Thrives in bright but indirect light
Orchid cactus and fishbone cactus (Epiphyllum)
The fishbone cactus, Epiphyllum anguliger (pictured behind the orchid cactus), bears large, scented, yellow and white flowers in autumn. Unlike most cacti, the fishbone cactus is native to forests, where it grows on trees or rocks in dappled light. Water freely in spring and summer, and mist in hot weather. In winter, water when the compost surface is dry.
Chain cactus, Rhipsalis paradoxa ‘Minor’
The chain cactus, Rhipsalis paradoxa minor, produces small, white flowers in spring, if given cooler temperatures over winter. Water freely in spring and summer and mist in hot weather. In winter, water when the compost surface is dry. Suitable for more experienced growers.
Coral cactus, Rhipsalis cereuscula
The long, slender stems of coral cactus, Rhipsalis cereuscula, bear small, white, bell-shaped flowers in spring, followed by spherical, white fruits – which is why it’s sometimes called the mistletoe cactus. Water freely in spring and summer and mist in hot weather. In winter, let the compost dry out between waterings.
Wax plant, Hoya linearis
Wax plant, Hoya linearis, bears clusters of small, white, scented flowers that look like Iced Gems. Keep the compost moist in spring and summer, and in winter let it dry out before watering. Best for more experienced growers.
Curly locks orchid cactus
Curly locks orchid cactus, Epiphyllum hookeri subsp. guatemalense (background)
The coiling stems of Epiphyllum hookeri subsp. guatemalense produce small, yellowy and white flowers in spring. Water when the top 2cm of compost is dry.
How to care for your hanging houseplants
Watering hanging house plants
Few house plants can tolerate waterlogged roots. Except when it’s really hot in summer, you shouldn’t need to water more than weekly – and more likely fortnightly in autumn, winter and spring, when reduced light and temperature levels mean your plants are hardly growing.
First, use your fingertips to assess whether the plant needs watering. If so, remove the inner plastic pot from the outer one and place in the sink, or over a bucket, where it can drain. Or, if your outer pot has holes in the base, the whole lot can go in the sink. Slowly pour water onto the compost until it reaches the rim of the pot and let it seep through. When the water stops dripping from the base, hang it back up.
Always use tepid water and, if possible, rain water – tap water contains salts, which can make your plant unhappy.
Two ways to hang your house plants
The simplest way to display your trailing house plant is to keep the plant in its plastic container and put it into a decorative outer pot at least 5cm wider in diameter. Slip plant and pot into a macramé or sling, carefully distributing the stems around the rim of the pot so that when you lift it into place, the taut cords don’t damage the plant.
Alternatively, pot your plant directly into a planter with a hole in the base and integrated hanging cords. Remove the plant from the plastic pot and centre the rootball in your planter so that the trailing stems are distributed between the hanging cords. Back-fill with free-draining cactus or house plant compost and firm in, so the compost surface is about 3cm below the rim of the planter.