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Rhipsalis Paradoxa Care Made Easy

Rhipsalis Paradoxa Care Made Easy

When you’re living in an apartment that’s the size of two prison cells, you quickly learn to value every square inch of space. If you’re a gardener, this usually means having to utilize any free space for your plants. 

But even if you have the luxury of two windows, the most you can fit is about 6 plants, and this is not close to enough for garden enthusiasts like me.

Solution? Look up, literally. You probably have plenty of unutilized ceiling space, where you can hang a couple of plants. That said, not every plant is ideal for this placement. 

So when choosing, opt for houseplants which drape beautifully over the sides of a pot, like the Rhipsalis Paradoxa.

Not only does this plant have some of the most beautiful chain-like vines, but it’s also super easy to care for. Here’s everything you need to know about Rhipsalis Paradoxa. 

 


 

Rhipsalis Paradoxa Care 

The Rhipsalis prefers a lightly moist, but not waterlogged soil. Thus, the ideal potting medium ought to not only be rich, but also have good drainage. It thrives in bright, indirect light. In terms of growing conditions, you’ll want to maintain the temperature between 18 and 24°C (64°F and 75°F); and the humidity between 50 and 70%. Overall, this cactus species is a light feeder so it doesn’t need much fertilizer. Feeding it once every month during the growing season is enough. 

 

Rhipsalis Paradoxa Step-by-Step Care Guide

 

Soil

Proper Rhipsalis Paradoxa care begins with picking the right potting mixture. There are three factors you should look at here. One, the potting soil’s drainage, two, pH level and finally its fertility. 

You want the potting mix to have excellent drainage, be slightly acidic and rich.

While this plant prefers its growing medium to be slightly moist, it doesn’t do too well in one that is soggy or waterlogged. Usually, this results in root rot, at best. In the worst case scenario, your plant may die. 

 

Light 

Another factor to consider when caring for this plant is the lighting condition. Luckily, the Rhipsalis Paradoxa is not picky on this font.

It thrives in any spot that has bright indirect light. The ideal light is the kind you get in early morning hours or evening. 

Worried that you don’t live in a sunny area? No need to. The Paradoxa is a particularly hardy plant and it will do just fine in low lighting as well.

The only thing I’d recommend is that if it doesn’t get enough sunlight on a regular basis, then consider recharging it in stronger or more intense light every once in a while. 

For those with a green thumb, it might be difficult figuring out whether your plant is getting enough natural light. This is why I’d like to share one trick I use.

During the brightest part of your day, which is usually around mid-day, go to the spot where you’ve placed your Paradoxa. Raise your hand and examine the clarity of the shadow that forms.

If it’s crisp and well-defined, it means the area receives a high amount of light.

But if your shadow looks faint with an outline that’s difficult to see, it means that area receives minimal light. So you’ll want to transfer your Rhipsalis to a different spot. 

You can also keep tabs on the coloration of the leaves. If your plant is receiving adequate light, the leaves will be a dark green color.

With insufficient amounts of light, however, the plant won’t be capable of converting different components into food for nourishment. And, this can cause the leaves to turn yellow.  

 

Watering 

Although its natural habitat is the rainforest, the Rhipsalis Paradoxa is a cactus at heart, which means it’s highly sensitive to overwatering. 

Thus, you should only water when the soil becomes dry. More specifically, when the top few inches of soil feel dry to touch.

Based on this, I have found that a suitable watering time frame is once per week. But you may need to water more or less often depending on the climatic conditions in your area. 

 

Temperature 

The Rhipsalis Paradoxa prefers that temperature in its surrounding environment be maintained between 18 and 24°C (64°F and 75°F). 

Important to note is that this plant isn’t too tolerant of abrupt fluctuations in temperature. Therefore, maintain a constant temperature throughout the year. 

Unfortunately, this can be a little difficult to achieve in winter. So here are a couple of tips to keep your Paradoxa warm during this cold season:

  • Always place your paradoxa in the sunniest spot of your home- this way, even if the sun shines for just a brief period, it will receive a tiny amount of light
  • Wrap your plant’s pot in thermal foil – with this technique, you’ll need to monitor your plant closely to ensure it doesn’t end up getting burned because of excess heat retention
  • Place your potted plant on a heat mat – seedling heat mats are also great at keeping your tropical Rhipsalis happy when the weather turns for the worst

 

Humidity 

As we mentioned earlier, this plant is mainly found in the rain forests. As such, it prefers higher humidity ranging from 50 to 70%.

So if the air in your home is a little dry, consider increasing the moisture levels by either investing in a humidifier, or using a pebble tray. You can also mist it from time to time. 

 

Fertilizer 

One of the reasons why I like the Rhipsalis Paradoxa is because it’s low maintenance. It’s a light feeder, meaning it can even do without fertilization.

However, it’s wise to feed it, especially during its active growing season which happens in early spring through summer. During this time, apply a fertilizer every once or twice a month. 

For a cactus such as this one, an all-purpose fertilizer will do just fine. Nonetheless, ensure you follow the instructions provided to the letter.

This will help you apply the right amount of fertilizer based on factors, such as the size of your Paradoxa, pot size and growth stage.

 

Propagation

You can propagate the Paradoxa using one of two ways: its seeds or stem cutting. With the first option, start by extracting the seeds from the plant’s ripened fruit. 

Clean and dry them, then place in dry, sandy soil. Place your potted seeds in a relatively warm, and well-lit area, and water occasionally. Now all you need to do is wait for your plant to grow.

The second option requires you to get a cutting of your Paradoxa; should be between 3 and 6 inches.

Place your cutting in a cacti-friendly potting mix, then transfer the pot to a warm and bright spot. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not saturated and watch your plant grow.

