Selenicereus Species, Fishbone Orchid Cactus, Ric Rac Orchid Cactus

Selenicereus anthonyanus

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Selenicereus (sel-ee-nih-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: anthonyanus
Synonym:Cryptocereus anthonyanus
» View all varieties of Orchid Cactus


Cactus and Succulents


Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Foliage Color:




18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:



White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From woody stem cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gurley, Alabama

Tempe, Arizona

Bonsall, California

Eureka, California

Fontana, California

Hayward, California

Lakeside, California

Long Beach, California(2 reports)

Mission Viejo, California

San Diego, California(2 reports)

Seal Beach, California

Templeton, California

Bartow, Florida

Brooksville, Florida(2 reports)

Clearwater, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Dunnellon, Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Jensen Beach, Florida

Lake City, Florida(2 reports)

Mc Intosh, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida

North Port, Florida

Oakland, Florida

Ocala, Florida(2 reports)

Ocklawaha, Florida

Orlando, Florida(2 reports)

Port Charlotte, Florida

Punta Gorda, Florida

Safety Harbor, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida(2 reports)

Sarasota, Florida(2 reports)

Tampa, Florida

Titusville, Florida

Umatilla, Florida

Venice, Florida

Wellborn, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida(2 reports)

Winter Garden, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Covington, Georgia

Decatur, Georgia

Griffin, Georgia

Geneseo, Illinois

Barbourville, Kentucky

Bossier City, Louisiana

Deridder, Louisiana

Richmond, Maine

Canton, Mississippi

Ballwin, Missouri

Saint Louis, Missouri

Whiting, New Jersey

New York City, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Cleveland, Ohio

Lexington, South Carolina

North Charleston, South Carolina

Etowah, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Dallas, Texas

Deer Park, Texas

Houston, Texas(2 reports)

Lake Jackson, Texas

Plano, Texas(3 reports)

Port Bolivar, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spring, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Winnsboro, Texas

Kalama, Washington

Mukilteo, Washington

Saratoga, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 10, 2018, whodattalking from Seal Beach, CA wrote:

After planting one cutting 3 years ago I finally have buds. I attribute this to the use of a dry release fertilizer called Nutricote. It also goes by the name of Dynamite.I use it on my orchids and threw a handful on this rick-rack plant and it really grew a lot as well as set buds. I live in Seal Beach, CA and the plant is under 75% shadecloth in a rather hot location.


On Oct 21, 2017, AspiringDana from Palm Beach Gardens, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Seeking Fertilizer Advice!

I've had this plant for many years and it's never bloomed. It also grows long roots (reaching for?) from the beautiful stems.

I would love to coax this plant to bloom! I generally use Jack's (Peter's) 20-20-20 on all of my succulents and they love it (weakly/weekly or whenever possible), however that's not a blooming tonic!

Any advice other than light and water requirements already described in above comments would be greatly appreciated!


On Oct 9, 2016, JoGo from San Diego, CA wrote:

I found it interesting, yet mine rarely blooms. Some 30-35 years ago, I got a cutting in zip-code 92123 from a plant grown in full sun all day. I called it Zig-Zag plant and found out today that it really is called that plus other names. Mine got put on the covered west patio; later I moved and put it on the covered south patio. The original plant leaves were chartreuse yellow; with patio living and now under a tree, the leaves are medium to dark green. Thorns around the base of any blooms and in every leaf notch. 23 years ago, I moved to 92117 and took all my potted plants; it was the 2nd move for the potted Zig-Zag plant. It is now grouped under a twisted Juniper tree (with some night-blooming white starburst-flowered Epiphyllums and Aechmea fasciata bromeliads) where it gets most... read more


On Jan 15, 2016, azsilvia from Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

This succulent does better in my zone 9b winter than in our hot dry summers. Does not like to dry out. Loves bright shade and can get scorched in full sun. Interesting growth pattern. No pests detected. Looks great in a hanging basket or on a ledge if it is allowed to trail over the edge. If you want it upright you will need to stake it. Still waiting for some blooms.


On Feb 17, 2014, JeffSers from Lakeside, CA wrote:

Very good grower, but a shy bloomer. Blooming is said to be tricky but most people who know this plant well will say to keep it in a dark place for a while. I tried that this winter but it kept growing and the new stems etiolated so I brought it back outside as soon as the weather permitted it.

