Field trip to Poot's Cactus Nursery (part 2)

In part 1 of this post, I showed you the demonstration garden (including koi pond) and the propagation greenhouse of Poot's Cactus Nursery in Ripon, California.

This post focuses on the sale area. While smaller than the propagation areas, the sale area is jam-packed with goodies. There's an outside area with tables for smaller plants as well as a selection of larger specimens that just sit on the ground. And there's a retail greenhouse with more cold-sensitive and rare specimens, all waiting to be discovered and explored.

I was happy to see that Poot's provides shopping carts and wagons for those of us who take plant shopping seriously. This is Mariel, SCSS vice president and program chair, who organized this field trip and took advantage of this opportunity to buy the raffle plants for the next meeting (Monday, March 27, 7:00 pm; for more info, click here).

I was torn between taking photos and looking for cool plants. In the end, I made several passes through the sale area to take care of both items of business.

These plants were right near the entrance; they must be part of a new delivery that had just arrived

Shopping carts! Such a basic thing, yet few specialty nurseries seem to have them.

(Left) Golden barrels in all sizes. (Right) Yucca rostrata with a trunk! Something you almost never see in Northern California. Well priced at $79.

At $29, these Agave titanota in #5 pots were a steal

Another great buy: large Dasylirion longissimum for $69 and $79. Instant impact in your garden!

Agave 'Blue Glow' continues to be the most popular agave out there, judging by the number of plants in the nursery

Something I never see in our neck of the woods: Aloidendron dichotomum with a trunk! Well priced at $69.

Prefer barrel cactus?

Take your pick!

This mystery aloe called out to me from 50 feet away. Simply labeled "Aloe" and bargain-priced at $25, it went home with me (see below).

More fuzzy cactus

Cardons (Pachycereus pringlei) on the left, saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea) on the right

Same plants, different view

Echeveria agavoides in full flower

Large section of cactus babies

One of my favorite cactus, spineless claret cup (Echinocereus triglochidiatus forma inermis), for some reason hard to find

Mammillaria spinosissimum

Mammillaria camptotricha cv. marnier-lapostollei

More saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea)

Your taste runs towards the funky? Poot's has you covered. This is Ibervillea lindheimeri.

Who knows what this is? Well, I'm sure Kitoi knows :-).

Mammillaria parkinsonii

Mammillaria parkinsonii

Instant impact in your garden!

8 ft. pony tail palm trio (Beaucarnea recurvata) for $300. Not cheap, but still a bargain considering the size!

Echeveria lilacina

Aloe debrana, a rare aloe from Ethiopia. A steal at $10. One came home with me.

I had never seen crested Pachypodium lamerei before

Truly odd and definitely rare. Priced at $49.

The retail greenhouse is even more exciting that the outside sale area because the plants are in seemingly random order. That makes browsing a veritable treasure hunt. I could have spent hours in there but I was running short on time because our propagation greenhouse tour was scheduled for 10:00 a.m.

Deuterocohnia brevifolia

At $800, it was the most expensive plant by far

The retail greenhouse also contains a small demonstration garden with some interesting plants:

Aloidendron ramosissimum

I think this is Ferocactus platyacanthus

Aloe dorotheae

I have no idea which species of Gasteria this is but it looked great nestled in this burl

And here are my plant purchases from Poot's:

Two exciting aloes

I suspected this was Aloe elgonica, and Brian Kemble, curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden and my go-to expert for all things aloe, confirmed it. Aloe elgonica grows in only one location, Mt Elgon on the border between Uganda and Kenya (and possibly only on the Kenya side of the mountain).

This is the mystery aloe that called out to me at the nursery. It looked to me like Aloe vaombe, a tree aloe from Madagascar I fell in love with on my recent trip to Southern California and wasn't able to find in the nurseries I visited there.

I didn't dare get my hopes up, but Brian Kemble confirmed that this is indeed Aloe vaombe.

I'm a very, very happy camper.
Aloe debrana, a rare aloe from Ethiopia. It's pretty but not very distinctive, possibly with the exception of its sharp teeth. But look at the flowers it produces!

I also found another plant that had been on my wish list for a long time: Sansevieria trifasciata 'Bantel's Sensation'. It's strictly a houseplant, but it'll be a great addition to the other sansevierias that have taken up residence upstairs.

Considering how far I stray from home at times, Poot's is really quite close. I've vowed not to let another six years go by before my next visit!

And if you have plans to visit Yosemite National Park this year, plan on stopping at Poot's. They're right on Highway 120 just a few miles east of Manteca.


  1. So many wonderful things at fabulous prices, I would have had a hard time choosing. Of course with your eye and aloe smarts you did very well!

    1. I wouldn't say smart, but these two aloes were exceptionally attractive and well-priced. You know how much I love a bargain.

