This past weekend the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society (SDCSS) had their annual Summer Show and Sale at the Casa Del Prado in Balboa Park. A year and a half ago I went to the Winter Show and Sale and really enjoyed myself. One of the highlights of that first meeting was that I was introduced to so many new plants I had never seen before. Some of which would later be added to my own garden. After talking to a few succulent-loving buddies of mine about the summer show being much larger, I figured I would head down to Balboa Park for a few hours.
Immediately upon arriving at Balboa Park I knew this sale was indeed MUCH larger. All the parking lots were completely full and I began to wonder how I would get plants back to my car if I bought a bunch (which of course always happens). After 10 minutes hunting I got lucky and outraced a few other hunters to a spot that just opened down by the merry-go-round.
The plant sale is open to San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society members at 9:00 AM and then to the general public at 10:00 AM. If you want to get the rare stuff, you need to be a member. So I arrived at 8:50 thinking that would be plenty of time to pay the $15.00 membership fee and get in line. The full parking lot should have warned me that would not be the case. The line had started forming at 8:00 and had over 100 people in it by the time I filled out my membership card. Here is the view looking in at the sale 15 minutes after it opened. You can see the line wrapping around and I still had some distance to make up to get in.
Once in, it really does turn into a race to locate the harder-to-find plants and put them in your box. Sometimes it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. It can also feel claustrophobic. Oh, and again, this crowd doesn’t even include the people that pile in once the general public is allowed in.
While weaving through the masses I ran into a fellow plant collector that I have known for many years. I knew that with him and his crew waiting in line early, my chances of finding some of the plants on my checklist would be extremely limited. They had already bought all the 1-gallon Agave victoriae-reginae ‘Albomarginata’ that were being sold for $50.00. Plants that size sell for $250 – $300 on eBay. I still ended up taking home some amazing plants at great prices. Because I spent over $100, I also received a free bag of organic fertilizer. My haul is pictured below:
Another benefit of paying the cheap $15.00 membership fee is that you can hopefully get into the plant checkout line before most other shoppers. I worked my way through the tables and made it to the checkout line just before 10:00 AM, when the general public was allowed in. My wait was only 20 minutes. By the time I finished touring the actual plant show in another area, the line had grown to an unbelievable size. The line made a complete square around the plant sale. I later found out some people waited a few hours in that line to buy their plants. The drought in California has made the succulent craze rise to epic proportions.
If the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society Summer Show and Sale were just a plant sale, I would have skipped it. However, my favorite part of the day is admiring all the show-quality plants and photographing them. Great care goes into growing these plants, and their presentations are usually quite skillfully crafted. Not to mention it can take decades to grow some of the plants found at the show. I always admire and appreciate the effort the contestants put in.
Judging by the much smaller crowd in the plant show, I wonder how many of the people purchasing plants at the sale even knew there was a show?
This was a great display showing how much time it takes for some plants to grow that you could have found at the sale. When you think about it, that $5 you just paid is pretty cheap when you consider the grower already has four years into it.
During the hour I photographed and admired all the show plants, I ended up taking way too many pictures for one blog post. So with great effort I whittled them down to just my favorites. The first one comes from the Ariocarpus section of the show tables. A year and half ago I had never even heard of these plants. After my first winter show I purchased one and planted it in the garden. You can see from the early photo showing the box full of plants I purchased at the sale that I added another Ariocarpus for my garden.
This one is called Ariocarpus ‘Son of Godzilla.’ While looking closely at the plant you soon realize how great the name is.
Ariocarpus fissuratus ssp. hintonii ‘Sunrise.’
North American cacti table.
Here are a few more cactus I really liked. This beauty is Rebutia fiebrigii.
Here is the touchdown cactus. Well, not really. But it sure looks like this cactus is giving the “touchdown” sign seen after a football player scores, doesn’t it? This is Trichocereus bridgesii ‘Monstrose.’
I somehow forgot to document the names of the next two. Even spending a good amount of time trying to track them down on Google didn’t help. I still wanted to show them, however.
Lithops table. Living Stones have been gaining more popularity with succulent collectors.
Kalanchoe table. While this is a very popular plant genus amongst gardeners, it didn’t have a large representation at the show.
Here are a few odd balls I liked. The first is Hoodia ruschii. The second is Haworthia fasciata ‘Variegata.’ The third picture is of a superbly grown Euphorbia millotii. Last are two crested Aeoniums.
Now on to my three favorite genus in the world of succulents. Aloes, Agaves and Echeverias. First up is the Echeveria table.
This beauty is Echeveria ‘Silver on Red.’
A perfectly grown Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony.’
The Aloe table is always well represented at these shows.
This plant has been on my wish list for some time now. It is native to Madagascar and I will be seeing it in the wild in November. Aloe castilloniae.
There are now hundreds of small aloe hybrids available, with more popping up each month. The colors just keep getting better and better. Here is one called Aloe cv. ‘Pink Blast.’
The Agave table at the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society Summer Show is another section that had a lot of plants in its category.
Agave victoriae-reginae ‘Albomarginata.’ This is the type of plant I missed out on earlier during the plant sale.
This was a really nice clone of Agave macroacantha.
A really nicely colored Agave potatorum ‘Kichijokan.’
Finally, my favorite plant of the entire show. This is most likely the most impressive variegated Agave I have ever seen. Agave victoriae-reginae ‘Variegata.’ I wonder what a plant like this would sell for on eBay. I am guessing a few thousand dollars.
The next opportunity to view all these amazing plants if you live in San Diego County will be at the Winter Show and Sale sometime in February of next year. If you love succulents, it is highly recommended you make at least one show. If you do not live in San Diego, you can still find an affiliate of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America in your area. They have them around the world.
RODOLFO P DAVILA says
This is the second year I missed the sale and all the beautiful plants. I looked earlier in the year but the website showed it would not have a show this year due to the pandemic and now heard balboa park is opening up today , and realized you had the show last week.when will your next sell be for cactuses. I have stuck at home too long.