Painted thimble cacti -- plant abuse at its worst. Photo by Bubba Bussell.

Grumpy is a tolerant guy. He didn't go postal when he discovered blue-and-purple poinsettias with sparkles on the leaves for sale at Christmas. And when he chanced upon white moth orchids with their flowers dyed blue, he forswore his usual reaction of biting the head off of a doll. But today, he was presented irrefutable evidence of a crime against the innocent he CANNOT abide. Painted plants.

My Southern Living colleague, Bubba Bussell, took the photo above at a big-box store I shall not identify for fear of violence. Apparently, the store's marketers think that normal green thimble cacti are no longer exciting or marketable. Therefore, let's spray-paint them red, sapphire, pink, swimming pool-blue, and any other color French girls with nose rings typically dye their hair.

The sad part is that spray-painted cacti probably will sell like hotcakes. Spray-painted hotcakes. Most people just aren't as tasteful as you and I.

Wait -- It Gets Worse... If there's one ray of hope is this awful, bizarre enterprise, it's that only the tops of the thimble cacti were spray-painted. Most of their sides are still green, which means the plants can still carry out vital functions like photosynthesis and transpiration to some degree. So after the paint wears off, they'll recover. Wish I could say the same for these poor guys below. Oh, the inhumanity!

 

Painted echeverias in soon-to-be-nonliving color. Photo by Bubba Bussell.

These formerly happy, little succulents are Echeveria runyonii 'Topsy Turvy' -- a popular plant for use in mixed succulent planters. (Succulents are drought-tolerant plants that store water in stems and leaves.) Their normal color is grayish-green. Not any more! Now they're screaming orange, burgundy, guacamole, purple, and tillapia! There's hardly any original leaf surface left. "Topsy Turvy' is right!

Rather than cheapo spray-painting, it looks like these were hand-painted. Both of the upper and lower leaf surfaces are entirely painted over. How do you like this paint job?

 

Where did I put my purple lip gloss? Hmm. Photo by Steve Bender.

Tell me you wouldn't buy one of these. Please. I need to believe in mankind again.

Why Painting Plants Is Bad Aside from aesthetic and mental health considerations, painting plants is bad for a couple of reasons. Plants use leaves and stems to make food from sunlight (photosynthesize) and breathe (transpire). Completely coating the leaves with paint prevents this and will probably kill the plants or, at least, seriously injure them.

And don't for a moment think people are immune to this heinous practice. Remember what happened to agent Jill Masterson in the James Bond movie, "Goldfinger"?

 

Silence is golden, says Goldfinger. Photo by 007.

Goldfinger painted her entire body gold and, according to Bond, she suffocated. Even now, the cruelty of this act takes Grumpy's breath away.

So don't let me catch you buying painted plants! Otherwise, I'll send Oddjob over and you could lose your head.

You May Like