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Drunkard's Dream: A Pass Along Plant Worth Seeking Out

Have you heard the term “pass-along plant”? These are beloved plants that gardeners covet, but for one reason or another aren’t available for sale in most garden centers and nurseries. Only occasionally will I see Drunkards Dream (Hatiora salicornioides) available from growers on line, so I think it qualifies as a pass-along plant. I was thrilled to be gifted with a few wispy stems from Lane Fournier an old Herb Society acquaintance and I’ve cherished this plant ever since – and, of course, I’ve passed it along many times.

This is a fun plant. First of all let’s get the name out in the open. It’s also called Dancing Bones, but I like Drunkards Dream better; it sounds like a sorrowful country western song. Most common names stem from empirical evidence (observation); in this case because the stems of the plant are contorted into small segments that resemble wine bottles.

It grows 24” long and up to 18” wide and has a trailing nature. Put it in a hanging basket or a pot attached to a wall and it will resemble a softly spilling green waterfall.

It is a cactus, but is sometimes referred to as a succulent. Technically it’s an epiphyte, which means that in its natural environment (tropical rain forests of southeastern Brazil) it grows on trees and receives water and nutrients from humidity in the air. It is a tender perennial (hardy in zone 10+), which means in North Texas it needs to be brought indoors when the temperatures start to dip in the fall and then returned outside when the weather warms in the spring (the optimum temperature is 75-80 degrees). Drunkards Dream likes just a sip of water every week. Not necessary, but if you want a bushy and full plant, fertilize the plant once a month with a dilute 10-10-10 water soluble fertilizer when watering. Outdoors it thrives in a shady location, but indoors it prefers a bright south window or artificial light.

My plant has never bloomed and will not bloom un-aided outside of the rain forest. I’ve read that the bloom is a lovely strawflower-like yellow flower at the tips of the stems followed by translucent pink berries (leading to another common name Mistletoe Cactus).

The procedure for forcing it to bloom is similar to Christmas cactus in that you cover the plant to simulate 14 hour nights. At the same time, move the plant to a location that has a temperature of 60 degrees and reduce watering. It may take 8-12 weeks for buds to appear. At that time, move the plant to a brightly lit, draft free area. From what I’ve read, you may lose buds when moving the plant and will lose all the buds if it’s in a drafty place. After blooming, the plant will need a month of rest. During this period lay off the water and fertilizer. Hmmm, sounds like a lot of work. Do you think this is why my plant has never bloomed?

Like most succulents, propagation is super easy. It roots readily in good potting soil that is kept moist. You’ll know it is rooted when new growth appears.

I hope that you’ll be persistent in trying to locate Drunkards Dream. It really is a fun plant to have around and it’s so easy even beginners will have luck with it. And then you can be the gardener sharing a cutting with a friend!

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