Top Ten Lists

Are we one of the top ten Garden centers in the Bay Area ? You decide…

The Top Rated Garden Centers and Nurseries in the Bay Area

|April 12, 2019

Gardening in the Bay Area can be an intimidating endeavor. In San Francisco alone, every neighborhood has its own microclimate. And that doesn’t even take into account the climates found on different sides of the Peninsula, across East Bay and into Marin County. So, how do you keep plants alive?

Well, you can start by asking the local experts, and some of these experts have been growing and cultivating here in the Bay Area since 1909! We rounded up some of our favorite garden centers and nurseries where you can find the perfect plants for your garden and your home. Happy planting!….

CACTUS JUNGLE | Berkeley + San Anselmo

1509 Fourth St, Berkeley + 130 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, San Anselmo | Facebook

Cactus Jungle Bay Area garden centers and nurseries

Photo courtesy of Peter Lipson via Cactus Jungle

Cactus Jungle was founded in 2002… From their two locations—one in Berkeley and one in San Anselmo—they offer cacti and succulents, low-water grasses, summer-drought bamboos, California natives and more, which are grown both locally and around the world.

Art Show Opening

Hand turned wood bowls from local artist Mike Newlin, Nov. 16 – Dec. 24, 2018 at our Marin store in San Anselmo.

Opening night party is Friday 11/16 4p-6:30p

Delayed! Due to smoke in the Bay Area the Opening Night Party has been rescheduled to:

Friday Nov 30, 4-6:30p

Fun and snacks and drinks and wood bowls for everyone!


The Future is Cactus

According to

We’ll All Be Eating Cactus in the Future Thanks to Climate Change
by Katie Valentine

…the prickly pear cactus, a humble plant that, according to a new book co-published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, can serve as a lifesaving crop for many countries…

“It’s actually a fairly amazing crop that can grow in most dry areas of the world,” Makiko Taguchi, a cactus expert at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, told Earther. “And the dry areas of the world are expanding in some places.”

Oh, and it’s delicious!

Prickly Pear Margarita


coarse salt as needed
2 fluid ounces tequila
2 fluid ounces sweet and sour mix

1 fluid ounce triple sec
1 fluid ounce lime juice
1 fluid ounce prickly pear syrup

Click thru to see the rest of the instructions.

Los Angeles Area Cactus Show 

Were you wondering what to do next weekend? Are you going to be in Encino next weekend? You are in luck!

If your garden yearns for crazy, colorful, drought-hearty plants, the Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society aims to satisfy at its first Fall Sale Sept. 16 in Encino.

A variety of cacti and succulents are up for sale. (Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

I say, “Woot!”

Tokidoki Special Edition

It’s the Tokidoki Unicorno Pride Special Edition – It’s a 2-pack!

We sell a lot of the Tokidoki toys, mostly the Cactus Friends and the Unicornos (also spiky!) since we are a spiky kind of nursery kind of place. And now they’ve released a Pride Special Edition?!? And we are in the middle of Pride season here in SF!?!

Awesome. And we have them…

Succulents are Super Hip and Cool

According to the New Republic, there’s never been a better time to decorate your home with so many succulents that you can’t even see the windows anymore.

I am not trendy

. In fact, I actively disdain something as soon as I sense it’s a trend… But that couldn’t stop me from falling prey to one of the latest trends: succulents.


I noticed other people’s obsession with succulents before I became obsessed myself….

But somewhere along the way, my stance on succulents started changing. I found myself thinking that maybe if I had a succulent….

First, I acquired a light green echeveria that grew a single yellow flower. Then I got another, darker echeveria. And a hen-and-chicks. And a big spiky aloe. And a fairy castle cactus. There was no turning back.

Phew! What a story! A journey to enlightenment.

Drought in the Desert

People think that because cactus and succulents may come from a desert that they can handle the California drought. But it’s a record drought! Even desert plants need some water. For instance, the Joshua Trees…


LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the California desert, Joshua tree seedlings are shriveling up and dying before they get the chance to put down strong roots, and ecologist Cameron Barrows wants the details.

The University of California, Riverside scientist knows that hot weather and lack of rainwater hurt the iconic species…

The Cactus Remains

Hilltop Steakhouse is gone for good, but the cactus remains!


