The Fishbone Cactus Is the Unusual Plant Popping Up in Your Instagram Feed

Freddy the Fishbone Cactus

Taylor Fuller

If you're plant person, chances are you've been seeing a peculiar-looking plant in your Instagram feed lately. It's probably the fishbone cactus. With its signature long, zigzag leaves that randomly splay about, it's one of those plants that stand out from the rest. And if it blooms, it is a thing to behold. Here's everything you need to know about the fishbone cactus, including how to take care of it and what to expect if it flowers.

What Is a Fishbone Cactus?

Whether you know it as a fishbone cactus, ric rac cactus, or its botanical name Epiphyllum anguliger, this cactus gets its names from the flat zig-zag shape of its leaves that actually resemble a fishbone.

I've had mine for nearly two years, and Freddy is doing very well.

How I Care My Fishbone Cactus

Fishbone cacti are generally low-maintenance plants that anyone can care for, even without a green thumb. They like humidity, filtered bright light, and to dry out between waterings. Here is how I care for mine.

Location: I keep my fishbone cactus in a bathroom, where it gets nice and humid. It sits on top of my hot water heater.

Light: My fishbone cactus sits in front of a big window that is covered with a white curtain, so the plant gets filtered light. Note that fishbone cacti generally thrive in indirect sunlight but can also handle a few hours of direct light.

Soil: They do really well in either an orchid substrate or cactus mix—basically something well draining. 

Water: I allow my plant to dry out completely between waterings. In terms of frequency, that works out to about twice a month.

Fertilizing: In the growing season I fertilize it once a month.

How to Propagate a Fishbone Cactus

I'm a firm believer that propagating plants is the best way to grow your collection. The fishbone cactus is easy to propagate. All you need is a piece of the stem. Snip it away and let it dry out and callous over so it doesn’t rot when you stick it in either soil or water. If you decide to plant it directly in soil, make sure to keep the soil moist so your fishbone cactus will grow healthy roots.

When a Fishbone Cactus Flowers

Taylor Fuller's fishbone cactus bloomed with a white and yellow flower

Taylor Fuller

I think that every plant parent can pick out a handful of moments that made them feel like they were doing something right. For me, that moment was when I discovered that my mature fishbone cactus was blooming—something that doesn’t happen often when grown indoors.

It happens overnight. All of a sudden this amazing sweet aroma fills the room. The beautiful white and yellowish bloom slowly opens (mine took about three days to completely open), and it fully blooms at night. The next morning mine had already wilted.

A closeup picture of Taylor Fuller's fishbone cactus in bloom

Taylor Fuller

Even if you don’t have a mature fishbone cactus and it doesn’t grow any flowers, these are some of the funnest plants around. It’s no wonder that they are getting so popular.