How to propagate and care for Rat Tail Cactus?

As you can see in the image the Rat Tail Cactus plant produces thick and long stems. Each stem has sharp tip spikes. These stems look like a Rat tail, it is also known as Disocactus flagelliformis.

It looks very beautiful, especially in hanging baskets.

For healthy growth, you need to take care of the water and temperature. Water it only when the soil becomes dry and maintain the constant temperature in the room.

The complete growing process of the Rat tail cactus is discussed below. Pay close attention to each part and make important notes. If you are a beginner grower then leave this plant and start your journey with other easy-to-grow houseplants.

About the Plant

In the initial stage of growth, the stems are short and have few spikes. But when the plant gets fully matured the stems become 3 to 5 feet long. You can cut them to give good shape, for that use sharp shears and wear gloves.

It produces two colors of flowers violet and red. The flowering time is spring and summer, will drop flowers in fall.

You cannot increase the blooming time but you can increase the production of flowers per stem. This is possible with the best fertilizing techniques.

For me, the stems are their real beauty and for flowers, we have many other beautiful plants to grow. Cactus flowers are not attractive.

Light Needs

Because it is a cactus plant it prefers desert-like conditions. In simple words, it needs direct sunlight and little dry soil conditions to grow healthy.

You can easily grow it in your outdoor garden without facing any issues regarding sunlight.

The problem comes with indoor growing Rat tail cactus. Because this plant needs 12 to 14 hours of direct sunlight. Therefore, you need to have a south or north-facing window at your home.

In a low light environment, the stems do not grow long and they do not produce hairy spikes.

Your plant looks weak and dull. To prevent this condition of your plant, take care of its light needs. The sharp sunlight will not cause any harm to it. It has strong roots and stems that can handle high temperatures.

Potting Soil

Any soil that is specially made for cactus plants or other desert plants will work fine. Do not try to make your normal houseplant soil cactus soil. These plants are different than normal houseplants.

They do not need much water so you should not use soil formula that has perlite as a first ingredient. It should be the third or last ingredient on the list.

Do not forget to add the organic mixture to the potting soil. The organic material will supply all the required nutrients to your Rat cactus plant.

Never-ever use garden soil for growing cactus plants in containers or in hanging baskets. This type of soil absorbs lots of water in it and is not suitable for plants that do not need heavy watering.

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What do you think about how these plants live in the desert area? In their natural habitat cactus do not get enough water. They develop their roots to store much water content when available to them.

This is the reason every cactus plant has long roots.

To water, homegrown cactus plants let the soil dry first. Then turn ON the tap and water it until you see the water coming out through the draining hole. After that leave the pot there for 30 minutes to drain excess water.

Then place it back in its original place and you are done with watering the Rat tail cactus plant. Remember that plant health also depends upon the quality of water.

Please use drinkable water for watering cactus plants. Do not add anything in the water except liquid fertilizers.


Cactus plants do not need any fertilizers. You should only fertilize them twice a year. First time in the spring and the second time in the summer.

For good results use slow-releasing fertilizer. These fertilizers have organic ingredients that take time to break down. This makes a supply chain of nutrients to the plant roots.

First of all, read the instructions of the bottle then dilute the strength to its half. After that, you can give it to your cactus plants.

Your Rat tail cactus is not strong enough to handle a heavy dosage of nutrients.

Note: Light fertilization encourages blooming for a long period of time.

Temperature & Humidity

As you know deserts are the hot area on the earth. These cactus plants naturally grow there which means they prefer high temperatures. The ideal temperature range for this plant is 50 F to 80 F.

But in extreme conditions, it can tolerate 40 degrees F but for a limited time frame.

After that, the plant starts suffering.

Actually, when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F the Rat cactus goes into a dormancy period. It feels that this is winter time.

Humidity should be below 55 % because the high humidity causes root rot or stem rot issues. Desert air does not contain heavy moisture. Therefore, limited humidity or low humidity is enough for growing a cactus plant.


Frequent repotting is required until the plant becomes fully matures. You can trim the overly grown parts of the plant to keep it short size.

Use sharp shears and wear garden gloves to save your skin from hairy spikes.

For repotting buy 1 size bigger pot and the terracotta or clay pots are best to use. For hanging baskets, you can use ceramic or any material except plastic.

Because the plastic reduces aeration and this increase the chances of root infections.

The pot material should have clay in it that helps in draining the water. Also, there must be one or more draining holes to save your plant in case of accidental overwatering.


Seed propagation or stem cutting are the two trusted methods of propagation. I prefer the stem cutting method over seeds. Because the seeds take too much time to germinate and germination has a low success rate as compared to stem propagation.

In stem cutting, you need to cut the 6 inches long healthy stem. Then plant it 2 inches deep in the moist potting soil.

To keep the soil moist and water, use a spray bottle. Do not pour water directly into the base of the stem.

Within few days you will see new growth and this means your stem has developed new roots and is happy in its new home.


Cactus plants are easy to grow because they do not need care and attention. Rat tail cactus do not need much water and fertilizers.

Give it direct sunlight for more than 10 hours and it will thrive like crazy.

Move the plant pot inside in winter because it cannot tolerate frost and cold winds.

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