a lover of humidity. More so than most like it. The Rice Cactus enjoys an atmosphere that is slightly humid. 

 

Fertilizer

For this plant, either you do or you don’t. The Rice Cactus will not take offense if you do not fertilize it. However, it would not mind if you did either. It really is up to you. 

Rhipsalis cereuscula rarely requires fertilizing. With proper care, given access to their ideal light, adequate soil, and proper watering, this plant will thrive. 

Although, if you find your plant is not growing adequately fertilizer will give it the boost it needs. Fertilizing should only be done during the plant’s growing season. This will provide optimal growth. 

When considering fertilizers, you should always opt for a well-balanced one. Cactus fertilizer can be used but should be diluted to half the strength. A slow-releasing fertilizer with a low nitrogen level will also work well. 

Fertilizing should only be don’t during the spring to summer months. In the months of autumn to winter fertilizing should be avoided altogether. 

For best results and a slightly higher chance of your Rice Cactus flowering, fertilize it just before the blooming season. You should plan to fertilize your plant about 15 to 20 days before it is due to begin to flower. 

 

Propagation

The Rhipsalis cereuscula is an easy plant to propagate. Stem cuttings are a fairly simple method of doing so. Although this is not the only option available. 

Another way of propagating your Rice Cactus is through grafting them. This process involves two plants and is slightly more complicated. 

 

Growth

Rice Cacti are super interesting plants. Do not be fooled by their name, they are not at all pokey. These plants are ornamental and evergreen, making them the perfect addition to your home or garden. 

They have bright, almost luminescent green stems that grow in clusters. Their joints resemble grains of rice which is the reason for its common name. 

The Rice Cactus stems are unique. At first, they are of a cylindrical shape and erect but after time they begin to dangle as they grow longer. They grow long and thin and typically appear to be ‘spilling’ out of their container. 

Describing the growth of the Rhipsalis cereuscula as tall does not match its appearance. It makes more sense to explain that they are likely to grow to about 61cm (24in) long. The Rice Cactus has a fairly average growth rate. 

Because of their downward-growing habit, these plants are excellent in hanging pots. Its slender branches hang beautifully making it a striking trailing plant. 

You can expect your Rhipsalis cereuscula to bloom during the spring. The flowers it bears vary in color slightly but are generally quite small in size. Color variants include greenish-white, pink or purple-tinged, or creamy white. 

Interestingly, an older Rice Cactus is more likely to produce flowers than a younger plant. Nevertheless, flowers produced by this succulent are lovely and lightly fragrant. 

 

Potting

The best thing you could do with your Rhipsalis cereuscula is to pot it. Either in a hanging pot or any other sort of planter, as long as there are drainage holes. Having your plant potted makes it super easy to move around as need be. 

This is especially necessary if the temperatures drop too low. You will need to relocate your Rice Cactus indoors. It is not very tolerant of the cold. 

Repotting is only necessary when your Rice Cactus outgrows its current container. Otherwise, once every two to three years will suffice. 

Fertilizing is not necessary for at least a year after repotting your Rhipsalis cereuscula. This is because the new soil used will be packed full of nutrients. 

If you are potting more than one Rice Cactus in a container you need to allow for some space between. Roughly 15cm to 30cm (6in to 12in) is adequate.

 

Rhipsalis cereuscula propagation 

The best way to propagate the elegant Rice Cactus plant is through stem cutting. It is a variety that is super easy to re-root from cuttings. The process is simple and fool-proof. 

Take a cutting from the plant’s stem and allow it a day or two to dry out. Then, place the stem cutting into a soil mix that is well-draining. After this, you just need to allow it time to root, watering it only when the soil is dry. 

The other method of propagating your Rhipsalis cereuscula is slightly more in-depth. The method of grafting requires two plants. 

These two Rice Cactus plants are joined, making them into one, to reproduce themselves. The special growth requires the rootstock of one plant to be attached to the tender scion of the other. 

 

Common problems with Rhipsalis cereuscula

Rhipsalis cereuscula plants are prone to root rot, fungal rot, and powdery mildew. This is a result of overwatering. Too much water may also result in weak stems. 

The other issue the Rice Cactus has is that it is susceptible to sunburn. This results in yellowing leaves or spotting. 

 

Tips to keep Rhipsalis cereuscula problem-free

Keeping your Rice Cactus happy is a simple task. Do not give it too much water and keep it away from direct or brightly filtered light. 

The key to not overwatering your Rhipsalis cereuscula is to check its soil has dried out before giving it more water. Being a succulent, it does not require a huge amount of water. Nor does it need to be watered frequently. 

Direct sunlight or the harsh afternoon rays filtered through a glass window should be avoided. Rice Cacti are not fans of bright direct light and would rather be in a shadier location.  

Frequently asked questions about Rhipsalis cereuscula 

 

What pests does the Rice Cactus have?

Generally, the Rhipsalis cereuscula is not prone to pest problems. You should, however, keep an eye out for mealybugs and scale insects. 

 

Is the Rice Cactus an invasive plant?

The Rhipsalis species could be considered a wild weed. The Rice cactus should be properly managed and maintained. If it is not, it is known to spread. If you are concerned about spread, keep it in a container, even if planting it in the garden.  

 

Conclusion

Rhipsalis cereuscula plants are super easy to care for. Not only that, but they are eye-catching and make for the best hanging plants. They have unique little flowers of varying colors. Pruning is also not an issue and need not be done often, if at all!

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