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Ripsalis - The Most Unusual Cacti

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The list of unpretentious flowering cacti necessarily includes Ripsalis. These are very spectacular epiphytic cacti. However, some species are often grown not for the sake of flowering, but only for the sake of stick-like shoots. Some Ripsalis are almost indistinguishable from their counterparts, while others are true originals. One thing ripensalis have in common is their love of bright light, high humidity and minimal care. What are Ripsalis and how to take care of them, I will tell in my article.

Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti. © cgtrader

Plant Description

Dwelling in moist forests, Ripsalis (Rhipsalis) is considered one of the most original members of the Cactaceae (Cactaceae) family. The name itself, derived from the Greek "pleated", indicates the appearance of these unconventional plants. The character of the plant is also perfectly reflected by our folk nickname Prutnovik.

Ripsalis are famous first and foremost for their ability to bush abundantly. They develop into graceful, almost graphic shrubs and often delight in aerial roots. At the same time, they form innumerable drooping shoots that branch interestingly into numerous internodes.

With lengths ranging from 40 cm to 1 m or more, Ripsalis are surprisingly thin stems. In different species of Ripsalis, the twigs are flat, almost leaf-like, and rounded, ribbed, rod-like, and pencil-like. The rypsalis' hemlines are quite interesting: soft, bristly, without thorns, they are much more delicate than those of their competitors.

Ripsalis flowering most often begins with increasing daylight in February or March, but can stretch into April and June. It is quite unusual. Areoles in these cacti are located right on the surface of the stems, often along the entire length of the shoot, or from the upper third to half of the twigs. Flowers are very large, up to 2.5 cm, beautiful, actinomorphic, with pale white, cream, paler or pink corolla and numerous stamens.

After flowering, Ripsalis develops bright berry-like fruits, the coloration of which differs in each species, from black berries to white waxy ones.

Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Ripsalis campos-portoana. © epiforums
Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Rhipsalis burchellii. © Stefano
Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Rhapsalis russellii (Rhipsalis russellii). © mercadolivre

Species of indoor Ripsalis

The Ripsalis genus has its decorative favorites:

  • Ripsalis campos-porto (Rhipsalis campos-portoana) is a shrub with very thin, pencil-like, branched, drooping shoots with creamy flowers on the ends.
  • Ripsalis burchellii (Rhipsalis burchellii) is a bright green plant with twig-like branches and cream flowers.
  • Rhipsalis russellii (Rhipsalis russellii) is a spectacular species with large leaf-shaped segments with bright pink fruits scattered along the edge.
  • Rhipsalis fluffy (Rhipsalis floccosa) is a woody cactus with round, long shoots and fluffy, due to the dense stamens, flowers.
  • Rhipsalis lumpy (Rhipsalis clavata) is a "furry" cactus with thickly divided into short, thin segments by shoots.
  • Rhipsalis valvata (Rhipsalis teres, synonymous with Rhipsalis hairy - Rhipsalis capilliformis) is a fanciful twig-shaped cactus that creates a graphic mass of "twigs" and small flowers.
  • Rhipsalis pilocarpa (Rhipsalis pilocarpa) is a brightly colored cactus with rounded "pencil-shaped" stiff, pubescent shoots and white "fluffy" flowers.
  • Rhipsalis curly (Rhipsalis crispata) is a species with flat leaf-shaped segments, with rich emerald coloration and rounded teeth.
  • Rhipsalis cereuscula (Rhipsalis cereuscula) - forming a graphic lace of shortened rounded thin segments cactus.
  • Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides (Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides) is a conifer-like species with main twigs and white flowers hidden under a mass of fleshy needle-like shoots.
  • Rhipsalis odd (Rhipsalis paradoxa) is a bizarre cactus with triangular segments creating a graphic lace.
  • Rhipsalis thick-winged (Rhipsalis pachyptera) is a species with leaf-like triangular segments with a filigreed serrated edge, reddish streaks and creamy flowers on the edge of the "leaves".
Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Rhipsalis fluffy (Rhipsalis floccosa). © nelumbogarden
Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Ripsalis lumpy (Rhipsalis clavata). © Andre Benedito
Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Rhipsalis valvata (Rhipsalis teres). © davesgarden

Growing conditions for indoor Ripsalis

Ripsalis are unpretentious to conditions, but cannot tolerate direct sun, and placing them in a southern window without protection is a big mistake. After all, soft and bright green colors of Ripsalis will be changed by reddish casts, and the cactus will wither away.

