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Aporocactus martianus ("Disocactus") from Mexico - Rattail Cactus

Welcome to the unusual Aporocactus martianus (formerly Disocactus martianus)  This unusual epiphytic cactus hangs from tree branches in southern Mexico, with long shoots that cascade down 10 to 15 feet!  It flowers profusely in spring and summer, with vibrant, pinkish-red blossoms.  This is an easy to grow hanging plant that deserves to be widely grown.  It is pretty uncommon in cultivation and hard to find.

Aporocactus martianus ("Disocactus") from Mexico - Rattail Cactus

Its attractive stems are about to inches thick and root wherever they touch a moist surface.  These cylindrical stems branch out and create a beautiful curtain of shoots, which you may prune back if they grow too long.  You can let it creep along the ground, but it looks best when grown in a hanging planter.  Its hair-like spines feel soft, but if you hold the stem too firmly, they can embed in the skin and cause irritation.  The blooms grow outward from the stems and are about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.  Each bloom opens for 2 or 3 days, and usually doesn't close at night, unlike some other epiphytic cacti.  They are pollinated by hummingbirds in the wild.

Aporocactus martianus ("Disocactus") from Mexico - Rattail Cactus

Growing in the wild in Mexico

 I've only grown it indoors, so i don't know it's cold hardiness.  I suspect it will tolerate cool conditions but can't take frost.  It's a forest plant, so it likes bright, filtered light, and might need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  Give it a well-draining mix, such equal parts of potting soil and perlite.  Cactus mix could work too.  It's fairly drought tolerant, but i water when the mix is halfway dry.  Overall, it's a pretty tough plant and is rarely bothered by pests.

Aporocactus martianus ("Disocactus") from Mexico - Rattail Cactus

Photos courtesy of Dick Culbert, Eugenio Padilla, and Steve Bidmead

 

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