Fishbone Cactus Propagation: How to Propagate Ric Rac Plants

Dive into the enchanting world of the Fishbone cactus, an attractive houseplant that adds a touch of whimsy and charm to your indoor garden. Although, you must familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of cultivating these captivating cacti to ensure their happy, healthy growth. 

Embrace the joy of learning about caring for these plants, and you’ll be rewarded with an eye-catching addition to your collection of botanical beauties.

We’ll explore the fascinating realm of Fishbone cactus propagation. We’ll share insights on the plant’s natural habitat, walk you through the propagation process step by step, and offer valuable tips on the perfect growing conditions and post-propagation care. 

Key Takeaways: Fishbone Cactus Propagation

Fishbone cactus propagation often becomes a rewarding way to expand indoor gardens. Start in the growing season and choose water or soil propagation. Ensure proper lighting and warmth, and watch for common challenges like rotting cuttings. Care for the new cactus with the appropriate watering schedule, potting mix, and fertilizer.

Quick Overview

The Fishbone cactus is also known as:

  • Orchid cactus
  • Zig zag cactus (common name)
  • Ric rac cactus
  • disocactus anguliger (scientific name, syn. Epiphyllum anguliger)

This excellent houseplant captures the hearts of indoor gardeners with its unique, fishbone-like foliage and mesmerizing blooms. Boasting an otherworldly appearance, this beautiful cactus is a visual delight and a breeze to care for, making it a treasured addition to any plant enthusiast’s collection. 

As a native of Mexico, this cactus thrives as an epiphytic plant, growing on other plants for support without causing harm. This extraordinary cactus is a must-have for those seeking a fascinating and low-maintenance plant.

Wait, Is It Epiphyllum Anguliger, or Selenicereus Anthonyanus?

ric rac cactus plant

Though the Fishbone cactus label is often used interchangeably, two distinct species fall under this captivating category: Epiphyllum anguliger and Selenicereus anthonyanus

While both species share the iconic fishbone-shaped foliage and enchanting blooms, subtle differences set them apart. For example, Epiphyllum anguliger boasts beautiful yellow and white flowers, while Selenicereus anthonyanus produces striking reddish-pink blossoms. 

Fortunately, the care for both species is practically identical, making it easy to tend to these botanical wonders, regardless of their precise classification. 

Importance Of Knowing About Propagating Fishbone Cactus

Understanding the propagation process is crucial for any plant parent eager to expand their indoor garden by adding more Fishbone cacti. With the proper knowledge and techniques, propagating the Fishbone cactus can be a rewarding and cost-effective endeavor, allowing you to share the magic of this alluring plant with friends and fellow plant lovers. 

Mastering the art of propagation will also help you cultivate healthier, more robust plants, ensuring that your disocactus angular flourish and provide a stunning visual display in your home.

How To Propagate Fishbone Cactus: a Step-by-Step Guide

Timing is Everything; Propagating in early spring or summer is the best time to set your Fishbone cactus on the path to successful propagation is crucial to initiate the process during the growing season, typically spanning spring or summer. 

Conversely, refrain from attempting zig-zag cactus propagation in late summer and winter, as the plant’s growth tends to slow.

1. Preparing Your Fishbone Cactus Cuttings

  • Taking Cuttings: Begin by carefully snipping several 3-4 inch long stem cuttings from a single leaf (or modified stem) of the parent plant, using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears.
  • Orientation Matters: Remember that the end of the cutting closest to the pot should be the one to root. Exercise caution not to invert the cuttings, which may impede the rooting process.
  • Let Them Dry: Similar to other succulents and cacti; Fishbone cactus cuttings necessitate drying and callousing over on the cut end before propagation. Allow them to air dry for a few days before progressing to the next step.

2. Choose Your Propagation Method

Water Propagation

  • Submerge in H2O: Position your prepared cuttings in a vase filled with water, ensuring the calloused end is submerged. 
  • Patience Pays Off: In a few weeks or less, you should observe roots starting to grow. 
  • Time to Transplant: Transfer the cuttings into your chosen potting mix once the roots have extended to about an inch long.

Soil Propagation

  • Straight to Soil: Rather than using water, you may opt to insert the calloused end of your cuttings directly into a pot containing soil.
  • Encourage Rooting: Maintain the soil barely moist, which will aid in stimulating root growth.

3. Creating the Perfect Environment For Fishbone Cactus Propagation

When propagating your Fishbone cactus, providing optimal conditions to encourage healthy growth and successful rooting is essential. This section will delve into the ideal light and temperature settings to ensure your new plants thrive.

Light Levels: Finding the Sweet Spot&Nbsp;

  • Windows with a View: Position your Fishbone Cactus near an Eastern or Western-facing window. These locations offer a suitable balance of indirect sunlight exposure, providing your plant with the energy it needs without overwhelming it.
  • Dodging the Strong Rays: While Fishbone Cacti appreciate sunlight, shielding them from the harsh, mid-day sun is crucial. Intense sunlight can scorch their delicate foliage, so ensure your plant receives gentle morning or late afternoon light instead, where it will get plenty of bright indirect light.

Temperature: Mimic the Jungles Of Mexico

  • Warm and Welcoming: These plants thrive in warm indoor environments that mimic their natural environment. So aim to maintain a consistent temperature in your home, making it an inviting haven for your new plant babies.
  • Steering Clear of the Chill: Take care not to let temperatures dip below 50F (10C), as this can hinder your Fishbone Cactus’s growth and overall health. If you place your plant outdoors in the summer, remember to bring it back inside before the cold weather sets in.

