It’s pretty unusual, this cactus disguised as a hanging plant. Maintenance-free, attractive to look at, and it also freshens things up both literally and figuratively.
Colours and shapes
Unusual: Rhipsalis is actually a cactus, but without the spiky traits. It’s a fast grower that hangs down in long messy tendrils, dark green in colour at the top and somewhat paler at the ends creating beautiful framing effects. The plant is also known as coral cactus, and is virtually maintenance-free. Rhipsalis copes fairly well with forgetful waterers, does not shed, and in ideal conditions it’s a richly-branched hanging beauty.
The name is derived from the ancient Greek word for ‘plaiting’, derived from Rhipsalis’s appearance. This also gives the houseplant its nickname of ‘mistletoe cactus’.
Rhipsalis is a tropical succulent native to the rainforests of Central and South America, Africa, and a few islands in the Indian Ocean. It’s the only cactus to grow in the wild outside North and South America. There are some 60 different species, most of which grow on tree trunks. In the wild they flower with a host of white, yellow, orange or red flowers that turn into berries as a result of pollination. This rarely happens indoors. Rhipsalis’s jungle origins make it one of the better air-purifying plants for the home according to research by NASA.