Sip and shop at the Succulent Café

At the end of March, I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in San Diego County to attend the 2018 Super Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals. Since I'm never one to take it slow when I'm on a trip, I also squeezed in a visit to a drive-through nursery and to Rancho Soledad Nursery, a world-class destination of its own.

On my way back to the airport I stopped by the Succulent Café in the seaside community of Carlsbad. For years I'd been hearing what a special place the original Succulent Café in Oceanside was. Unfortunately, it's now closed. But the good news is that the new Succulent Café in Carlsbad Village, just a few block from the beach, is much larger than the old space had been.

As its name suggests, the Succulent Café serves a full range of hot and cold coffee and tea drinks, baked goods, as well as breakfast dishes, sandwiches and salads. All of this is par for the course for a café. What makes this spot so unique, though, is that you sip your lavender mocha or nosh on your orange cranberry scone surrounded by succulent displays, dish gardens, ceramics, cards, and gift items made by local artists—and of course thousands of succulents for sale. Even if you aren't the most creative type, like myself, you'll find plenty of inspiration wherever you look, and you can then pick out the right plants, container and accessories to bring your idea to life.

The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" seems to have been coined specifically for a place like the Succulent Café. So I'll let the pictures do the talking.

In case you were wondering what the hours are:

The outside area consists of two large "rooms." The main space is dominated by a large tree trunk festooned with Spanish moss:

It serves as a mast for four shade sails reminiscent of the blades of a windmill:

View of the indoor eating area:

There's outdoor seating as well:

Denim shorts filled with succulents

Why? Why not?

An old tree trunk makes a perfect perch for bromeliads

The second outdoor room is on the side of this fence

I wonder if that's an old mattress box spring?

Even the gutters have succulents in them

I was in a major bromeliad phase when I took these photos, and I'd still like to do something similar 

That was my favorite tillandsia piece

I was going to buy one of these tillandsias, but then I realized that you really need a dozen to get this effect—and that gets expensive fast

They even have house plants. Actually, in Carlsbad's zone 10a climate, these tropical plants can be outside all year. 

This would look completely out of place in our garden, but here it looks perfect

I like toilets as much as the next person when they're hooked up to plumbing and fully functional, but I'd draw the line at using them for decorative purposes.

Neoregelias on top of driftwood

Epiphyllum anguliger aka fishbone cactus, zig zag cactus, ric rac cactus

These water pipes are seriously cool (yeah, the Tillandsia streptophylla is, too)

It would never have occurred to me to display a staghorn fern on a chair!

Something else I would never have thought of

Inside looking out

More interesting succulent arrangements:

The Succulent Café is located at 505 Oak Ave in Carlsbad. I can't find a web site so the best reference I can give you is their Yelp page.

For more background on the original Succulent Café and owner Peter Loyola, read this November 2013 article by Debra Lee Baldwin.

© Gerhard Bock, 2018. No part of the materials available through may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by  United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.


  1. Lots of great ideas here. The succulent planters in photo #34 reminded me a bit of the succulent "theater" in Jenny Stocker's garden. I loved the last display too (photo #39), although I've no clear idea what those containers are - devices to add oil to cars?

    1. The gadgets in the last photo are old-fashiond engine oil funnels. You can still buy them on Amazon.

  2. I love almost everything about this place. I draw the line at planted denim shorts and toilets. Just because you can does not mean you should.

    1. The denim shorts made me chuckle. It's definitely not a long-term thing.

      "Just because you can does not mean you should:" I'd love to have a T-shirt with this motto!

  3. Replies
    1. Nada. I was on the way to the airport and had already left my plant transport (my friend Laura from San Jose) behind.

  4. So many great ideas; so much to love (well, not the toilet planter.) You really pack a lot into a trip!

  5. Replies
    1. From what others have said, yes. I didn't have any. I was too rushed :-)

  6. Very cool. Too bad it is so far out of the way. Would love to get coffee there. For coffee at a nursery in Berkeley you should check out Flowerland or for super-foody, high-priced coffee in SF, go to Flora Grub's. Both are fun and have lots of great plants to look at and buy.


Post a Comment