🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Rattail Cactus - Disocactus flagelliformis

Every spring my Rattail Cactus has the most prolific, beautiful blooms. I bring it inside every winter, as it does not tolerate any frost and as soon as the temperatures warm up, I take it back to it's place on the patio where it only gets partial sun a few hours of the day and within a week or two, the flowers appear. 

Rat's Tail Cacti are very easy to grow, being suitable for a greenhouse and container, indoors or out. These plants need a minimum temperature of 6ºC (43ºF). They should be grown in bright, indirect light, in a fairly rich potting mix with good drainage. The best compost consists of four parts sandy loam, and one part of equal quantities of sand and crushed brick. They should be repotted every other year because their soil tends to sour. 

Mine is at the stage now where it desperately needs repotting, but I keep on putting it off, because trying to get in between those spiny tails to dig it out of the pot is a major operation! Those little spines seem to penetrate the hardiest of gloves!

This doesn't mean, however, that they'll need larger pots, just fresh soil. Once the plants are established, keep the compost moist from September to April (here in South Africa); less water is required from March to August, just enough to keep the stems from dying back. In the winter, old or discoloured stems may be cut out at the base to encourage new growth. Water abundantly in summer. 

The bright pink flowers, 1.5 inches long, 2.5 inches wide (4 by 6 cm), are produced along the stems in spring and summer and are sometimes followed by small red fruits. In the wild, they are pollinated by birds, but in cultivation, they generally need to be hand pollinated. 

A pen and ink sketch of my Rattail Cactus 



  1. What a beautiful plant! We have a plant here, with a very similar flower but flattened, succulent leaves.

    1. I've seen that flat variety Kathryn and have been thinking of getting one. Now that you've reminded me, I'll be on the look-out for one!

  2. A lovely plant and beautiful flowers Maree. I also have the one with flat leaves.....'n katstert in Afrikaans. Still waiting for the flowers to open!

    1. That's wonderful Liz, I'll get a piece from you next time I visit! My Rattail was also a tiny little piece given to me by a friend many years ago.

  3. "flat leaves" i think they mean Epiphyllum ;-)

    Thank you for youre writing and sharing information about this plant. I hope i have soon one myself with red flowers.


    1. How wonderful that you will have one soon Patrick, I'd love to see a red one! Thanks for stopping by, much appreciated!

  4. Do tell me please where I can get a plant? None of the nurseries I have contacted have stock.
    Helene Booysen



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