 

Growth

A distinct feature of the Rhipsalis Paradoxa is how it grows tall and long. When grown indoors, it reaches about a foot high and up to 6 feet if grown outdoors.

Although it has the potential to grow really tall and hang from a basket, it will depend on your level of care. 

 

Potting 

Your Rhipsalis will be able to thrive in its present container for a decent amount of time. It means that it has minimal repotting requirements.

From my experience, the only times you’ll have to transfer your plant is if you notice any broken stems, and once the plant outgrows the pot. 

If you’re looking to repot your Rhipsalis Paradoxa, here are the steps you should follow:

  • First, look for a suitable pot/ container to transfer your plant to. It should have drainage holes and be at least one size larger than the original pot. 
  • Next, fill the container with a fitting potting mix, about a quarter way full. Water the potting soil generously
  • Now gently transfer your Paradoxa from the old to the new container. You have to be careful not to break any of its tendrils 
  • After placing the plant in the new container, fill the rest of it with the rest of the potting soil. Using your hands, press onto the soil to help it firm up
  • Water once more, until you see the excess amount draining from the holes at the bottom
  • Finally, place your plant in a brightly-lit spot. 

 

Common Problems with Rhipsalis Paradoxa

 

Root rot

The biggest issue you’ll likely encounter when caring for your Rhipsalis Paradoxa is root rot. This usually occurs for several reasons, but the most common culprit is overwatering. 

When watering your Paradoxa, it’s important that you wait until the top few inches of the potting soil dry out. If you water when the soil is still slightly moist, it will likely get waterlogged, leading to root rot. 

Choosing a potting mixture that doesn’t drain easily is another factor that can result in root rot. If you’ve noticed that your potting mix doesn’t drain well, consider incorporating elements that can aid with this.

Perlite is a good example. This naturally occurring mineral has large cavities, which allow water and air to pass through easily. 

 

Pests and insects

Your houseplant may also get attacked by occasional insects or pests, the most common culprits being scale, mealybugs and root mealy bugs.

Other bugs that are less likely- but not entirely impossible- to infest your Paradoxa are spider mites, and fungus gnats.

All these pests are rather difficult to control, primarily because of their tiny stature. So your best bet is to prevent them from attacking your plant in the first place. You can achieve this by:

  • Inspecting your plant thoroughly upon purchasing- this way, you’re guaranteed that you’re caring for a healthy plant right from day 1.
  • Getting rid of potential pests from the potting soil before planting- also be sure to inspect your potting mixture for pests. Alternatively, consider using a soilless mixture, which is completely devoid of unwanted bacteria, pests and any other elements that are unfriendly to your plant
  • Using a clean pot and fresh potting mixture when transplanting

In the event that your Paradoxa is already infested with bugs, you’ll need to look for a suitable pesticide to treat them. I prefer to use organic pesticides or homemade remedies like insecticidal soap because they have minimal environmental impact. Plus, they’re safe to use even around kids and pets. 

 

Tips to Keep Rhipsalis Paradoxa Problem-Free 

  • Do not expose your Paradoxa to direct sunlight
  • Water your plant only when the top few inches dry out; preferably with rain water or filtered tap water
  • Choose a suitable potting mixture with good drainage
  • Maintain the ideal temperature and humidity level
  • Always transplant to fresh potting soil to avoid pest infestation

 

Rhipsalis Paradoxa Plant Profile 

The Rhipsalis Paradoxa is popularly referred to as the mistletoe cactus. Native to Central and Southern America, it belongs to the family of epiphytic cacti.

Epiphyte simply refers to a plant’s tendency to grow on others. This is not in a parasitic kind of way but rather for support

The Rhipsalis is one of those plants you can never fail to notice. Given its ultra-long, gorgeous, chain-like vines, it’s sure to draw the attention of anyone who catches a glimpse. 

On a sad note though, it’s expected that this plant will become extinct in the next couple of years. Well, not unless the conditions of its habitat are improved to support future growth. 

On the brighter side, it’s an evergreen. It means that it can keep its charm and exceptional appearance all year long. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Rhipsalis Paradoxa

 

Can the Rhipsalis Paradoxa root in water?

Yes, it can. When propagating, you have the freedom of planting your cutting in water or potting soil. For the best outcome, ensure your cutting is between 10 and 15 cm long. A larger cutting may also root but it will likely result in a weak plant because of the unproportional ratio of the stem to root. 

 

How fast does Rhipsalis Paradoxa grow?

Quite slow. This plant doesn’t grow that fast. So if you’re looking for a hanging plant that will have reached maturity by the time your upcoming brunch party reaches, a Paradoxa is the wrong choice. 

You’re better off placing your bets on the Passionflower vine, which is equally beautiful and undemanding. 

 

What’s the best water to use for my Rhipsalis Paradoxa? 

Since it’s a cactus, it’s a hardy plant which makes it very adaptable to different conditions, including water type. So tap water works just fine. 

However, if you live in an area with hard water, you’ll have to put in a little more effort in your watering routine. That is, you’ll need to soften the water or run it through a filtration system before using it to water your plant. 

Here’s the deal: hard water contains extra minerals that may not be good for your Rhipsalis. To avoid potential problems, stick to bottled or rainwater (if available). Otherwise, always filter your tap water. 

Wrap Up 

Rhipsalis Paradoxa is a plant that adds both elegance and architectural charm to a space. Its tendrils, which can reach up to 6 feet long, make it the perfect hanging plant to spruce up your home or office. 

Plus, caring for it is a breeze. With a little bit of bright, indirect sunlight, a rich and well-draining potting mix and a proper watering schedule, your plant will thrive, rewarding your efforts with stunning beauty.