But Ripsalis adapt perfectly to penumbra, in diffused light it does not lose even ability to abundant flowering. Prefer eastern and western window sills in the warm season and move to more light places from the middle of autumn.

For Ripsalis both winter and summer normal room temperatures are considered the best. They are thermophilic and do not tolerate decrease to 15 degrees, but they are rather heat-resistant. The minimum temperature that ripxalis can bear is about 10 degrees. Cool wintering prolongs flowering.

Unlike many cacti, Ripsalis feel perfectly well on the balcony or in the garden in summer. If Ripsalis are put out into the fresh air, they need to be in a shady place, protected from draughts. When kept in rooms, Ripsalis require regular careful ventilation.

Read also our material Epiphyllums - profusely flowering forest cacti.

Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Ripsalis pilocarpa. © seedsexotic

Ripsalis home care

Ripsalis has a bizarre combination of a love of moderately moist soils and high humidity. Ripsalis are watered so as to avoid complete drying out of the soil and overwatering. The substrate should be allowed to dry out in the upper third, not allowing water to stagnate in the trays. Frequent moderate watering or more infrequent but plentiful watering will do for Ripsalis. Substrate humidity is better to keep stable, regardless of the time of year.

Air humidity for Ripsalis should be elevated: it is much more important than substrate moisture in the development of Ripsalis. They love spraying in summer, setting up pots and trays with damp pebbles, feel well in tropical collections with industrial humidifiers.

Ripsalis requires moderate fertilizing. For them, fertilize only in liquid form, together with water for watering during budding and flowering. If ripxalis flowers in winter, fertilize with the frequency of 1 time in 5-6 weeks, in spring and summer cacti can be fertilized 1 time in 3 weeks. Universal fertilizers with twice reduced concentration or special fertilizers for succulents in full concentration will do for Ripsalis.

Ripsalis do not form. This cactus recovers quite well from injuries and damage during transplanting or transportation.

Ripsalis rarely gets sick. Most often the plants are bothered by scabies, and it's better to start with systemic insecticides. If Ripsalis is kept in very dry air it can suffer from spider mites.

Read also our material 20 indoor cacti and succulents with strikingly beautiful blooming.

Please also read this. 10 most popular houseplants

Transplanting, containers and substrate

Ripsalis is transplanted when it completely fills the old container. The standard frequency is once every 2-4 years, with annual replacement of topsoil.

Ripsalis requires wide but not deep containers with very large drainage holes. The weight of the drainage itself can regulate the stability of the containers, but it should not be less than a third of the height of the container.

Ripsalis requires careful selection of soil. Normal soil for succulents with good nutritional parameters is the best option, because these forest cacti are more moisture-loving but extremely demanding to the permeability of the soil. In any substratum, even purchased, it is worth to add charcoal and inert loosening additives (sphagnum, perlite, vermiculite).

Rhipsalis is not transplanted, but is turned over, carefully treating the crown.

Ripsalis - the most unusual cacti
Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides. © Gabriela Vigdorovici

Ripsalis multiplication

Ripsalis cuttings are broken off from mature but not old shoots, drying the breaking places and rooting in sandy peat substrate slightly moistened with water. For rooting, high humidity and a temperature of 23 to 25 degrees Celsius should be maintained.

It is also possible to grow Ripsalis from seeds. To make them germinate, you need to maintain a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees and high humidity under glass or film. Sowing is carried out shallowly, in sandy soils, under glass or a hood.

Ripsalis is rarely propagated by bush splitting, because the plant has very brittle and contact-unloving roots. Large old shrubs are divided into no more than 3 pieces, trying to minimize injury by not shaking off the soil. Ripsalis needs light soil moisture, high air humidity and soft light to adapt.