Whither Hilltop Steakhouse? Closed since 2013, the landmark restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus is about to be demolished. That’s the bad news, at least for lovers of its marbled beef and baked potatoes. The good news is that the giant cactus that greeted patrons is staying put. The developer “recognizes that the cactus is such an iconic item that he couldn’t do any better than to reuse it”….

The Hilltop was opened in 1961 by Frank Giuffrida, a butcher whose name is emblazoned on the 68-foot tall, 45-foot wide cactus. That won’t remain, apparently. We’re told the developer plans to retrofit the Route 1 icon with LED lights and replace the name.

It’s a Boston thing.

Growing Cactus in Toronto


Each year, (a) mature cactus can produce 10-20 offsets….

“You can harvest the babies off the larger cacti every year.”…

Last year they had about 1,500. They now have almost 5,000 cacti growing at Tilllsonburg Garden Gate.

“This year I have to pull off 50,000 cacti… with my hands.”…

“Once we have 50,000, then we’ll be able to expand sales,” said Dawson…. “Next year, 50,000 x 10, we could have half a million cacti.”…

“It’s a specialty market.”

That’ll be a lot of cactus soon enough! I wonder if they’ll be trying to sell them to us in California too? It’s a bigger market for cactus than Toronto…

Cactus Owls in the News

It’s been a few years since the fight over protecting the Cactus Owls has made its way to court, but a new court battle over protections is coming.

Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday aimed at forcing the federal government to protect Arizona’s diminishing cactus ferruginous pygmy owl population under the Endangered Species Act.

The Sonoran Desert of southern and eastern Arizona is home to about 50 of the owls. While Arizona’s population is one of two small populations in the United States, there are significant populations of pygmy owls in Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa.

The lawsuit filed by Defenders of Wildlife and the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the owl as endangered….

Pygmy owls were once more common in Arizona, but urban sprawl from Phoenix and Tucson in the 1970s and ’80s has eliminated much of their habitat, according to Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

A change to the Endangered Species Act in 1997 defined the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl as a “distinct population segment” that could be protected under the Act.

An Agave Blooms in Melbourne

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted one of these local news stories where an Agave blooms and everyone comes from miles around to see the enormous sight. And then the local newspaper gets involved and publishes a picture and that picture zooms around the world on the wings of the web to my desk and from my desk to your eyes.

Enjoy! Local news at its finest.

Mystery cactus springs more than 6m in Bentleigh garden


…(LORNA Smith) and her husband, John, have lived at the Bentleigh house since 1956 and the huge cactus is a first.

“It’s gone straight up like a rocket, it’s taller than my garage now,” Mrs Smith said.

“I just can’t believe it, nothing like this has happened before.”

The commenters have correctly identified it as an Agave americana.

Fashionable Cactus

Are you a fan of the cactus? Then you are so fashionable right now that you are practically dripping in irony.

Fashion’s love affair with the humble cactus

Marina London's silky green separates are best accessorised with Pedro the cactus

Marina London’s silky green separates are best accessorised with Pedro the cactus…

The tough, drought-tolerant cactus and its close relation the succulent (the fleshy-leaved, geometric-shaped rockery plant, also known as house leeks or sempervivum), are ”trending” right now.

Expensive clothes, expensive stool, expensive cactus – so why is the pot cheap plastic? You couldn’t spring for terra cotta?

American Butterflies

Wayfair sells miscellaneous home goods type crap and such, and for some reason they wanted to let me know they also have butterfly maps for the US. So here, have a link to their Butterfly Maps for the US.

With Butterfly Pictures too:


It’s an odd thing for that website and I wouldn’t have blogged it but for the pretty pictures. That’s what it takes for me to blog something! Send me a link to pretty pictures!!!!!!!

Wifi Enabled SmartPhone Plant Minder

That’s a great idea! We should invent a wifi enabled smartphone plant minder. The devices should cost only $5 per plant, with a base unit that costs about $25. You could connect all your plants to your smartphone for under $100, unless you’re like me and have a lot more plants than that.

