Fishbone Cactus Care Infographic
Fishbone Cactus Care Infographic

Fishbone Cactus or the zig-zag cactus also called Selenicereus Anthonyanus is quite an interesting cactus species that is different from other common cactus varieties. Zig-zag cactus thrive in indirect light and humid conditions. It belongs to the Cactaceae family and derives its name from ‘anguliger’ from the deeply toothed stems as the term “Anguliger” means angle bearing. Read on to find out what it takes to care for this beautiful Selenicereus genus cactus species.

What Is Fishbone Cactus?

Fishbone Cactus or Disocactus angular is an ornamental cactus variety endemic to Mexico. Some of its other common names include the zig-zag cactus, the Rick Rack plant, Fishbone Orchid Cactus, and Saint Anthony’s Rik Rak.

Fishbone Cactus Care

Fishbone Cactus needs care similar to its cousin orchid. It is not too fussy and even if you are an absolute beginner, you can grow it. Unlike most other desert cacti, you do not have to worry about maintaining the desert-like conditions.

Wear gloves while handling this plant as it has fine hair that can cause skin irritation. Read on to find out more about this plant’s growth requirements.

WaterWater Requirements

When it comes to watering, you would want to keep these plants moister as compared to other cactus and succulents because they naturally come from a moist and humid environment.

Watering Routine for Cactus Plant


Belonging to the Cactus family, the Fishbone Cactus stores moisture in its stems and trunks. 

They do not want wet or soggy soil conditions because it causes root rot. Hence, check the soil every time before watering by inserting your finger into the soil to determine whether it needs water or not.

Generally, watering once every seven to ten days works well for its growth. 

A little more frequent watering may be required to keep the plant happy during the summer months.

TemperatureTemperature Requirments

If your plant receives more light and sits in high temperatures, you will have to water more frequently because the plant will dry out faster.

Temperature Care for Fishbone Cactus


Keep a close eye on the other factors that are at play in determining your plant’s health and water accordingly

LightLight Requirements

Fishbone Cactus prefers bright dappled light to grow well. It grows well in bright sunlight too but extended exposure to the harsh sun can cause burns and may even kill the plant. 

Ideal Lighting for Fishbone Plant


Do not forget to bring your plant outdoors in early spring, since the plant initiates new growth during this time. However, if you are growing your cactus indoors with no direct sunlight, do not worry as it can grow just fine in indirect light.

Grow it in a south or west-facing window if you are growing it indoors in indirect light. If your plant is getting ready to bloom and has buds, which is usually around fall, you can increase the amount of light and water than usual. 

SoilSoil Mix

Use the regular cacti or succulent mix to grow the Fishbone Cactus. Furthermore, it means that the soil should be airy, coarse and low in nutrients.

If you want to prepare soil mix on your own, mix equal parts of the regular potting soil, sand, perlite, and compost. An ideal soil mix is the one that drains out the water as soon as you water it. 

Additionally, if you live in a dry area, add peat or coco coir to the soil mix as it helps in retaining moisture. Tweak the soil type according to the weather conditions in your area.

Choose either a hanging basket or a terracotta pot to grow the Fishbone Cactus as they prevent the plant from getting root rot by absorbing excess moisture.

TemperatureTemperature Requirements

Fishbone Cactus grows well in the temperature range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also tolerate lower temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit for shorter periods.

It prefers to grow in warm weather conditions with low rainfall and coarse soil. In the natural environment, it grows in dry weather and high temperatures.


Unlike most other cactus species, the Fishbone Cactus thrives in humid conditions. Due to of their epiphytic nature in the jungles, they are used to more humidity as compared to other succulents.

Humidity levels in the usual households work well enough for the Fishbone Cactus. Therefore, do not worry about keeping humidifiers or humidity trays around it to regulate the humidity levels.


Fertilize the Fishbone Cactus with a liquid cactus or orchid fertilizer in early spring or every month. You can skip fertilizing during the winter months as the plant does not show considerable new growth.

Suggested Fertilizer for Cactus Plant


Resume regular fertilization once the active growth phase begins from spring to summer. If you notice your plant starting to form buds, you can switch to a phosphorus-rich fishbone cactus fertilizer. It is important to avoid fertilizing the plant once the flowers are in bloom.

Repot Fishbone Cactus when the soil mix has decomposed and you need to replace it. If you notice a slight decline in the health of your plant, check the soil and determine if it needs to be changed.

Plant it in a pot just one size bigger than the previous one to avoid rot problems. Try to plant the cactus in a terracotta or clay pot instead of a plastic one as they are better at absorbing the excess moisture from the soil.

