Altman plants straight from the source at OASIS in Escondido, CA

The second nursery stop on my San Diego trip in February was OASIS Water Efficient Gardens north of Escondido. It’s tucked away in the rolling hills east of Interstate 15. In fact, the location does the word “escondido” proud—it means “hidden” in Spanish.

OASIS started out as an independently owned nursery specializing in succulents and other drought-tolerant plants, but it’s now part of Altman Plants, the largest wholesale grower of ornamental plants in the U.S. Even if the name Altman doesn’t ring any bells, you’ve seen their succulents—they’re at every big box store, typically in 2- and 3-inch pots. Whatever you think of Altman, you have to admit that seeing dozens upon dozens of succulents on display is a tantalizing sight. (For the purposes of this post, I’ll ignore the fact that Altman is responsible for its share of crimes against botany, including spray-painted succulents and cacti with glued-on straw flowers.)

What makes OASIS such a tempting stop is the huge selection of Altman succulents they sell. No, they don’t have every variety Altman grows, but their inventory is far larger than any other retail outlet I’m aware of. And the prices are about 20-25% lower than at the big box stores.

1-gallon plants for sale. The smaller plants are in the shade house (top center). The kiosk (top left) is where you pay.

As a nursery, OASIS is as unassuming and low-key as they come. The plants sit on the ground or on tables, and you’re free to wander around without people breathing down your neck. The employees I saw were friendly and went about their own business. There were few customers when I was there, and they were casual lookers like me. One lady, however, was on a mission: She grabbed two wagons and began to load them with plants like she had a shopping list in her head. I have a feeling quite a few plants purchased at OASIS end up being sold online, on Facebook, eBay or Etsy.

Jewel aloe (Aloe perfoliata susp. distans) for $8; one of them went home with me

Cactus for landscaping, too

The photos below give you a good idea of what you can expect to find at OASIS:

Agave schidigera ‘Shira ito no Ohi’

Assorted soft-leaved succulents in 1-gallon pots, a cheap way of getting started with 6 or 7 different varieties

Echeveria ‘Dark Moon’

Echeveria ‘Hortencia’

Echeveria cultivar with caruncles

Echeveria ‘Violancina’

Echeveria ‘Afterglow’

Aeonium ‘Emerald Ice’

Aloe castilloniae, still in high demand

Lots of 3-inch succulents

×Mangave ‘Barney’, to my knowledge the only mangave introduced by Altman thus far

Kalanchoe luciae ‘Fantastic Crested’

Kalanchoe luciae ‘Fantastic Crested’; this is the one I picked

Euphorbia ammak ‘Variegata’

Euphorbia ‘Zig-Zag’ (left) and other columnar euphorbs

Bunny-tail cactus (Opuntia microdasys) may invite touching, but it sheds glochids like a golden retriever sheds hair

The kinds of cacti you typically see at Lowe’s or Home Depot

A good selection of Kelly Griffin aloe hybrids:

Aloe ‘Lavender Star II’

Aloe ‘Tarantula’

Aloe ‘Christmas Carol’

Aloe ‘Purple Haze’

Larger aloes, too:

Aloe divaricata (I’d already bought one at Waterwise Botanicals the day before)

Aloe glauca hybrid

Aloe ‘Apache’

Display beds adjacent to the sale area feature a variety of aloes, agaves, and other succulents:

Not labeled, but it looks like a hybrid between Aloe peglerae and ferox

Aloe marlothii hybrid

Various aloe hybrids

Aloe ortholopha with its distinctive inflorescence; the flowers are only on one side of the horizontal racemes. In botany, such a one-sided arrangement is called “secund” (just in case this ever comes up in a crossword puzzle or they develop a six-letter word version of Wordle).

Aloe ortholopha with secund flowers

Aloe vaombe in full flower

Another Aloe vaombe

Aloe speciosa

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)

Aloe chabaudii

Agave ‘Mr. Ripple’ (guessing) with the sale area beyond

Agave titanota

Monstrose form of the Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus repandus), dwarfed by a pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) behind it. This is the regular/green form of ‘Sticks on Fire’.

The mounding succulent is Euphorbia resinifera

On the slope adjacent to the parking area, countless numbers of succulents are growing in the sun in 1-and 2-gallon containers. These will eventually show up at a Lowe’s or Home Depot near you.

OASIS Water Efficient Gardens is located at 10816 Reidy Canyon Trail in Escondido. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check out their website for more information.


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


  1. If I were on a mission to find a large assortment of succulents in one-gallon containers, a trip there would be a good investment - or at least it would have been if gas prices weren't steadily climbing ;)

    1. Gas prices have climed at least 25% since my San Diego trip. Insane.

  2. I could easily become quite overwhelmed with the options!

  3. That Aloe chabaudii is a stunner. Love the foliage gradation from blue-green to bronze at the tips. The pumpkin coloured flowers are the perfect accompaniment. Thanks for the tour!

  4. One succulent forum I read has a few small commercial succulent growers--they referred to Altman's as "the evil empire".

    Some very appealing Echeverias there. Looks like you got the most fantastic 'Fantastic Crested' Kalanchoe of the bunch.

    I keep meaning to look for Euphorbia resinifera. Seems like it would be an excellent low plant tough enough to handle the hellacious conditions on my front slope.

    1. You're right, Altman's is often seen as the devil. Easy to understand why.

      Euphorbia resinifera would be perfect for your front slope! It seems Plant Depot in San Luis Capistrano carries it with some regularity.

  5. This looks like a fun nursery and wow, can't believe the low price for 2 gallon containers. Would love to bring home Aloe 'Tarantula' for the name alone. The clump of Euphorbia resinifera is impressive.

    1. San Diego County is home to so many cool nursersies selling plants at very good prices.


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