Rhipsalis Care

Placement

PRO TIP: Rhipsalis' scientific name is derived from the Ancient Greek word for "wickerwork," referencing the plant's form.

Rhipsalis, also known as mistletoe cactus, is a family of epyphitic cacti native to Central and Southern America. There are over 35 different species of this plant, so Rhipsalis can come in all different shapes and sizes!

Naturally found in the understory of trees, Rhipsalis prefers bright, indirect light and can tolerate direct morning and evening light. The best place to put it is at least a few feet removed from a window, but Rhipsalis is an extremely hardy plant. It can subsist on minimal light for extended periods, especially with some low grade fertilizer. We’ve even seen it subsist on fluorescent light alone! However, if you go the low-light route we recommend recharging your plant in a higher light area every once in a while.

If you are unsure of the lighting conditions in your home of office, we have a guide for how to measure light in your space.

Rhipsalis Close Up

Rhipsalis naturally occurs in isolated parts of Africa and Asia, making it the only type of cactus that is found outside of North and South America.

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: Native to tropical environments, Rhipsalis appreciate a good misting now and again. Consider working in a misting bottle to your watering routine.

Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. Also, consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. We compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aerating can help the soil breathe and allow moisture to be released.

Despite being native to tropical rainforests, Rhipsalis are a type of cactus and as such are still quite sensitive to overwatering. We recommend watering once a week, or whenever the soil becomes dry. They prefer lightly moist, but not wet soil, but ensure they have ample time to dry out to avoid water buildup in the soil that can rot the roots.

Rhipsalis will let you know when it’s thirsty because its tendrils will start to pucker and lose rigidity. If the tendrils turn brown and crispy, you’ve waited too long since last watering, but don’t despair — Rhipsalis are very forgiving plants and will usually bounce back.

Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the stalks often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Rhipsalis and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

Standard Planter Instructions

There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery NYC—those with drainage holes, and those without. Within those two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. The presence of drainage holes and size of the vessel play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.

Plants purchased in a pot without a drainage hole have been set up with a built-in drainage system. A layer of hydro stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled glass) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir for any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the excess water to escape. We suggest pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.

For plants potted with drainage, water until it begins to come out the bottom of the pot and into the catch tray.

Always be sure to assess your plant's watering needs upon receiving it. Refer to the routine maintenance section for your plant’s specific moisture requirements. 

Self Watering Container Instructions

The self-watering planters require a good, solid watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important because the roots of the plants need to grow into the reservoir first in order to drink from it. Follow the standard planter instructions for the first four weeks. Then the reservoir is ready to be tested.

TEST: After four weeks, fill the water reservoir until the red indicator reaches the MAX line. If the indicator goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks, until the red indicator goes down, meaning the plant has started drinking from the reservoir.

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period. Always allow for the reservoir to empty all the way, and after a drying out period of a few days, be sure to refill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line.

From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir.

Frequently Asked Questions

My Rhipsalis' tendrils are falling off. What do I do?

  • There’s a good chance your rhipsalis isn’t receiving enough light. Try moving it to a brighter location and seeing how it does. It also could be related to root rot from overwatering.

How long can the tendrils get?

  • Rhipsalis can reach lengths of over 20ft in the wild. For this reason it’s a perfect cascading shelf plant. They grow slow, so be patient, but with proper care they get as long as you can probably handle.

How often should I fertilize?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with a half diluted cactus fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil, so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For smaller desktop plants, we suggest repotting once every 12-18 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 1”- 2” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plant's roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot as the plant is at its strongest.

Additional Care Guides