Where to Buy Plants & Garden Supplies

Parent Q&A

  • Buying house plants

    (4 replies)

    The last recommendation for where to buy a good plants was from 2012, and hoping for current update. I don't have a green thumb to keep plants alive if they are not healthy to begin with. I bought house plants from real nurseries that have been recommended here before. I found that the reputation to be a good nursery didn't necessary correlates to how strong the indoor plants they sold.  Most of the time, the plants I randomly picked at homedepo do better than the one from those nice real nurseries. It's almost like a real brand name dogs tend to be weaker than mixed kind.  Of course, I choose plants are known to be "easy" to care for when I buy one. What is your thoughts on this and where do you recommend going to buy a indoor plants that will grow healthy. 

    RE: Buying house plants ()

    I am terrible at remembering to water plants (my cats, however, get regular care!) so what has worked for me is buying orchids at Trader Joe's. I like that they look good most of the time. No, I haven't yet gotten them to flower again, but the green plants are quite pretty after the flower stalks die and are cut off, and they are pretty forgiving about occasional watering. It has been the one option that has worked for me for about a year so far: a new record. :) 

    RE: Buying house plants ()

    Don't blame the nursery. Any plant you buy is going to go through an adjustment period when you purchase it. If the plants have been very well cared for, sometimes they go through a larger adjustment period since the change is more dramatic. Buying plants from a specific place is not going to guarantee you results. Your best bet would be to evaluate the location you want to keep a plant - how much light, general temperature, humidity level and size of the space, and be realistic about the care you can provide - how often watering, misting, re-potting etc. Take that information to your local nursery and get some recommendations for that specific spot. Even with this kind of approach, it will take some trial and error. I have a green thumb and can grow most plants, but I find every plant does not do well in every location. I also have found I don't do that well with a few specific species. For instance, I have a hard time growing spider plants even though they are considered easy. You might have some similar surprises along the way. 

    All that said, I have bought very successful plants from Broadway Terrace Nursery, Thornhill Nursery, East Bay Nursery, The Dry Garden, Grand Ave. Ace Garden Center, and even very many local drug stores and supermarkets. The nurseries will give advice and feedback, the drug stores and supermarkets usually can't help you. If you know how to recognize a healthy plant, it doesn't really matter where you buy it from. Good luck.  - Green Thumb

    RE: Buying house plants ()

    East Bay Nursery on San Pablo and Berkeley Horticultural on Hopkins, both in Berkeley, have high quality indoor plants.

    However there are a couple of hints in your post that suggest the problem is not where you buy them, but what happens to them after they come home. I have a green thumb and many years of gardening experience. I do not buy indoor plants anymore. The reason is it takes so much work to keep them looking good. Most indoor plants are from the tropics, because tropical plants typically grow under a dense tree canopy so they have evolved to not need bright sunlight, thus they can be grown indoors, in theory. But you still have to replicate a tropical climate for them if you want them to grow and thrive and look good. Regular water, not too hot, not too cold, not too much light but not too much darkness either.  The beautiful plants you see in offices and hotels are serviced by businesses that specialize in plant care. They tend to them regularly and swap them out with fresh plants when they start to look ragged. The only people I know who can keep house plants looking good for more than a year are the people who are obsessively devoted them -- spritzing them with water several times a day, fertilizing them regularly, moving them around in a room to find the right spot, moving them outdoors when the weather is nice, etc.  I have a friend who gets her orchids to bloom indoors year after year and I admire her for that, but I have other priorities besides checking on my orchids 3 times a day!

    Here is my advice:  Buy house plants but plan on replacing them before the year is up. Or hire a plant business to come and take care of them for you.  Or cultivate potted plants outdoors, like ferns and palms, and bring them inside when you entertain. Or buy fresh flowers every week at the grocery store.  Or get a couple of orchids which will keep their blooms for months. Around Christmas you can buy nice big poinsettias that have been hardened in dark container boxes with no water and uneven temperatures so they will look beautiful for weeks even if you forget to water them!

    Good luck

    Green thumb lazy lady

    RE: Buying house plants ()

    Flowerland on Solano Ave in Albany has a small but awesome selection of indoor plants. I've never had any come home with bugs and they tend to hold up way better than my plants from other sources. It's a gorgeous store!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions Related Pages

Where to get blooming house plants?

Jan 2012

Since the big Longs/CVS closed on 51st street, I don't know where to shop for a good selection of blooming house plants. This was my go-to store for house plants, six-packs, potting soil, etc. Most of the nurseries I know of have very small indoor selections. Hate shopping at Home Depot. green thumb mom


Home Depot is pretty spotty for house plants. Sometimes they have decent plants, but they are often root bound and a little distressed.

Orchard Supply Hardware is much better and they have a lifetime plant guarantee.

East Bay Nursery on San Pablo has a small but interesting set of choices.

Westbrae Nursery seems to have expanded its selection too.

