Succulent cornucopia at Plant Depot nursery in San Juan Capistrano

When people hear San Juan Capistrano, they think of the Spanish mission and of swallows. Every spring, thousands of cliff swallows make the 6,000 mile journey from Argentina to San Juan Capistrano where they nest and have babies before they fly back to Argentina in the fall.

Located at the southern tip of Orange County, not far from the San Diego County line, San Juan Capistrano is the quintessential Southern California town, the way so many of them used to be: laid back and simply beautiful. The Pacific Ocean is just a few miles away, and the climate is fantastic year round. Sounds like a good place to live, doesn't it?

Another big bonus: San Juan Capistrano has one of the best independent nurseries in Southern California, Plant Depot. I'm in Orange County visiting my daughter this week, and I met up at Plant Depot with fellow blogger Hoover Bo (Piece of Eden). She actually beat me to it and posted about our visit here.

My post is all about succulents. Looking at the photos below (65+ of them), you might think Plant Depot is a succulent nursery. Far from it. True, their succulent section was filled to the brim, but so were the other areas. Plant Depot carries everything from flowering annuals and perennials to shrubs and trees to house plants. We arrived right at 8am when the nursery opened, and by the time I left, maybe at 10am, cars were lining up for parking spots. It's great to see so many people buying plants!

Get ready for a succulent extravaganza. Lots to discover and buy at Plant Depot! The photos below are in no particular order, which reflects the way I was dashing back and forth between tables.

Aloe polyphylla (display plant)

Crested Echinopsis (it was for sale)

More small cactus than I could possibly count

Yep, the 2" plants were only $2.99. All unlabeled, unfortunately.

Agaves, of course

And echeverias--the soft-leaved succulents seem to be the most popular

Large aloes, both on display and for sale

Really nice endcap arrangements

Echeveria cante

Smaller aloes, cheek to jowl

Ghostly XXL-sized Cotyledon, I forgot to write down the name

A veritable forest of Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'

Common and uncommon aloes alike

And mangaves, of course!

Lots of mangaves, including more affordable smaller sizes

Aloe sabaea, not often seen in nurseries

LEFT: Puya 'Ed Hummell' from San Marcos Growers
RIGHT: Puya coerulea var. coerulea from San Marcos Growers

I really don't need another Agave victoriae-reginae, but I was tempted for a brief second by this specimen with particularly nice markings

Agave potatorum 'Portillo Nejapa' from San Marcos Growers

Agave albopilosa, the first time I've seen it in a regular nursery (not cheap at $69.90)

Agave 'White Ice'

Aloidendron ramosissimum

Aloidendron dichtomum

Landscape aloes

Yucca rostrata

Dracaena serrulata from San Marcos Growers. The price matches its rarity.
Ferocactus emoryi

Soft-leaved agaves

Baja spurge (Euphorbia xanti), a small shrub from Baja California

Euphorbia xanti flowers

Prickly yuccas and cousins

Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata'

Trichocereus (now Echinopsis) flowers

There's something utterly magical about this sight

Downside: The flowers are very short-lived (usually just a day), and the stem itself is pretty plain. But maybe that's what makes this spectacle to special.
Portulaca molokensis, the only succulent from the Hawaiian islands commonly seen on the mainland. Very tender--I've killed a few.

Aloe labworana, definitely not a common sight in a non-specialist nursery

Brightly flowering Lewisia, an alpine succulent native to California and the Pacific Northwest

Stapelia gigantea

Aloe rubroviolacea

Dioscorea elephantipes, at $16.99 very attractively priced

Adromischus marianae ssp. herrei 'Red Coral', quite uncommon

Labeled Aloe spinulosa, an old synonym for Aloe perfoliata, which this is definitely not. I think it's an Aloe humilis hybrid.

Aristaloe aristata

Another nice endcap display

This was probably my favorite display

Kalanchoe orgyalis

Aeoniums and agave

A surprising number of dudleyas. On second thought, maybe not surprising for this area where they grow well.

Dudleya greenei

Dudleya 'Anacapa', considered to be synonymous with Dudleya caespitosa 'Frank Reinelt'

Dudleya brittonii

This plant was right next to the dudleyas, and from a distance it looks like one. But it's not. It's not even a succulent, but a South African shrublet called Didelta 'Silver Strand'. It's a hybrid between two species of Didelta (a genus I'd never even heard of before). There's very little information about this plant, but both Hoover Bo and I bought one to try.

Strelitzia juncae, a rare (and very slow-growing) relative of the common bird of paradise. This species loses all its leaves as it gets older so it's just these green stems. Perfect for minimalistic garden designs.

I said this post focuses on succulents, but I wanted to throw in just a few bromeliads for color

Not a big selection, but what they had was beautiful

Have you reached overload yet?

If not, check out this related post  about the display plantings along the sidewalk and the koi pond. Agaves, echeverias, cactus, bromeliads, and leucospermums in full flower!

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  1. It was fun. I missed a lot of those. Was looking at everything--they had dozens of Itoh peonies, and lots of roses...

    People waiting for parking by 10:00am?!?!!! Soooo glad we went early!!

    1. I didn't have time to look at everything. Their inventory is huge!!! But I'm very happy with what I found.

      Yes, cars lining up in the parking lot, waiting for spaces to open up.

  2. Wow. I've missed out in not making a trip there. Next time my husband and I visit my brother-in-law's ex-inlaws (our extended family is complicated), I'll make a point of stopping Plant Depot on the way. The Mangaves alone are probably worth the trip. It was great to see you today! BTW, I misidentified that Aloe underneath Echium 'Star of Madeira' I pointed out (the one with a Narcissus growing up against it) as a hybrid - it is in fact is Aloe labworana.

    1. Aloe labworana is a really cool plant. I'm glad that's what yours is.

      Plant Depot also had mangaves in smaller sizes for $11. You don't find that very often.

  3. So glad to see you got out and got together with Hoover Bo - and in such a wondrous place. That Adromischus is the craziest plant I've seen in a long while. A nursery like that would feel almost like an art gallery to me. So many fantastic forms and colors!

    1. I was so happy to meet up with Hoover Bo, and then later on in my trip with Kris of Late to the Garden Party and Denise of A Growing Obsession.

  4. Wow! So many plants. Fun that you and I both just posted tables and tables of succulents. Yours outside under the sunny sky, and mine inside a few greenhouses.

    1. The only plants growing indoors at Plant Depot were house plants. Gotta love that climate!

  5. A veritable candy store of cool plants. In Spring it's a real struggle to not mortgage the house on new plants. Were you able to restrain yourself? I think my favourite display is the agave and aeoniums. Love how the colours complement each other.

    1. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Restraining myself was hard. Look for an upcoming post on what I bought.

  6. I don't think I'd ever get on overload looking at your gorgeous plant photos. That Crested Echinopsis is amazing! Yes, it's art; the very best form of art to my eye!

    1. So many different shapes, colors, and textures. It was almost like being in a botanical garden, except everything was for sale!

  7. If I'm interested in purchasing cactus and succulents by the tray, how do I make such purchase?

    1. Mail order companies like Mountain Crest ( sell plants by the tray.


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