California Cactus Center in Pasadena

On a recent trip to Southern California, I finally managed to visit California Cactus Center in Pasadena. It's one name that always comes up when you ask locals about succulent nurseries in the Southland. I've heard more than one comment about prices being on the high side, but even critical voices agree that they have a beautiful selection of well-staged plants.

California Cactus Center was established in 1976 by Thai immigrants Zhalermwudh and Maleenee Thongthiraj and is still owned by the family. The nursery is on a relatively small 12,000 sq. ft. lot next to a busy street, but it's packed with plants. Parking is tight (just a couple of spaces) so you may need to leave your car elsewhere and walk a few hundred yards.

Let's take a look around.

Plants range in size from 3" to boxed specimens. This is at the front of the nursery right
off busy Rosemead Blvd. 

Just what I like: shelves overflowing with good stuff!

Sansevieria cylindrica-ish

What I call a "brain cactus"

Euphorbia equivalent of a brain cactus

Crested Euphorbia lactea

Crested Euphorbia lactea, variegated form

This is actually a plant I'd been looking for: Echeveria agavoides 'Romeo'

You don't often see agave pups in 3" containers

Echeveria cante

Echeveria agavoides

Echeveria agavoides

Cool pots, too. Not sure who the potter is.

I've never seen tiny Adenium obesum before

Something else I've never seen in this size: Dioscorea elephantipes, a caudex-forming yam relative from South Africa

More caudiciforms in small sizes. Usually you only see them as larger (and more expensive) plants.

Sedum multiceps. Goes by the common name “pygmy Joshua tree” although it's native to Algeria, Northern Africa, and has nothing to do with the real Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia)

Fancy Adenium obesum

Similar but different Adenium obesum cultivar

Melocactus sp. with its funny “hat,” actually the cephalium from which the flowers emerge

Melocactus oreas, too small to have a prominent cephalium

Copiapoa esmeraldana, the flower almost dwarfing the body

I had a great time poking around and chatting with the friendly employees. No, California Cactus Center is not a discount nursery and I wouldn't recommend it for the run-of-the-mill stuff the big box stores carry at a lower price. But if you're looking for more unusual succulents and appreciate how much time and effort it takes to grow them, it's a great place to start your search.

© Gerhard Bock, 2019. All rights reserved. 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. My first visit to CCC was in 2009, killing time before we visited the Huntington. What a place! And the neighbor's house we parked in front of picked us a pomegranate when we stopped to chat about the peacocks walking down the street.

  2. Another place I've never been despite its relative proximity. I should follow Loree's example and drop in when a trip to The Huntington is scheduled. Am I imagining things or are a lot of crested succulents entering the market all at once?

  3. They have some really cool plants. Always learn so much from you when you're visiting nurseries. Helps me identify some of my NOID's. Did you buy anything?

  4. Did you go home with 'Romeo'? What a beauty. By the way, the pot you photographed is from Vietnam. The surface of the glaze bubbles and then gets ground off, leaving an interesting pattern.Looks good with succulents. I've found them at Lowe's.

  5. The "Brain Cactus"! OMG! What a statement it makes.


Post a Comment