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Disocactus flagelliformis (Rat Tail Cactus)


Scientific Name

Disocactus flagelliformis (L.) Barthlott

Common Names

Rat Tail Cactus, Rattail Cactus


Cactus flagelliformis (basionym), Aporocactus flagelliformis, Aporocactus flagriformis, Aporocactus leptophis, Cactus serpentinus, Cereus flagelliformis, Cereus flagriformis, Cereus leptophis, Discocactus flagriformis, Disocactus flagriformis, Nyctocereus serpentinus var. pietatis, Peniocereus serpentinus subsp. pietatis, Selenicereus innesii, x Aporberocereus innesii

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Hylocereeae
Genus: Disocactus


Disocactus flagelliformis is an attractive cactus with thick, hanging stems, each with 8 to 13 ribs, up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long and up to 0.8 inch (2 cm) in diameter. The needle groups are tiny, almost fuzzy-looking and have 15 to 20 fine, reddish-yellow spines each. The beautiful flowers are magenta colored, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter.


USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Rat Tail Cactus is an easy to cultivate and relatively fast-growing cactus. Its trailing stems make this cactus ideal plant for a hanging basket. Line the basket with sphagnum moss before filling it with potting mixture and make sure it is hung where the prickly stems will not pose a treat to the unwary. If Rat Tail Cactus is grown in a pot, hang the pot up or attache it to a high shelf. If it is left free-standing, it can soon be overbalanced by the lengthening stems.

To propagate, use either 6 inches (15 cm) tip or 6 inches (15 cm) segment of any part of the stem. Allow each cutting or segment to dry for 3 days and then insert it about 0.8 inch (2 cm) deep, in a small pan or pot of the recommended potting mixture for mature plants. Be sure that any stem segment is planted with the bottom end down.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Rat Tail Cactus (Disocactus flagelliformis).


Disocactus flagelliformis is native to Mexico (Hidalgo, Oaxaca).

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids


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