You might be underestimating the houseplant options by overlooking the fact that a lot of 'outdoor' plants can also do quite well indoors. So while the houseplants area will feature plants that _mostly_ do well indoors, the other areas of a well stocked nursery can include plants that do well outside and in. An example of such a plant is citrus: you'll never find them in the houseplant section, but you can absolutely grow a meyer lemon tree as a houseplant, to name one example. Sir Plants-a-lot


When I lived in San Francisco, I had a lot of blooming house plants. San Francisco's summer weather is so gray and windy that it's hard to get anything to bloom. I lived in the Outer Richmond fog belt, and the Sloat Garden Center down by the zoo was my favorite. They had a great selection of indoor-blooming plants like African violets, peace lilies, anthuriums, etc. http://www.sloatgardens.com/ It might be worth a trip if you don't find anything in the east bay.

Also try, of all places, Trader Joe's. The often have interesting, colorful houseplants. Their orchids are very reasonably priced.

Your local farmer's market may carry orchids as well.


Where to buy unusual herb plants

Jan 2012

I am looking for a wide variety of herb plants and can't seem to find what I am looking for at the local nurseries here in Berkeley. I was hoping to find somewhere that had a variety of standard herbs, so like 5 kinds of thyme, mints, etc. Any ideas? I would prefer plants as opposed to seeds, if possible. Thanks! anon


Have you tried Annie's Annuals in Richmond? (http://www.anniesannuals.com) They usually have a good selection of interesting plants, including herbs. Gardener


Harmony Farm Supply near Sebastopol has a pretty impressive selection of herbs and plants, but it does depend on the season. I believe they are worth a call if you can't find anyplace closer. Another Sonoma County nursery which is way small but crams a lot of variety into a small area is Kings Nursery near downtown Santa Rosa. If you do end up in Sonoma County, you would do very well by visiting both. They are complementary businesses and Sonoma County folks love their gardens and local businesses. Erin


Without a doubt, Goodwin Creek Gardens, goodwincreekgardens.com They're in Southern Oregon and I discovered them when they had a tiny retail nursery in downtown Ashland years ago. Ever since it closed, I bought from them mail order. They even do their own hybridizing so you'll find more varieties of any herb than you ever imagined. They're also super nice people. Francesca


Try Annies Annuals - it's a fantastic place and they have tons of variety. Roger


Kitazawa Seed http://www.kitazawaseed.com/ Johnny Appleseed


Call down to Annie's Annuals in Richmond to see when they're next cultivating herbs. From the website, they don't have much ready to go right now, but you never know what will be coming out in the next few weeks there! http://www.anniesannuals.com Love them! A flower floozie


Good Plant Nurseries in Berkeley

April 2002

What is the best and most reasonable nursery in Berkeley?? Good customer service/advice and good prices. Thank you.


The new Magic Gardens nursery is fabulous-in El Cerrito/ Richmond, but worth the drive. It is now located right off Central on San Joaquin which is the frontage road, running along the cement wall of highway 80. Head west on Central and after the highway bridge, make a sharp right and drive about 5 blocks. Pull into the parking lot. American Soil and Urban Farmer will soon join the complex.

Kids and parents alike will enjoy pulling the little red wagon. It just makes me happy-probably because my kids are grown. Plants seem high quality to me and less expensive than some other nurseries. Staff is lovely. Look for Jerry who in his other life has been my step aerobics teacher for years. He owns Pulse Studio which will soon move to larger quarters on San Pablo in El Cerrito. I also recommend his classes as well as his knowledge of plants. He has a specialty in roses. Sherry


The friendliest & most reasonably priced nursery in Berkeley is in EL Cerrito! Magic Gardens (formerly on 7th St.)has moved into their new 3 acre site near the El Cerrito Costco. It is on San Joaquin St. (runs right along the freeway). The staff is knowledgable & helpful and the plant selection is extensive. Plus American Soil is opening right next door (as is, I think, Urban Farmer). Wow! Now if only there was a Peet's close by... susan


I have two favorite nurseries in Berkeley: East Bay Nursery on San Pablo (2332 San Pablo Ave) and Berkeley Horticulture. (1310 McGee) They both have a tremendous selection and a lot of unusual varieties. I have found the staff at BH to be super knowledgable and very helpful and I find myself shopping here the most. They have a little plant newsletter and various free workshops. Prices are about the same at both. BH has a lovely water garden section, (Also if you read the Chronicle home and garden section, this is where Dr. Hort works!) You should try both.

There is a great Japanese garden store around the corner from EBN called Yabusaki's Dwight Way Nursery, 1001 Dwight Way. And lastly I have a soft spot for Westbrae Nursery Garden Supply, 1272 Gilman, but have rarely been since I found Berkeley Hort. Very friendly helpful staff, smaller, and sometimes better prices. They are next to a wonderful garden sculpture store.

