Rhipsalis (lat.Rhipsalis), or twig - a genus of shrubs of the Cactus family, which includes more than fifty species. These epiphytic plants are common in the tropical rainforests of both Americas, South Asia and Africa, where they grow on tree trunks or damp rocks, although they can also be found on the ground.
This is the only cactus species whose range extends beyond America. Some of the ripsalis are grown in room culture.
Read more about growing ripsalis below.
Rhipsalis are highly branching epiphytic shrubs, a characteristic feature of which is the presence of aerial roots. Plants of all species of the genus are covered with pubescence, and none have thorns. The stems of Ripsalis are drooping, leaf-shaped, segmented, ribbed in cross-section, rounded, or flat. Areoles are located on the surface of the stems. Flowers in plants of this genus are small, actinomorphic, with a white, yellow, orange or pale pink corolla. They can be located along the entire length of the stem or only at the top of the shoot. The succulent, berry-like fruits of plants, the size of a gooseberry, can be white, black or pink.
Ripsalis cactus is generally unpretentious, however, when growing in a house, you need to create conditions close to natural for it: provide an optimal temperature and sufficient lighting, make the necessary fertilizing and timely moisten the soil in the pot. In this article, we will tell you how to take care of Ripsalis at home.
Ripsalis plant feels comfortable in the summer at a temperature of 18-24 ºC, but in winter, when the plant is resting, the room should be cooler –15-17 ºC, however, do not let the ripsalis stay in a room with an extremely low temperature for a long time - 10 ºC. If you do not have the opportunity to arrange a good rest for the Ripsalis in the cool, it will normally overwinter at summer temperatures.
In the photo: Growing ripsalis at home
The ripsalis flower naturally grows in the shade of a tropical forest, so the scorching sun rays of the southern windowsills harm it. The best place for it is the east or west windows, but even there the ripsalis needs to be shaded from the sun during the hot afternoon hours. The houseplant Ripsalis can be placed on the windowsill of a northern orientation, and even in the depths of the apartment, but in this case it will grow and develop more slowly, and flowering may not occur at all.
Ripsalis is watered when the soil in the pot dries out to a third of the depth. Any stick is suitable for testing the soil, for example, from a Japanese or Chinese restaurant, with which you need to pierce the ground and determine the level of moisture on the adhering soil. During the dormant period, which the plant spends in a cool room, watering is reduced, but if the ripsalis hibernates in its usual place, then the irrigation regime should remain normal, especially since in winter heating devices that dry out the air work intensively. The principle of determining the need for soil moisture remains the same in winter: between waterings, the substrate in the pot should dry out to a third of the depth. For irrigation, use water that has been settled for two days or filtered tap water at room temperature. We remind you that both excessive and insufficient watering negatively affect the health of any plant, including succulent ones.
In the natural habitats of Ripsalis, the atmosphere is saturated with the smallest particles of moisture, therefore, home Ripsalis also needs high humidity. How to create conditions for a plant that are as close to natural as possible? You can use a mains-powered household humidifier, but not all plants and dwellers will benefit from this. You can place a pot of ripsalis on a wide pallet with wet pebbles or expanded clay. Or several times a week to humidify the air in the room from a spray bottle. Or sometimes give Ripsalis a warm shower.
Indoor flower Ripsalis during the period of active growth and development - from March to October - needs fertilization. Top dressing in the form of liquid mineral complexes for cacti and succulents should be applied once every two weeks. If there are no special fertilizers, flower dressings are also suitable, but their dosage should be half as much as indicated in the instructions. You need to be especially careful about the amount of nitrogen introduced, the excess of which can have a bad effect on the state of the ripsalis. From October to March, if the plant is resting in a cool room, it is not fed.
