Welcome to our blog, where we reveal the secrets of caring for and propagating the fascinating cactus known as Rhipsalis cruciforme. With its unique appearance and captivating features, this much-branched cactus is sure to captivate plant lovers of all kinds. The long segmented stems, adorned with scalloped edges and tufts of white hairs, create a remarkable display. Although it lacks spines, its thick, fleshy segments can reach impressive sizes of up to 20 inches (50 cm) in length and 0.8 inches (2 cm) in width. The stems themselves take on various shades of green, often imbued with a touch of purple that intensifies when exposed to full sunlight.
During late winter and early spring, Rhipsalis cruciforme blooms with petite flowers that add a touch of delicacy to its robust appearance. Appearing two to five per areole, these exquisite flowers range in color from cream, yellow, and pink, with occasional rarities displaying a stunning magenta hue. Following the blooms, the plant produces purplish to red fruits, measuring up to 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) in diameter. These translucent fruits house seeds that range in color from light brown to black.
Native to Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, Rhipsalis cruciforme finds its natural habitat on coastal rocks and thrives as an epiphyte in seasonal forests. Now, if you’re curious to know more about how to nurture and propagate this intriguing plant, keep reading as we delve into the secrets of caring for and reproducing Rhipsalis cruciforme.
16 Rhipsalis Types (With Pictures)
- 1 How To Care For Rhipsalis Cruciforme
- 2 Propagation
- 3 Diseases and Pests
- 4 FAQ’s
How To Care For Rhipsalis Cruciforme
Rhipsalis cruciforme cacti are extremely easy to care for. You only have to have a hand for watering. They shouldn’t be too wet or too dry. Other than this, the plant substrate and the appropriate location are important. The Rhipsalis cruciforme cannot stand direct, bright sun; they are rainforest plants that live in the penumbra of the large trees. It is only fertilized until the flowers open, never in winter. You don’t have to trim these cacti unless to remove damaged or too-long parts.
Rhipsalis cruciforme cacti do not hibernate, can stand warm and bright and also need a little watering. The plants are propagated by cuttings. This also works quite reliably. Diseases are rare when cared for properly. Pests, on the other hand, occur, mainly during winter. Mealybugs then like to attack the plants.
The location for Rhipsalis cruciforme should be very bright but not exposed to direct sunlight. Whether on the windowsill in the house or in the garden in summer, the Rhipsalis cruciforme cannot stand the bright sun. Morning and evening sun, on the other hand, are unproblematic.
- Bright location
- No direct afternoon sun
- Morning and evening sun is ideal
- Therefore a partially shaded location is best
- All year round in normal living rooms
- Also like to stand outdoors in summer, but without any intense sunlight
- The plants should be protected from wind and rain
- A slightly higher humidity is favorable
The soil for Rhipsalis cruciforme is special. These plants do not get along so well with normal potting soil. You can use normal cactus soil, as is commercially available (read our reviews here), but it is better and cheaper to mix it yourself with this recipe.
Planting and Repotting
There is not much to consider when planting and repotting. The roots are usually small and delicate, which is why you should work carefully. The best time to plant and repot is spring, but in principle, you can do it before autumn.
How to Repot Rhipsalis cruciforme
- To do this, carefully remove the cacti from the substrate
- Clean the vessel
- Fill in fresh soil and put the cactus back in.
- Larger vessels are rarely necessary because the roots are usually very small
In order to encourage overhanging growth and to stimulate even growth, the plant should have even space on all sides. It is beneficial to turn the vessel regularly, whether it is a hanging basket or a plant pot. This way, all sides get enough light for continuous development and uniform growth.
The Rhipsalis cruciforme must be watered carefully, depending on the season. It is important that very soft water is used because the cacti are very sensitive to lime.
When watering Rhipsalis cruciforme, take note of these few things:
- Complete drying out must be avoided.
- However, they must not be watered too much under any circumstances.
- Always allow the surface to dry thoroughly.
- Water regularly during the main growing season in spring and summer
- Water significantly less in autumn.
- Water very moderately in winter.
