As We See It

The truth about those colorful cactus blooms

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Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

“I cry a little bit on the inside,” someone wrote. “There ought to be a law,” stated another. One commenter asked whether it’s “fraud or prostitution.”

And so it goes in the micro-world of deceived cactus buyers, taking to online forums to lament venomously and quaintly about discovering that the blossoms on their plants are actually dried flowers stuck on with hot glue. Keep them natural, keep them naked, they assert. The googly eyes on drugstore cacti were one thing, but this ...

Aesthetics aside, this lipsticking of the cactus pig results in amputated spines and damaged skin and incredulous cries from owners who throw out words like “mutilation.” The opening and closing of the dead strawflowers due to humidity makes the fantasy all the more believable. In fact, when a friend mentioned her cactus-rescue operation (buying the plants and freeing them of glue), I had no idea.

One commenter hilariously reasoned in all caps that while it’s definitely not among the “worst things in the world,” distributors who do this are “quite horrendous in their own little fief.” But distributors are merely responding to customer demand. Altman Plants, which has sold the strawflower cactus to retailers for more than 20 years and offers cacti with and without the decoration, says the novelty item is embraced by consumers who “find the bright fluorescent colors attractive, fun and long-lasting.”

As one writer asserted, there is a plus buried in all of this: “the impulse buy based on a deception introduces another new person to the world of cacti that otherwise wouldn’t have had anything to do with them.”

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