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Pfeiffera monacantha


Scientific Name

Pfeiffera monacantha (Griseb.) P.V. Heath


Rhipsalis monacantha, Acanthorhipsalis monacantha, Acanthorhipsalis samaipatana, Lepismium monacanthum

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Rhipsalideae
Genus: Pfeiffera


Pfeiffera monacantha, also known as Lepismium monacanthum or Rhipsalis monacantha, is a compact, slow-growing epiphytic cactus with spiny branches that are both erect and triangular at first, later flat and pendent. The branches are up to 18 inches (45 cm) long and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) wide. Flowers are waxy orange, up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter, and produced from each areole. They are followed by small, round, orange or pale pink, more or less translucent fruits that decorate the plant for months.

Pfeiffera monacantha aka Lepismium monacanthum or Rhipsalis monacantha

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

How to Grow and Care

Rhipsalis do not thrive in direct sunlight. Exposure to the afternoon sun can burn the leaves, turn them yellow or lead to spotting. However, without sufficient sunlight, they will not bloom, and their growth can be stunted. These cacti do best with morning sun and full shade in the afternoon.

As Rhipsalis is commonly grown indoors, care must be given to the placement of the plants. They should be kept at least 20 inches (50 cm) away from windows that receive midday or afternoon sun. The glass in the windows can multiply the heat from the sun's rays, causing sunburned leaves. Keep in mind that in its native environment, Rhipsalis is accustomed to receiving light that has been filtered through dense, overhanging tree branches. Picturing this environment can help you adjust your lighting accordingly.

Rhipsalis is not a drought-resistant plant, so regular watering is essential. Overwatering, however, can cause weak stems and rotted roots. Using watering can help you measure the amount of water you are providing. The size of the pot, compared to the size of the plant, the humidity levels in the home, and the type of potting soil used can all affect the watering frequency.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Rhipsalis.


Pfeiffera monacantha is native to Argentina and Bolivia.


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