Plant Profile - Rhipsalis (Mistletoe Cactus)

Like Christmas Cactus but want something even easier? Try Mistletoe cactus.  Plus, if you're looking for an easy plant to instantly give the look and feel of the rain forest canopy, Rhipsalis fits the bill perfectly.  Also known as chain cactus or mistletoe cactus, Rhipsalis is a genus of epiphytic cacti mostly native to the American tropics, including a species native to South Florida.

When I first saw a colony growing in the wild in southwest Florida, I just had to figure out what it was.  As it turns out, they are very collectible plants with succulent green stems draping down from rainforest trees like curtains, sporting a variety of starburst like flowers which are then followed by berries. 

Most people grow Rhipsalis in hanging baskets with an organic mix, but I have had success simply taking cuttings and mounting them on supports or just plugging them in along with other plants right in the soil.  Even though these are pretty tolerant cacti, its best not to let them dry out or especially get over-watered, watering only when they feel dry to the touch.  These are tropical and subtropical plants, so be sure to protect them from the cold!

If your theme is southeast Asian or oceanic, try mounting chain cactus along with birdsnest ferns to provide a fine textured backdrop to the fern's broad apple green fronds.  If you want to emulate their native surroundings, choose brightly colored bromeliads native to central and south America and the combo will steal the show.  Stay tuned for some fun projects involving this and many other epiphytes!

The pictured species is Rhipsalis Micrantha, as seen mounted on treefern trunk and flowering in a hanging basket.

Here's a link to my article on how to take cuttings of rhipsalis


  1. Hello,

    I am fascinated by the unusual, yet beautiful plants that grow in rainforests. This is one of them :-)

  2. Thanks for another great plant profile! I've often admired these plants hanging in the succulent section and have "almost" bought one many times!

  3. Nice blog. Just gone through your rain forest garden. It was nice going through your blog. keep it up the good work.

  4. I've never heard of this cacti. It's really neat. Thanks for the info. Flowers are pretty, too!

  5. Tx for following Elephant's Eye. Our tropical effect is limited to the big leaves of Strelitzia, and the lushness of dwarf papyrus in our pond and swales.

  6. I never considered this type of plant for the garden. I will seek one out.

  7. I do love "weeping plants". Rhipsalis with its pretty feathery flowers has seeded into a huge pot, planted with a weeping crown of thorns. This plant sits since 20 years in the same pot and produces also beautifully, different Lichen. Unfortuantely I have never seen the berries, it flowers well.


Please feel free to share your questions, ideas and suggestions!