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Decorating Cacti And Succulents

Santa Fe Christmas Tree, Opuntia falcataBefore I wrote the "Fake flowers on Cacti" entry I e-mailed the two largest cacti & succulent wholesalers I was familiar with from the big box garden centers. I didn't get a response from either one but I thought about those two companies again when I wrote the "More cacti abuse" entry on Halloween and posted a photo of a cactus with googly eyes from Altman Plants. One of the comments in that entry was from NuSuki who provided links to photos of similarly decorated C&S in Spain.

Today I got an email from Bob Reidmuller, who is the Resident Horticulturist at Altman Plants, responding to my original email in regards to the fake flowers glued on cacti. In that email I asked if the fake flowers were glued onto cacti in part because of retailer demand, here's what he said;

"We actually have some of our own with straw flowers again at the request of the big box store that wanted them. When they actually outsell the ones without the fake flowers 2 to 1 it is not good business to refuse a major retailer's request."

I also asked if he or the company had ever gotten any funny/unusual emails about the fake flowers on cacti.

"I have had more than several emails from people who want to order some more of that specific cactus because it has been in bloom continuously for 2 years and is still going! What is also funny about those flowers too is because of their own inherent nature, many of them will "close" if they get wet or damp, and "open" again when they dry out. No wonder some of the non-plant people might be mislead."

Since I had Bob's attention I decided to ask if they'd be decorating any of the C&S in a Christmas theme like in the photos provided by NaSuki.

"Nope - no Christmas Santa thank God! The only thing this year is the "Santa Fe Christmas Tree" which is an 8' pot with an Opuntia falcata dolled up with fake tree lights and or decorations and a holiday tag. It's actually pretty cute, and a good sized plant. Nothing done to the plant to muck it up."

The photo above is of the "Santa Fe Christmas Tree" that will be available at select Home Depot and Lowe's stores-I don't think it looks bad at all. If anything I would have used larger fake tree lights so they were more in scale but at least they aren't gluing fake beards or Santa hats on plants for the Christmas shoppers.


  1. Sounds like Altman's horticulturist doesn't necessarily agree with the fake flower practice, which is good! It's hard to beieve that people prefer the fake flowers to plain cactus 2-1. I guess it takes all kinds of tastes.
    I saw something at Talaquapaque in Sedona that did look good--in my opinion anyway. They had a Christmas tree (about 4ft.tall) that was made out of overlapping Opuntia ficus-indica pads. The pads appeared to have a type of lacquer on them as they were a bit shiny. On the top was an arrangement of red chili peppers. Very regional and tastefully done. They could be ordered for $125 and up, depending on size. As I said earlier--it takes all kinds of tastes!

  2. Anonymous8:54 PM

    I have had more than several emails from people who want to order some more of that specific cactus because it has been in bloom continuously for 2 years and is still going!

    I don't know if I should laugh or cry

  3. Good on you for asking these companies about this practice--and bravo to the grower from Altman that answered you. He makes a good point, but what dazzles me is how many people just don't get that those are fake flowers on the plants. I won't buy them, personally; and my cacti manage to flower on their own, too....

  4. Did Altman advise what to do if you don't want a fake flower on your cactus? Won't the glue eventually harm the plant? I agree with you, I kind of like the cactus with the Christmas lights.

  5. Aiyana,

    That does sound tasteful and pretty cool.


    I think we should laugh because we were all there once. I remember the first time I ever repotted a houseplant I thought the perlite and fertilizer pellets were bug eggs. D'uh!

    You're right. What I find funny is when I see a fake flower and a real flower growing out of the same plant.

    Mr McGregor's Daughter,
    I didn't think to get advice from the horse's mouth, so to speak, but in the original post I wrote about how some members of the C&S forum on GardenWeb spoke of heating the glue with a blow drier or trying to remove it during the warm days of summer. Now I wish I had asked what their advice was. Oh well next time.

  6. If you cab decorate a fir tree, why not a cactus? personally, our Christmas decorations go on our benjamin fig. It looks good, and we're not killing trees by doing it.
    But the idea of people thinking they've got a continually blooming cactus is wonderful. And come on - at least they've keèpt it alive for two years - alot more than half the plants bought at garden centres survive.

  7. Without harming the cacti in the photo, if you removed the decorations and set an imitation turkey head in front... would it seem to be a Thanksgiving Turkey? ;-) Just kidding.

    Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving day.

  8. Sue,

    You have a point about those two year bloomers they do last longer than some of the ones in the store.

    Shady Gardener,

    I had a good TG thanks for the well wishes.

    I saw the decorated cacti in the pic at the store the other day. Unfortunately the lights had been stolen. There was also a large Euphorbia that had some tinsel wrapped around it.



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