Disocactus flagelliformis: How to Grow and Care for Rat-Tail Cactus

Disocactus flagelliformis Rat-Tail Cactus

Scientific name: Disocactus flagelliformis

Common name: Rat-Tail Cactus

This tall, trailing cactus is one of the most widely cultivated cacti. Its thick stems grow tall before the weight of the stems causes it to bend or trail along the ground. It usually produces purple-red flowers, but sometimes growers have reported pink or orange blossoms.

Quick Look at Disocactus flagelliformis

  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Typical water needs for a succulent
  • Plant grows up to 36″ (1 m) tall
    Plant grows up to 1″ (2.5 cm) wide
  • Zone 10a (Minimum 30° F | -1.1° C)
  • Not cold hardy
  • Propagation by cuttings and seeds
  • Can be toxic to animals
  • Actively grows in Spring and Fall

General Care for Disocactus flagelliformis “Rat-Tail Cactus”

The common cactus is called Aporocactus flagelliformis. It is also related to Disocactus phyllanthoides.

It’s best to grow the rat-tail cactus in a place where it won’t experience dramatic shifts in temperature. It does very well in humid environments.


Disocactus flagelliformis “Rat-Tail Cactus” requires more frequent watering during the Fall and Spring when it is growing than it does during the rest of the year. In the winter, water is limited. The “soak and dry” method will allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

Where to Plant

If you live in a zone that gets colder than 30 F (- 1.1 C), it’s best to plant Disocactus flagelliformis in a container that can be brought indoors. It does well in both full and partial sun.

You can plant in an area of your garden that gets 6 hours of sunlight a day. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, place a room that gets a lot of sunlight near a southern-facing window.

How to Propagate Disocactus flagelliformis “Rat-Tail Cactus”

Disocactus flagelliformis is easy to grow from stems that fall from the main plant. If you pick them up, you can place them in well-draining soil. You can grow the rat-tail cactus from seed.


If you want to grow rat-tail cacti, use a sterile knife or scissors. Using a pair of tongs, remove a stem from the main plant and allow it to callous for a few days before placing it on well-draining soil. Water whenever the soil has dried out.

Learn how to safely handle cacti for propagation.


If you want to grow Disocactus flagelliformis “Rat-Tail Cactus” from seed, sow your seeds in a well-draining soil. If you live in a zone above 10a you can grow cacti outdoors. If you live in a cooler area, you can sow indoors under a grow light or on a seed mat.


  1. Disocactus flagelliformis (Rat-Tail Cactus) – Wikipedia

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