Helping Justin get ready for the 2023 SFCSS Show & Sale

Just like last year, my friend and fellow plant nerd Justin Thiel will be a vendor at the San Francisco Cactus & Succulent Society Show & Sale this coming weekend, June 16-18 (see this post). He’ll have a large variety of plants, ranging from seed-grown mesembs and cacti to his own aloe hybrids. Last Wednesday, I spent part of the day with him, helping him label his plants. Need to say I brought my camera to photograph his ever-evolving garden.

Justin lives in Pinole, a small town on San Pablo Bay, the northern extension of San Francisco Bay. As the crow flies, Justin’s house is just a couple of miles from the water. As a result, his climate is noticeably more moderate than in Davis, with summer highs typically 10° cooler and winter lows and a few degrees warmer. Justin can pretty much grow whatever he wants. And he does – with great success.

With spring seeming to last forever this year, Justin’s front yard is still a sea of California poppies. He’s begun to add other wildflowers to the mix to create a meadow around the elevated planting islands. The gophers that are so eager to nibble on the roots of Justin’s prized succulents appear to leave the wildflowers alone.

Agave applanata

Larger succulents, like the Agave applanata above and Agave ovatifolia a couple of photos down, are planted at ground level. Smaller plants are tucked into pockets in the rock islands Justin has built over the years. There they have excellent drainage and are better protected from the gophers.

Agave ovatifolia (left), Aloe microstigma (center), Agave montana (top right)

Agave horrida

Delosperma ’Hot Pink Wonder’

Aloe aculeata

This Aloe humilis had 30+ flower stalks this spring

Another ×Mangave ’Bloodspot’ × Agave titanota from seed Justin received from Nick Deinhart

Another ×Mangave ’Bloodspot’ × Agave titanota from the same seed batch, looking completely different

Thelocactus hexaedrophorus

Agave utahensis var. eborispina

Agave utahensis var. eborispina

Justin’s backyard is a space for the kids, but there are still plenty of plants. A series of multi-tiered planter boxes Justin built a few years ago hug the house and the fence on the north side. They’re home to succulents of all kinds, primarily Justin’s ever growing cactus collection.

Ever-blooming Aloe peckii hybrid (left) and Aloidendron dichotomum (right)

Tomato soup red Aloe cameronii

Agave utahensis var. eborispina

Parodia roseolutea

Parodia schlosseri

This NOID Echinopsis hybrid was in full bloom on the day I visited

×Echinobivia ‘Rainbow Burst’

×Echinobivia ‘Rainbow Burst’

Echinocereus pentalophus

Parodia tabularis

Astrophytum myriostigma

This sequence of photos, taken by Justin, shows how the flowers of Astrophytum myriostigma open yellow and turn consecutively more orange/salmon over the next few days

Eriosyce taltalensis subsp. paucicostata

Mammillaria prolifera and M. bocasana

Unidentified ×Gasteraloe, a hybrid between a gasteria and an aloe

Dudleya cymosa from seed collected on Mount Diablo, staged in a hollowed-out rock

Dudleya cymosa

Aloes, sempervivums, sedums, agaves, and cacti all coexisting peacefully

Potted cacti

Potted cacti

As I mentioned earlier, Justin has been busy propagating plants for the San Francisco Cactus & Succulent Society Show & Sale on June 16-18. He’ll be a vendor under the moniker Succulent Addict. Here are some of Justin’s plants after we were done pricing and labeling them:

If you go to the Show & Sale be sure to stop at Justin’s table and take a look at his plants. They’re priced to sell!

The San Francisco Cactus & Succulent Society Show & Sale will take place from Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 18, 2023 at the San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. The street address is 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122. 

The hours are as follows:

SFCSS members only:
    Friday, June 16, 3-7pm,
    Saturday, June 17, 9-10am

If you aren’t a member yet, you can join online at

Open to the public:
    Saturday, June 17, 10am-5pm
    Sunday, June 18, 9am-5pm

For more information, go to the SFCSS’s home page.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. So many cool plants. It's too bad cactus flowers don't last any longer. The noid Echinopsis hybrid is really putting on a show. Gorgeous colour. Justin should have no problem selling his plants this weekend.

    1. Justin is a cactus wizard. He swears by bone meal to encourage good flower production.

  2. If you can't make it to the show, help a fried get ready for it is the next best thing!
    Two photos jumped out at me today: the first is Eriosyce taltalensis sporting black spines! So cool.
    The second it the seed grown Dudleya cymosa, so heavily blooming... amazing it didn't pop out of the rock! I love how it's growing.

  3. The parodia roseolutea is so pretty, the pink and the spines together. Wow what a great collection! His rock stacking is impressive as well. I'm sure he'll have a successful sale.

    1. I finally bought a Parodia roseolutea last year, and while it's too small to produce an impressive display like Justin's, it's given me three flowers in succession this spring.

    2. Mine did the same, Gerhard! Three gorgeous flowers on my small plant!

    3. I love plants that flower from an early age :-)

  4. So many beautiful plants, so many spikes.

    1. So true! Justin is a very active gardener, so everytime I visit, there's something new to see.

  5. Dudleya cymosa looks to be perfectly potted! What a garden! I love that so many of the plants turn so colorful in his climate! If I'd only known many years ago that's where I would love to be living!

  6. Justin's garden looks better and better in every post. His California poppies put mine to shame. I'm impressed by the beautiful cactus flowers too. It looks like he's more than ready for the SG show and sale. I hope he sells out!

    1. Justin always has a great poppy display. This year it's lasted much longer because we've had a very mild late spring.

  7. I am smitten by those titanota/mangave 'Bloodspot' hybrids! If he has any more of those seedlings for sale at the show, let me know! Maybe I could pay you to ship? The gasteraloe is fabulous too. Should be an incredible show.


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