You could check the soil moisture and temperature of each plant. You could check the amount of ongoing photosynthesis happening on sunny and cloudy days. You could make sure your roommate isn’t overwatering.


Too bad it doesn’t exist. But this does:

News from Germany

From Bundt comes a story about Lithops in the Lifestyles Section.

Lithops als aufregende Zimmerpflanze

You might think I would run this through a translator so I could see what this article is really about. You never know! It could be about how to grow Lithops for fun and gardening, or maybe it’s for some nefarious purpose – the Germans are after all a lot closer to Ukraine than we in the US are!

I don’t know what that has to do with Ukraine, but it is a current topic of news, so maybe, you know, maybe.

Further into the article we get this.

Ursprünglich sind lebende Steine, die sich von Frühjahr bis Herbst in der Wachstumsphase befinden, in Südafrika beheimatet.

I still don’t know what that means, but it also seems like it’s probably something innocuous about growing Lithops.

Agave Gas

Scientists believe the agave plant – the raw source of Tequila and mezcal – could produce cost-effective biofuel for farmers

As part of a science project at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton, Australia, scientists have been growing the plants and discovered the leaves, that are currently a by-product, could be used to make bioethanol.

Of course it will work, you can make alcohol from it easily enough, but will it be a better source than switchgrass?

High Street Cactus Store

Sandy Johnson, the co-owner of Hearts of Jade Succulent Garden, Art and Gift Shop on High Street, said business was “steady” this holiday season….

Hearts of Jade, open since Sept. 2012, features indoor and outdoor decorations, including metal sculptures, birdhouses, pottery, wind chimes and a variety of succulent wreaths and arrangements.

“We do a lot of one-of-a-kind things you don’t see anywhere else,” Johnson said. “Succulents are big right now, (so) we’re just kind of riding the wave.”

Do more than just ride the wave, Sandy! Grab hold of the bucking bronco of succulent popularity right now and make a mark in the Chicagoland arts scene!

By the way, do click through that link above to the bucking bronco. Amazing what succulent popularity of the moment can lead to!

How do you Pronounce Plant Names?

The Marin Independent-Journal News-Navigator is pretty definitive about how to pronounce plant names.


Pronounced kal-un-KOH-ee, kalanchoe is a little blooming machine that can light up a room with brilliantly colored blossoms encircled by fleshy, glossy, scalloped green leaves. lists 4 possible pronounciations. We prefer the 4th one. The one listed above is generally used by florists, while nursery growers usually say “kuh-lan-choh”.

It would be irresponsible not to comment.

Posted Warnings – Cactus!

We don’t post warnings at the front of our nursery that there might be cactus inside. You know, beware of the cactus, since the name of the nursery is Cactus Jungle, after all. But what about on a desert hiking trail? A letter to the editor of the Carlsbad Patch:

While walking with my family down by the south east end of the Lagoon in Carlsbad Agua Hedionda and my youngest son was attacked by what is known as jumping cactus. Having grown up here in Carlsbad and hiked that whole area since I was young I’ve never seen such a cactus. It was vicious to dislodge from his leg….

I think there should be a warning sign in the area…

Pencil Cactus

There’s a lot to unpack in this AP article about the common houseplant known as the Pencil Cactus. Here’s the opening:

Sap aside, pencil cactus is nice indoors and out
Lee Reich, Associated Press


This undated photo shows a pencil cactus, the common name for Euphorbia tirucalli, an easy-to-care-for and interesting-looking houseplant, in New Paltz, New York. LEE REICH Associated Press

Pencil cactus is a fitting common name for Euphorbia tirucalli, even though the plant would be useless for writing and is not really a cactus.

OK, so the headline starts right off with mentioning the sap as a downside, but not enough of a downside to stop one from buying it. Maybe! But it is one of the most poisonous of the Euphorbias commonly available for purchase, so maybe it shouldn’t be so easily dismissed as a concern.

Then the headline lets you know that the plant is good outside, and yet the photo accompanying the article was taken in New Paltz, NY, home of an original French Huguenot village, and the truth is it will die die die if left outside through a winter in New Paltz, NY, home of the SUNY New Paltz campus.

