While visiting a local home improvement store today, I took a look at the garden section to see what grotesqueries the plant wholesalers have cooked up lately. They did not disappoint. I am, by now, inured to things like paper flowers glued to cacti or Phalaenopsis orchids with dyed blooms–If you desperately need a cheap grafted cactus, you can pick off the fake flowers, and when the garish dye fades, you’ll have a reasonably nice white-flowered Phal hybrid.
But today’s offerings…Shudder.
How about a Hippeastrum bulb dipped in wax? Judging by the label, the flower is a big red tetraploid, probably ‘Red Lion,’ and someone has obviously thought, “Hmm, that’s a very striking flower, how can we make it look worse?” The answer was to dip the bulb in wax even more brightly colored than the flower, so that the inflorescence will emerge from something the right size and color to choke Snow White. And speaking of snow, what goes better with a subtropical flower than a coating of fake snow?
According to the label, the wax means that you don’t have to water the bulb at all. It also means that the bulb won’t be able to grow roots, and is doomed to the trash can as soon as the flowers fade.
What’s that you say? “A waxed bulb the color of Rudolph’s nose is pretty bad, but this is the land of inflatable snowmen and nativity scenes with Santa Claus adoring the baby Jesus. A certain lack of taste is expected during the holidays. Don’t you have anything worse?”
I actually picked up a couple of these to see if they were made of plastic. Nope, they’re real. Someone has dipped a variety of cacti and some Gasteraloe hybrids in paint. You can choose fluorescent red, blue, or a particularly nasty shade of blue-green. The painted leaf tips of the Gasteraloes are already shriveling, but the plants might eventually recover as new leaves emerge. The cacti are surely doomed. They’ve been completely covered, and I’m reminded of that scene in Goldfinger where Bond’s latest amour dies after being coated with gold paint.
Why? Why would anyone do this? Who would buy it?