Rhipsalis elliptica G.Lindb. ex K.Schum.
Rhipsalis chloroptera, Rhipsalis elliptica, Rhipsalis elliptica var. helicoidea
Rhipsalis elliptica is native to Brazil. It grows as an epiphyte in the southern and southeastern portions of the Atlantic Forest.
Rhipsalis elliptica is a much-branched cactus with pendent, segmented, dark green branches often tinged magenta to purple. The stems grow up to 6.6 feet (2 m) long. Basal branches are usually 3-winged and up to 14 inches (35 cm) long. The branch segments are mostly flattened, more or less elliptic, with round-toothed margins, up to 7.2 inches (18 cm) long and 3.4 inches (8.5 cm) wide.
The flowers are small with yellowish, widely spreading petals, numerous white filaments, and white stigma lobes. They appear in late winter and early spring, generally 1, sometimes 2 or 3 at an areole. Fruits are reddish, slightly longer than broad, and about 0.3 inches (0.7 cm) long.
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, they will not bloom without sufficient sunlight, and their growth can be stunted. Therefore, 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) 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 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 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.
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