July 2022 visit to Jeff Moore's Solana Succulents

Last week, when I was in Southern California, I made a quick trip down to San Diego County to visit Jeff Moore at Solana Succulents. It’s my favorite succulent nursery, and I try to stop by whenever I’m in the area. If you missed my posts about my previous visits, you can find them here.

Jeff started Solana Succulents almost 30 years, and the nursery has been in the same spot on Highway 101 ever since.

What you see when you enter from Highway 101

Inside the gate from Highway 101 is a smaller area densely packed with plants. I bet some people think that’s the extent of the nursery, but it’s just the beginning.

A stunning Pachypodium lameri

Dudleya brittonii

That sport of Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’ is beauty

Bromeliads, dudleyas, echeverias, agaves,...

Dudleya anthonyi

Mature euphorbias in the narrow side yard, with the neighboring building on the right

The building itself is home to a skin-care salon. The nursery is downstairs around the back.

The main area of the nursery is downstairs

A pair of euphorbias (Euphorbia abyssinica and variegated Euphorbia ammak) towers over the nursery:

As you can see, Jeff has a huge—and I mean huge—selection of plants. Smaller plants are towards the front, larger plants towards the back. The plants aren’t staged by category, which invites extended browsing. Some people may want more of a system, but I loved exploring and finding unexpected treasures.

Look at this amazing “boulder” of Deuterocohnia brevifolia! It takes decades to get to this size.

A cross between Agave toumeyana and Mangave ‘Bloodspot’

Another Agave toumeyana × Mangave ‘Bloodspot’

Massive variegated Euphorbia ammak and Euphorbia abyssinica...

...towering above the nursery

Jeff planted the Euphorbia abyssinica when he started the nursery almost 30 years ago

Lots of treasures to discover

A beautifully staged young creeping devil (Stenocereus eruca). Check out this photo from the Huntington to see how big they can get!

One several Portea at Solana Succulents. The flowers on this Brazilian bromeliad last for many months.

Cyphostemma juttae, aka Namibian grape. It is indeed in the grape family, but the fruit is poisonous.

Aloidendron ramosissimum

Fenestraria rhopalophylla

A flawless specimen of the sought-after Mangave ‘Praying Hands’. As you’ll see at the bottom of this post, Solana Succulents has more ‘Praying Hands’ than any other nursery I’ve been to recently.

The farther you walk into the nursery, the larger the plants get:

The far end of the nursery is packed with plants in 5-gallon sizes and larger:

The back 40 of the nursery where plants wait to be repotted. The large cycad is a Macrozamia johnsonii native to New South Wales, Australia.

Plan on spending a good hour or more checking out all the plants!

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco), with Aloidendron dichotomum on the left

An exceedingly handsome specimen of Agave horrida

Agave guadalajarana ‘Leon’

Boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris)

Fouquieria fasciculata

Dudleya brittonii

Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’ offsets with varying amounts of variegation

As I mentioned earlier, Jeff has a good selection of Mangave ‘Praying Hands’. They’re so cool, I must admit that I was tempted to get another one although I have three already!

Mangave ‘Praying Hands’

Mangave ‘Praying Hands’

But there was something I wanted even more, and I did get one:

Mangave ‘Praying Hands’ (left) and mystery agave on the right

Mystery agave on the left and Agave horrida on the right

Jeff didn’t know what agave species or hybrid this was, but I immediately thought of this plant at the Ruth Bancroft Garden (it flowered last year and is now gone):

Agave ‘Chocolate Edge’ at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

According to Brian Kemble, the curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, it’s an Agave mitis hybrid; the second parent is unknown. He calls it ‘Chocolate Edge’ because its has a reddish brown edge along the leaf margin. I was able to buy a few offsets from Brian Kemble (they came from a ‘Chocolate Edge’ in another garden) and planted one in the sidewalk bed.

However, the mystery agave I got at Solana Succulents has far fewer leaves and they are much wider than ‘Chocolate Edge’. I asked agave guru Jeremy Spath of Hidden Agave for his opinion, and he thinks it might have ‘Blue Glow’ in it. He suggests I call it a “nursery hybrid of unknown origin.” After exchanging a few messages, I was able to track down the source. It's an open-pollinated 'Blue Glow'. Two other agaves were in flower at the same time: Agave filifera and Agave mitis. Looking at the 'Chocolate Edge' at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, I'm now fairly confident to say that this is a hybrid between 'Blue Glow' and A. mitis.

This morning I planted my new mystery agave on the flagstone “throne” where my Agave ‘Chocolate Edge’ had been; ‘Chocolate Edge’ is now in the smaller mound inside the front yard fence.

Mystery agave on its flagstone throne

I’ve been to Solana Succulents a bunch of times now, and each time I find something unique and surprising. Jeff has been in the business for a long time and has connections to many small growers in San Diego County. That’s why he has plants that literally nobody else has.

Solana Succulents is at 355 N. Hwy 101 in Solana Beach in North County San Diego. It’s open Wednesday-Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and on Sunday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.

Jeff is also the author of five outstanding books on succulents:

All five books were self-published by Jeff. He had total control not only over the content but also over the production, and it shows. These are heavy books, printed on state-of-the-art equipment, and the photos are as good as it gets. In my opinion, all four of them are the visually most spectacular succulent books ever released. You can order them from Jeff’s website.

Jeff and Jeremy Spath, the co-authors of Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids, are hard at work on a book on the genus Dudleya. It promises to be a groundbreaking survey of the genus, with hundreds of habitat photos from California and the Baja peninsula. The book will be out in early 2023.

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


  1. I went to Jeff's fantastic nursery a number of years ago with the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society summer trip! It was fantastic. But I think he has even more plants now! As I recall he is close to the ocean which is a great benefit to all those plants!

    1. That must have been a *fun* trip! Have there been other summer trips?

      Solana Succulents is less than 1,000 ft. from the ocean, as the crow flies. I just measured it on Google Maps :-).

    2. Oh yes, many other trips but none since Covid. I remember going to the LA Arboretum for the Intercity Show and Sale and the Huntington for the CSSA Show and Sale. Of course there have been numerous trips to the marvelous Tucson nurseries (so much better than the Phoenix area (except I love Arizona Cactus Sales in Chandler). The big bus is always packed with plants in the luggage area (we can't bring luggage to save room for all the plants!) and packed in the bus itself! Fun trips!

  2. That is definitely a nursery that requires time to explore - a friend and I stopped in once on a crawl of nurseries in the area and didn't have nearly enough time to see everything (although I still came away with a couple of plants). The 'Praying Hands' specimens look great - I suspect my one and only plant is years away from reaching that stage.

    1. We should do a field trip when the Covid situation is finally better.

  3. Solana looks like such a fun place to poke around in and shop. There's always something special when you find unusual plants this way. From your photos it doesn't look like the nursery is all that large so the plants must be really packed in tightly. I have all of Jeff's books and even though I garden in a cold climate they are great references and I love them

  4. Your "mystery" agave is FABULOUS! Much better than praying hands in my opinion. Jeff's nursery is so full of treasures, thankfully they're succulents or someone would have to spend hours watering everyday.

    1. A lot of people love 'Praying Hands', but you're the only one who doesn't. That's why I think *this* agave would be such a big hit if it were put into tissue culture.

    2. Meant to say: You're NOT the only one who doesn't.

  5. Great post. Enjoyed seeing all the treasures.

    1. Walking through Solana Succulents is my kind of treasure hunt!


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