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Fishbone Cactus

Fishbone cactus are a fun and easy to grow houseplant. This epyphitic cactus is native to Mexico. While their botanical name is Disocactus angular -they are also commonly known as a zigzag plant, rickrack plant or an orchid cactus. Their dark green vegetation and unique leaf shape makes them stand out amongst houseplant collections. As an added bonus they are also pet friendly!

Water & Fertilizer Requirements

While the name 'cactus' often means that a plant requires little water, fishbone cactus do require regular watering like most other houseplants. Most fishbone cactus will need water every 10-14 days, however it is always best to check the soil prior to watering. Always allow the top couple of inches to dry out between waterings. Take care not to overwater your fishbone cactus as this can cause root rot which will result in mushy leaves and ultimately the demise of your plant if left soggy too long. Fertilize during the active growing months (April thru October) with a succulent or houseplant fertilizer. If you see flower buds starting to develop you an fertilize with a a tomato fertilizer as the high potassium content will encourage more prolific blooms.

Light Requirements

Fishbone cactus to best when growing in very bright, but indirect light - making an east facing window ideal. Nice wide zigzag leaves are a great indication that your cactus is enjoying enough sunlight. If your new growth is long and skinny without a prominent zigzag pattern (as shown on the right side of the photo) it means that your plant is not getting enough sunlight and is stretching to get more. If possible, move your plant from it's low light location to a brighter spot. It may be necessary to move it gradually if the change is drastic as moving it too quickly can cause the leaves to get a red "sunburnt" colour. They will recover in time, but this does add stress to the plant.

Common Problems

Healthy house plants are always less susceptible to pests, however even the healthiest of plants can get some unwanted visitors on their leaves from time to time. Keep an eye on Fishbone cactus for mealy bug which will appear as little white cotton puffs in the elbows of their zigzags. They can also be susceptible to scale and white fly, but not as commonly. Treat accordingly with an insecticidal soap as needed.


Fishbone cactus can bloom once they are approximately 3 years or more old. They will need very bright growing conditions to produce flowers and need to be kept a bit on the dry side. The flowers last only a day or two but smell amazing! Blooms will come out from between the little zigzags vs on the end of the leaves.

As with most houseplants it will do best if kept away from heat registers and drafts. Fishbone cactus prefer to be cozy in their pots, so don't rush to upsize them.... and when they are upsized make sure only increase the pot size slightly. Fishbone cactus can be a beautiful and unique addition to any houseplant collection and thrive with bright light and minimal care.


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