Growing Mistletoe Cactus: How To Care For Rhipsalis Baccifera

Rhipsalis baccifera is native to tropical regions of South America and grows in rainforests.

They are epiphytic cacti, which means they thrive on other plants or trees instead of directly in the ground.

Growing Rhipsalis BacciferaPin

Rhipsalis baccifera have long, slender stems that can grow up to 3′ feet tall. The stems are covered in small spines and greenish-white flowers.

The flowers bloom at night and are pollinated by bats or moths.

Rhipsalis baccifera are often grown as houseplants or in outdoor gardens in warm climates.

These low-maintenance plants are easy to care for and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. 

The most common names for Rhipsalis baccifera are:

  • Mistletoe cactus
  • Coral cactus
  • Snake cactus

The mistletoe cactus is a popular holiday plant in the US and Europe, where it is often used as decoration.

The coral cactus gets its name from its reddish-brown stems, which resemble coral.

The snake cactus gets its name from the long, thin stems that resemble snakes.

Keep reading to learn more about how to care for Rhipsalis baccifera.

Quick Facts On Rhipsalis baccifera 

  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Temperature: 60° to 85° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water: Allow the soil to dry out between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Monthly during the growing season
  • Soil: Well-draining cactus mix
  • Propagation: Seeds or stem cuttings
  • Common problems: Aphids, mealybugs, and root rot

Rhipsalis Baccifera Care

What Does The Mistletoe Cactus Look Like And How Big Does It Grow?

Rhipsalis baccifera is a small, bushy cactus that typically only grows to about 12” inches in height.

This plant has many slender, green stems that are covered in sharp spines.

In addition, the mistletoe cactus is a trailing or climbing cactus that can grow up to 3′ feet long.

It has slender, green stems that are covered in small, white spines.

The stems branch off into segments that each contain 10-15 flattened, oval-shaped leaves. 

When Does Mistletoe Cactus Flower? Are The Flowers Fragrant?

The flowers of Rhipsalis baccifera are white or cream-colored and bloom in the springtime. These flowers are not typically fragrant.

What Are The Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?

Rhipsalis baccifera can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions, from full sun to low light.

However, these plants prefer warmer temperatures and should be kept above 50° degrees Fahrenheit F (10°C).

How And When To Water And Fertilize Mistletoe Cactus?

Water Rhipsalis baccifera when the soil has completely dried out.

These plants can tolerate periods of drought and only need to be watered every 1-2 weeks.

Fertilize this cactus once a month during the spring and summer with a cactus fertilizer. 

During the fall and winter, cut back on fertilization to once every two months.

What Is The Best Soil For Rhipsalis Cactus And When Should You Transplant?

Rhipsalis baccifera can be grown in a wide range of soils, as long as it is well-draining. 

If you are transplanting your cactus, do so in the springtime.

Does Rhipsalis Cactus Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?

No, Rhipsalis baccifera does not need special grooming or maintenance. These cacti are slow-growing and do not require much pruning.

How To Propagate Mistletoe Cactus?

To propagate the Mistletoe cactus, you must do the followiing:

  • Take a stem cutting containing at least two leaves.
  • Fill a small pot with a well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix and place the stem cutting in the pot.
  • Water the soil lightly and place the pot in a warm, sunny location.
  • Keep the soil moist but not wet. You should see new growth in about 4-6 weeks.
  • Once the cutting has rooted and begun to grow, you can reduce watering and treat it as you would a mature Mistletoe cactus.

Mistletoe Cactus Pests And Diseases

One of the most common problems that Rhipsalis baccifera experience is mealybugs. 

These pests are small, white, cottony-looking insects that attach themselves to plants and suck out the sap.

Mealybugs can cause stunted growth, leaf drop, and yellowing of leaves.

They also produce a sticky substance called honeydew that can attract other pests, such as ants and sooty mold.

Here’s what you can do to treat it:

  • Start by isolating any infected plants from your healthy ones to control mealybugs.
  • Then, you can either manually remove the bugs with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or use an insecticidal soap.
  • Be sure to thoroughly cover all infested areas, as mealybugs can hide in the crevices of stems and leaves.

You may need to use a systemic insecticide if you have a serious infestation.

This type of pesticide is absorbed by the plant and kills the insects when they feed on the sap.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the pesticide label carefully, as systemic insecticides can harm humans and animals if not used correctly.

Rhipsalis baccifera is also susceptible to fungal diseases, such as:

  • Root rot
  • Stem blight

Root rot is caused by a fungus that attacks the plant’s roots, causing them to decay. This disease is often fatal to the plant.

A different type of fungus causes stem blight, and it attacks the stems of the plant, causing them to rot. This disease can also be fatal to the plant.

To prevent these diseases:

  • Ensure that your Rhipsalis baccifera is planted in well-drained soil and does not sit in water.
  • Remove the affected plant from your garden immediately if you notice any signs of disease, such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth.
  • Destroy it so that the disease does not spread to your other plants.

Suggested Uses For Rhipsalis Baccifera

Rhipsalis Baccifera can be used to decorate your home in several ways.

One option is to place it in a hanging pot so it can be displayed from a ceiling or other high location.

This will add some height to the room and create a focal point.

Another option is to grow Rhipsalis Baccifera in a terrarium. This can create a mini-ecosystem that is both aesthetically pleasing and educational.

If you decide to grow Rhipsalis Baccifera outdoors, it can be used as a groundcover or drape over rocks or other structures.

It can also be trained to grow up support such as a trellis or fence.

Whichever way you use Rhipsalis Baccifera, it will surely add interest and uniqueness to your space.