Young ripsalis are transplanted annually, matured - once every three years, and mature - once every 4-5 years. The root system of these cacti is very fragile and is located in the soil close to the surface, therefore, for its cultivation, shallow and wide containers are used, and the plant is transplanted by the transshipment method while maintaining an earthen coma on the roots. First, a quarter-volume pot must be filled with expanded clay so that water does not stagnate in the roots of the plant. After that, ripsalis is transferred into the pot and the remaining space is filled with a previously prepared neutral or slightly acidic substrate, consisting of equal parts of coarse river sand, peat, leaf and sod land. You can make a substrate from four parts of sod land, two parts of leaf and one part of sand. To disinfect the soil and prevent root rotting, add pieces of charcoal to the soil mixture.
Ripsalis usually blooms in late winter or early spring. But sometimes flower growers languish in vain in anticipation: for some reason the plant does not want to bloom. Check if all the conditions for growing the cactus are met, if there is enough light and nutrition for it, if you water it too often. There are times when ripsalis sheds already formed buds. Such "demarches" happen due to the drying out of the earthen coma, decay of the roots, or if you moved the pot with the plant to another place.
Ripsalis propagates by seed, dividing the bush and cuttings. Break off (it is better to break off, not cut off) a part of the not too young, but not old shoot and dry it slightly. Do I need to put the cuttings of Ripsalis in water so that they grow roots, as is the case with some plants? No need: stick the cuttings directly into loose, moist soil, consisting of equal parts of river sand and peat, and at a temperature of 23-25 ºC they will quickly root. To create a greenhouse effect, you can cover the cuttings with a transparent cap, but do not forget to ventilate the cuttings daily and remove condensation from the film as it appears.
You can divide the ripsalis bush when transplanting. Try to do this with the utmost care as the roots of these plants are brittle. Plant the delenki in pre-prepared pots with a drainage layer and a substrate of the composition we have described, and do not forget to water. Keep plants away from sunlight at first.
Ripsalis is rarely propagated generatively, but if you have a desire to get ripsalis from seeds, sow them and keep the substrate in a slightly moist state while waiting for shoots. Ripsalis seeds germinate together. When the seedlings grow up and get stronger, they are dived in separate pots and grown at a temperature of 23-25 ºC.
Ripsalis chlorosis can become a real problem, in which the leaves turn yellow, decrease in size and crumble prematurely, their veins remain green, and the flowers and buds of the cactus are deformed. The root system of Ripsalis, as a result of the development of chlorosis, also suffers and may even die. In order to prevent the development of the disease, it is necessary to provide the plant with sufficient lighting and select a substrate for the required acidity level - pH 5.0-5.5. Sometimes the cause of chlorosis is tap water, the pH of which can reach 7 units. In such cases, the soil in the pot is watered from time to time with a solution of a small amount of citric acid in a liter of water. This liquid should taste slightly sour. In addition, it is necessary to feed Ripsalis with iron in a chelated form, in which the element is more easily absorbed by the plant. Top dressing is not applied to the soil, but ripsalis is processed on the leaves.
In the photo: Ripsalis flowering at home
Of the pests, the danger for the home cactus is the scale insects and red flat spider mites.
In the fight against scale insects, the treatment of ripsalis with an insecticide is the last stage. First, you need to remove adults from the plant with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or soapy water: the scale is covered with a strong shell that protects it and the eggs laid by it from any poisons, so it will be necessary to mechanically remove adult pests from the cactus. After removing the imago, wash the ripsalis in the shower, let it dry, and only then treat it with an insecticide solution - Actellik, Aktara, Fitoverm or another preparation of a similar action. If insects have multiplied, tune in for a long battle in several stages.
Spider mites occupy plants in conditions of very low air humidity, which is contraindicated in Ripsalis. If you follow the rules for growing this plant, then spider mites will not appear on it, but if they are found, immediately create a humid environment around the ripsalis: wash it with warm water, and then spray air around it daily. In such conditions, ticks will not be able to live. But if you missed the moment the pests appeared, and they managed to reproduce several generations, you will have to resort to treating the ripsalis with acaricides, the best of which can be considered Actellik, Aktaru, Sunmayt, Apollo and Kleschevit.
