Fishbone Cactus (Epiphyllum Anguliger)

Fishbone Cactus (Epiphyllum Anguliger)

Angus & Celeste Blog
May, 2019

The Epiphyllum anguliger is known by many names: Fishbone Cactus, Zigzag Cactus, Moon Cactus, Queen of the Night, and Ric Rac Orchid Cactus. We around these parts like to call it the Fishbone Cactus. Queen of the Night is a little too vampirish for our liking.

Fishbone Cactus resemble the backbone of a fish with its zigs and zags. This image features them potted up in our Artisan Hanging Planters in Green.

The Fishbone Cactus is an epiphytic cactus endemic to the evergreen forests of Mexico. The cactus has smooth green skin and is extensively branched. The primary stems are often woody and the secondary stems are flat and succulent. The secondary stems can grow to between 20-30 cm in length and 3-5 cm in width. If you use your imagination, the stems really do look like the bones of a fish.

Environment & Temperature:

This cactus loves loves loves heat and high humidity. You should try to keep the plant’s environment between 16-25 degrees Celsius.  They also require a moderate light level. If possible, keep your plant outdoors in a shady place during summer.


During the spring and summer months, watering should be regular to ensure the soil mixture remains moist. Only moderate watering is needed during the remainder of the year. The top layer of soil should dry to about 1 cm between each watering. Stick ya finger in to see how the soil is going to determine whether your plant needs a little drink.

Water propagation of the Fishbone Cactus. Image from Online Baby Plants

Fertiliser & Soil:

A Fishbone Cactus will grow in low soil media, such as orchid substrate, or they can be planted in a cactus blend mixed with compost. Feed the cactus fertiliser every two weeks, and then cease fertilisation when flowers bloom.


The Fishbone Cactus has a beautiful flower, which blooms at the end of summer or in autumn. The flower can be pale yellow, greenish or pink in colour. Keep a close eye on your plant to make sure you don’t miss them flowering. The flowers are nocturnal and only flower for one night of the year! Nocturnal. Maybe these plants are a little more vampirish than we would like to admit!

One professional tip is that you should wear gloves when handling these plants. Remember, this plant is a cactus and even though the thorns are small (almost to the point of invisibility!), they can still hurt the skin.

Shadow play. Fishbone Cactus from

Did you know? The Horticultural Society of London was the first to distribute the Fishbone Cactus after the society obtained a sample from the collector Mr T. Hartweg in 1846.

A close up of those fantastic fishbone leaves. Pictured here in our Large Artisan Hanging Planter in Green.