What are some good sources for rare plants?

Tue, March 01, 2016 8:15 AM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

Marilyn Wilson: Mail Order. PlantDelights.com (if you buy something, they’ll start sending you large printed catalogs). BrentandBeckysBulbs.com (they have spring-flowering bulb and summer-flowering bulb printed catalogs, including a chart showing when blooms, height, zone, etc., along with some perennials, too). Kartuz.com (this nursery is in Vista. You can visit 9-noon and 1-3pm, Tuesday through Saturday, 1408 Sunset Drive, Vista). 

Pat Venolia: Last week I took my second trip to Ventura County for Australian natives, stopping by Green Thumb International Nursery in Ventura (oh my gosh, what a nursery) on my way up to Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria and the Australian Native Plant Nursery in Casitas Springs. Found everything I wanted and came home with 18 plants. Call before going to be sure they’re open. It just occurred to me that I should include Robin’s Ausachica Nursery in El Cajon as a place to get neat plants. I’ve gotten a couple of nice Aussies from her (they sometimes sell plants at our meetings, too).  

Jo Casterline: If you’re looking for Australian plants and like a Valley Center adventure, go to Obra Verde. Check out the website for information: obraverde-flowers.com.

Tandy Pfost: Big time collectors should go to Rancho Soledad nursery in Rancho Santa Fe. Other retail North County sources are: Solana Succulents (see page 16), Gardens by the Sea and Anderson’s La Costa Nursery (see page 17; p.s., I work there).    

Marilyn Wieland: Kartuz Greenhouses, 1408 Sunset Drive, Vista, CA; kartuz.com. Call before visiting (760-941-3613).

Gerald D. Stewart: Gerald Stewart struggled making the decision to give up his best sources, but in the end decided to do just that in hopes others sharing theirs will give him leads to new sources. Locally Walter Andersen Nursery in Point Loma and Poway (see page 16), and Green Thumb Super Garden Center in San Marcos (see inside front cover), often have rare stuff, but when it’s gone, it’s gone, so you need to keep checking (as if taking time to walk those plant paradises regularly on Saturday mornings before somebody else scores the prizes is a problem for die-hard gardeners); Kartuz in Vista (see above); Oasis in Escondido; and Rancho Soledad Nursery in Rancho Santa Fe. Online they offer wide selections of plants (as opposed to specialty nurseries like Geraniaceae.com that specialize in a focused type of plants) include: Plant Delights, Glasshouse Works (you need to be patient, but they’ve got stuff I’ve not seen anywhere else); Logee’s Greenhouses; Forest Farm; Cistus Nursery; and Joy Creek Nursery. The other trick to finding rare stuff is to shop at every nursery you pass. Jean and Mike Kashkin (Deena Altman of Altman’s is their daughter) had Fuchsialand Nursery in Culver City many years ago, and offered stuff other retailers didn’t. Talking to Mike a few years back for an article for the San Diego Geranium Society’s newsletter, I asked him how they had stuff no one else did. He said often on days they were closed he and Jean would hop in the van and see what other retailers were offering. When they stumbled across something rare, they bought it and propagated it to sell in their nursery. Persistent home gardeners can stumble across stuff just like the Kashkins did.

Cathy Tylka: I have found the Master Gardener’s plant sale and the Cactus and Succulent Society’s plant sales, great places for rare plants.

Tammy Schwab: My go to nurseries: Rancho Soledad Nursery, Oasis Waterwise Gardens (Escondido), and Plant Play Nursery (Carlsbad). I also power shop every botanical garden and club plant sale in the Spring and Fall!

Tynan Wyatt: These are my top three mail order sources when I want something unusual: lifestyleseeds.co.za; logees.com; chileflora.com. Lifestyle Seeds and Chileflora are great sources for Mediterranean seeds, while Logees is pretty much for my special houseplant/high maintenance needs plants that have something special about them.

Steve Zolezzi: Exotic Gardens has relocated to East County just off Interstate 8 at the Lake Jennings exit. They offer a large selection of succulents and cactus, many hard to find and collector specimens at very reasonable prices. I like to support the small independents. The address is 14269 Olde Highway 80, El Cajon, 92021.

Ralph Evans: Rare and less common cycads, African plants, and palms, many one of a kind are found at Botanical Partners Vista, home of Bamboo Headquarters.