To repot the cactus, remove it from the old soil mix and remove its dead roots if any, remember to gently place it in a well-draining soil mix in the bigger pot. Keep it in a shaded spot away from direct sun for a few days until it gets acclimatized to the new environment.



Fishbone Cactus is one of the easiest cactus varieties to propagate. Any novice can do it by taking just a stem. 

If you plan to propagate the plant from cuttings, simply take a stem cutting and let it callous over for a few days before planting it in the soil. Keep the soil slightly moist at all times in a bright spot and you will have a new plant ready in a few weeks. 

Choose a pot that has many drainage holes at the bottom because otherwise if you water the plant in a pot with no drainage holes, it will suffer due to root rot.


Fishbone Cactus is relatively problem-free and does not face any major issues apart from some common issues that we will explain in detail below.

– Root Rot 

Root rot is a common problem in most cactus and succulent species. Fishbone cactus is no different and tends to suffer because of overwatering.

Root Rot in Cactus Plant


To prevent the problem, follow a watering schedule based on the plant requirements instead of following a fixed schedule. Do not overflow your pot with water but allow the roots to soak in the water properly.

– Dark Patches on the Leaves

Dark patches on the leaves form because of leaf burn caused by too much sunlight. Spot the leaf burns early and shift your cactus to a shadier spot away from direct sunlight, following this, cut the dead and brown leaves as they cannot grow back green again.

– Crispy, Discolored, and Limp Leaves

All of them are an indication of underwatering since too little water around the roots causes the leaves to lose their color and turn crispy.

Crispy Discolored and Limp Leaves


Make sure that whenever you water your cactus, the top inch of the soil is dry in between two waterings.

– Pests

Fishbone Cactus is prone to pests such as mealybugs and scale insects. These are sap-sucking pests that target the plant leaves, joints and stems. 

Spray your plant with neem oil regularly to avoid the growth of such pests. If the plant seems to be heavily infected, one way by which you can revive Fishbone Cactus is by using insecticidal spray or other chemical treatments.


Here are some frequently asked questions about Fishbone Cactus.

– How Big Does the Fishbone Cactus Grow?

Fishbone Cactus is a fast-growing epiphyte that requires compost with lots of humus and moisture in summers to grow well. The names Zig zag and Rick rack are because of the alternate or zig zag pattern of its stem structure along the spine. The stems resemble fish bones, which gives it the name Fishbone Cactus.

It has smooth green skin and long, arching and creeping stems, furthermore, the leaf-like branches can grow up to three feet long and up to six inches wide. The secondary succulent stems are eight to twelve inches long and one to two inches wide, as they have rectangular or slightly rounded lobes.

The long stems of the cactus are covered with serrated leaf nodes. This plant’s growth pattern is quite similar to that of an air plant and Staghorn fern. The stems grow vertically but as they grow heavy they start to fall.

– Does The Fishbone Cactus Bloom?

The Fishbone plant has thick, fleshy and glossy green foliage that makes the plant look great in a hanging basket

Fishbone cactus flower is a white or pale yellow shade and blooms at night exuding a sweet scent. The flowers bloom in late autumn and early winter. They are not long-lasting and last only for a day.

The outer petals are dark purple-violet with the inner stamens yellow and white pistil in the center. The blooms are about five inches long and six inches in diameter, however, to encourage blooming, keep the potting mix slightly dry and in the temperature range of 50 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Zig Zag Cactus grows aerial roots that attach themselves to the trees epiphytically and help the plant to grow upwards.

– Is the Fishbone Cactus toxic? 

The Zigzag plant is not toxic to pets. Moreover, you can keep it around them with no fear of getting allergic. 

– Does the Fishbone Cactus need regular feeding?

Fertilize your cactus every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer. It helps in keeping the plant healthy and encourages more blooms. 

– Should I mist the Fishbone Cactus?

Unlike the plants belonging to the Cactus family, Fishbone Cactus enjoys being misted. It thrives in humid conditions as an epiphyte. Therefore, you can mist the plant at regular intervals but do not overdo it. 


Fishbone Cactus is a unique cactus that is quite different from the other cactus species. Let us summarize all the important points you need to take into account before growing this beauty. 

  • Fishbone Cactus is a gorgeous epiphytic succulent native to Mexico.
  • It thrives on neglect with care similar to the basic care of succulents. Use an airy and well-draining soil mix so that water drains out as soon as you water it.
  • The water should easily drain out of the pot and water only when the soil has considerably dried up. 
  • Fertilize the plant once every month during the active growing period. Repot the cactus only in early spring or summer when either the plant has outgrown the container or the soil mix has started to decompose.
  • It can face problems such as root rot, crisping, discoloration of leaves and pest infestations.

Now that you know all about the gorgeous Orchid Cactus, it is time for you to add one of these to your houseplant collection.

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