Fishbone Cactus

Fishbone Cactus: Profile & 6 Tips To Care It

The fishbone cactus (Disocactus anguliger) is a unique type of cactus. This Mexican tropical epiphytic cactus is perfect for cactus lovers who don’t have the right conditions to keep traditional desert cacti alive.

It grows well when it doesn’t get direct sunlight and does best when it’s humid.

The sharp teeth on the stems of the fishbone cactus make it easy to recognize. It is also called the zig-zag cactus, the ricrac cactus, and the orchid cactus.

Put your fishbone cactus in a pot or planter that hangs from the ceiling so you can really see how beautiful its leaves are.

Fishbone Cactus Care

The fishbone cactus is an indoor plant that does well with little care. It likes places that are wet and humid, and it grows best in bright, indirect light.

The fishbone cactus is epiphytic, which means it can grow even if the soil isn’t very good. It comes from the Mexican rainforests, where it grows on the branches of trees.

Fishbone Cactus


In its natural environment, the fishbone cactus grows well as an understory plant that gets indirect light. When grown inside, the fishbone cactus does best in a spot that gets bright indirect light for several hours.


As an epiphyte, the fishbone cactus likes potting soil that drains well, is airy, and has a lot of organic matter.

Use one part commercial cactus/succulent soil, one part perlite, one part peat moss, and one part orchid bark mix to make the right mix for the fishbone cactus.


The fishbone cactus needs water more often than arid cacti. In general, you should water your cactus when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil have dried out. You should never water your fishbone cactus with cold water because it could shock the roots.

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Fishbone Cactus

Fishbone cacti can also be hurt by contaminants in city water. If your water is hard, wait 24 hours before watering your cactus or use water that has been distilled.

Temperature and Humidity

The fishbone cactus grows naturally in the rainforest, where it prefers warm and moist conditions.Maintain temperatures between 60 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 25 degrees Celsius) and humidity levels over 60%.


Use a liquid cactus and succulent fertilizer to feed your fishbone cactus once in early spring.

The fishbone cactus doesn’t need any more fertilizer during the year as long as its potting medium (peat moss or orchid bark mix) has organic matter in it.


Fishbone cacti don’t need to be pruned often to stay healthy and happy, but sometimes it might be nice to trim them for looks. The good news is that any trimmings can be used to make new plants.

Propagating the Fishbone Cactus

Fishbone cactus is easy to grow by taking cuttings from the stem. By making new plants from your fishbone cactus, you can add to your collection of plants.

Don’t move your fishbone cactus when it’s not growing, which is in the fall and winter. Instead, they should spread out in the spring and summer. Here’s how to get your fishbone cactus to grow new plants from stem cuttings:

  1. Using a pair or sharp scissors or pruning shears, take cuttings from your plant, keeping the cuttings between 4 and 5 inches long.
  2. Set the cuttings in a cool, dry location for at least 24 hours to allow the cut edge to callous over.
  3. Fill a small potting container with a well-draining, airy potting mixture and moisten the soil lightly.
  4. Plant the calloused cuttings in the pre-moistened potting mix, and set the planted cuttings in a location that receives bright, indirect light.
  5. Lightly water the cuttings every few days to ensure the soil stays moist.
  6. Once you see signs of new growth the cuttings are considered established and normal fishbone cactus care can be resumed. If you wish to transplant the cuttings into a new container, you can do so at this time.
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Fishbone Cactus

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Since the fishbone cactus likes to live in damp places, it is susceptible to many common pests and diseases. Root rot and fungal leaf spots are common diseases. Mealybugs, fungus gnats, and aphids are common pests.

How to Get a Fishbone Cactus to Bloom

To get the fishbone cactus to bloom in late summer and fall, leave it outside in cold weather from winter to early spring, preferably between 52 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit (or 11 and 14 degrees Celsius).

Restart regular care in late spring. Some growers have found that putting a high-potassium tomato fertilizer on their fishbone cactus in the summer helps it bloom more later in the season.

If none of these things work, you’ll have to try again next year. Fishbone cacti are notoriously hard to grow indoors, and it may take years of care before they bloom.

Common Problems With the Fishbone Cactus

Most of the time, fishbone cacti are easy to care for and don’t give you any trouble. Most of the time, these jungle cacti have problems because they don’t get enough water or light.

Fishbone Cactus

Leggy Growth

A healthy fishbone cactus should have flat, zigzag-shaped stems. If you see that all of the stems are thin and round, this could mean that your plant isn’t getting enough light. You may want to move your fishbone cactus closer to a window.

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Leaves With Brown Spots

If your fishbone cactus has fungal leaf spots, it could be because the leaves are too wet or there is too much humidity. Most of the time, these dark dots are raised.

This happens more often to plants outside, but it can also happen to plants inside. Even though the scars on the leaves look bad, they won’t hurt your plant. Just cut off the infected parts to stop the fungus from spreading.

Wrinkled Leaves

If the leaves on your fishbone cactus are wrinkled, it means it needs more water. But don’t worry—as long as the stems aren’t completely dry, your cactus should bounce back as soon as you give it water.


Why is my fishbone cactus growing roots above the soil?

These are the fishbone cactus’s natural roots, which grow in the air. Fishbone cacti use their aerial roots to attach to other plants and trees in the wild and get nutrients and water from the air and organic matter around them.

Fishbone Cactus

Why are the stems of my fishbone cactus going brown and mushy?

Most likely, this is root rot caused by too much water. Root rot is a problem that can’t be fixed, so the affected parts of the plant must be cut out and thrown away.

To keep the roots from getting any worse, make sure the soil drains well, the pot has holes for drainage, and the top few inches of soil dry out between waterings.

How fast does the fishbone cactus grow?

The fishbone cactus grows at a medium rate, which is faster than most desert cacti but slower than tropical plants like pothos or philodendron. If you take good care of your fishbone cactus, it will grow in amazing ways during the growing season.

See more articles in this category: Outdoor Plants

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