Have you ever fancied a cactus plant in the form of a hanging pot plant at home? It is rare to hear of and see a hanging cactus pot plant.
May you be introduced to the Rhipsalis pilocarpa or Hairy Stemmed Rhipsalis cactus plant.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa is part of the cacti family hailing from the jungle or rainforest regions of Brazil according to the University of Connecticut.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa care consists of using gravel or peat moss in conjunction with a cactus as soil. As these cacti are from the rainforest keep humidity at around 30%. Morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon is best in therm of light. These cacti require regular watering and the soil should not dry out completely. Keep temperatures between 64 – 75 °F (18 and 24 °C ).
Appearance-wise, they are hairy and grow like shrubs – picture a head full of dreadlocks if you must! They are not sharp and prickly rather, they hardly have any needles and spines.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa are plants known to be jungle cacti as they won’t survive in dry, arid-like conditions as desert cacti can.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa is a type of epiphytic cactus. An epiphyte plant is one that grows on another plant. However, this is not to be confused with a parasite plant.
To understand the way of life for a Rhipsalis pilocarpa plant, perhaps it’s best to walk through this guide with an open mind. Don’t expect the same type of care you may expect for most cacti species.
- 1 Rhipsalis pilocarpa Plant Care Guide
- 2 Step-by step Rhipsalis pilocarpa Propagation Guide
- 3 Common Problems with Rhipsalis pilocarpa
- 4 Tips to Keep Rhipsalis pilocarpa Problem-free
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Rhipsalis pilocarpa
- 6 Conclusion
Rhipsalis pilocarpa Plant Care Guide
Though Rhipsalis pilocarpa is part of the cacti family, using a cactus mix alone might not be
optimally efficient for this plant. You can still go for these cactus mixes, however, to ensure proper drainage of soil, add in some gravel or peat moss.
For a cactus that tends to need more watering than some cactus species that are self-sufficient with minimal watering, peat moss added into the soil would help the plant grow better.
Other ingredients you can experiment with the soil mixture are perlite, coarse sand, or pumice.
Unlike some cacti species, Rhipsalis pilocarpa don’t do too well in full-blown, direct sunlight. In its natural habitat, this cactus receives glimpses of sunlight here and there through trees and other surroundings.
If this plant is exposed to such direct and potentially extreme light, depending on where you live, the leaves may yellow, and further growth will be hindered.
Thus, what is the best lighting condition to provide for this cacti species? Give them some sun in the morning time and when the afternoon comes, give them partial shade.
Keep in mind that even when you keep this plant indoors, you should place them at a precise distance from the window, about 20 inches from the window. This is because the heat that hits the window is also detrimental in the growth. It will also cause yellowing and spots.
Some cacti species can live without much watering or any for that matter. On the other hand, Rhipsalis pilocarpa is one of those rare cacti species that need regular watering.
One thing in common with all plants is that over-watering if always more harmful than under-watering. You can use a watering measure to help assist you in regard to the amount.
Before each watering, press your finger to a depth of about half an inch into the soil to see if it is dry. If that soil is still wet or moist, then wait for a bit before quenching this plant’s thirst.
Keep in mind that compared to other cacti species, do NOT wait until the soil is completely dried before each watering.
Regular watering is required in the warmer months. You can even mist daily. In the wintertime, water less, but moderately.
When introducing a Rhipsalis pilocarpa as a houseplant, you would want to try to mirror its native conditions for this species at home. Finding the middle ground for this plant and its human owners to coexist is essential.
A Rhipsalis pilocarpa can live in temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.1 degrees Celsius) to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). The optimal temperature range for these cacti is between 64 – 75 °F (18 and 24 °C ).
Being native to forest and jungle conditions, Rhipsalis pilocarpa can still thrive when the weather is moist or humid. Surprisingly enough, high humidity levels are okay for this cacti species.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa can withstand humidity levels of 50% to 70%.
If you want a quantifiable reference point in terms of humidity at home, try to stick to moisture
levels of about 30%. This would be the safest choice. These plants are tough to endure periods
of parched conditions.
Fertilizers are a great way to feed your plants nutrients to aid them in their health and
When it comes to Rhipsalis pilocarpa specifically, it is better to wait out on fertilizing them in their initial 12-month life or if the plant has just been repotted. Feed this plant when the soil starts to lose out on its nutrients.
When feeding is called upon, you would want to dilute the fertilizer at half strength. As rhipsalis
pilocarpa grows in the warm months of spring and early summer, feed once a month throughout
For your general knowledge, fertilizers contain nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and
potassium. When purchasing fertilizers, you may notice a three-digit number ‘#-#-#.’ This shows how many pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium there are in the mix, respectively.
To propagate Rhipsalis pilocarpa, you can do so using two methods. One method is to use seeds to initiate new growth. Another method is to use stem cuttings to carry out the growth of a new cactus.
Both methods will be discussed further in detail in the propagation section below.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa grows into a dark green to a purple shade of color. The stems of this plant can grow up to 16 inches long, which translates to 40 centimeters long. They are lean and cylindrical in shape. They grow intact at first, but then explode into a robust plant with multiple branches.
