Flora Grubb Gardens, SF's premier plant shop

Last week, I had business in San Francisco. On the way home, I made a quick stop at Flora Grubb Gardens in the Bayview District. Calling Flora Grubb a nursery would be like calling a Rolls-Royce a car. Yes, it’s a nursery, but it’s far more than that. It’s a plant shop and a home decor store, but above all, it’s an experience. If you haven’t been there yourself, you’ll see why shortly.

Flora Grubb—yes, she’s a real person—had already been gardening for years in Austin, Texas when she moved to San Francisco in 1999. She started a landscaping business and really hit it off with a client, Saul Nadler. Flora and Saul joined forces as Grubb & Nadler, first buying a small nursery on Guerrero Street in the Mission District, then moving to their current location on Jerrold Avenue in 2007.

The Bayview store features an open-air building clad with reclaimed barnwood and equipped with solar panels. Plants, furniture, and pottery are arranged like they would be in a garden, creating a lush and inviting environment that’s unlike anything else in Northern California.

Flora Grubb sells a wide variety of plants suitable for California’s Mediterranean climate, ranging from succulents and bromeliads to palm trees and tropicals. Much of the plant material comes from Grubb & Nadler’s very own growing grounds in northern San Diego County. Having control over the supply chain and the plant quality is obviously a huge plus. In addition to supplying the Flora Grubb retail store in San Francisco, Grubb & Nadler also sells wholesale to landscapers, brokers, and retail nurseries all over the western U.S.

Costa Rican nightshade (Solanum wendlandii) is like a beacon, letting visitors know they've arrived

Time to wander through the Bayview store:

Everything from tropicals to palm trees

This vignette, like so many others, could be in a private garden

I love the soaring height of the shade roof

Open-air building with houseplants and home decor items

Living wall...

...one of the nicest I’ve seen

Aloidendron ‘Hercules’

Lots of bromeliads

Neoregelia ‘Puppy Love’

Vriesea fosteriana ‘Red Chestnut’

Vriesea gigantea

Staghorn ferns, too

I’ve never seen so many spiral aloes (Aloe polyphylla) in one place before

These are 4-inch pots, from tissue culture. I was tempted, but the price was steep ($35), and I’ve killed too many to make an expensive gamble

Kangaroo paws displayed in a wooden box, a classy touch

I was very pleased to see an Acacia aphylla for sale. One of my favorites, but definitely not a mainstream item.

Furcraea macdougalii

More Furcraea macdougalii

Opuntia cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’

I was mesmerized by these pots, and tempted

More of them

Kalanchoe beharensis

‘Korean Gold’ plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Korean Gold’)

Pachypodiums and cacti

Mangave ‘Racing Stripe’ (front)

Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’ and Echeveria hybrid

Agave albopilosa ‘Tufts’

Mammillaria elongata ‘Golden Stars’

These potted cacti would make great gifts

Agave angustifolia ‘Marginata’

Agave americana and Agave franzosinii

Combo planter with Agave victoriae-reginae...

...aloes, crassula, etc.

Agave mitis var. albidior × attenuata

Aloidendron ‘Hercules’

Soaring metal sculptures, too

For some reason, this display of lavenders in weathered wooden crates was my favorite vignette

Display on the side of the open-air building

Flora Grubb carries an extensive selection of garden furniture by French manufacturer Fermob. A few tables were set up...

...other tables and chairs were stored on the wall of the building:

This display is deceptively simple, seductively colorful, and a work of art in itself.

I didn’t buy anything, but I walked away with a big smile on my face. It’s impossible not to feel cheerful in a place like this.


I visited Flora Grubb in the middle of the day, so my photos are fairly harsh. If you want to see Flora Grubb Gardens in soft, magical light, check out their Instagram account. The photos are as carefully curated as the inventory in their retail store.

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


  1. Oh my, this brings back fond memories of my visit during the San Francisco Fling. Love the displays here, including, yes, the colorful wall of Fermob tables and chairs. And I adore those gigantic waterlily leaf sculptures! They make you feel like you're swimming through a pond and looking up at the leaves like a fish.

    1. So many things I would want at FG if money were no object...

  2. Another place I'd love to visit someday. Spiral aloes seem to be everywhere now but the prices still haven't come down to the a reasonable level, even for a splurge purchase.

    1. I've killed four or five spiral aloes, all much larger than these.

  3. Fun place. Love the arrangement of cacti in the gorgeous terracotta pots. Nurseries like that are always fun to visit as there are so many unique things to find. So many gardeners are suckers for great containers. I'm always on the lookout for more.

    1. The employees at Flora Grubb sure know how to create an aspirational retail environment!

  4. Have heard so much about her place through the years. Would love to visit one day!

  5. Ahh, so great that you recorded your visit. Nice to see that solanum again in full bloom by the gate -- it's been a summer feature for quite a while. And seeing that Agave angustifolia reminded me that you were after a very rare variegated form; I wonder if you ever found it. Those insect habitats are very appealing to me. I bet they're soothing to build too...If you go to Flora's, Building Resources is in the neighborhood and always a good browse too.

    1. Do you what solanum species/cultivar this? I wasn't able to figure it out.

      I do have the variegated Agave angustifolia, it's called 'Woodrowii' or 'Milky Way'. It's beautiful but so slow. They have/had one at the Huntington, in the transition between the California Garden and the upper Desert Garden.

      Building Resources, gotta keep that in mind for next time!

    2. Gerhard, that's Solanum wendlandii, the Costa Rican Nightshade. I've been trying to grow it in a pot but it's so big it needs to go in the ground. I think it's hardy to zone 8 and is deciduous.

    3. Great, thank you for the ID. I've added it to the caption of the first photo.

  6. Good information

  7. Oh, goodness. "Carefully curated" and "Seductive": both excellent and accurate descriptions of this exciting nursery. The up-cycle atmosphere is everywhere and is inspiring. The living wall with bromeliads is great alas not practical in my zone. The 'bug hotel', more of a high scale resort, is possible. I acquired a ‘Korean Gold’ plum yew last year... it would look fantastic in one of those 'mesmerizing' pots you discover. Did you leave empty handed?

    1. The climate in SF is so gentle that they can grow just about anything, minus tomatoes and cacti :-)

  8. Good to know they're still there doing their thing...


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