Fishbone Cactus Plant Care

INSIDE : Learn the best Fishbone Cactus Plant Care tips to grow healthy plants. Find out how to grow Ric Rac Cactus after learning their ideal watering needs and light requirements. I especially love their uniquely shaped zig zag stems!

Fishbone Cactus Plant Care
1.5 year old Zig Zag plant

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This post has been updated with a few new images of growth since it’s original July 2022 publish date.

This image below is when my Fishbone was about 12 months old, a full year since I had been gifted a single small stem.

Fishbone Cactus Plant Care
After a year of growth

This image below is when the Fishbone plant was about 9 months old.

Fishbone Cactus Plant Care
After 9 months of growth

Fishbone cactus or Disocactus anguliger (it was recently re-classified from Epiphyllum anguliger to the Disocactus family) is a plant I have long had quite a love affair with. It has a unique alternate zig zag of the leaves along a main stem which gives it a fish skeleton like look and I wanted one!

The ones I found in a very few select local nurseries were around $40 and I just wasn’t ready to take the plunge at that cost. A friend gave me a cutting and I grew him and then propagated him and now I have a wonderful looking Fishbone Cactus plant all of my own!

I can’t wait to share all I have learned since getting this beautiful plant. Let’s get into it below!

Fishbone Cactus care:

What are the best growing conditions for Fishbone Cactus plants?

This tropical cactus is native to the jungles of Mexico, where it grows from tree branches. Can you even imagine how amazing that must look?!

Their flat zig zag leaves are flat branches called cladodes and absorb the maximum amount of light in the low light conditions of tropical rainforests.

Fishbone Cactus does well without direct sunlight and is a low maintenance, indoor houseplant in most homes.

Fishbone cactus stems

How often should I water my Fishbone Cactus plant?

Unlike most cactus that like to fully dry between waterings, the fishbone cactus does best with weekly waterings. Like most houseplants, you should water once the top 1-2″ of the soil have dried out.

In the winter it can dry out a little more, but don’t let it get dry for too long.

I water my plant weekly until water runs out the bottom of the pot.

Ric Rac Plant in pot
Love plants like I do?  You might like some of my other Plant Care + Tip posts.

How much sunlight do Fishbone Cactus need?

Fishbone cactus plants thrive in bright indirect light, but they can also tolerate short periods of bright sun. Too much sunlight will actually burn its stems, in their natural environment it grows as an understory plant and receives dappled, indirect light.

A spot in your home that receives several hours of bright indirect light is perfect for the fishbone cactus. It can handle a little direct light or a little lower light, but it will be happiest in bright, indirect light.

Check out my post on Best Sunlight Levels for Indoor Houseplants.

What supplies do I need to grow a Fishbone Cactus?

Plant Moisture Meter | Pruning Shears | 4″ Fishbone Cactus Plant | Pot | Spray Bottle

Zig Zag Cactus Plant in gold pot

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How to propagate Fishbone Cactus?

Once my original Fishbone Cactus cutting had been established for a few months, I waited for him to start growing a new stem. As you can see from the below image, the new shoots have a slight different look than the more mature stems, they are a little more rounded in shape.

The Fishbone Cactus is most easily propagated by stem cutting, I believe. Using a clean knife, cut the stem off near the base and allow it to callous for a day or two. This just means, let the end of your stem dry out a bit.

Once your cutting is ready, place in a shallow jar or vase of water. I like being able to watch the roots slow grow, which you can’t do if rooted in soil.

After the cutting had about 2-3″ of new roots in a few weeks, I replanted it in my same pot with the original Fishbone cactus so it could have a more full look.

Propagated Fishbone Cactus Plant

As the plant continues to mature, the new more “round” stem begins to flatten and take on it’s “ric rac” looking shape.

Fishbone Cactus Plant Care

What are other names for Fishbone Cactus?

Fishbone Cactus has a handful of other names it can go by, some which are Ric Rac Cactus, Zig Zag Cactus and Orchid Cactus.

Is a fishbone cactus a succulent?

Technically no, the fishbone plant is a cactus. Although he is a unique cactus with “some” characteristics of succulents. It’s stems have a more waxy succulent feel to them and they don’t like to dry out nearly as much as most cactus do.

Fishbone Cactus stem close up

Where to buy Fishbone Cactus Plants

I had quite a time looking for affordable Fishbone Cactus plants.  They are still fairly difficult to get a hold of, unless you are one of those lucky ones who has a friend willing to give you a cutting!

The Sill carries on a small and medium sized one in grow pots.  I’ve seen a few plant shops on Etsy carrying them.  And just recently I noticed there are a few available on Amazon – here and here.

I am hopeful you will start seeing them show up more and more in local nurseries and even big box stores!

1 year old Fishbone Cactus plant

Fishbone Cactus Flower

The flowers of the fishbone cactus are large and showy, typically 4-6 inches in diameter. They are usually white, pink, or lavender and have a sweet, fruity fragrance. The flowers open at night and close in the morning. They only last for a day or two, but they are a beautiful (and somewhat rare) sight to behold.

It may take several years for your fishbone cactus to reach maturity and then flower. My plant is about two years old and hasn’t flowered yet. However, once it does flower it will continue to bloom for many years.

Fishbone Cactus

How fast do Fishbone Cactus grow?

Fishbone cactus are relatively fast growers, especially when compared to other cacti. In ideal conditions, they can grow up to 6 inches per year (mine sure has!).

To encourage fast growth, place your plant in a bright spot where it will receive indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours per day. It should also be watered regularly (I water mine about once a week), but be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

You can also repot your plant into a larger pot every year or two as it grows.

Zig zag plant leaves

Want to check out some of my other beautiful plant care posts?

If you are looking for a beautiful and unique houseplant, the fishbone plant is a great option. With its long, trailing stems and fragrant flowers, it is sure to add a touch of elegance to your home.

Fishbone Cactus

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