Hence, they make wonderful hanging pot plants.
The areoles on the stems are wooly and are what gives this plant their shade of purple. There are about 3 to ten areoles on each stem. Rhipsalis pilocarpa also grow these white to pinkish flowers. The flowers blossom slowly but are beautiful and slender.
Overall, it will take about five to ten years for a Rhipsalis pilocarpa to reach its most mature size.
When trying to find the right pot for Rhipsalis pilocarpa, it is important to keep in mind not only something aesthetically appealing but also practical. Sure, Rhipsalis pilocarpa makes great hanging pot plants so having a pot that can fit into the metal or macramé hooks would be good.
However, go for pots that allow for healthy air circulation and proper drainage of water from the soil. Pots made of clay would be able to satisfy such practical essentials that are necessary.
Step-by step Rhipsalis pilocarpa Propagation Guide
When propagating a Rhipsalis pilocarpa, do so during the warm, growing season. Specifically, it would be early to late spring in the months of March and April. You can propagate using seeds or by cutting a stem off from the mature part of the plant:
If you choose to propagate using seeds, you are choosing the slower method. This method isn’t recommended but still nonetheless, possible.
You will need to get a fresh, clean pot, add in some soil mixture, and spread the seeds throughout the surface. Regularly water the pot as necessary outlined in this guide and give the right lighting throughout the day.
As a word of advice, if you are living in a cooler region, then propagate indoors.
Using stem cuttings is a second way to propagate a Rhipsalis pilocarpa and a more efficient way.
All you need is to cut roughly a 3 to 6 inch (8 to 15 centimeters) part of a healthy and mature stem.
Let the cut piece dry for a few days, sometimes more.
Prepare a clean pot with fresh soil mixture and place the cut piece into this pot and water accordingly.
Keep this soil slightly damp, which you can do by misting it with water, for 3 to 4 weeks. After this 3 to 4 week period, you can follow the steps on how to care for this plant in this guide.
Common Problems with Rhipsalis pilocarpa
There are a few common problems that arise when caring for a Rhipsalis pilocarpa. One of which includes the watering it receives.
For a plant that should be receiving consistent watering throughout the year, sometimes there may be a tendency to accidentally overwater them.
Overwatering will cause the roots and stems to rot, stunting further growth and development.
Another problem is how much light it should be receiving. Lighting should be precise. Avoid direct sunlight during the strongest, peak hours.
You may place your Rhipsalis pilocarpa under the morning sun, but when the afternoon comes along, move them under partial shade.
Direct sunlight, especially during peak hours will yellow the plant and cause them to dry up. This is quite harmful to a cactus that seeks a bit of moisture and mist.
Tips to Keep Rhipsalis pilocarpa Problem-free
To keep your Rhipsalis pilocarpa problem-free, you will need to be extra cognizant as its plant owner. Ensure daily that at least it gets misted a bit.
Also, only water the plant when the top halfinch of the soil becomes dry, instead of waiting for the entire soil to be completely dry.
Another method to tackle the common lighting problem as mentioned previously is assessing the placement of the plant at home depending on the weather.
For example, if it were a cloudy day, it wouldn’t hurt to place the plant under direct daylight.
However, if the sun is shining strong, give it some morning love, but refrain from doing so in the afternoon. It’s all about finding the right balance – finding the proper light while also giving some shade.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rhipsalis pilocarpa
What do I do if I over-watered my Rhipsalis pilocarpa?
If you over-watered your Rhipsalis pilocarpa, fret not. Let your cactus sit untouched to see if the water will completely drain from the soil mix, or at least if the top half-inch can dry up.
After several days or so, if the soil cannot properly drain, then consider repotting the plant. To repot, you can check out the third frequently asked question below.
Do I need to prune Rhipsalis pilocarpa?
You can prune a Rhipsalis pilocarpa plant. This is done so preferably in the spring season.
For branches that you believe to be too long, you can cut to about two-thirds its length to shorten.
How do you repot Rhipsalis pilocarpa?
To repot a Rhipsalis pilocarpa, it is best to do so in the spring season. In the winter, don’t move the plants out of the pots. When repotting, shake out all the soil from the roots of the plant and its hanging branches. Cut out any dead roots, if necessary.
Why are Rhipsalis pilocarpa called hairy-fruited wickerware?
Rhipsalis pilocarpa are called hairy-fruited wickerware for their appearance. They have bristles
that give them the hairy look and grow out many stems and branches in its lifetime.
A Rhipsalis pilocarpa makes a great houseplant to add some spark to your humble abode. Hang
it by the window or let it dangle on a hook over your ceiling. There is something fun and
aesthetically unique, but pleasing, about this cactus.
Though most cacti species are low-maintenance, a Rhipsalis pilocarpa does need attention
throughout all days of the year.
There is no rest period for this cacti species. If you follow the proper steps to care for this cactus outlined in this article and shower it with lots of love and
attention, they will be able to thrive happily!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.