Growing Hatiora Salicornioides: How to Care For Dancing Bones Cactus

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The Hatiora salicornioides is a unique, decorative houseplant native to South America.

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

Hatiora bambusoides - Drunkard's DreamPin
Cactus Hatiora Salicornioides

The name is pronounced as [hat-ee-OR-uh sal-eye-korn-ee-OY-deez] and belongs to the Cactaceae family of cacti, another synonym is Hatiora bambusoides.

Common names for Hatiora salicornioides include:

  • Dancing Bones Plant
  • Drunkard’s Dream Plant
  • Spice Cactus
  • Bottle Cactus
  • Sometimes called Rhipsalis salicornioides

In this article, we’ll delve into how to care for your Hatiora Salicornioide at home.

Hatiora Salicornioides Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Hatiora Salicornioides
  • Common Name(s): Dancing Bones Cactus, Drunkard’s Dream
  • Synonyms: Rhipsalidopsis Salicornioides, Schlumbergera Salicornioides
  • Family & Origin: Cactaceae family, native to South America
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 9-11
  • Size: Grows up to 20′ inches tall
  • Flowering: Blooms in late winter to early spring with pink or red flowers
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Humidity: Prefers higher humidity levels
  • Temperature: Ideal temperature range is 72°F
  • Soil: Well-draining cactus soil mix
  • Water: Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry, but do not overwater
  • Fertilizer: Use liquid fertilize once a month during the growing season
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites. Watch for root rot if overwatered.
  • Propagation: Propagated by stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Makes a great houseplant or can be used in a mixed succulent arrangement.

Hatiora Salicornioides Care

The Dancing Bones Cactus is an epiphyte that produces an interesting display of contorted stems with bottle-shaped joints. 

The salicornioides variety looks like a dancing bones cactus. Where drunkard’s dream comes from, I don’t know.

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.

Size and Growth Habit

  • Hatiora can reach up to 20″ inches in height. It’s a compact, bushy little plant.
  • The contorted foliage resembles 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 yellow to orange flowers may appear at any time during the late winter to early spring, from March or April to May. They grow from the tips of the shoots.

The small yellow bell-shaped 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 – 11.

The dry southwest, including parts of California, provides 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. In contrast, 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 on 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.

NOTE: “Under strong light, tiny purple spots appear along the stems with no regular pattern.” [source]

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 months.

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 when 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 to replenish nutrients.

Soil and Transplanting

The best soil for Hatiora salicornioides is a combination of sand, loam, and peat. The commercial cactus potting mix is also suitable.

Moreover, it thrives in well-draining soil that can retain moisture.

If you’re using cactus and succulent soil, you can also amend it with perlite, pumice, and coarse sand.

Several people report successfully growing Hatiora in ordinary potting soil with added extra sand. The soil must be well-drained.

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 with drainage holes.

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

Propagating a drunkard’s dream is easy using cuttings or stem segments. 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.

Drunkard’s Dream Pests or Disease Problems

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.

TIP: Keep track of how much water is used during each watering. If the leaves start to turn yellow or fall off, reduce the amount of water.

Uses Of Hatiora Salicornioides

The best spot for cactus bones is in a pot with no other plants, allowing the plant to shine on its own. They also make an attractive hanging basket.

It may also be added to a cactus garden, but some of the shoots may eventually start to grow on neighboring cacti.

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