With the Christmas holidays and the festive season just around the corner, you may be looking for the right plants to decorate your home. Well, we have an excellent recommendation that will help you be ready to hug and kiss your loved ones on New Year’s Eve: Mistletoe Cactus.
Mistletoe Cactus, or else known by its biological name Rhipsalis baccifera, is a unique evergreen but leafless succulent. This plant is often grown as an ornamental houseplant. As a result, we are certain that it is going to bring a fresh touch to your home or garden, particularly during the festive season. Its green color and mistletoe-like fruits will bring the spirit of Christmas into your home.
This unique-looking succulent commonly referred to as Mistletoe Cactus is an epiphytic cactus, very different than all other cacti species in its family. It features narrow, pale green pendant stems, usually spineless, and produces edible fruits. What’s more, it’s also slightly different than most cacti in terms of requirements for moisture and dim light. But, don’t worry, this plant is really easy to grow and care for.
Fun Fact: Mistletoe plants symbolize fertility, long life, good health and luck, and a good harvest in the months to come. See why people want this plant in their homes before starting a new year?
Keep reading below to find out how to grow and care for your Mistletoe Cactus!
About Mistletoe Cactus
- Part of the Cactaceae family, the botanical name of Mistletoe Cactus is Rhipsalis Baccifera. It is also commonly known as Spaghetti Cactus, Old Man’s Beard, and Pencil Cactus.
- Mistletoe Cactus is native to rainforests in warm areas, such as Florida, Mexico, and Brazil. It is commonly found in rather wet areas, such as on trunks, branches of trees, or shrubs.
- This tropical succulent is often grown as an ornamental plant, and it can look amazing in both indoor and outdoor environments. Its evergreen look will bring a touch of nature no matter where you’ll grow it, be it in your home, office, or garden.
- What’s really interesting about Mistletoe Cactus plants is that they have medicinal uses. The plants’ stems are crushed and mixed with the juice of Lonchocarpus chrysophyllus and then used as a treatment for coral bites. When mixed with Philodendron, they are used as a treatment for wounds of venomous stingrays.
- While most cacti love sunny spots and bright, direct light, that’s not the case with Mistletoe Cactus plants. These plants prefer partial shade to full shade. So, no matter if you grow your plant indoors or outdoors, make sure you find a spot where the sunlight can’t reach.
- When it comes to watering a Mistletoe Cactus, this plant has pretty much the same needs as most succulents and cacti. It hates wet feet, doesn’t like to be overwatered, and needs well-draining soil.
- Yet, compared to watering other succulents, when it comes to watering your Mistletoe Cactus, you shouldn’t let the soil dry out completely before watering again. Keep your plant’s soil moist but not waterlogged.
- Mistletoe Cactus plants love warm temperatures, just like most succulents. These plants are not cold-hardy, and they are used to temperatures of a minimum of 60° F (15° C). So, if you live in a cold area, it’s best to grow your Mistletoe Cactus indoors.
- Mistletoe Cactus plants rarely need feeding, but if you want to support your plant’s growth, you can fertilize it with a half dilution of cactus food from spring to fall, once per month.
- Mistletoe Cactus plants are not toxic to humans or pets. In fact, the fruits produced by the plants are edible and sweet-tasting.
Mistletoe Cactus Features: An Overview
- Mistletoe Cactus plants are evergreen tropical succulents that feature long thread-like stems and numerous creamy-white flowers that produce mistletoe-like fruits.
- The stems of these plants can reach up to 6 feet (2 m) long and do not feature spines but have almost imperceptible bumps on the surface.
- Mistletoe Cactus plants offer almost year-round blooms and fruit.
- The fruits produced by these plants have a spherical shape, and they are white or flesh-colored. As mentioned above, the fruits are edible and have a soft sweet taste.
Growing Mistletoe Cactus
Growing Mistletoe Cactus is basically foolproof as long as you provide the plant with its ideal growing conditions. Although it has a few different needs than most cacti and succulents, Mistletoe Cactus is really easy to grow for and has very minimal needs. Whether you are an experienced or a novice grower, caring for a Mistletoe Cactus plant shouldn’t give you a hard time.
