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Disocactus flagelliformis (Rat Tail Cactus)


Scientific Name

Disocactus flagelliformis (L.) Barthlott

Common Names

Rat Tail Cactus, Rattail Cactus


Cactus flagelliformis, 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 inches (2 cm) in diameter. The spine groups are tiny, almost fuzzy-looking, and have 15 to 20 fine, reddish-yellow spines. Flowers are magenta-colored, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter.

Disocactus flagelliformis (Rat Tail Cactus)


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 ideal cactus for a hanging basket. Line the basket with sphagnum moss before filling it with potting mix, and make sure it is hung where the prickly stems will not pose a threat to the unwary. If Rat Tail Cactus is grown in a pot, hang the pot up or attach 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 the stem. Allow each cutting or segment to dry for three days, and then insert it about 0.8 inches (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. If this shallowly inserted cutting tends to fall over, it can be supported by being gently tied to a small wooden stick. Cultivation needs of cuttings are the same as those for mature Rat Tail Cactus, and rooting will occur within a few weeks. Rat Tail Cactus can also be grown from seed.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Disocactus.


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



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