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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 use these facts to solve any problem by simply taking care of your plant & reviewing this guide.

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

Another component to this Rhipsalis guide are our TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read) areas. Skim for these blocked quotes for shorter summaries if you are looking for a quick read rather than an in-depth manual.

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."

LET'S BEGIN WITH THE TYPE OF SUCCULENT MOST ARE FAMILIAR WITH:

DESERT SUCCULENTS

The basic definition of a succulent is a plant with foliage that carries thick, fleshy tissues which have the ability to hold water.

The "common succulent" is a desert plant that holds water in its foliage to maintain drought tolerance in a hot, dry climate where it receives little water & direct sunlight for the majority of the day. For this reason water storage is required to be able to make it through the sweltering heat.

To further exemplify what conditions a common succulent may require we are going to use the Peanut Cactus as an example. 

This is a Peanut cactus. While Rhipsalis & the Peanut cactus are both succulents, they are unrelated in virtually every other way.

The Peanut cactus lives in desert like climates, which receive very seldom torrential downpours of rain followed by long periods of drought. For this reason, at home maintenance suggests you would water your cactus by saturating the soil (mimicking the torrential downpour of rain) & then let the soil dry out completely before watering again (further mimicking the long periods of drought that follow). Moreover, Peanut cacti live in areas where temperatures are particularly hot, but receive small bouts of shade every now & then. When illustrating these factors at home, you may place the cactus directly in a window where it will receive full sun most of the day, maybe even choosing to ignore the small bouts of shade as the temperature in your home would not increase to that of the natural desert climate.

& without further adieu, 

Horticult's Guide to Rhipsalis

 When you hear Rhipsalis is a succulent, it is not uncommon to assume that it falls into the familiar "desert succulent" category.

It is easily forgotten that Rhipsalis is classified

as a "jungle cactus" rather than that of the desert. 

As you continue reading, you will notice the drastic differences between each climate & how the plants work with these disparities.  

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

As you can imagine, a jungle cactus & a desert cactus are built differently. They rely on different factors to survive, as each are exposed to exponentially different climates. 

 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, underneath the forest's canopy where it thrives in shade.  

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Jungle climates are known for their wet environments with continuous rain, 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.

This is not an original Horticult picture.

RHIPSALIS ARE EPIPHYTIC - WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?

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 get their moisture from the air. 

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, including misty, moisture-laden air.

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. 

When bringing an epiphytic plant into your home, it is important to try & mimic the conditions of its natural environment. Take care not to overwater epiphytic plants since the air supplements their water needs. Humid conditions often provide all the moisture a plant will need. A mist system is a perfect way to mimic these conditions in a greenhouse.

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. 

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. 

I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him.

- Henry David Thoreau; Journal 3 January 1853
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ALL PICTURES FOUND ON WEBSITE WERE TAKEN BY EMILY & KATHY SAUL