Zig Zag Plant Propagation Troubleshooting: Overcoming Common Challenges

Embarking on the Fishbone cactus propagation journey can be exciting and rewarding. However, like any gardening adventure, it’s not without its fair share of challenges. 

We’re here to guide you through some of the most common issues you might encounter during zig zag cactus propagation and provide you with tried-and-true solutions to keep your green thumb game strong.

Cuttings Not Rooting

Issue: You’ve followed the ric rac cactus propagation steps to a T, but your cuttings just don’t seem to be putting out roots.

Solution: Patience is a virtue, especially regarding propagating fishbone cactus. Sometimes, the cuttings may take longer to root than expected. 

Give your cuttings more time, as the rooting process can take anywhere from a few weeks to over a month. Ensure that the cuttings receive adequate warmth and indirect light during this period, and consider using a rooting hormone to help speed up the process.

Rotting Cuttings

Issue: Your Fishbone Cactus cuttings have started to rot, turning mushy and discolored (aka root rot).

Solution: Rotting cuttings are often a result of excess water or improper callusing. Ensure you allow the cuttings to dry and callous for a few days before starting the propagation process. 

If you’re using the soil propagation method, avoid overwatering, and ensure that you’re using well-draining soil and your pot has a drainage hole. For water propagation, change the water frequently to keep it fresh and clean.

Leaves Turning Yellow or Brown

Issue: The leaves on your newly propagated Fishbone Cactus are turning yellow or brown.

Solution: This could be a sign of stress from too much direct sunlight or overwatering. Ensure your young plants receive bright, indirect light, and avoid the harsh, mid-day sun. Monitor your watering habits and allow the top inch of soil to dry out between watering sessions.

Pests on Cuttings

Issue: You’ve noticed pests, such as mealybugs, fungus gnats, or spider mites, on your zig-zag cactus cuttings.


  1. Act quickly to prevent a full-blown infestation.
  2. Isolate the affected cuttings from other plants to prevent the pests from spreading.
  3. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently remove the pests, or treat the cuttings with insecticidal soap or neem oil spray, following the label instructions.

Slow Growth After Propagation

Issue: Your successfully rooted Fishbone Cactus cuttings are growing at a snail’s pace.

Solution: Slow growth after propagation is common. The plant might be focusing its energy on establishing a strong root system. Be patient and ensure that your newly propagated ric rac cactus receives optimal care, including proper watering, suitable light exposure, and regular fertilization during the growing season. In time, it should start to grow more vigorously.

Caring For Your Newly Propagated Fishbone Cactus

Now that you’ve successfully propagated your plant, it’s time to shower your new plant baby with love and care it deserves. Here are tips to help your cactus flourish and brighten your indoor garden.

Watering Wisdom

Finding the sweet spot with watering is key to a thriving Orchid cactus.

  • Water thoroughly, allowing excess to drain from the pot to avoid soggy roots
  • Wait for the top inch of soil to dry out before re-watering
  • Remember to reduce watering frequency during the winter months
  • Avoid using cold water; room temperature is best.
  • Avoid using a watering schedule; instead, use your finger to feel the top couple of inches of soil is dry.

Perfect Potting Mix

A well-draining potting mix is the foundation of healthy ric rac plants.

  • Combine a succulent mix with perlite, pumice, or orchid bark to create the ideal blend
  • This well-draining soil mix will promote healthy roots and prevent waterlogged soil

Fabulous Fertilizing

Feeding your cactus with the proper nutrients encourages lush growth.

  • Opt for a balanced and nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer like Dyna-Gro Grow
  • Fertilize every four to six weeks during the growing season (spring and summer)
  • Reduce fertilizer frequency during the winter months when growth slows

Aerial Roots: Peculiar Phenomenon & Role in Propagation

You might encounter an intriguing feature on your beloved plant: aerial roots! These unique roots can catch your eye, and understanding their purpose will help you care for your cactus and give you insight into its propagation process.

A Quirky Characteristic&Nbsp;

Aerial roots grow above the soil and can be seen sprouting from the plant’s stem. These roots might look like thin, wiry strands reaching out from the plant, giving it an even more exotic appearance.

Why Do They Appear?&Nbsp;

There are a few reasons why your Fishbone Cactus might develop aerial roots:

  • Seeking extra support: Aerial roots can act as natural supports, helping the plant anchor itself to a surface.
  • Searching for moisture: If your plant isn’t receiving enough water, aerial roots might emerge to absorb moisture from the air.

The Connection To Propagation&Nbsp;

The appearance of aerial roots is a visual curiosity and a hint at the plant’s natural ability to propagate. Aerial roots can help the plant spread and establish new growth, showing that your cactus is ready to produce more of its stunning foliage. In addition, paying attention to these aerial roots will give you a better understanding of when and how to propagate your cactus successfully.

Why It Matters

As a plant parent, knowing about aerial roots can aid you in providing optimal care for your plant, ensuring its continued health and vigor. Recognizing the connection between aerial roots and propagation can also help you take advantage of the plant’s growth habits, allowing you to create even more beautiful Fishbone Cacti to enjoy in your home or share with fellow plant lovers.

So, next time you spot aerial roots on Fishbone cactus plants, embrace their unique charm and let them guide you in your journey of successful cactus propagation.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.