top of page

SHARING SECRETS: Plant Shopping: Our Favorite Haunts (Part Two)

Shopping for Plants

What is your favorite plant source in the local region and why? Have you had any luck ordering plants online and if so, what has worked?

Due to the enthusiastic response we received to last month's question, we're sharing the balance of your favorite plant sources this month. Here's what some of our members had to say.

Terry Chamberlin: While sourcing plants for the San Diego County Fair garden exhibit this year, I discovered Briggs Tree Company (Vista), which has an interesting array of high quality plants in five-gallon size, typically for under $15. A fun nursery to visit is Waterwise Botanicals, off of Old Highway 395 in Bonsall, for drought tolerant plants, cacti, succulents, roses, etc., in a beautiful garden setting with natural ponds. But my “died and gone to horticultural heaven” moment occurred at Green Thumb Nursery (SD Hort Society sponsor) in San Marcos, where I discovered an incredible selection of unusual plants, California native plants (including a good selection from Moosa Creek Nursery), beautiful pollinator friendly flowers, large selection of shade plants, and I could go on. My only wish is that these nurseries weren’t an hour drive from my home…but then again that might be a good thing!

Carol Buckley: My favorite plant source is Barrels & Branches Nursery on Santa Fe in Encinitas. The only times I’ve ordered plants online was when giving them to family members who live in other states. One in particular comes to mind, a blue ginger I sent my nephew, when he was living in St. Louis. This was quite a few years ago, and I can’t remember the seller.

Cindy McIntyre: I like to go to Walter Andersen Nursery for my plants and with questions. The specialists there really know their plants. They have educational classes, usually every Saturday morning, for free. The plant selection is very good. They have a rewards program for your purchases.

Vivian Black: The majority of the time I go to Andersen’s Nursery or Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery for a tree, and Lowe’s or Armstrong for small potted starters.

Lili Walsh: I have three locations that I like for different reasons. Solana Succulents is my go-to place for new and diverse succulents. Green Gardens on Cass Street in Pacific Beach, because they are very knowledgeable and have a great selection of pots as well as plants. And Armstrong on Morena Blvd. for my “thrillers and fillers,” as well as a great variety of veggies and herbs.

Greg Hebert: My favorite North County nursery is Rancho Soledad for succulents and other specimens. Near my office, I like Walter Andersen for their variety of unusual plants.

Jason Chen: Locally I’ve gone from Walter Andersen to the local Armstrong. I try to stay and support the smaller garden shops like Anderson’s La Costa, and Plant Play (and there are a few others tucked away in North County). All depending on what I’m looking for. Cedros Gardens closed up shop, unfortunately, as that was my go-to place for edibles and many hard to find plants. The good thing is they all tend to order from the same growers. Unfortunately, at some places, the employees aren’t the most knowledgeable or helpful. Sometimes, that fact keeps me from shopping there. When I shop online, it’s for hard to find rare plants. Everything from eBay to places like Annie’s Annuals, Plant Delights, Far Reaches…surprisingly I’ve had good luck on eBay, everything from roses to cacti and orchids.

Barbara Patterson: What a great question! Can’t wait to see all the answers. My favorites follow: 1. Walter Andersen Nursery in Pt. Loma for pure quantity and quality. 2. Barrels & Branches in Encinitas has an interesting selection, beautifully displayed, and smart people to answer our questions. 3. Gardens by the Sea in Leucadia is a challenge to find but worth the effort. They have a great selection of succulents and drought tolerant plants densely packed into a relatively small site. Great employees, super helpful and knowledgeable. 4. Weidner’s, once known primarily for ‘dig your own’ begonias, offers so much more—and it’s always a colorful, fun stop, with great advice whether you need it or simply want to have it to confirm what you think you already know. Beautiful hanging baskets, especially the fuchsias. They also offer classes, a few recently with Mia McCarville, who owned Cedros Gardens, which we all loved. 5. Plant Play Nursery in Carlsbad is an off the beaten path place with a unique selection of plants, pots, and chickens—chickens are not for sale, but so much fun. The men here really know their stuff and can make suggestions for any conditions you may be dealing with. 6. Mail order? Heck yeah! I love Annie’s Annuals. They have an amazing website, an ever changing interesting array of plants, helpful plant lists, and they encourage you to build a wish list on their site. Then they notify you when the plants you lust after are available. What more could you ask? How about shipping? Plants arrive healthy and undamaged with clear instructions about what you need to do with them. Last, they have brilliant packaging. The one and only time I had a problem, they quickly replaced the plants in question, at no charge. A great company that deserves our support!

