Jeff Moore, the hardest-working plantsman in Tucson

Some home gardeners, myself included, occasionally romanticize the life of professional growers: being around plants all day, fussing over them, propagating them. All of that’s true, but it’s not necessarily a glorious occupation. It’s hard work, underappreciated, and underpaid. It involves fixing things that break, usually irrigation but sometimes the very structures that house the plants. Long-term success requires patience, discipline, and dedication. Ask a dozen growers, and the majority of them will tell you that they’re nuts for being in the plant business, but at least a handful will profess to loving their job in spite all the trials and tribulations.

The hardest working grower I know is Jeff Moore in Tucson. No, he’s not the author of books like Under the Spell of Succulents and Agaves: Species, Cultivars, and Hybrids. That would be Jeff Moore of Solana Succulents in San Diego County. That Jeff Moore sells awesome plants, but he doesn’t grow them.

Jeff Moore of Arid Adaptations with two of his dogs

The Jeff Moore this post is about runs a nursery called Arid Adaptations. Located at his home northwest of Tucson, Jeff has 11 greenhouses on 3 acres. According to his own estimates, he has more than 250,000 plants representing 2,500 species, including cultivars. In this recent Instagram video, Jeff gives a quick tour of a greenhouse with 400+ cactus species. Remember, that’s just one of 11 greenhouses.

Jeff and I have become friends over the years, and I visit him every time I’m in Tucson. Needless to say I never leave empty-handed; on my recent trip, I even bought plants for friends here in California. If I lived in Tucson, Jeff would be the go-to source for all my plants.

Tucson has several excellent succulent nurseries, including Bach’s Greenhouse Cactus Nursery, B&B Cactus Farm, and Arid Lands, all of which sell great plants. Arid Lands has an enormous selection, but since they’re primarily geared towards mail order, most of their plants are in 4" pots or smaller. In contrast, Jeff has a huge inventory and many of his plants are large so they can go right into your landscape.

What makes Jeff’s operation even more impressive is that he does virtually everything himself. Yes, one guy, four dogs, and some chickens. He does have occasional help, especially when things are particularly crazy, but most of the time, it’s just Jeff himself. It’s a good thing that he doesn’t seem to need much sleep—and is a workaholic. Judging from his Facebook posts, he’s often in the greenhouse by 5 a.m. and still at it at 11 p.m. Mad props to somebody so driven and dedicated!

I didn’t take a lot of photos when I stopped by Jeff’s place in December because I was too busy yakking. But here are some random snaps from around the nursery.

Tephrocactus weberi

Lots of good-sized Astrophytum myriostigma

Mammillaria geminispina

Inside one of the hoop houses

Polaskia chichipe (left) and Agave dasylirioides (right)

Astrophytum myriostigma babies in many sizes and (winter) colors

Eriosyce villosa

Cochemiea halei

Agave chazaroi seedlings; I bought two of them

Pseudolithos sphaericus, a plant so ugly strange only Jeff and hard-core collectors could love

Peniocereus rosei

Euphorbia canariensis

Cacti with glowing spines

Trichocereus hybrids. I like this image so much, I’ve made it my desktop background

Thelocactus bicolor, aka Glory of Texas

Miscellaneous cactus and euphorbia cuttings

Cactus cuttings

Jeff and Agave xylonacantha inside one of his greenhouses

Look at these teeth and bud imprints!

Jeff’s nursery isn’t open to the public, but people can contact him to make an appointment if they’re looking for something specific (contact info here). The plant list on his web site may not be completely up-to-date, but it gives you an idea of the kinds of plants he grows.

Tucson-area folks can find Jeff and a rotating selection of plants at the Rillito Park Farmers Market (4502 North 1st Avenue) every Sunday. Check the Market website for current hours.


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


  1. What a beautiful selection of succulents! I'll have to visit the place the next time I'm in Tucson.

  2. For not a lot of photos that was a lot of photos ;) I can't even imagine taking care 250K plants in 11 greenhouse spread out over 3 acres - I'm exhausted thinking about it. I've bookmarked his site but, on first pass, didn't see information on the process for submitting mail orders.

    1. Jeff isn't set up for mail order at the moment. I'll be happy to get some plants for you the next time I go!

  3. What a cool dude. Plant people are the best :)

  4. I too was wondering about mail order, but saw your reply to Kris—not that I need anything! So does he sell wholesale then? I can't imagine the farmers market is a way to move all those plants. Oh and thanks for the photo of Euphorbia canariensis, I think I have a small one. I want it to grow up and look like that!

    1. Yes, Jeff sells wholesale to other nurseries as well as to botanical gardens.

      I need to figure out if that Euphorbia canariensis is hardy enough here to go in the ground. After this horrendous winter, I'm a bit more wary...

  5. That birds-eye shot of the Astrophytums ! I so appreciate the existence of people like Jeff. One does sometimes look back and wonder what life-path could have filled the work day with plants along with a sustainable income. But at least I was able to retire while still having the stamina to dig up mature shrubs and schlep around bags of compost and potting soil.

    1. I guess that's where the romantic notion comes in. I once wanted to be a professional landscape photographer, but I realized that the pleasures gained from such a job are quickly moderated by the harsh reality.

  6. Two "Jeff Moore"s... what's the chance of both being avid plants men, and of the thorny kind at that!
    It's all in the name :-D

    1. You're so right! What are the odds? I admit, Jeff Moore isn't exactly an uncommon name, but still!

  7. Did Jeff get the inspiration from Bill Greene of Arizona growers?

  8. Not only is he hard working, but he’s one of the best people I know.


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