Or ripsalis cereus, or candle ripsalis - the most widespread species in room culture, forming a dense three-dimensional lace from thin and short shoots of the second order growing in all directions. The main shoots of Ripsalis are arched and long. This species blooms with white flowers up to 2 cm in diameter, but at home flowering happens very rarely and is scarce even when optimal conditions are created.
Photo: Rhipsalis cereuscula
It differs from the above-described species in more rigid, powerful and less branching shoots, pubescent with yellowish hairs. In favorable conditions on this cactus up to three times a year, fragrant yellowish-white and fluffy flowers with a diameter of about 25 mm are revealed due to the abundance of petals and stamens. If the flowers of the plant are pollinated, then soon it will be possible to see bright crimson spherical fruits, which serve as no less decoration of the ripsalis than the flowers.
Photo: Rhipsalis pilocarpa
Or thick-winged ripsalis - the most famous representative of the Ripsalis group with leafy shoots. In this species, shoots are especially large, sometimes palm-wide, shiny, with a scalloped edge, dark green with a red tint. Yellowish flowers up to one and a half centimeters in diameter with numerous stamens open at the edges of the leaves.
Photo: Rhipsalis pachyptera
Ampelous epiphyte with very thin, soft, branching light green stems forming a lush flowing bush. The length of the stems can reach 120 cm. Sometimes the hairy ripsalis is covered with small whitish flowers. This ripsalis is especially decorative in adulthood.
In the photo: Rhipsalis capilliformis
Or Ripsalis barren - a species with thin hanging stems up to 3 m long, consisting of segments, each of which reaches a length of 3 to 55 cm. This type of Ripsalis blooms with small flowers, and its ripe fruits are similar to gooseberry berries.
Photo: Rhipsalis cassutha
Epiphytic succulent with primary stems up to 60 cm long and terminal shoots up to 6 cm in length with a diameter of not more than 2 mm.
In the photo: Rhipsalis burchellii
Plant with primary stems up to 1 m long and 5 mm in diameter and shorter secondary segments. The flowers of this species are small, pinkish.
Succulent plant with dense, hanging shoots of elongated flat segments, each of which is decorated with small creamy flowers. When the plant is not in bloom, it looks very much like a Schlumberger.
In the photo: Curly Rhipsalis (Rhipsalis crispata)
View with elongated shoots, consisting of long sections. The total length of the stems is about one and a half meters, and the length of each segment is about 10 cm. Small pubescent flowers are formed on the lateral edges of each segment.
In the photo: Rhipsalis elliptica
A large plant with round and long shoots, woody with age. The plant blooms with small white flowers that form along the entire length of the shoot. After pollination on the ripsalis, fruits are formed in the form of white balls.
In the photo: Rhipsalis floccosa
Ampel plant with shoots from large segments, resembling the shape of oak leaves.
In the photo: Rhipsalis oblonga
A plant with unusual bright pink berries that cover the entire length of the ripsalis shoots.
View with strongly branching rod-shaped stems, round in cross section and consisting of short segments. Large white flowers form only at the ends of the stems.
In the photo: Rhipsalis clavata
Or ripsalis paradox looks beautiful and very unusual: its high ribs are divided into segments that alternate with flat intervals.
Photo: Rhipsalis strange (Rhipsalis paradoxa)
One of the most attractive plants of the genus: its short shoots of the second order sit very tightly on the main shoots, like needles sit on a Christmas tree branch. In winter, between the secondary shoots, you can see star-shaped snow-white flowers up to one and a half centimeters in diameter.
Photo: Rhipsalis mesembryanthemoides
A plant with hanging stems, cylindrical in cross section, up to half a meter long with a diameter of not more than 5 mm, at the tops of which from five to twelve short segments are formed, arranged whorled. The flowers of the plant are small, up to 1 cm in diameter, yellowish-white.
