A quick visit to Rancho Soledad Nursery in San Diego County

You don’t just happen to drive by Rancho Soledad Nursery (RSN). It’s tucked away in a bucolic spot in North County San Diego outside the swanky enclave of Rancho Santa Fe. I’m sure this was undeveloped land when legendary nurseryman Jerry Hunter bought the 25-acre lot in 1960. Now it’s surrounded by multi-million dollar estates. The lure to sell the land must be incredibly strong, but I hope the current owners, Jerry’s children and grandchildren, will resist and keep the nursery going for many years to come. (Rancho Tissue Technologies, one of the world’s leading producer of tissue-cultured plants, is located on the same premises.)

RSN specializes in succulents, palms, cycads, and tropicals. While they’re open to retail customers, most of their business is to the landscaping trade, supplying larger specimens for public and private projects. RSN is the place to go when you need mature aloes or ponytail palms!

Since RSN is a production nursery, I was left to my own devices when I visited a month ago. I was free to wander around the nursery grounds taking photos, and nobody asked me what I was doing. That’s the kind of experience I prefer: doing my own thing, and finding help if and when I need it.

I didn’t have much time because I had one more “date” scheduled for that afternoon (Jeff Moore/Solana Succulents), but I attempted to cover as much territory as I could. Even though I skipped the propagation houses, 25 acres is a lot of ground!

Let’s start at the parking area near the wholesale office:

Boxed Yucca linearifolia

Boxed fan aloes (Kumara plicatilis), with a flowering Aloe vaombe in the background

Flowering Aloe excelsa, with Beaucarnea recurvata on the left and Furcraea macdougallii on the right

Furcraea foetida ‘Mediopicta’ on the right

RSN has a small display garden near the Public Sales area (marked D on this map). It features a mix of common landscaping plants and rarities, including special hybrids and variegated specimens:

Agave potatorum or hybrid

Who knows what the parentage might be!

Agave ‘Blue Flame’ with streaked variegation

A stunning variegated Aloe chabaudii

More special plants along the road up the hill from the Public Sales area:

Variegated Aloe sinkatana × marlothii

Variegated Aloe sinkatana × marlothii

Simply called “the Hill,” the steep slope below the upper growing areas (labeled “Aloes & Agaves Display Garden” in the nursery map) is studded with aloes and agaves, many of them special forms planted during the tenure of Kelly Griffin (now at Altman Plants) and Jeremy Spath (now running his own business at Hidden Agave Ranch). Unfortunately, the light was very harsh so I didn’t take as many photos as I did during previous visits (here and here).

Agave angustifolia ‘Woodrowii’ (front) and Agave titanota

With so many agaves, there’s always something in bloom. I hope somebody will collect seeds...

Agave potatorum with particularly gnarly teeth

A few scenes from the growing grounds:

More Furcraea foetida ‘Mediopicta’. I’d love to be able to grow this spectacular agave relative, but it needs a fair amount of room and it’s quite tender.

Agave guiengola ‘Crème Brûlée’

Agave guiengola ‘Platinum’

Agave ovatifolia ‘Orca’

Yucca linearifolia

Aloe sp.

Aloe sp.

If you want to know what kinds of plants you might find at Rancho Soledad Nursery, check out the plant galleries on their website. You can also view their most current availability list with pricing information.


© Gerhard Bock, 2022. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. I need to make a pilgrimage to San Diego County sometime soon. I love the various variegated Agaves and Aloes, none of which appear to have journeyed into LA Country (even if I'm guessing the prices would knock me over if they did).

    1. Their prices are on the high side, but most plants are only available in larger sizes. And they do have stuff nobody else has.

  2. The chaubidii is breathtaking. The 'Orca' price I think you mentioned in a previous post was breathtaking, too.

    Fabulous place--should visit again.

    1. I hope they will propagate that chabaudii or, even better, put it into tissue culture. A lot of people would buy it!


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