Los Angeles, CA

The Largest Cacti Collection in the World: The Desert Garden and Its Many Cacti and Succulents in Los Angeles County

Let's Eat LA

A haven of peace and beauty in the heart of Los Angeles County, the desert plants are equally diverse — from cacti as tall as two-story houses to low-growing succulents and flowering bulbs that shine like jewels.

The Huntington Desert Garden is an outstanding example of a "desert oasis" that draws visitors from across California to the gardens in San Marino.

Desert Garden San MarinoTerry Bixler/Google

The Desert Garden presents Los Angeles County with a botanical equivalent to the romance of the Old West.

One of the most prominent and vital gardens in Los Angeles County and Southern California is a gathering into itself, accommodating a rich cross-section of plants. From California-friendly plants to southern Mediterranean types, the Desert Garden offers a range of hues, shapes, and sizes, and styles.

Yet, all these characteristics influence a similar general sense – the term "Desert" being the connection between the vivid blossoms and succulents, the red rocks, and wilderness on these grounds. It is an escape from the fatigue of Los Angeles city life where you forget about your worries.

However, this sanctuary was not ordinary at all when it initially opened more than a century before. It unites plants to a great extent obscure and neglected at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Originally part of the 500-acre estate of Railroad and streetcar magnate Henry Huntington and his wife Arabella, the property now holds both of the most important art collections and one of the most notable research libraries in the world, in addition to this spectacular garden.

Today The Huntington comprises 207 acres, 130 of which are themed gardens open to the public.

The collections' remarkable biodiversity results from species on display, including thousands of cacti, from the giant senita cactus of Mexico to tiny tree-like pincushion plants. When you visit the Desert Garden you learn how succulents fit into the lush natural environment from different regions across the globe.

Desert Garden California StateSerge van Neck/ Unsplash

The most diverse family collections of succulents and other arid-adapted plants in California State.

The Desert Garden showcases a general classification of xerophytes—plants that require little liquid or moisture. All succulents are just storage devices for water, especially useful in our water-restricted drought times.

When the xerophytes get wet, they store that water, and then they use it to survive. That stored water is essential for the survival of these plants.

The Desert Garden Conservatory is a large botanical greenhouse constructed in 1985; it is a climate-controlled space with some humidified, depending on the plants' requirements. Some succulents have significantly higher humidity needs, while cacti have low water requirements.

California State cactiJames Lee/ Unsplash

The Huntington's succulent plants are arranged into groupings that reflect relationships based on growth habits and scientific information about their evolutionary history, such as their geographic origins.

Truly one of the world's most extraordinary desert gardens containing more than 5,000 species in a ten-acre garden cluster. The Desert Garden at any point united plants from Australia, Polynesia, and Africa with those from coastal zones like Southern California and Baja California.

The Desert Garden is an ideal spot to stop and sit back and ponder the spectacular variety of succulents, cacti, aloes, and agaves that Huntington has made accessible to us. If you love succulents, cacti, and desert landscapes, you will love the Desert Garden on the doorstep of Los Angeles in San Marino, here in Los Angeles County.

How to see the Desert Garden in Los Angeles County


Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens:

1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, Los Angeles County, CA 91108

All visitors must reserve tickets in advance online. Check opening times before your visit.

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