- Use lime-free water, preferably rainwater
- Ensure sufficient humidity (evaporation container)
Fertilizing Rhipsalis cruciforme will encourage buds to form. Fertilize every 14 days until some of the buds have opened.
Pruning is generally not necessary with the Rhipsalis cruciforme cacti. Should it become necessary, for example, because they are simply too big, they can be trimmed without any problems. Cut-off shoots can be used for propagation. When trimming, make the cuts from an aesthetic point of view, where the wound is not immediately visible or where a joint ends. Even shoots with spots or damage can easily be cut off.
The plant is absolutely compatible with pruning. Always work with very clean and, if possible, disinfected cutting tools so that no pathogens get into the wounds.
In contrast to many other cacti, Rhipsalis cruciforme do not hibernate. However, they are not hardy. They cannot survive outdoors.
During winter, do the following:
- Place water-filled bowls on the radiators to ensure sufficient humidity
- Check regularly for pests that form especially when the humidity is too low
- Water a little, but don’t let it dry out completely
- Do not fertilize
- Do not repot
The propagation is quite reliable. Cuttings are used that are separated from the mother plant. These take root relatively quickly and are best done in spring and summer. It is important that you do not plant immediately after the cut, but allow it to dry off first. Propagation by seeds is also possible, albeit more complicated.
Propagating Rhipsalis cruciforme by Cuttings
- Take cuttings in spring and summer.
- Carefully separate 8 to 15-cm long shoots. These must be perfectly healthy.
- After the cut, let the wound dry for a few days.
- Insert cuttings in small groups about 4 cm deep into the substrate described above.
- Place in a bright, but not sunny location.
- Keep temperatures between 20 and 25 °C.
- Keep it slightly damp.
- The best thing to do is to put a transparent plastic bag over the container so that the humidity is consistently high.
- Ventilate daily to prevent mold growth.
- After 3 to 4 weeks, roots should have formed.
- Then the young plants can be cultivated normally.
Propagating Rhipsalis cruciforme by Seeds
Anyone who has fruits on their Rhipsalis cruciforme can use the seeds they contain for cultivation. However, these must first be removed from the pulp. It works well when the fruits are ripe and soft. Then you can put it in a plastic bag (breakfast bag) and gently squeeze and rub it so that the fruit mashes up. Then pour in some water and press further. The seeds need to come off.
Another way that is less messy is if you open the fruit and put it in the sand. First, however, roughly free the seeds from the pulp. Then leave them in the sand for a few days. When the juice has dried, rub the sand with your fingers. This is how the pulp separates from the seeds.
- Best time: June to mid-August
- All year round in a well-lit and heated greenhouse
- Use herb soil, mixed with fine pumice gravel
- Do not cover the seeds with soil, just press lightly to stabilize them
- Place in a partial shade
- Keep evenly moist
- Temperatures between 20 and 28 °C
Diseases and Pests
Illnesses are quite rare if the care conditions are followed. Too much moisture damages the roots and causes them to rot very quickly. When it comes to pests, it is mainly mealybugs that bother the cacti. They need to be discovered early before they can reproduce.
Mealybugs can be recognized by fine, white webs and cotton-like small structures. They suck out the sap and can damage the plants considerably. It is important to isolate the infected Rhipsalis cruciforme so that more plants are not attacked. Systemic agents that are absorbed by the plants work best. When sucking up the cell sap, the pests ingest the poison and die. However, cacti do not tolerate these means well.
Is Rhipsalis cruciforme toxic to cats and dogs?
Rhipsalis cruciforme cacti are usually considered to be conditionally poisonous or unknown to cats and dogs, which is certainly not helpful. It’s better to be careful if you don’t know for sure.
The problem with Rhipsalis cruciforme is that they are very often confused with the succulent Euphorbia, also called the spurge. There are also some very similar types. In the case of cacti, however, the white sap that is so typical of the spurge plants does not escape when cut. That is the most obvious difference.
Spurge plants do not have to be toxic (not all are), but the sap causes skin irritation in many people and, when consumed, causes malaise, stomach cramps and vomiting.