What any of these nurseries will have depends on the season. If you are a gardening addict like myself, it's fun to check them all out. For the cheapest plants go to the major hardware chains, but there is little variety and the plants are sometimes not as healthy. I used to shop at Home Depot on occasion, but I think they must have changed buyers because now there is even less to choose from. They might have 2 kinds of pansies, any of the above nurseries will have at least 12 varieties.

Magic Gardens has a lot of intersesting plants, but I don't like it as much as it's a smaller than my two faves, has less of the basic plants and almost no six packs for annuals and perennials. Depending on what you are doing it will cost a lot more if you have to buy all 4'' pots and larger. Natalie


I'm a little slow on this one, but I wanted to add my two bits. Someone had wholeheartedly recommended Berkeley Horticulture, and I think it's important for folks to know that while they do have a GREAT selection of plants, they are among the most expensive of nurseries. I've also had mixed results with them: just because you spend alot of money doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting top quality. For example, my two $30-40 rhododendrons were so root bound that they have yet to flourish (while my $5 Safeway azalea has bloomed away this spring). Also, if price is at all important to you, you should pay attention: when I purchased $300-400 worth of plants at one trip last fall, I was overcharged for one plant, and double-charged for another plant. When I complained, I was told that their price list at the cash register was simply more accurate than the posted price, and despite the fact that I was spending what I considered to be alot of money, they made me show them where their price was marked differently, then simply shrugged and told me that people who shop there frequently understand that prices change. I and others I know have also experienced a bit of a brush off from some of the sales people when you either make it clear that you don't know much about a particular plant or nursery operation, or when you disagree with something they've told you. I confess that I have found East Bay Nursery (on San Pablo) to have almost as good of a selection, with not quite the price gouging (though still a little pricey), and nicer people. And quite honestly, depending on what you are buying, Home Depot can be a great place to buy plants--if you are looking for the same plants that everybody else is buying. Turnover is high, so frequently the plants havent' been sitting out long. But the bigger, independent nurseries are better for selection. (I have also heard good things about a nursery called ''Orchard'' in Lafayette, though I understand it's also pricey.) Janet


My husband really likes Magic Gardens, which has recently moved. But we've had surprisingly good luck with plants from Target and Longs (formerly Payless). We've had a variety of annoying experiences at the Ace Garden Center on Grand Avenue, including plants in poor condition, and un-informed staff. East Bay Gardener


Another two bits... I really like Dwight Way Nursery on Dwight between 9th and 10th Streets in Berkeley. It's a bit smaller than places like East Bay Nursery (a couple blocks away on San Pablo) so they don't have lots of trees and such, but for annual and perennial flowers, vegetables, shrubs and (their specialty) bonsai, they're great. Really friendly, helpful and good folks. Run by the Yabusaki family. TH


Gotta put my 2 cents in here because I am an obsessive gardener especially this time of year ... Berkeley Hort has beautiful plants especially for shade gardens and their roses are incredible but I always feel like I am interrupting the staff whenever I manage to snag one of them to ask a question. A couple of times I've been given the brushoff (Example: ''What's a good rose for a partly shady spot?'' answer ''Sigh. Oh there are just so many. Go look in the Sunset Book over there.'') The people at my two favorite nurseries on the other hand - Magic Gardens and East Bay Nursery - are the opposite. They are actually wandering around looking for people with questions that need answers. They are so helpful and friendly! Magic Gardens has moved and now has an ENORMOUS selection. I think they are especially good on larger plants like hydrangea and camellias and they have plants no one else has. East Bay Nursery is easier to get through in a short amount of time because they are smaller. But I am always amazed at the variety there. Both East Bay and Magic have the added bonus that you can park. (Berk. Hort is a pain.)

Now for inexpensive plants, definitely check out Longs on 50th in N. Oakland if what you want is the more popular plants that you see everywhere. Definitely go there for things like pansies, geraniums, impatiens, etc. And they have great prices on the same Jackson and Perkins roses that everybody else has for more $$. Another tip - it is usually cheaper to order roses directly from the vendor - most of them have websites now, and they ship bareroot at the right time. I've had good luck with that.

My final tip is to make friends with your neighborhood garden fanatic so you can get plants for free. They are always moving things around, and lifting and separating, and thinning out, and replacing, so be sure to check in once in a while to see if anything's up for grabs. My neighborhood gardener lady is going to be thinning out her clivias pretty soon and those cost upwards of $40 a pop at the nursery! Ginger


I really like Adachi Nursery in El Sobrante. They have a good selection, the people are nice, the prices reasonable. We have had good luck with the vegetable plants we bought there. They also have a lot of orchids, and of course all the regular plants. Lynn


There are a bunch of real nurseries (where they actually grow the plants) in Sunol, just past Pleasanton on 680. Some are only wholesale, but some do retail sales. They are fun to visit, because they are quite different from the usual urban retail nurseries, and they are often quite a bit cheapers. If you get landscaping done, these are the places where the contractors get your plants. Look them up on the web, call first to find out if they do retail sales and to check their hours and take a fun field trip down to pick out your plants nancyf