Finally, the AP writer writes a pun! Oh the humanity! Of course, its not really a pun, not at all funny, and has no place in such a serious article about a houseplant in New Paltz, NY, home of the Mohonk Mountain House. Nice!

Visiting a Particularly Large Saguaro


Although it’s not the largest saguaro ever discovered, the colossal specimen along the Dutchman’s Trail in the Superstition Wilderness is a commanding presence. Balancing a massive, Medusa-like crown of spiny arms and isolated in a landscape where neighboring saguaros sport more modest profiles, this impressive plant grabs the spotlight.

But, it might not stand for much longer. An ominous gray scale on its north side and what appears to be a lightning strike in its core may spell its doom…

And then there’s the whole location and hike and map and description information so you too can go and see this mountainous cactus before its gone.

The hike begins at the Peralta Trailhead on Bluff Spring Trail…

French Hoodia?

From Tela-Botanica it’s labeled as Hoodia alstonii, which has amazing little yellow flowers. Unfortunately it’s in french so I don’t know what the description says.


C’est Linné qui, en 1754, a créé le genre Cactus dans son ouvrage fondamental Genera plantarum. Or ce genre Cactus n’existe pas dans la nomenclature actuelle. Et pourtant, il est le type de la famille des Cactacées. Son apparition progressive dans la littérature botanique est intéressante, et deux explications sont proposées quant à son origine.

I suppose I could run it through a translation software package and find out, but what fun would that be?

OK, I ran it through the translation software and it must be a mistake. This photo of a Hoodia and this description of the Cactus Family in french do not go together. What now?

Florida Succulent Challenges

Growing succulents in Florida can be a challenge because the counterpart to our dry season is the wet season, making it difficult to sustain the dry growing conditions that succulents require.

And yet they recommend planting:

The Thai crown of thorns blooms year round. Kalanchoe ‘fantastic’ has colorful, mottled leaves. The Fishhook Aloe. Senecio ‘Blue Chalk’ is aptly named. The ‘mother of thousands’ Kalanchoe has a upright, striking bloom. Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’.

That’s a lot of succulents to be mworried about the Florida humidity and wet season. So many potential problems! And yet, a lot of people seem to grow a lot of succulents in Florida, so maybe it’s OK after all.

Not Pet Safe

They get Pet Questions for their Plants:

By Dr. Susan Baker

Question: I have had a Kalanchoe plant for several months and a good friend visited me over the holidays and told me it is toxic to my cat! Is it true? I love the pretty flowers and my cat Jessibelle has never touched it. Do I have to get rid of it?

Answer: Good question Monique! Unfortunately, the Kalanchoe plant is listed as one of the top plants to cause toxic issues for pets! The plant contains bufodienolides that can cause vomiting and diarrhea and in severe cases can cause abnormalities in heart rate and rhythm….

The ASPCA animal poison control center has a nice website on poisonous plants that you can review at

Sacramento Plantings

Apparently they like to plant Euphorbias in Sacramento in February. The Sacramento Bee has a year-long planting guide and right at the top for February is Euphorbia. Any particular type of Euphorbia? Well, read on…

Spurge ( Euphorbia sp.): Neither deer nor drought will touch euphorbia, guaranteed.

However, this Mediterranean native comes with a warning: If you break a leaf or cut the stems, you’ll see a white sap ooze from the cut. Avoid getting it on your skin… Don’t touch your eyes with sap on your fingers, either….

Spurge is part of the genus Euphorbia. It is a large genus with about 2,000 species, including succulent, cactus-like types as well as upright and prostrate perennials and shrubs….

It turns out February isn’t just the month for planting Euphorbias in Sacramento, but Berkeley could use a few more Spurge plantings in February too.

Official Colorado Cactus?

A close up photo of the kingcup cactus. A Douglas County Girl Scout troop is seeking official state status for the cactus, which is common in many Colorado counties. (Charlie McDonald, U.S. Forest Service)

I wonder what it means to have official state status for a cactus in Colorado? I would support the troop’s efforts regardless, because who doesn’t want more state-statused-officially-cactus plants? And it’s a pretty cactus plant too so that helps. Always with the pretty plants and the official statuses. Nobody ever approves the ugly plants for state statuses. Or even for county statuses. Why is that?


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