Now, let’s see what you should pay attention to when growing your Mistletoe Cactus plant.
First, you need to pay attention to this plant’s lighting requirements. If you have grown succulents before, you may be thinking that this plant also needs a lot of bright light. However, Mistletoe Cactus plants actually prefer partial to full shade. If you consider that these plants are native to rainforests, it will only make sense that they don’t like full sun. So, whether you grow your Mistletoe Cactus indoors or outdoors, make sure you find a spot where it gets partial to full shade.
Mistletoe Cactus plants have very minimal needs, which is why they also rarely need feeding. However, if you want to help your plant grow healthy and happy, you can support it with some extra nutrients found in fertilizing products. What fertilizer to use for your Mistletoe Cactus plant? We recommend using a half dilution of cactus food, from April to September, only once a month. Stop fertilizing your plant during the cold season.
If you want to control the size of your Mistletoe Cactus plant, especially if you are growing it indoors, you can prune it and remove dead foliage.
Planting Mistletoe Cactus
Planting Mistletoe Cactus plants is really easy as longs as you pay attention to the plants’ basic needs. Some of these needs include well-draining soil, partial to full shade, and really warm temperatures.
First of all, make sure you provide your plant with soil that provides good drainage. Like most succulents, Mistletoe Cactus doesn’t like wet feet and needs to be planted in a soil that allows water to go through it.
Unlike most other cacti species that need a cactus mix, this plant needs a rich and slightly acidic soil mixture. You can prepare the right soil for planting your Mistletoe Cactus using peat, compost, and sterile sand.
Next, pay attention to the plant’s temperature requirements. Mistletoe Cactus plants prefer really warm and humid areas, and the minimum preferred temperature is 60° F (15° C). So, if you live in an area with cold temperatures, it’s best to put your plant in a container and grow it indoors or to bring the container inside during the cold season.
Besides its soil and temperature requirements, consider Mistletoe Cactus’s lighting requirements. This plant prefers partial to full shade, never direct sunlight. Whether you’re going to grow your plant indoors or outdoors, make sure you find a shady spot to place it.
When it comes to repotting, you’ll have to move your Mistletoe Cactus to a larger container once every few years. If you refresh its soil and increase the pot size as the plant matures and grows, your Mistletoe Cactus will surely thrive.
Watering Mistletoe Cactus
Overwatering a Mistletoe Cactus plant is the surefire way to kill it. Like most cacti and succulents, Mistletoe Cactus plants don’t like to be overwatered.
However, compared to other cactus types, Mistletoe Cactus is a bit thirstier and prefers more frequent watering. It also prefers slightly moist soil to grow in. Yet, this plant is also forgiving if you forget to water it occasionally, and it tolerates short periods of drought.
During spring and summer, which is the plant’s growing season, you should water your plant every time the top surface of the soil dries out. Keep in mind to never let the soil dry out completely.
During fall and winter, your plant will go through dormancy, and its growth slows. During these months, you should cut back on water and allow the top few inches of soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Propagating Mistletoe Cactus
Propagating Mistletoe Cactus plants isn’t that difficult. These plants propagate via stem cuts.
To propagate your Mistletoe Cactus plant, all you have to do is to simply snip off a section of stem and plant it in a container. To ensure your plant’s propagation’s success, use a container with well-draining soil and bottom drain holes, water the container, and place it in a warm spot where the soil gets bright but indirect light. In about four weeks, the cutting should start developing roots, and after several months, the new plant should have a fully developed root system.
We recommend propagating your plant during the growing season, which is during the spring and summer months.
Mistletoe Cactus is an amazing ornamental houseplant. It’s really easy to grow and care for and, besides having a few distinct needs compared to other cacti species, it has very minimal needs.
Mistletoe Cactus plants are unique-looking and can be amazing focal points in any interior or exterior environment. Plus, what better time to get yourself a Mistletoe Cactus than during the Christmas festive season?
Are you growing Rhipsalis baccifera? Share your experience with us in the comments!