Disocactus flagelliformis

Rat Tail Cactus
"An easy hanging basket plant"

The rat's tail cactus is a plant that is fairly easy to care for and maintain, which enjoys it's matured life being housed within a hanging basket or container.

These have very distinct stems that hang down similar to a mop upside down or huge dreadlocks, (sorry, it's just how I see them) which bloom beautiful tubular shaped flowers along these stems.


This cacti is an epiphytic plant which means within it's natural habitat it grows on another plant (tree), for support.

How they look: As mentioned above the Rat's tail grows stems up to a few feet long, that hang and display brownish colored spines, which can be a bit sharp (do take care when handling). These stems are approximately 0.5 in/12.7mm --- 1 in/25.4mm thick. The flowers are a very attractive (2in - 4in / 5cm - 10cm wide) pink tubular type that usually bloom within spring for up to 5 days. These flowers will grow from any part of the stem and you can expect plenty of them. Overall, I would say some look more attractive than others, depending on how they grow. They attract growers that love their cacti and/or like quite unusual looking plants.

Growing and care: Similar to many other cacti plants they are very easy to grow indoors and outside (as long at the temperature is correct outside - see below), within a container or hanging basket - once they mature.


Origin: Mexico.
Names: Rat's Tail (common). Aporocactus Flagelliformis or Disocactus flagelliformis (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Stems can grow a few feet long.
Poisonous for pets: Not known.

Rat's tail cactus flowering

Displayed at the Plant Nursery

Disocactus Flagelliformis Displayed at the Plant Nursery

Rat Tail Cactus Care

Temperature: Temperatures averaging 50°F/10°C - 75°F/23.8°C are ideal but not below 40°F/5°C and avoid frost.
Light: The rat tail cactus thrives on bright light, but not direct sunlight. It also enjoys the warmth of the summer sun while it sits within a shaded area. Some sunlight and shade is great.
Watering: It's advisable to water this plant frequently within the summer and much less winter time. Add water at the top of the pot or container and allow it to seep through to the drainage holes, then remove the excess water from the pot tray. Keeping the soil slightly moist is also advisable within the summer.
Soil: A pot mixture used for cactus plants will suffice.
Re-Potting: Re-potting every 2 -3 years is advised and when it becomes pot bound. Remember the spines can be prickly so you may want to wear protective gloves while re-potting.
Humidity: Humidity does not seem to be a major concern for the Disocactus flagelliformis, making the average indoor environment fine - as it is.
Propagation: These are propagated by stem cuttings early summer. When they are cut - you will find - letting them dry for a few days helps the process, because the wounds can heal.

Note: The above caring advice is guidelines to use, however, this cacti is a hardy type that will survive worse condition’s than advised - but may not grow and flower as well.

More cactus plants grown indoors - can be found here »

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