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RHIPSALIS:

THE QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE

We don't want this guide to merely tell you how to take care of Rhipsalis. We want to give you the information you need to maintain your plants, foresee problems, be able to work out solutions for any issues that may occur -- ultimately give you the tools to solve any problem you might have with your Rhipsalis plant.

With that being said, we are still learning every day & will add all of our new findings to this running manual as they come.
 

& without further adieu, 

Horticult's Guide to Rhipsalis

 When you hear Rhipsalis is a succulent, it is not uncommon to assume that it falls under the familiar "desert succulent" category.
It is easily forgotten that there is another category to succulents --jungle succulents. These plants are native to rainforests, rather than the desert. 
As you continue reading, you will notice the drastic differences between these different succulent climates & how you should emulate them.  

There's a saying,

"give a man a fish & you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish & you feed him for a lifetime."

THE BASIC DEFINITION OF A SUCCULENT IS A PLANT THAT HAS THE ABILITY TO HOLD WATER IN THICK, FLESHY TISSUES LOCATED IN THEIR FOLIAGE. 

the desert succulent

is the most common type of succulent plant. it holds water in its foliage to maintain life in the in hot, dry desert climate it is native to. This arid climate receives little water & endures  direct sunlight for the majority of the day. It is for this reason water storage is required to be able to make it through the sweltering heat.

the jungle succulent

is a plant that lives in the moist & humid habitat of the rainforest. Also known as tropical forest succulents, these plants have adapted to living on a small patch of organic matter far from the ground along the trunk of a tree. They have adapted to this soil free environment by collecting moisture & nutrients from the air through their stems, as well as through their roots.

RHIPSALIS IS A JUNGLE CACTUS; A SUCCULENT BASED OUT OF THE RAINFOREST RATHER THAN THE DESERT.

Desert succulents store water in their foliage because it is scarce in their arid & dry natural environment. Why does Rhipsalis, a tropical forest succulent, store water?

 Posted to the right is a picture of a picture of Rhipsalis growing in its natural habitat.
The jungle cactus grows out of nooks in trees in a pocket of moss or natural debris. Tree nooks are located along the tree's trunk underneath the forest's canopy where it thrives in shade.  

Jungle climates are known for their wet environments with continuous rain & heavy humidity, which  Rhipsalis flourish in. It goes without being said, these environments have a much higher water content than that of a desert succulent.

Desert succulents thrive on periods of substantial amounts of water followed by long periods of full sun & drought to dry out the soil.

On the contraryjungle cacti enjoy continuously moist soil from a combination of extended periods of rainfall & shade from tree cover.

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This is not an original Horticult picture.

RHIPSALIS ARE EPIPHYTIC - WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Tropical rainforests include an incredible array of plants.
Those that dangle from trees, rocks, & vertical supports are called epiphytes. One of the adaptations of epiphytes is their ability to attach to vertical surfaces & capture their water & most of their nutrients from sources other than soil. They receive their moisture & nutrients through their stems from the air, as well as through their roots. 

The flora in rainforests are diverse & thickly populated.
The competition for light, air, water, nutrients, & space is fierce. Therefore, some plants have evolved to become epiphytes. This habitat allows them to take advantage of high spaces where the air is heavy with moisture.
Leaf litter & other organic debris catches in tree crotches, nooks, & other areas making nutrient rich nests for Rhipsalis, as well as other epiphytes such as air plants. 

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This is not an original Horticult picture.

When bringing an epiphytic plant into your home, it is important to mimic the conditions of its natural environment. You want to use a well-draining soil to keep them from being overwatered, while simultaneously making sure the soil is remains lightly & evenly moist. They appreciate humidity, which you can emulate by using a humidifier, keeping your Rhipsalis in the bathroom or another humid space in your home, or by lightly misting their foliage every so often. 

RHIPSALIS IS THE LARGEST & MOST DIVERSE GENUS OF EPIPHYTIC PLANTS

There are ~40 accepted variety species of Rhipsalis today.

As far as appearance is concerned, the stem shape can be terete, angular, or flat. 

TERETE

circular in cross section; cylindrical, sometimes with ends that become progressively smaller

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Rhipsalis baccifera

ANGULAR

a stem that is not round in cross section

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Rhipsalis pentaptera

FLAT

stems are flattened

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Rhipsalis ramulosa

THEY WILL FLOWER
& PRODUCE FRUITS

Rhipsalis fruit color, as well as their flower color, shape, & location on the stem is dependent on the variety. 

Most consider the flowers of Rhipsalis to be small & insignificant, however, when Rhipsalis is properly cared for these flowers are produced en mass creating a true spectacle during their bloom period.

Rhipsalis puniceodiscus

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Rhipsalis puniceodiscus

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'Drunkards Dream'

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Rhipsalis pachyptera

RHIPSALIS FRUITS, AKA SEED PODS

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The fruit on Rhipsalis ramulosa are large & white at their mature stage. 

Other varieties of Rhipsalis may have white, pink, red, or yellow fruits.

The fruits of Rhipsalis are also known as seed pods because, well, they carry seeds inside them! These succulent seed pods are a delicious snack for birds, who eat the pods & spread the seeds through digestion! 

While nature propagates this jungle succulent by seed, the faster & more efficient way to propagate Rhipsalis is through stem cuttings.

HOW DO WE INCORPORATE THIS KNOWLEDGE INTO RHIPSALIS AS A HOUSE PLANT?

To summarize what we've already learned -- plants that grow in the jungle require some protection from strong sunlight & should be given a generous amount of humidity.

Jungle cacti typically grow in a pocket of moss or debris in the nook of a tree branch or rock. Regardless of the humid, jungle conditions of their natural habitat, these cacti are adapted to grow in a media that promotes dryness. 

Leafless, thornless, & composed of branching stems, many are desired for their attractive architecture rather than their flower display. With that being said, more species than not have numerous flowers cascading down their stems, several varieties with scented blooms, creating unparalleled displays of beautiful floral art. 

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So lets take what we've learned about the plant's natural history & apply this information with what we know about growing plants in home. 

Hanging baskets, metal pots, ceramic glaze -- when we're speaking on Rhipsalis you can plant them in virtually any container. 

When you're planting a Rhipsalis with an upright growth pattern compared to a trailing plant, find a pot that suits a taller plant that will shoot out random stems 

So lets take what we've learned about the plant's natural history & correlate this information with what we know about growing plants in home.