Barb Huntington: City Farmer.

Kathy Voltin: I love Walter Andersen for their community support and their great selection. It is difficult to go there and not buy something because there is always a plant or device that catches my eye. Some of their tools are better designed for my arthritic hands, so that is hard to pass up. I have not ordered plants online, but I have ordered plenty of seeds.

Gerald Stewart: The most consistent sources for having rare and unusual plants locally: Walter Andersen Nursery, Pt. Loma and Poway, Green Thumb, San Marcos, and Anderson’s La Costa Nursery, Leucadia. Up north, San Gabriel Nursery in San Gabriel, Green Thumb in El Toro, Plant Depot in San Juan Capistrano, La Crescenta Nursery in La Crescenta, and MW Nursery in Lakewood. Mail order sources include Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina, Glasshouse Works in Ohio, Forest Farm in Oregon, Geraniaceae in the San Francisco Bay area, Jordan Nursery in Washington, Rosy Dawn Gardens in Michigan, Logee’s Greenhouses in Massachusetts, Avant Gardens NE in Massachusetts, and Cistus Nursery in Oregon.

Andrew Wilson: A lot depends on the type of plant you seek. Trees online, is a failure; you must see the individual specimens. At the other extreme, non-woody perennials, such as bromeliads, can be acquired with a far higher degree of success. With at least three sources in California and Florida, the results are similar, all excellent, speedy, and reliable.

Cindy Sparks: For some of my best ‘off-brand’ plant sources, I’ve found it pays to look around. I had to source the ‘Festival’ or ‘Electric’ series for Cordyline, for my new front garden. I found the nicest ones at Plant Depot, just over the OC County line, next to I-5. At the same time I was browsing Home Depot and they had two of the burgundy-colored variety at half the price of Plant Depot. I bought some at each, and the HD individuals have done better than the full-priced ones from PD, go figure. For herbs, I haunt the local Trader Joe's look-alike called Barrons Market. Theirs are half the price of everybody else. The bad news is that you have to get them while they are fresh, rather than after they have been ‘cared for’ by the market staff. When I’m doing herb baskets, half price makes a noticeable difference in bottom-line cost. Since I often do talks about herbs, I need samples to talk about and show. Don’t overlook all the garden group sales: garden clubs, plant societies, and (toot my own horn here) the Master Gardeners’ fall plant sale, all have some exceptional plants. Of course they also have tons of jade plant, so you have to look around carefully.

Lynn Neagley: For heirloom bulbs, Old House Gardens has been my source for over 25 years. On both coasts and in all kinds of gardening situations, I have literally never been disappointed! Their catalogue is beautiful and educational and an occasional look at their Facebook page is always entertaining. A great company and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Linda Shaw: This year, I ordered three plants of Japanese eggplant from Burpee. They arrived, roots and all, beautifully packaged, in perfect condition and I’ve been cooking with them all summer. Each eggplant is only about three to four inches long, but the plants are profuse with fruit. So I would pick about seven each time I cooked them. Yum!

Jackie Seidman: My favorite local go-to nursery in North County is Anderson’s La Costa. I always make a point of talking with Stephen Froess. He is SO knowledgeable and willing to help. I love talking plants with him. The nursery has a plethora of interesting plants all the time and will also special order anything they don’t currently have in stock. I love to just wander around and explore. In addition, they put out a great monthly newsletter. For mail order, I have been happy with Seeds from Italy and Easy to Grow Bulbs.

Louise Anderson: Green Thumb is in my neighborhood in San Marcos. They periodically have coupons to reduce purchase price. Always great to get a bargain. Knowledgeable employees.

bottom of page