Great plant nonetheless if you enjoy the unusual stems like I do.

When outside, I keep this plant in partial shade with morning and late afternoon sun. I heard that extra light in the spring also induces blooms.

Cuttings can take up to a month or more to root, and even longer after that to throw new growths.


On Feb 15, 2014, Longhairguy from St Augustine, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

A shy bloomer!

I have several of these, and I learned something about them. They bloom heavily if they are exposed to no artificial daylight after dark. If kept indoors or too close to a porch light, they won't flower. In Florida I keep mine outdoors year round, and have total success. A light frost doesn't seem to harm them, but when a freeze comes I cover them with a tarp, which doesn't seem to interfere with the day/night cycle too much........ but bringing one indoors for more than a couple days will. Even placing one outdoors too close to a lit window will hinder them, and only the side facing away from the window into the darkness will bloom.


On Feb 5, 2014, Emmielou36 from Geneseo, IL wrote:

This plant is so old it can vote.. Never knew what it was for a plant, (meaning name) I got at a garage sale, many, many moons ago, I'm thinking for .50 cents.. WOW, it flowers.. This plant has never done that, it just grows.. It's been through a house fire, an it just keeps on growing.. It has been a trooper of a plant... not going to change anything with it now after all these years.. only wish it would bloom that would be an extra treat....


On Jan 5, 2014, WYGWEN from Saratoga, WY wrote:

WOW! Finally I know what I have. I have had it for more than 25 years. I received a piece of it in GA, just stuck it down in a pot of soil and it lived. Then brought it out to WY almost 15 years ago and it started to bloom. It sits near a sunny window most of the year and it gets a lot of abuse because I never knew how to take care of it. One tough plant! I have shared this plant with many friends and have never known anything about it until now. Thanx for the info :)


On Jan 12, 2013, rosietomato from Covington, GA wrote:

I picked this plant up 10 years ago from an estate sale. The woman who had this plant had it for a long while because it was HUGE. Got her Christmas Cactus as well. I put them both on my porch (south east exposure) in central Georgia and it did very well and the rick rack in fact BLOOMED! I did my best to completely ignore it. Read that, job had me traveling a lot so I was home only once a month and when I remembered I'd water it. Every December I would bring it in and put it in a south east window. And then....drum roll year a hard freeze snuck up on me and most of this 4 foot wide plant DIED. :( . I brought it in, cut off the yucky bits and low and behold, it came back. Then last year my new German Shepherd puppy knocked it over and dragged the pot from the porch to... read more


On Dec 31, 2012, Ed_the_Merlin from Ballwin, MO wrote:

I was thrilled to see this post. Pictures are out of this world. But no one said anything as to best soil or how to best plant it and especially how to get it to bloom. What fertilizer does it like.


On Aug 10, 2012, Cesca62 from Templeton, CA wrote:

I have a Ric Rac Cactus and the blooms are a lovely pale to golden yellow. The plant itself is nearly 4 feet across and is thriving.


On Feb 6, 2012, etperez from Falls Church, VA wrote:

I got this plant in 1994. My daughter was taking a class in HS (Plant Lab and brought it home. Has bloomed profusely maybe twice. In general, I get 2 or 3 blooms and that's that.
I grow it indoors, next to a sunny window (East). I'll try to fertilize at the end of winter ad see if it blooms again. Wen it is in flu bloom it's gorgeous, I live in No. Virginia.


On Jul 20, 2011, RxBenson from Pikesville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Well, it's been growing very well for about five years now and refuses to bloom. Indoors in sun room in winter at 62F. Outdoors in summer (Zone 6-7 coastal NJ) with intermittent sun/shade. Always damp -- and deluged when it rains. Long, branching leaves with a few nasty spines. I have a collection of flowering epiphytes but this one refuses to bloom along with the rest of them!
Can blooms be coaxed?


On May 10, 2011, tizhmslf wrote:

I kept this in my house for many years in a brightly-lit room. Recently, I placed it outside for a few days but it was deluged with heavy rain and low temps above freezing. Now all branches have turned brown and soft. Can I prune off the brown branches and save the plant? How can I propogate it with the few green shoots left?


