When it comes to exercising your green thumb, the Golden State offers plant parents no shortage of amazing shops to choose from. Whether you’re a local seeking rare orchids or an out-of-towner looking for the perfect ceramic pot as a memento of your travels, there are countless California nurseries ready to fulfill your gardening needs. From botanical boutiques to retail nurseries, we rounded up 13 plant purveyors from around California, north to south, specializing in everything from redwoods and grapevines to native flora and rare houseplants.
Johnsteen Company, McKinleyville
Set in the picturesque town of McKinleyville, this northern California nursery is the place for all your tall tree needs. Specializing in redwoods and grow kits, Johnsteen Company carries a variety of these forest giants, including the giant sequoia, coast redwood, and Jurassic dawn redwood from China. The 20-acre nursery also grows an array of rare and interesting varieties, such as the bristlecone pine, Torrey pine, pygmy cypress, as well as a number of bonsai options. Order online or visit in-person by appointment.
The Prickly Pear, Sacramento
After realizing her calling to cacti in 2017, Mona Bahraini decided to open The Prickly Pear, a nursery and community greenhouse in Sacramento’s Southside Park neighborhood. The aptly named space sells succulents, cacti, funky planters, pins, and so much more. Bahraini’s love of plants inspired her to create a skincare line featuring botanical ingredients like baobab and watermelon seed. The Prickly Pear also doubles as an event space: Book a Pot N Sip experience and enjoy a locally sourced wine as you pot up mason jars with your choice of succulents and cacti. Visit on Sundays and you may just get to meet Bahraini’s three Nigerian dwarf goats.
Grapevines Galore, Healdsburg
Whether you’re looking for tasty table varietals or a well-developed Sangiovese vine for next season’s Chianti, Grapevines Galore is a one-stop shop for amateur and expert grape growers alike. This family-run nursery is the public arm of industry source Grey Creek Viticultural Services in Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Valley. Hobby viticulturists can find Spanish reds, Rhône wines, and even the perfect vine for growing and drying raisins. Consult its informative website for planting guides and irrigation tips.
Blk Girls Green House, Oakland
Created by friends Kalkidan Gebreyohannes and J’Maica Roxanne, Blk Girls Green House is equal parts plant boutique, home goods shop, and community hub. The two women have transformed the once-dilapidated mechanic’s garage into a lush sanctuary where houseplant lovers can find a chic slice of paradise in West Oakland. At any time, this 2,000-square-foot space will typically showcase more than 200 plants. Pick up greeting cards, aromatic candles, and decor made by Black creators while you’re there. Check their calendar for upcoming events and art shows.
Mountain Sage Nursery, Groveland
You won’t find too many nurseries serving up creative cups of coffee and breakfast burritos alongside its garden offerings, but this one does just that. Set in an 1867 homestead, Mountain Sage Nursery is a go-to for Groveland locals looking for herbs and veggies, or even the occasional quiche. The nursery offers a wide selection of California native plants, as well as free outdoor yoga classes every Thursday. The space is also home to a photo gallery.
The Garden Gallery, Morro Bay
Located on the corner of Pacific and Embarcadero in Morro Bay, The Garden Gallery is unlike any plant shop or nursery you’ve ever seen. The two-story complex houses everything to create your dream indoor/outdoor oasis. Outside, perfectly potted plants balance on a sea of differently sized pedestals. Step inside the design gallery to see inventive, immersive displays that change with each season. The Garden Gallery provides fresh design inspiration for that classic California aesthetic, including gardening literature, home decor, furnishings, art, and lots of plants.
Aloes in Wonderland, Santa Barbara
Imagine a botanical garden where every plant is for sale and the Pacific Ocean is just a 15-minute drive away. That’s the vibe at Aloes in Wonderland. Nestled in Santa Barbara’s dreamy foothills just near Lotusland, this magnificent private garden is the creation of owner Jeff Chemnick. Schedule an appointment or tour with Chemnick to walk the grounds, where you’ll find hundreds of rare and unique species of aloes, cycads, cacti, and more––all available to purchase. Once you’ve picked your plant, Chemnick’s team can assist in its removal. Feeling like getting your hands dirty? Grab a shovel and do the digging yourself.
Theodore Payne Nursery, Sun Valley
The Theodore Payne Foundation (TPF) has been a pioneer in California native plant conservation for more than 60 years. Head to its nursery in Sun Valley to find an extensive selection of native flora, wildflower seeds, gardening supplies, and books. The highly knowledgeable staff can walk you through which grasses, shrubs, and succulents work best within your localized environment. Thanks to the TPF’s Seed Regeneration Program, the nursery also offers seed mixes from more than 200 different species of California native plants that support genetic diversity in an urban environment.
Leaf and Spine, Los Angeles
Whether it’s an exotic begonia, cycad, or caudiciform you’re looking for, Leaf and Spine is the ideal shop for those looking to score those especially hard-to-find varieties. This tiny storefront in Los Angeles’ trendy Highland Park neighborhood stocks an impressive collection of rare cacti, succulents, and houseplants. The shop also sells handmade ceramics to pair with your latest leafy (or spiny) addition. Hop in the car for a quick five-minute drive to its residency pop-up at Kindness & Mischief Coffee. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for sales, or “plant drops,” on the shops Instagram for new inventory.
Mellowist, Costa Mesa
Mellowist is as much a mindset as it is a plant shop. Aside from its notable variety of rare and exotic cacti and succulents, this Costa Mesa plant store is known for offering amazing handmade pottery. Owner DJ Aleman offers a wide selection of one-of-a-kind, artisanal pots made by local ceramicists and studios. Mellowist also carries a collection of imported books, magazines, specialty tools, and planting supplies for all your cacti gardening needs.
Louie’s Nursery, Riverside
Fruit trees are the signature flora at this Inland Empire nursery. Citrus fans can find landscape staples like Valencia oranges and Meyer lemons or venture for the unusual with a variegated calamondin or “pink lemonade” tree. Tropical fruit lovers will also find a diverse lineup of options, including everything from cinnamon and cacao trees to soursop and lychee. Louie’s is also home to a number of fruit tree mash-ups, including apriums, necta-plums, pluots, pluerrys, and many more. Did we mention the nursery also carries 24 varieties of avocados?
Tree of Life Nursery, San Juan Capistrano
Situated on 40 acres of the historic Rancho Mission Viejo in San Juan Capistrano, Tree of Life Nursery (TLN) has been cultivating California native plants since the early 1980s. The nursery is the perfect one-stop shop for restoration projects or converting that grass lawn to a drought-tolerant sanctuary. For large areas and pathways, try one of TLN’s nine wildflower seed mixes. Each is specially formulated for a different SoCal landscape––foothill, mountain, desert, beach, meadow, and more.
Andy’s Orchids, Encinitas
This Encinitas nursery is a virtual orchid wonderland, offering unique specimens like the wispy Cirrhopetalumand Gothic-looking Dracula orchids. Whether you’re looking for cascading, miniature, or especially fragrant species, the knowledgeable staff will be sure to point you in the right direction. You must book an appointment to see these epiphytic wonders in person, or mark your calendar for the nursery’s seasonal open houses.
If you purchase plants in California and plan on taking them out of state, be sure to first check the USDA’s website for restrictions and regulations.