When first imported to Europe from the Americas, cacti were very strange. Their distended green stems do all the photosynthesis. Vestigial leaves develop into sharp protective spines. Vestigial stems develop into more formidable thorns. One of the first cacti imported is among the weirdest. Rat tail cactus, Aporocactus flagelliformis, develops pendulous stems that do not stand upright.
In the wild, rat tail cactus cascades from rocky ledges and crotches of trees. In home gardens, it cascades splendidly from elevated planters or hanging pots. Pruning scraps make good cuttings to plug into loose stone or broken concrete retaining walls. Rat tail cactus likes warmth, but also some partial shade from hot afternoon sunshine. Yellowish stems appreciate a bit of mild fertilizer.
Old stems grow longer than three feet if they get the chance. However, they discolor with age. Pruning them out from the base promotes healthier and more compact growth. Most stems emerge from the base, with minimal branching beyond the base. Bloom is slightly purplish pink. Individual flowers are about two inches long and slightly wider than an inch. They last for three or four days.