On Apr 29, 2011, plantladylin from (Zone 1) wrote:

I purchased this plant from a grocery store many years ago because of the interesting zig zag stems. I had no idea what it was until someone here on Dave's Garden identified it for me and told me it was a night bloomer. I'm not fond of thorny plants but the fragrant blooms on this one make up for the sharp spines! I grow it in @ 90% orchid bark and 10% potting soil which makes for a chunky, fast draining mix.


On Mar 23, 2011, Rosa02 from Richards Bay,
South Africa wrote:

I have had this plant for more or less 18 years in extremely hot sub-tropical conditions. It flowers and multiplies like crazy. Very pest and disease resistant. Rough on the hands though - treat with care. A Fish-bone in full bloom is a beautiful sight to behold. I stay on the East Coast of South Africa, near the Mocambiquan border. Day temps around 36 with killer humidity factors.


On Mar 8, 2011, Toniconran from Punta Gorda, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant practically grows it self. I obtained it by accident. A tenant moved out and left it behind. I just learned today what it is called thanks to Dave Garden Forums.
Now I have learned the blooms are gorgeous and cannot wait to give it what it needs so it will produce for me. I love this plant but, I am having a little bit of difficultly figuring out what the bright orange coloring on its leaves means. It starts out as a beautiful bright orange and then turns the plant brown and mushy. I thought it might be a kind of fungus because I live on the water and I noticed a orange slim on their sea wall. It is not on my sea wall! The orange is not something that can be rubbed off. I have cut away the bad parts in hopes to get a handle on the problem. Any ideas what I need to do?


On Apr 14, 2009, mrao77 from Plano, TX wrote:

As a child growing up in India ,we had this huge plant of the ric rac cactus that climbed its way all over the side walls, over the roof and had reached over 45 feet tall! it started off as a cutting burrowed into a small patch of soil by the drain pipe!! After several years, it developed spines all over and was difficutl to handle. However, it never did bloom , not sure why!


On Dec 15, 2008, ronster1266 from Montrose, MI wrote:

I got a small cutting of this plant a few months ago and it grew to about 3ft so i cut it then repotted it and not have all new shoots comming off of it.


On Jul 25, 2006, ladybug70 from Ione, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Around 10 to 15 yrs. ago I obtained a ric rac cactus plant my stepmother rooted for me from cuttings from her plant. I had it for many years and I shared cuttings with several friends and was glad I did because one winter my plant got left outside during an unexpected frost and got totally killed back. Today I got cuttings back from one of the friends I gave some to so I'm anxious to get it rooted and growing once again. As long as I had my original plant it never did bloom and I didn't know that they ever did. From the picture of the bloom at your site it looks to me exactly like the bloom on my Night Blooming Cereus plant which when it blooms has a beautiful white flower and only lasts through one night.


On May 19, 2006, Two_and_a_cat from Titusville, FL wrote:

This is a truly wonderous plant! It grows up into our ornamental cherry tree. It intertwines through the branches. Where ever the thing hangs down (which is in a lot of places), the ends have formed buds. While the plant is smooth, the "ball" just behind the buds has little hair-like needles (they hurt!). The buds are big (4") and the flowers are huge (6"+) and the smell great. You can break off a piece, stick it in the ground, and it grows. Or, you can beak off a piece, put it in water for a week and it grows roots (and then you can give it away). Everyone who has seen it wants it. Unfortunately, squirrels think the flowers are candy and they eat the flowers as soon as they open (which, happens at dusk). It's a race to see who gets to them 1st- us or the squirrels! We live in T... read more


On May 2, 2004, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've had this plant in a hanging basket in my lathhouse for about 3 years. Very low maintenance here [27.0 n, 82.4 w].


On Feb 7, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This interesting epiphytic cactus doesnt even look like a real plant. Really, looks like something made that thing up and sold it everywhere.

Being epiphytic, it lives on trees, under light shade. The stems are flat, like an Epiphyllum, but with alternate projections on each side. The stems can grow up to 50 cm or more, always curved downwards. I never saw flowers of it, but I found pictures on Google showing gorgeous flowers with white, pink and red petals, ressembling me of an Epiphyllum. The ovarium below seems to be quite spiny. The rest of the plant doesnt have spines at all.

It needs a solid, organic support, like bark bits or fiber, to stabilish itself. It likes constant watering, dont let the medium dry. Plus, high temperatures and light shade will ... read more