Where to Buy Plants & Garden Supplies

Questions & Responses:
Buying house plants (4 responses)
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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