Jim Bishop: One of my favorite and most dependable plant sources for 20 years has been the plant vendors at our monthly meetings. Through them I’ve been introduced to many plants that I might not have otherwise tried to grow. Most know that our members like rare and/or unusual plants, so there is almost always something worth checking out. Plus, there is usually someone knowledgeable; staffing the table and you can ask them questions about the plants. Often times they bring plants that go with the theme or the speaker topic for the evening.

Candace Kohl: I hope to hear some useful things in answer to this question. I have found that specialized plant societies (with associated annual sales) and the people in them, are often very good at finding and sharing rare stuff. Most of the other plant nuts I know are very generous with information and divisions. I have two nurseries in Tucson that I often visit when I drive over; Plants for the Southwest and Arid Lands. Once they know I am serious they will sometimes sell things that they otherwise would not. I have not tried buying plants on line, although I have seen some tempting stuff listed. I would rather see the size and condition of what I am paying for.

Stuart Robinson: I don’t know. I use Walter Andersen Nursery (see page 16) and Mission Hills Nursery for patio and indoor plants; wouldn’t know where to go for rare specimens.

Vivian Blackstone: San Diego Rare Fruit Growers, a large group of San Diego gardeners. There is a San Diego Central group and a North County group. I have a lot of trees from them as I was a member for several years and cultivated many rare trees.

J.R. Miles: Floribunda Palms in Keaau, Hawaii is a great source of rare palm seedlings. Anderson’s La Costa Nursery (see page 17) sometimes has some of the less common plants, but sometimes you will need to be careful of the labeling.

Sheila Busch: Kartuz Greenhouses, Vista (see above); Annie’s Annuals mail order; Buena Creek Gardens, San Marcos.

Wanda Mallen: Favorite sources for rare plants, mail order: Arid Lands and Out of Africa for succulents, Tropiflora for bromeliads and other tropicals, Plant Delights for woodland plants and agaves. There are local plant club sales, particularly the inter-city cactus and succulent show every August at the Los Angeles Arboretum. Local nurseries: Walter Andersen (see page 16), Armstrong Nurseries, and the Green Thumb Nursery (see inside front cover). You just need to look and prepare to be surprised.

Debra Lee Baldwin: One of San Diego’s best kept secrets is Peta Crist’s Rare Succulents Nursery in Rainbow (off I-15 north of Escondido). Petra caters primarily to collectors, is known nationwide (she judges at the Philadelphia Flower show), has won numerous Cactus and Succulent Society trophies, and has pristine greenhouses full of amazing, perfectly grown succulents. I’ve shot several You Tube videos there. It’s well worth visiting, and Petra’s a gracious guide, but do be considerate of her time. Go in a group and plant to purchase plants. By appointment, contact her at info@raresucculents.com.

Walter Andersen: Let’s see now… a good place to find rare plants? I would start at Walter Andersen Nursery (see page 16), they have two locations, San Diego, near Old Town—Marine Base area and Poway Business Park. Both stores stock the common plants, often used, but also a great assortment of unusual plants you don’t see every day at other nurseries. There is a great selection of Moosa Creek California Native Plants (see page 17) that are becoming more popular because of water restrictions. The Cactus and Succulent selections have grown a lot for the same reason, but there always seems to be some new plant for indoors, or outside as a curiosity. Check out the many varieties of Playcerium, common name staghorn fern. While you are checking these, be sure to check the many other fern selections available, both indoors and out in the shade. For things that are super unusual check out Kartuz Greenhouses in Vista (see above). You should probably call to be sure of the hours.

Ruth Sewell: Take a walk in your neighborhood, if you see something interesting, knock on the door and introduce yourself and ask for a snip.

Susi Torre-Bueno: Great question!  Some of my favorite local sources for rare succulents are Serra Gardens (Fallbrook, see page 12), Oasis Water Efficient Gardens (Escondido), Solana Succulents (Solana Beach, see page 16), and Waterwise Botanicals (Bonsall). For other kinds of plants I've sometimes found rare items at Green Thumb Nursery (San Marcos, see inside front cover), Anderson's LaCosta Nursery (Encinitas, see page 17), and Walter Andersen Nursery (San Diego and Poway, see page 16). I’ve also had great success finding uncommon plants at the spring and fall plant sales at the U. C. Riverside arboretum, although I can’t always go because they often conflict with garden events closer to home.


 Our Mission  To inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants, and to create beautiful, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes.

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