San Francisco’s Hidden Plant Stores
My home town is chock full of fantastic plant stores. Sloat has an enormous variety that will meet almost every gardening need. And Flora Grubb can’t be beat for glorious, awe-inspiring, botanical inspiration.
But San Francisco is also blessed with many small, hard-to-find, plant oases – shops tucked away from plain view, hidden in backyards like secret handshakes. If you’re a local, chances are you’ve stood right in front of one of these hidden gems and just didn’t know it was there. And if you’re visiting, don’t miss these shops for a taste of botanical San Francisco.
Where: 402 Cortland Avenue
Hidden by: A video rental shop.
Good for: Succulents and succulent containers.
Walk through Four Star Video (people still rent DVDs, apparently) to what used to be a little back yard and in-law unit that’s been converted into the sweetest little succulent store ever. There’s a wonderfully curated collection of small succulents and a few really awesome vertical succulent gardens. If you live in a tiny city apartment, what better place to find the perfect tiny plant than a tiny plant store?
- Cole Hardware
Where: 956 Cole Street
Hidden by: A hardware store.
Good for: Garden basics, houseplants, succulents, a surprising variety of Tillandsia.
They have all the typical vegetables and flowers out front, but don’t miss the nursery inside. Just walk straight back, past the kitchen and bathroom supplies, past the paint, and through a door on your left. There’s the indoor garden, sheltered by plexiglass above. Be sure to go up the stairs on the right to get an overview of all the hanging plants. There are even some orchids up there. I bought a Phalaenopsis there for Heather for Valentines Day in 2004 that’s still flowering. They also have a great return policy for any non-plant items. I once bought a mister there that stopped working a week later, and they replaced it no questions asked.
Where: 566 Castro Street
Hidden by: A plant store.
Good for: Indoor and outdoor plants, ceramic pottery that’s not hideous.
While the first two plant stores on this list are hidden behind other kinds of stores, this one’s hidden behind, well, a plant store. And a great plant store! Inside, Hortica has a nice selection of indoor plants, but don’t miss the back yard. Walk in, past the really nice pottery selection, and out the back door. Outside, they have a great selection outdoor plants, including great natives and succulents, in a wonderful oasis in the middle of the Castro.