Ric Rac Cactus (Cryptocereus Anthonyanus)| Succulent Care Guide

Ric Rac or fish bone cactus is a succulent native to Mexico. It usually forms a dense clusters in the top which cascade dramatically generating a magnificent display. Other than Ric Rac and fishbone cactus, they are also called Zig Zag cactus. 

Cryptocereus anthonyanus is the scientific name of the Ric Rac plant. Ric Rac includes the cactus family which blooms in the night.  You could call it an epiphyte as it grows on another plant.

The Orchid plant  is a cousin of Ric Rac and requires the same growing conditions. Ric Rac cactus blossom with pink flowers in the night and those flowers last only one day.

You could call it a  fishbone cactus due to the pattern of their leaves formation. It in fact looks like a fish skeleton. You could start growing Ric Racs even if you are new to gardening. 

How do I identify a Ric Rac cactus?

Let me explain to you how I identify Rick Rack cactus. First I look at its stem. If the stem grows up in a zigzag way it definitely is a Ric Rac cactus.  Then you can look at its sze and they would be one foot in length. They could further cascade from the containers too.

Ric Rac succulent

How to care Ric Rac Cactus

Botanical NameCryptocereus anthonyanus
Common NameFishbone cactus, Zig Zag cactus
Plant TypeCactus
Mature SizeHeight will be 3-6 inch and the width could be 16-20 inch
Sun ExposureBright sunlight / indirect
Soil TypePorous soil
Soil pH6.1 to 6.5
Bloom TimeMarch or April
Flower Colorpink, yellow, white colors
Hardiness ZonesUSDA Cold Hardiness zones 10B,11,12  
Native AreaIn Mexico
ToxicityNon Toxic to pets / Humans

  Average price          19 USD


Once it reaches its mature size, height can be in the range of 3-6 inch. On the other hand,  the width could be 16-20 inch’.


It is famous for its fast growth .

Light Requirement 

Ric Racs are usually adaptable plants. That means they can easily adapt to different light conditions. It would prefer to have bright sunlight. Having said that, it could survive in slightly less light too. 

In case, it runs short of sunlight, the growth will be less and chances are that they get taller and stretch towards the direction where they get sunlight.

If you are growing this indoors,it is wise to place it near a  window. Providing sufficient light is necessary for the blossoming of Ric racs. It would be a little difficult when you are growing them indoors.

Further if you expose them to direct bright sunlight, as a result of it  they could get sunburns.  When you provide the adequate amount of sunlight, you could spot a dark green growth with edges in red. 

Temperature and humidity

When this is in its active cycle, make sure that we grow them  at a  temperature of 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. ( 16-24 degrees Celsius ). Once it is in its relaxing time,it should ideally get a  temperature of 60  – 65 degrees Fahrenheit. (16-18 degrees Celsius ). 

Besides that temperature, in night it should be ideally 40 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit( 4-12 degrees Celsius )

Further When it comes to humidity, these plants could withstand normal humidity during the spring, summer, and fall. However, ensure that you reduce the humidity during the winter season.  You could utilize a dehumidifier for this purpose 

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Rick Rac

Is it cold hardy

They are not cold hardy. Ensure that you bring the plants inside during wintertime if you have grown them outside. They simply cannot bear the cool temperature.They won’t withstand the freezing temperature. 


They would love to grow in USDA Cold Hardiness zones 10B,11,12  

Watering Requirement 

Just as with other cacti, you must be more vigilant when you water these plants. Moreover, It would do better if we can water them once, when its top inch of the soil is dry.

Just as with other succulents, with cacti we should avoid overwatering.Chances are that the plant could rot , if you leave the soil in wet conditions for a  longer period 

Soil Requirement Type / pH

You should  provide a good soil mixture while adding 3 parts potting soil to 1 part pumice, bark chips or perlite. Instead of Perlite you could use pumice depending on your wish. Soil plays an important role in maintaining the moisture of the soil. 

However, you should never let the soil withers completely. Having said that, it is also important to keep the 1/3 inch of the soil dry between watering sessions. The best suitable pH could be 6.1 to 6.5 .

Alternatively you could use a  mix designed exclusively for cacti.

Flowering and Fragrance

One of the things I love about Ric Rac is its  bloom. You could see them bloom once they matured.in fact we  could see them blooming when they are at least three years old.

Moreover, those flowers  could last only for a shorter time. It could be just a few days and could be even short as one day. Further, when they are rootbound, chances are high in flower blossoming.

Once they bloom, you can see their flowers in pink, yellow, white colors. They could be sweetly fragrant too.They also look like orchids. Further, They would bloom in March or in  April. Moreover, flowering would take place during night time.

Rick rac flower

Unfortunately, chances of flower blossoming of indoor grown Ric Racs are very low.

Ensure that you keep your potting mix on the dry side and the container in a dryer place specially during winter. That will stimulate the flowering of the plant.

Pot size Potting and Repotting

When it comes to repotting , ensure that you get a bigger pot than before. You might want to repot it when the plant has outgrown the pot and when it requires more space. 

Furthermore, if you spot the roots have tangled up inside and in case they have grown out from the drainage holes on the base, you need to proceed with repotting.

Further , if you haven’t repotted your plant for a few years,you should do repotting. As by that time, soil would have lost all its nutrients and it would need a fresh soil mix. 

You should do the Repotting only in spring or in summer.

Where to Plant 

You could grow this as a hanging plant as its trailing stems would grace the location where you have grown them. When growing in a basket or in an unglazed pot, keep in mind to not let it get wet. 

