You may stumble on cacti with flowers when you visit a nearby gardening store or plant nursery. At first, you may be stunned at how good the plant looks with a beautiful flower blossom on its top. But you may realize the flowers are not real after a closer look. These are fake flowers that cactus sellers glue on the plant to make it marketable. Unfortunately, buying a cactus and later realizing the flower is fake would leave you feeling cheated.
So, how can you identify fake cactus flowers, and how can you remove them? You identify fake cactus flowers by closely examining the flowers. Look at the placement of the flower, color, and texture, and check for glue binding the flower to the stem. To remove fake flowers from your cacti, you can gently pull them out using your hand, use a hairdryer to blow the glue that binds the flower to the stem, use a knife to scrape off the glue, cut the flower off using scissors, or leave the plant alone till the fake flower falls off on its own.
In this post, we will discuss what fake cactus flowers are, how to identify them, and how to remove fake flowers from your newly bought cactus plants.
What are Fake Cactus Flowers?
The fake flower you see on a cactus is not fake but real. Technically, this flower is an inflorescence from a species of plants called everlastings or strawflowers.
They are called so because when dried, the flowers have a crispy, straw-like texture and remain in good condition for a long time.
This unique texture makes the fake flower easy to identify when touched and comes in different colors.
But the most intriguing thing about a straw flower is that it can respond to humidity levels even when dried.
The flower opens when there is little humidity and closes when there is excessive humidity, imitating real cacti flowers.
Why Do We Have Fake Flowers on Cacti Plants?
Flower growers and sellers often attach flowers of cacti to enhance their appeal. This helps the cacti plants sell faster, getting new homes.
So, it is your job to inspect each cactus to avoid buying one with a fake flower.
The seller should be truthful if you ask about the flower. But the seller is not to blame if you fail to ask.
Flowers give cactus a vibrant, thrilling appearance that appeals to potential buyers. Knowing whether a cactus flower is real or fake becomes easier as you gain experience.
Do Cacti Plants Flower?
So, you may think that sellers use fake flowers to make cactus look more attractive because these succulents do not flower. Well, this is far from the truth.
Almost all cacti are flowering plants. Some bloom faster than others, depending on the species.
But even though cacti can bloom, making them do so is difficult. You may have to care for the cactus for two to three years; even blooming will depend on the species.
Some species, like Mammillaria, Parodia, and Gymnocalycium, bloom quite fast, while others, such as the prickly pear cactus, take up to four years to flower.
Another thing is that the lifespan for most cacti flowers is short. Some cactus flowers open for a few days, while others last only for a few hours and then fade away.
So, to keep the flower vibrant for longer, cacti growers came up with the idea of using hot glue to attach flowers to these plants.
They fail to realize that by doing this, they cause damage to the plant. The part of the cactus skin that comes into contact with the hot glue gets burned. This is one of the things you can look out for to identify fake flowers.
How to Identify Fake Cactus Flowers
The best way of handing cacti with fake flowers is to avoid purchasing them. For this, you must inspect the blooms.
Start by looking at the placement of the flower. Cacti sellers often stick the flower on the growth point in the middle of the stem.
However, this is not how real cacti bloom. Real cacti flowers usually emerge on the mature end of the plant.
They can grow directly on the side, sometimes in the middle, but never precisely in the middle part of the plant. So, the flower is fake if it appears precisely at the center.
The color of the flower is another indicator. Cacti with fake flowers are often delivered in trays and are also in trays when exhibited in nurseries.
If you notice blue, purple, or violet flowers in a collection of what looks like flowering cacti, they are fake. Cacti flowers do not have such colors.
The same applies to cacti with bright green flowers. Some cacti may have lime-green blooms but not bright green.
Remember to touch the flower. A real cactus flower is silky smooth and gives no resistance when touched. A strawflower feels like paper and can break if you bend it.
You can also look closely to see what binds the flower and the plant together. Real cactus blooms grow on a tubular stem, which can be long or short and is usually prickly.
Some more miniature flowering cacti, like pincushion cacti (Mammillaria), have very short stems but are still visible if you are keen enough.
On the contrary, fake flowers are attached to the cactus plant using hot glue. You may see the whitish glue under the flower if you lift the petals or ray flowers.
You can also delay buying the cactus for at least a week to see how the flowers will look like by then. Real cactus flowers are short-lived. Most of them only survive for less than ten days. Others only last for a day.
However, strawflowers can live up to two years. So, if you notice a cactus is still at the store three weeks later and seemingly blooming well, its flowers are fake.
If the flowering cactus you want has been in the store for some time, its flowers may be dusty – that is if they are fake. Real cactus flowers do not survive long enough to become dusty.
How to Remove Fake Flowers from Cactus
Spreading hot glue on a cactus stem causes permanent damage and kills adjacent cells. So, you want to avoid buying cactus with fake flowers.
But if you already bought your cactus, you can remove the fake flowers carefully without causing further damage. Of course, this will leave a wound, but it may not even be visible.
Here are five ways to remove a fake cactus flower.
1. Remove by Hand
First, avoid yanking the flowers off – they are not bandaids! You might tear off an areole, the skin, or even some cactus flesh.
This could leave a wound bigger than the hot glue caused. So, gently pull the flower out using your hand instead. Move it back and forth, left and right, and repeat a few times.
The glue will soon come loose.
2. Using a Hairdryer
Hot weather is the best for removing fake cactus flowers because the glue softens and becomes easy to remove.
This will work if the glue is not stuck hard on the plant. But if it’s too adhesive, even a hairdryer won’t break off the flower.
Avoid blowing for too long. Cactus cannot withstand 100 degrees of hot air blown directly, so blowing on the plant for too long could damage the plant cells.
3. Using a Knife
If this is the case, carefully scrape off the glue using a sharp knife while working your way from the root to the tip of the spine.
Sometimes, you can get all the glue out by gently working on the plant.
4. Use Scissors and Brush
If nothing seems to work because the glue is stuck too hard to the stem, you may need to cut the flowers off altogether. Use scissors to cut them and a brush to clean the spine surface.
Be gentle and careful when cutting the flowers. You may lose some spine, but you will not cause much damage to the plant.
This is worth your effort because it will leave the cactus looking more beautiful without a fake flower on the top.
5. Leave It as It Is
Or you can wait. Cacti are living plants, not stones – they will keep growing.
The stem’s shape changes as the cactus grows, and the glue may wear off, so the flower eventually falls off.
Although cacti bloom naturally, some sellers stick fake flowers to make their plants more appealing to potential buyers.
Being able to differentiate between fake and real flowers is important because fake ones compromise the health of your cactus. Most sellers use hot glue to attach the fake flower, which can damage the plant.
You should remove them by hand, using scissors and a brush, a hairdryer, or a knife so your cactus can thrive.
But it is entirely up to you to decide whether to remove the fake flowers or leave them to fall off on their own.
Last update on 2023-12-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API