Field trip to Poot's Cactus Nursery (part 1)

I joined the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society almost seven years ago, and the first field trip I went on was to Poot's Cactus Nursery in Ripon, a small town in the Central Valley about an hour south of Sacramento. Now, six and a half years later, we did the same field trip.

Even though I do get around, I hadn't been back to Poot's since November 2011, and I couldn't wait to see what had changed. The short answer: Nothing and everything. The demonstration garden in the front is still there, but the plants have grown tremendously. The propagation greenhouse is still full of wonders, but it seemed like there were even more plants. And the sale area is still well-stocked but the selection is even better and the prices seemed particularly attractive.

I took so many photos that I decided to split this post into two parts. This part covers the demonstration garden and the propagation greenhouse. Part 2 covers the sale area.

Entrance to the nursery right off Highway 120

Look for this sign and cactus cluster as you approach on Highway 120

As true as ever!

The nursery was started by Bill and Roelyn Poot 32 years ago. It's very much a family business, with son Brian managing the daily operations and other children helping out as needed. Bill and Roelyn still play a very active role in propagation and sales. We were fortunate to be guided around the nursery grounds by Roelyn and the propagation greenhouse by Bill.

Here are some photos of the garden facing Highway 120:

The cactus on the right is a saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea)

Cleistocactus strausii

Gokden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)

Mystery aloe; I bought a cutting for our front yard

Good posture is important!

Koi pond

Waterfall; to the right is the propagation greenhouse

Moss and succulents: a strange but wonderful sight

Moroccan mound (Euphorbia resinifera)

This Echinopsis had over 300 flowers last May!

The propagation greenhouse is usually off limits but we were given a special tour by Bill Poot himself. The greenhouse is chock full of wonderful plants. Most of them are cactus but there are also euphorbias, other succulents, and caudiciforms of all description. I don't have a deep knowledge of cactus so I didn't recognize many specimens. But it doesn't matter how much you know or don't know or whether you're an expert of beginner. The sheer variety of forms, textures and colors is mesmerizing.

Melocactus, sometimes called Turk's cap cactus. The "hat" on top is the cephalum where the flowers develop.

Pseudobombax ellipticum (Kitoi, thank you for the ID)

Much sought-after Agave victoria-reginae 'Albomarginata'

Golden rat'S tail cactus (Cleistocactus winteri)

Deuterocohnia brevifolia, a terrestrial bromeliad from Argentina and Bolivia. It forms fantastic mounds.

Maiden's quiver tree (Aloidendron ramosissimum)

Notice the intricate branching structure

Euphorbia hamata (left)

Ibervillea maxima, a member of the cucumber family

The most stunning specimen of Dudleya brittonii  I've ever seen (front and back)

Rare variegated Agave attenuata

Tephrocactus alexanderi var. geometricus

Fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis) cuttings waiting to be planted

This was my personal "it" cactus of this field trip: Uebelmannia pectinifera from the mountains of Minas Gerais in southern Brazil

I almost bought one but then decided I don't want yet another plant I have to pamper in the winter

Variegated Ferocactus, always a beautiful sight

Lithops (living stones) are hard to grow, but Poot's has clearly figured out the secret

Variegated Haworthia fasciata

Rat's tail cactus (Disocactus flagelliformis)

Euphorbia symphony

The ever-popular baseball plant (Euphorbia obesa) in all shapes and sizes

As juveniles, they're round but with age they begin to elongate. The baseball becomes the bat,as it were.

This was a particulary photogenic cluster of cactus

A quartet of Echeveria. The three on the right are Echeveria subrigida.

After our tour of the propagation greenhouse, Roelyn Poot led us through the outside propagation area: row upon row of succulents of all kind and sizes. Unfortunately, none of these plants were available for purchase so all we could do was drool

I haven't been a big fan of Sempervivum, not because I don't appreciate their beauty (quite to the contrary) but because they struggle in our summer heat and are susceptible to pests when (semi) dormant in the hottest months. But after seeing these stunners, I'm willing to give them another try. I just need to keep a close eye on them and spring into action as soon as I see the first signs of mealybug activity.

Echeveria agavoides in full bloom

Cactus and euphorbia cuttings callusing over before getting planted

More totem pole cactus (Lophocereus schottii var. monstrosus) than I've seen in one place outside of Arizona and Southern California

Click here to go to part 2 of this post: a tour of the sale area and a peek at the plants I brought home.

Poot's Cactus Nursery is one of California's largest retail succulent nurseries. They're located at 17229 CA-120 in Ripon, right on the main highway to Yosemite National Park. You might have driven right past without even knowing it! Poot's is open Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5, closed on Sunday. For more information, visit their website.


  1. pseudobombax ellipticum is your mistery caudex

  2. That's one incredible collection of plants. That Dudleya was drool-worthy, as was the variegated Agave attenuata. I've started experimenting with Sempervivum myself but I share your concern with getting them through the summer months.

    1. That dudleya!! The stuff of dreams. I'm tempted to give it another try.

      Funny how sempervivums are such a challenge for us--see Alison's comment.

  3. What a cool nursery! Those variegated Haworthia with all those golden bits are stunning. How interesting that you are challenged by Semps, which are so easy for us and so many other parts of the country. They're our Echeveria substitutes.

    1. I figured you PNW gardeners would laugh at my sempervivum comment. I'll give semps another try this year. A watchful eye might do the trick since they're mealybug magnets in my garden.

  4. Very beautiful, thank you for sharing.

  5. Oooh, I want to go there. The Tephrocactus alexanderi var. geometricus would be my "it" (as in "must have "it"") cactus.

    1. Tephrocactus alexanderi var. geometricus was a very popular plant on this field trip (as in "much drooled over").

  6. What a fun field trip! I love your it cactus, and you've reminded me of how upset my brother was after moving his huge collection of sempervivum from Spokane to Phoenix only to have them all die...

  7. Now that I've picked myself up off the floor... ay caramba, what a nursery! Can't even begin to list all the plants I'd want to bring home. So glad for this awesome tour - now I know to plan for at least half a day there. Oh, and I wish you luck with the sempervivum, which are sempermortuum in the summer heat at my place :~( Likewise Dudleya brittonii, sad to say. The one pictured above is absolutely breathtaking.

    1. Hey, I'll take you to Poot's when you finally make it up my way :-).


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