  2. I first spotted Poot's while on a school bus, traveling with my 7th graders to a 3-night outing in Yosemite. Couldn't wait to get back to check it out -- what a great find it is! I have a question about the Deuterocohnia brevifolia: how old would you guess that plant is? Is it a fast grower? Speaking of growth, here's an interesting 1960s video about the "Valley of the Sun," featuring (at about 5:00) a visit to the DBG in its early days:

    1. I bet a lot of people catch a glimpse of Poot's in the corner of their eyes as they speed by on Highway 120.

      I don't have much experience with Deuterocohnia brevifolia. I have a very small offset (just a few rosettes) and it hasn't done much. I found some info online that suggests that while it's very slow initially, it can pick up speed as it gets old. Apparently, in its native habitat it gets moisture from the occasional fog--and actual water as infrequently as twice a year!

      Thank you for sharing that 1960s promo video. What a riot! The plants at the Desert Botanical Garden were SO SMALL! It looks completely different now! I'll watch the rest of the video tonight--it's so cheesy, complete with soothing muzak.

  3. Great finds, Gerhard - your discerning eye serves you well!

  4. What a fine nursery! And that is a great price for the quiver tree aloe. I have a multi-headed aloe bought as elgonica that has never bloomed, that doesn't have that pinky-purple blush on the leaves that yours has, so now you and Brian have me second-guessing what mine is -- another mystery aloe in my garden!

    1. A few years ago I bought what was labeled "Aloe elgonica" at Lowe's but it looks nothing like the aloe I just got at Poot's. I'm pretty sure now the Lowe's plant was mislabeled. I have no idea what it is, but it's a fairly generic-looking clumper with generic flowers.

  5. Cool stuff!

    Those P. lameri were crestate, which is interesting -- never seen that, but don't see them too often in my travels.

    Also, those titanota look like they might be displaying signs of eryophyid mites

    1. Daniel, yikes, agave mites? Are you referring to the bald spots on the leaves were the bloom is gone?

    2. Yeah. It's hard to tell from the photo, so I should emphasize my use of "might be" -- but whenever I see that "wet" splotching in that pattern (whether it is coincident with the active brown lesioning or not) I err on the side of caution and avoid. It is such an unfortunate problem. Getting ready to have to spray in the next few weeks, really hate this issue. a real bummer.

    3. Daniel, I know to look for the brown lesions. What do you spray with? I haven't had any mites on my agaves yet (or aloes!) but it's simply a matter of time.

    4. My understanding from Kent Howser (who I think has compiled the largest body of literature on this issue and freely shares his knowledge) is that there is a sequence of symptomatic presentation: first the wet splotching, then that plus lesioning, then end stage involves leaf and core deformation.

      I hate to say it, but I have a large inventory of new miticides including trade names like Oberon, Bifen, Agarifac, etc. They are awful. I've pretty much committed to just growing from seed because it is too easy to bring in an infected plant these days. I have received infected plants from well-regarded nurseries run by people I very much respect. It just is a fact of life these days: if you buy from a nursery, you are rolling the dice

  6. Nice picks! What were the prices on the little 4" plants? I'd love to visit them, need to plan a trip. I must of driven right past it when going that way to Yosemite end of last summer.

    1. Yes, I bet you did drive right past Poot's. It's easy to do.

      I bought a 4" Astrophytum, and it was $5. I assume the other 4" plants were in the same range ($4 to $6), depending on rarity. That spineless claret cup I'm so fond of was $5.50, I believe.

      Larger plants were an even better value, especially considering what a headstart you get with, say, a 5 gallon plant.

  7. I'd go totally nuts. Congrats on your great finds! Those Ferocactus glaucescens look very nice, and are much more nicely priced than I would have imagined. Checking my calendar and daydreaming now...

    1. The larger plants, in particular, were very reasonably priced. Better prices than in Southern California!

  8. Aloe debrana has striking flowers--wonder if it's a genetic contributor to Aloe 'Erik the Red'. Great find. What a great place--it must have been a fun field trip. Their koi pond is pretty nice, too.

    1. We got to feed the koi! Those are some happy and well-fed fish!

      The exact parentage of 'Erik the Red' is kept a secret, but it's thought to have A. mawii, petricola, marlothii and arborescens in it (see

      Can't wait for A. debrana to flower. I may need to protect it in the winter. San Marcos Growers says it's hardiness is "not well documented."

  9. I admire your restraint. Could easily go bankrupt indulging your passion in all the 'eye candy'!

    1. Believe me, the only thing reigning me in is the lack of planting space in the garden. Otherwise I would have had two shopping carts.

  10. You got an Aloe vaombe!!!!!! I'm so jealous, Gerhard. I'm way behind on my reading so I missed this posting last month. It looks beautiful.

    1. YESSSSSSS. I'm still so thrilled about that. $25 for such a large plant! Since it's cold-sensitive, I will eventually plant it near the front door where the Yucca 'Margaritaville' is now. For now it'll live in a large pot.


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