Caring For Dancing Bones Cactus


Dancing Bones Cactus care

The Hatiora salicornioides ( Dancing Bones Cactus)  is a unique, decorative houseplant that comes from South America.

It’s an epiphytic cactus-like Rhipsalis, which means it can grow on other plants.

Common names for Hatiora salicornioides include:

  • Dancing Bones Cactus
  • Drunkard’s Dream
  • Spice Cactus
  • Bottle Cactus

Plants produce an interesting display of contorted stems. The salicornioides variety is often called dancing bones cactus or drunkard’s dream.

Hatiora bambusoides - Drunkard's Dream

The distinct foliage makes the spice cactus a great choice for adding more interest to a window or an existing cactus garden.

It’s not the hardest plant to grow, but there are a few care tips to follow.

Caring For Hatiora Salicornioides

Size and Growth

Hatiora can reach up to 20″ inches in height. It’s a compact, bushy little plant.

The contorted foliage resemble coral, as they branch out in several jointed stems.

The foliage is deep green in color.

The growth is also succulent, helping to retain moisture that it obtains through dew and rain, instead of soaking the water from the roots.

Flowering and Fragrance

The flowers may appear at any time during the spring, from March to May. They grow from the tips of the shoots.

The small yellow flowers have no scent and aren’t very showy. They just add a splash of color to the tips of the bushy plant.

Light and Temperature

Outdoor growth isn’t recommended outside of USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10.

The dry southwest, including parts of California, provide bright morning and evening light.

Otherwise, it should be grown indoors in a pot or cactus garden.

The Hatiora grows well at regular room temperature. While the plant likes indirect light and shouldn’t receive direct sunlight when grown indoors.

To encourage Hatiora salicornioides to flower the following spring, keep it in cooler conditions during the winter.

In December and January, avoid letting the room reach about 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

To maintain this temperature, the plant may need to be placed in a covered porch or outdoor greenhouse.

If kept at normal room temperature throughout the winter, the plant won’t die, but it may not flower.

Watering and Feeding

Water the plant regularly throughout the year, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering. The plant doesn’t need as much water in

December and January

Fertilizer may be used throughout the year, except during the coldest part of the winter.

Use liquid fertilizer added to the water to feed the plant during watering.

For best results, feed the plant every two to three weeks during the early part of spring and then once per month during the summer.

Soil and Transplanting

The best soil for Hatiora salicornioides is a combination of sand, loam, and peat. The commercial cactus mix is also suitable. It needs to provide optimal drainage to prevent mold growth.

Transplant younger plants every year just before the start of spring.

Older plants may only need repotting every two to three years.

To encourage large growth, always transplant the plant to a larger pot.

Maintenance and Grooming

Grooming shouldn’t be needed, as the plant typically only reaches about 20″ inches. If this is too large, it can be trimmed back in the spring.

The cuttings can also be saved for propagation.

How to Propagate Hatiora Salicornioides Succulents, aka Dancing Bones Cactus

Propagating dancing bones cactus is easy using cuttings.

Take the cuttings toward the end of spring.

After taking the cuttings, allow them to dry overnight.

Stick them in damp soil and the roots should appear within four to six weeks.

Dancing Bones Cactus Pests

The succulent stem and the flowers are potentially toxic and should not be placed in an area where children or pets can reach the plant.

There are no major issues to experience, such as pests or diseases, but mealybugs can be a problem for almost any plant.

If mealybugs appear, first try to remove them with a damp cloth or cotton swab.

When the mealybugs continue to be a problem, use an insecticide.

To protect the plant, dilute the insecticide, using a combination of half water and half insecticide.

If the leaves start to turn yellow or fall off, the plant is likely getting too much water.

Even if the soil dries out between watering, giving the plant too much during one watering can lead to health problems.


It is recommended that you place the dancing bones cactus in indirect light where the plant is protected from direct afternoon sunlight. Water regularly during the growing season. Allow the pot to drain thoroughly after watering and never allow the potting mix to remain soggy

With its long, thick stems, the Dancing Bones Cactus (Rhipsalis salicornioides) is an excellent houseplant or greenhouse specimen.

If you’re buying a new dancing bones cactus or already have one, the old adage “if you can’t grow cactus, you can’t grow anything” is practically accurate.

With a little care, this cactus species, sometimes known as drunkard’s dream, is sure to please.

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