Fishbone Cactus Care - How To Grow And Care For A Ric Rac Cactus Houseplant

Potted Ric Rac Cactus
fishbone cactus
(Image credit: Nikki Tilley)

Fishbone cactus boasts many colorful names. Ric Rac, Zigzag and Fishbone orchid cactus are just a few of these descriptive monikers. The names refer to the alternate pattern of the leaves along a central spine that resembles a fish skeleton. This stunning plant is an epiphytic specimen that can grow in low soil situations where other organic media are present. Growing fishbone cactus is easy even for the so-called “black thumb” gardener. Bring in a fishbone cactus houseplant and enjoy the crazy zigzag pattern of its succulent foliage.

Fishbone Cactus Info

The scientific name for the plant is Cryptocereus anthonyanus (syn. Selenicereus anthonyanus), and is a member of the night blooming cactus family. Best known for its long, arching stems coated with serrated leaf nodes, fishbone cactus is found in its habitat in groups, which hang from trees. The plant originates in Mexico, where tropical rainforests create a moist, humid environment. Commonly found in garden centers it is known as Ric Rac cactus or sometimes orchid cactus. Rarely, the plant will bloom with soft pink flowers that open at night and last only one day. Fishbone cactus houseplant enjoys similar growing conditions as its cousin, the orchid.

Growing Fishbone Cactus Houseplants

The trailing stems offer an interesting feature for the home landscape. Choose a basket, or unglazed pot for the cactus to enhance evaporation and prevent the plant from getting too wet. You can do a hanging basket, tabletop display or terrarium installation. Either way, the fishbone cactus will enhance and entertain. Use gloves when handling the plant, since it has tiny fine hairs, which will stick into skin and cause discomfort.

Fishbone Cactus Care

Novice gardeners could not ask for an easier plant than a fishbone cactus houseplant. The cactus grows in low soil media, such as orchid substrate. You can also plant it in cactus blend mixed with compost to enrich the medium. Fishbone cactus thrives in indirect light but can tolerate periods of bright sun. Like most cacti, fishbone cactus houseplant does best when allowed to dry out between watering. During winter, cut watering in half and then reinstate when spring growth begins. Fertilize with a water-soluble cactus or orchid fertilizer in early spring. You can place your plant outside in spring and summer but do not forget to bring it in when temperatures cool. Best of all, the cactus will stand some neglect, so do not worry about it when you go on vacation.

Propagating Fishbone Cactus

This is one of the easiest cactus plants to propagate and share with your family and friends. You just need a piece of stem to start an entirely new plant. Take a fresh cutting and let it callus on the counter for a few days. Insert the callused end into a low soil medium, such as peat moss mixture. That is pretty much all there is to it. Provide light moisture and medium light when growing Fishbone cactus stems. Soon you will have new plants to spread to your gardening family.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.