Is That Your Natural Color?

A first it may look fun.  Who wouldn’t be attracted to brilliant hues of green, blue, yellows?  Glitter?  You can never not have enough glitter during the holidays!  But what happens once the season is over?  What do you do with that poor hot pink cactus?  How do you keep the lime-green poinsettia alive?

You don’t.

Yes, these painted plants will not make it.  They look cute but their fate has been decided for them.  Take a look at the cactus above.  They have been painted with opaque colors that have completely blocked their ability to photosynthesize.  Plants, unlike animals, make their own food through photosynthesis by taking sunlight and carbon dioxide and turning it into oxygen and sugars.  This only works when the plant is able to access light.  If has been painted – no light will reach the plant.

No light.  No food.

Can the plants be saved?  Probably not.  The paints that were used are probably not water soluble so they will not easily scrub off.  Not to mention trying to scrub off a plant that is covered in thorns would be easy in the first place.  Cacti and poinsettias can be a challenge to keep a live in the best conditions.  Add a layer of paint makes it exceptionally harder.

My best advice?  Keep on walking and divert your eyes.  Nothing to see here.


Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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