Plant haul from Southern California (November 2022)

On November 6, I attended my first plant sale at the Huntington. My expectations were high: I had visions of table upon table of plants propagated from the garden’s extensive collections as well as a large selection of plants from the Huntington’s International Succulent Introductions (ISI) program.

The reality was less extravagant. Yes, there were tables with succulents from the gardens and a (very) small selection of ISI plants, but the large majority of plants—virtually all the perennials, shrubs, etc.—were bought in from wholesale growers. From talking to volunteers and other attendees, it sounds like the spring sale (usually in April) is much larger, both in terms of square footage and inventory. I’ll make an effort next spring to check it out for myself.

While the overall selection wasn’t what I had hoped, I still found a bunch of nice plants, both for myself and for several friends who had given me a wish list. Here’s my haul from the Huntington:

In a surprise to exactly no one, I bought myself a few new agaves:

Agave shawii var. shawii, a choice clone with particularly colorful teeth. I bought this one at the Theodore Payne Foundation, a premier California native plant nursery in Los Angeles County, a couple of days before the Huntington sale.

Agave guiengola ‘Moto Sierra’, a Kelly Griffin selection introduced by the Huntington through its ISI program. ‘Moto Sierra’ is Spanish for chainsaw—an apt moniker for a plant with teeth like these.

Square-cornered “chainsaw” teeth on Agave guiengola ‘Moto Sierra’

I was excited to come across a few one-of-a-kind agaves at the Huntington Fall Sale. These are the kinds of finds I was hoping for.

Agave pelona is uncommon enough as it is, but I’ve never seen a hybrid for sale. I’m very curious to see what it will turn into.

For comparison, here’s Agave pelona, the straight species, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson

Two different clones of Agave parrasana, one labeled Clone 19, the other Clone 29. The differences are immediately noticeable—from the color and shape of the leaves to the number and size of the teeth. I look forward to seeing how they evolve. It would be interesting to plant them out in the ground within eyeshot of each other.

Agave toumeyana var. bella, one of the smallest agaves. I’m actively looking for very small agaves and cacti to fill holes.

I also got a handful of cacti:

Coryphantha retusa caught my eye because of its cage of dense golden spines. Looking at photos online, it seems this species is quite variable.

Three Echinopsis hybrids created by Bob Schick (left to right): EchinopsisIshtar‘, EchinopsisFlattycake‘, EchinopsisFor Norma

Amazing flowers of EchinopsisIshtar‘, EchinopsisFlattycake‘, EchinopsisFor Norma‘ (photo 1 and 2 © by the Huntington; photo 3 © 2015 by Antonio H. Miguel)

Selenicereus anthonyanus, an epiphytic cactus from southern Mexico with spectacular flowers that open at night. It’ll live in a hanging planter in the backyard.

Selenicereus anthonyanus flower, photo shared from Creative Commons (Creative Commons zig-zag epiphyllum 003 by RDPixelShop is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

And a couple of aloes for good measure:

Aloe elegans (left) and Aloe schelpei (right)

For comparison, here are mature specimens of Aloe elegans and Aloe schelpei in flower at the Huntington:

Aloe elegans

Aloe schelpei

A list of all my plant purchases for reference, my own more than anyone else’s:

Agaveguiengola ‘Moto Sierra’Huntington
Agaveparrasana ‘Clone 19’Huntington
Agaveparrasana ‘Clone 29’Huntington
Agavepelona hybridHuntington
Agavepelona hybridHuntington
AgaveshawiiTheodore Payne Foundation
AgavesimplexTheodore Payne Foundation
Agavetoumeyana var. bellaHuntington
Coryphantharetusa ‘Clone 1’Huntington
Coryphantharetusa ‘Clone 1’Huntington
DudleyapachyphytumTheodore Payne Foundation
Echinopsis‘For Norma’Huntington
Sphaeralceaambigua ‘White’Huntington

As I mentioned, I also got some plants for friends:

Agavevictoriae-reginae ‘Snow Queen’Huntington
Lachenalia‘Ao Matsuge’Huntington

Plants for friends

Agave victoriae-reginae ‘Snow Queen’, a choice clone of the Queen Victoria agave

Fall is a great time for planting in our climate, but not necessarily for agaves and cacti. They tend to stop growing when it’s cold, biding their time until warmer weather returns. While the two aloes I bought have gone in the ground already, the other plants will remain in their pots until late winter. I don’t want them to sit in cold, damp soil straight out of their nursery containers.


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


  1. You came home with some choice plants. Always amazes me how you fit everything into your relatively small garden. I see the Selenicereus for sale here as the fishbone cactus. The flowers are gorgeous so might have to score one.

    1. I hope my Selenicereus will bloom some day. Such spectacular flowers. Yes, you should get one!!!

  2. Holy moly ‘Moto Sierra’! Is she as sharp as she looks?!

    1. 'Moto Sierra' is actually far less sharp than you think. The teeth look wicked but are actually fairly dull.

  3. You got a nice haul. Aloe schelpei have some of the loveliest bloom color!
    The 'chainsaw' bits of Agave guiengola ‘Moto Sierra’ are shockingly similar to razor blades.

    1. I've had a schelpei for a few years but it was completely (and I mean COMPLETELY) covered by another plant. It didn't grow much in the dark, but it survived! My new schelpei is much bigger and will hopefully bloom next year.

  4. I remember being very tempted by Agave shawii at the Theodore Payne Foundation, your plant is HOT!

    1. Thanks! The Theodore Payne Foundation is an often overlooked treasure.

  5. I have to wonder what your haul might have looked like had you been overwhelmed by choice selections, Gerhard! It seems to me that you did very well for both yourself and in assisting your friends. I'm particularly envious of the Bob Schick Echinopsis. In my view it's weird that botanic gardens in SoCal put more emphasis on spring sales than fall sales but that seems all too common - my local botanic garden's fall sale seems to have fallen off the list entirely this year.

    1. Funny you should say that about spring vs. fall sales. I heard similar comments at the Huntington. But apparently people are particularly eager to buy plants in the spring when they wake up from their winter sleep. Not like you can't garden in the dead of winter in Southern California!

  6. An excellent haul. Have many times admired the Aloe elegans in the H.'s Desert Garden--an Aloe aptly named. I saw and drooled over 'Moto Sierra' at a Huntington sale in March 2015 (blogs! so handy!) and didn't buy it. One of those shouda-coulda-didn't plants. Enjoy that chainsaw teeth beauty. And the 'Snow Queen'--oh yeah!!!! Massonias are super cool, too. You did good!

    1. My 'Moto Sierra' already has a pup. I'll save it for you!

      Let's meet there for the Spring Sale!


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