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Rhipsalis burchellii (Mistletoe Cactus)

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Scientific Name

Rhipsalis burchellii Britton & Rose

Common Names

Mistletoe Cactus

Synonyms

Erythrorhipsalis burchellii, Erythrorhipsalis cribrata, Hariota cribrata

Scientific Classification

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

Description

Rhipsalis burchellii is an interesting, thornless, tree-dwelling cactus. Best planted in a hanging basket or large container, it forms an elegant cascade of delicate branches than can reach up to 5 feet (1.5 m). Lovely, up to 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) long, creamy-white flowers emerge along the stems, eventually making way for pink fruits.

Photo via piardino.com

Hardiness

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 afternoon sun can burn the leaves, turn them yellow or lead to spotting. However, without sufficient sunlight, they will not bloom and its 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 a watering can may 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.

Origin

Rhipsalis burchellii is native to south-eastern and southern Brazil.

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