They will perfectly match for a hanging basket, tabletop display or terrarium installation also. 

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They could come handy for your  heated greenhouse plant collection too.

ric rac 5 1

Fertilizer and time of year

When you think of fertilizing the Ric Racs in the winter season, you should do so only once a month. Further when you do that,  ensure that the soil is dry  than in the normal time. 

You could use  a liquid fertilizer which you use for Orchids. You could fertilize once a week in spring and in summer.


Like most of the other succulents Ric Racs are winter dormant. 

Other plants Pairs Well With

It could go well with Orchids.

Can be toxic to pets

They are not not toxic for pets.

One more reason to  become this as a great house plant is that it is not harmful for pets such as dogs and cats. Hence, You can  be relaxed even if they stay closer to your plant. 

Handling the plant

Bear in mind to wear gloves when you do stuff with the plant. The reason for that is , it has tiny fine hairs and they could strike in skin and can lead to discomfort. Hence be careful when you handle them  

Common bugs and  Illness Issues

Ric Rac cacti are tolerant of pests if you give them  proper care and if you keep them  healthy. They could survive pest invasions if we give them  fertilizers in spring and in summer.

Further a low level of humidity, water related issues, dry conditions could also cause bugs and illness issues.

Mealybugs could become annoying invaders for Ric Ra crevices of the stem sometimes. As such, keep inspecting your cacti daily so that you could identify if there are fluffy white substances . If you spot any, of that means Mealybug has attacked your plant. 

If  you could identify the bug attack early,  you can simply wipe it off with a cotton swab coated in rubbing alcohol.

Besides that, if your plant was suffering from under watering or if you have exposed it to direct bright sunlight , consequently, pests like spider mite and scale could invade your plant. 

Special Care tips

Ric Racs prefer moisture. Hence you could keep a water tray at the bottom so that the soil will be moist. Let them get sufficient sunlight , but make sure they get it indirect and not  direct light though.. You could use equipment like humidifiers to maintain the right level of humidity. 

Try to use a soil mix which stores moisture in it. Further, ensure that you trim the older Ric Rac cactus unless chances are that the leaves could get longer. Wear your gloves before doing this as the thorns could cause you discomfort.  

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How do you propagate a Ric Rac cactus? 

ric rac 6 1

Propagating a Ric Rac cactus is  an easy process. Just like with other succulents, You could simply use a stem cutting for this purpose. You could conduct this in soil as well as in water.

In other words, if you do the propagation  in soil, first of all you should cut a  piece of stem which is healthy. It should be a few inches long too. Ensure that you have  withered the cut edge  for about two days. Then place them in the soil. Soil should be ideally either peat based soil or succulent soil. You should water them weekly. Once you see your plant’s soil is dry, provide it with adequate indirect bright sunlight. Later on, you will see how the new roots have emerged and a new plant has come out. 

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If we elaborate more on the propagation through water, follow the same steps and trim a piece of a stem. It should be a few inches log. After that  put it in a jar. Here, you have to make sure that you have placed only the base of the stem in the water. Keep in mind to not submerge the cuttings. Keep inspecting the cuttings for some time.  Continue replenishing water.

When you see the new roots have formed and they are about one inch in length go ahead and plant them in a succulent soil or peat soil

Ric Rac cactus plant benefits

This could be a great pick for a house plant. it will add so much grace to your home landscape due to its trailing stem. Further we could use it to grow in heated greenhouse plant collection too.

You could  use this plant in terrarium installation as well.

ric rac cactus


Is Ric Rac cactus an indoor plant?

You could grow Ric rac as an indoor plant. Ideally in a basket due to its trailing stem. However when you grow this indoor, ensure that it gets bright indirect sunlight so that it could grow well to its full potential. 

When you grow them indoors, ensure that you place them by a window so that it can get the adequate sunlight.

Is Ric Rac cactus toxic?

It is not harmful for pets such as dogs and cats. You can  stay relaxed even if they stay closer to your plant as they are  non toxic plants for pets as well as for humans.

Do Ric Rac cactus need direct sunlight?

They do not need to have direct sunlight. They  would prefer to have bright sunlight, but indirect though. Having said that it could survive in slightly less light also. In case it runs short of sunlight, the growth will be less  and consequently,  they get taller and stretch towards the direction where they get sunlight.

If you are growing this indoor, make sure that you place it near a window. You need to provide sufficient light as it is necessary for the blossoming of Ric Racs. It would be a little difficult when you are growing them indoors.

Further if you expose them for direct bright sunlight, consequently they could get sunburns.  When you provide the adequate amount of sunlight, you could spot  a dark green growth with edges in red in the plant.

Can Ric Rac cactus be rooted in water?

You could let the Ric rac root in water. You could do it  in soil too. It will take a few weeks to root in water.. When you see your roots are about one inch in length, you can proceed with planting them in your posting mix.

Should I mist my Ric Rac cactus?

You do not need to mist these plants. When we consider misting the Ric Racs, it is somewhat different. Certain people  mist the Ric rac in order to make suitable humid conditions for the cactus. However, you should not do misting on Ric Racs. Misting and direct bright sunlight could harm the leaves of the Ric Racs.

Best thing to do i to  keep the soil moist . You could use a water tray below the cactus for this purpose. However if you have grown them  indoors, you could do misting as long as we maintain the right level of sunlight.

Credit to : Bangla Bazaar
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About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.