Photo: Rhipsalis teres
As for such a popular plant in culture as Ripsalis ramulose, it is a pseudoripsalis, or a plant called "red mistletoe cactus", which belongs to another genus of the same family.
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The homeland of the Hatiora cactus is Brazil, or rather, its rainforests. According to data taken from various sources, this genus unites 5-10 species, and only some of them are cultivated at home. Some taxonomists believe that this plant is part of the Ripsalis genus. At first, this genus was named "Chariota" in honor of the famous traveler and mathematician from England - Thomas Harriot, who was one of the first explorers of American nature. However, after some time, experts realized that a completely different plant had already been named hariota, then they had to replace the name of this flower with an anagram: hariota - hatiora.
This decorative-leaved houseplant is unpretentious, durable, easily propagates - but only if there is a suitable microclimate.
So, in winter, selaginella is kept at a temperature of 14-16 C, in summer, a shaded place is needed, a lot of fresh and at the same time humid (60-80%) air.
The leaves are regularly sprayed, being careful not to flood them.
Grows well on northern windows. Even better - in a mini-greenhouse, because it does not like direct sunlight and is defenseless against drafts.
For watering and spraying, it is recommended to use soft settled or filtered water at room temperature. Selaginella is sensitive to water quality, which manifests itself on its stems in the form of spots, plaque and other "allergic reactions".
Water carefully, in moderation, but overdrying should not be allowed. In addition to daily water procedures, it is advisable to use either a humidifier or a decorative fountain - or try to limit yourself to a pallet with expanded clay.
Selaginella should be fed 2-3 times a month (except for the winter period) with complex mineral fertilizers. Selaginella is very susceptible to salts accumulating in the substrate, so they are fertilized only with a weakly concentrated solution.
In general, the indoor selaginella species are just mimosas compared to their wild ancestors.
As it grows, the roots of selaginella fill the entire volume of the pot, so the plant needs to be transplanted about once a year. The best time for transplanting is spring, but selaginella can also be transplanted in the summer-autumn period.
The root system of the plant is shallow, accordingly, the containers must be chosen small, but at the same time wide. Ceramic flat pots, planters, volumetric glass vessels, and bonsai are recommended.
The soil with which the pots are filled should be loose and moisture-absorbing. It is desirable that it consists of equal parts of fibrous peat and leafy soil, as well as sand. You can use a ready-made substrate for saintpaulias, begonias. A prerequisite is the presence of 2-3 cm of drainage material (expanded clay, broken brick, sand or pebbles) at the bottom of the container.
It is carried out in three ways:
Since most Selaginella species form side shoots, they can be easily and simply rooted by cutting them off from the main bush and directing them into moist soil (peat is best).
Cuttings can be covered with a glass cover and aired daily for 20 minutes, spraying with a spray bottle. After two weeks, after the formation of the roots, the branches can be planted in separate containers.
You will need peat pots for planting. The bush is separated from the roots, the rhizome with shoots is divided into parts and planted in several pieces in one container. The soil in the pots should be well moistened, and then it is necessary to control so that the soil remains moist.
During the first week, the pots are covered with cellophane. The temperature in the room during this period is maintained at around 20 C. The first shoots will appear a month later. The procedure is recommended in the spring.
Sometimes professionals use spores located on the lower surface of the leaves, while a box of peat is prepared in advance. Spores scatter over the surface of the soil. The box is covered with plastic wrap and the seedlings are waited for.
Selaginella is accustomed to periodic flooding of the soil, so it rarely suffers from root rot. Parasites also almost never attack the plant (in rare cases, spider mites, aphids, powdery mildew can settle). Still, you should avoid both strong waterlogging of the soil, and drying out of the soil and low humidity, so as not to weaken the plant.
