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Aporocactus (Disocactus) flagelliformis
Rat Tail Cactus

A definite statement piece when in flower, with its long trailing stems and masses of bright magenta pink flowers.

Full sun to part shade

Low Water

Well Drained Gritty Mix

Partly frost tolerant (see notes)

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Pot Size

Established plants with single or multiple stems from 5-15cm in length, depending on growth pattern.

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With its long trailing stems and masses of showy magenta flowers in spring, the Rats Tail Cactus is a definite statement piece when established. A very rewarding cactus to grow.

Aporocactus flagelliformis, (or Disocactus flagelliformis depending on which taxonomy you use), is an epiphytic or lithophytic cactus originating from dry forest regions. It likes a very well draining soil in a bright position. It grows extremely well under cover in well lit patio areas or the top shelf in greenhouses. Water moderately in spring and summer, allowing it to dry out between waterings. Water very little, if at all, in winter. It is not frost tolerant, but will happily survive colder temperatures if kept dry and undercover.


Rats Tail Cactus, Rat's Tail Cactus, Whip Cactus, Rattail cactus
Cactus flagelliformis, Disocactus flagelliformis, Aporocactus flagriformis, Aporocactus leptophis, Cactus serpentinus, Cereus flagelliformis, Cereus flagriformis, Cereus leptophis, Discocactus flagriformis, Disocactus flagriformis, Nyctocereus serpentinus var. pietatis, Peniocereus serpentinus subsp. pietatis, Selenicereus innesii, x Aporberocereus innesii


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To keep me at my best

Plant me in a pot with good drainage and a free draining compost mix. Put me in a place that gets plenty of bright light and good air-flow. Water me only when I am dry, but don't water me much when it is cold or very humid.

General Care Tips & Info for

Aporocactus flagelliformis - Rat Tail Cactus

Growth Habit

A trailing epiphytic or lithophytic cactus.

Long ribbed grey-green stems to 2cm in diameter that can grow up to 2m in length. Clusters of short reddish-yellow spines grow along the stems.

Large magenta-pink blooms adorn the stems from late spring. It flowers profusely and will often flower on and off at various times of the year.

Water Needs

In warmer weather, let the plant dry out before watering again. Water thoroughly, until it is dripping out the bottom of the pot. In cold weather, water very sparingly. The soil needs to dry out completely in two or three days, if it does not, hold off the watering.


Although it prefers a position in full sun, with a little shade in the afternoon, it will also work in a partly shaded area, under a patio, in greenhouses, or next to a bright window in the house.


While a very hardy cactus that will withstand some quite extreme temperatures, water will play an important part in how well it survives.

It will tolerate heat in the high 40s without any noticeable problems, however it is important that it gets adequate water by watering as soon as the soils dries out.

It will survive cold temperatures a few degrees below 0c and is frost hardy, however, keeping the plant dry in these conditions is important.

Frost Tolerance

D. flagelliformis will survive frosts, as long as the soil and plant are kept dry.

Soil, Potting & Fertilising


Potting mix
A extremely well draining mix of very coarse sand, 2-10mm pumice and/or perlite mixed with some organic compost (not peat or clay based soil) is ideal. Slightly acidic with a PH between 5 and 6.5

Choose a pot that has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom. Clay or terracotta is good, but any other pots are also fine.

Can be repotted anytime, although best to avoid when in flower. Repot into a larger pot when it has outgrown its current one. We've found they grow fine in any size pot.


Sand based soils, that drain freely are the best. Avoid clay (use gypsum to break up the clay and mix in plenty of compost and coarse sand if there is no other option).


Requires minimal maintenance. Remove spent flower heads and check for any signs of pests or disease.

Pests & Ailments

While generally pest free, mealy bugs or scale can be a problem. Remove them when first sighted using your preferred method of pest control.

Other ailments
Root rot, or other fungal issues, usually as a direct result of over-watering, damp, cold or humid conditions. Keep the plants dry in colder seasons and in a dry environment, with plenty of air-flow.

Pet / Child Friendliness

Non toxic. However, due to the spines it is not pet or child friendly and should be kept out of reach of both. Use gloves when handling.

Did You Know

The Rats Tail Cactus is one of the most popular houseplant cacti and has been cultivated for hundreds of years.