With its appearance, Selaginella is able to signal improper care:
Rhipsalis are unpretentious to the conditions, but they cannot stand the direct sun, and placing them on the south window without protection is a big mistake. After all, the soft or bright green colors of the ripsalis will change to reddish tints, and the cactus itself will wither.
But on the other hand, ripsalis adapt perfectly to partial shade, in diffused lighting they do not even lose the ability to bloom abundantly. Eastern and Western window sills are preferred during the warmer months and moving to more illuminated places from mid-autumn.
For ripsalis, both in winter and in summer, ordinary room temperatures are considered best. They are thermophilic, do not tolerate a decrease in indicators to 15 degrees, but they are quite heat-resistant. The minimum temperatures that the ripsalis can bear is about 10 degrees. Cool wintering allows prolonged flowering.
Unlike many cacti, Ripsalis thrive on a balcony or garden in summer. If the ripsalis are exposed to fresh air, they need to select a shady place, protected from drafts. When kept in rooms, Ripsalis require regular, neat ventilation.
Let's find out what kind of care is suitable for an exotic Calamondin growing at home.
The plant in the warm season needs abundant moisture: during this period it is watered twice a day. Make sure that the soil gets wet evenly throughout the entire thickness of the earth layer. Most flower growers prefer to water this plant, albeit less often, but more abundantly.
It is important to ensure that the roots have uniform access to moisture during the procedure.
Closer to autumn, the frequency and volume of irrigation gradually begin to decrease. And the lower the room temperature drops, the less water the plant needs. In the cold season, it is recommended that after the top layer of the soil dries out, wait three days before carrying out the next watering. But the drying out of most or, even more so, of the entire earthen coma should not be allowed.
If the moisture is not enough for the flower, its foliage will wither, curl and fall off, flowers and fruit ovaries can also crumble. Waterlogging is fraught with putrefactive root diseases.
Spraying, if required, is only during the season of working batteries. Sometimes bathe the flower by placing it under a very warm shower (+ 45-55 degrees). The bathing procedure will moisturize the plant, and wash away dust, dirt, pest larvae from its leaves. Protect the ground for the time of shower procedures with polyethylene.
In this case, fertilizers are applied only during the growing season. It is best to use complex mineral supplements. Keep in mind that the plant needs nitrogen least of all, so the proportion of this mineral in the complex should be minimal. Calamondine needs potassium and phosphorus most of all.
The frequency of fertilization is twice a month. It is recommended to carry out top dressing simultaneously with the next watering, so that the minerals immediately dissolve and do not burn the roots.
If the plant blooms in autumn or winter, in this case it is necessary to feed it in the cold season. But it is recommended to apply fertilizers in winter and autumn once a month.
Calamondin needs to be pruned obligatory: the shoots grow back quickly enough. In addition, the flower easily tolerates the procedure. With proper pruning, the crown of the plant turns out to be of the correct spherical shape, thick, branched, covered with buds during the flowering period, and during the fruiting period - with bright tangerines.
You can make either a compact tree or a small bush from a plant. Both options are acceptable in indoor floriculture and looks beautiful. However, indoor trees take up less space.
A pruning procedure is carried out in the spring, if necessary, combining it with the next transplant. First, the sanitary part of the procedure is carried out, during which all old shoots, damaged, broken, growing in the wrong direction are cut out. Then the crown is formed, giving the plant a neat, well-groomed appearance. In the summer, you can also prune, but only individual branches that have grown too much.
Until the age of three, you need to transplant the flower annually. In the period of youth, its growth is especially rapid, therefore, the earthen lump is fully mastered in a year. In adulthood, they are transplanted less often - once every 2-3 years. It is best to transplant in the spring, when the plant begins an active growing season. The procedure is always carried out by the transshipment method in order to injure the roots as little as possible.
Unscheduled transplants are also carried out: usually, if root decay has begun, severe waterlogging has occurred, and stagnation in the soil has been discovered. In the case of some infectious and fungal diseases, the flower is also transplanted.