Aloe vaombe in bloom mid-February (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

See Josh Allen’s Rare Aloe & Cycad Nursery Near San Diego

Josh Allen is making his dream come true: Developing a nursery and botanic garden specializing in rare succulents and cycads.

“There’s a big market for beautiful, hard-to-find plants,” he says, adding that creating new hybrids and "playing with plant genetics" are what he does best. He especially enjoys Aloe hybridizing and  breeding rare and desirable species.

Seed pods, controlled pollination Feb 27 (c) Josh Allen, Fairview Nursery

Mesh bags catch seeds and ensure that bees and birds don't disturb hand-pollinated aloe flowers. 

Josh chose a three-acre, rocky hilltop in Southern California for his “Fairview Nursery and Botanical Gardens” because of the location’s climate and growing conditions. Seven miles inland from the Pacific is ideal for succulents, especially his favorites: aloes native to South Africa and Madagascar.

Massive boulders provide sheltered microclimates, frost is seldom an issue, air circulation is excellent, and decomposed-granite soil drains well.

Rare aloes in the display garden at Josh Allen's Fairview Nursery near San Diego (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Large aloes amid boulders populate Fairview Nursery's display garden.

Perfectionist, Entrepreneur, Kid in a Candy Store

Launching a nursery isn't Josh's first entrepreneurial adventure. After selling the successful book-repurposing business he started, he retired in his 30s. Josh grew up in Monrovia, a suburb of Los Angeles; and now he, his wife and their two sons live in Carlsbad, west of the nursery (which is in Vista). The region---San Diego's North County---has a long history of commercial growers of flowers, tropicals, strawberries, citrus, avocados, and succulents.

The self-proclaimed perfectionist (“when I do something, I do it right”) is creating an extensive display garden so visitors can see his beauties full-sized and in bloom. As they explore, guests can envision aloes and other succulents---small and large, solo and in multiples---in their own gardens and landscapes.

Josh Allen in the greenhouse of Fairview Nursery in Vista, CA

Josh Allen grows thousands of rare and unusual succulents in his greenhouse.

When you visit

Josh sells online; at succulent shows and sales; and he welcomes guests to the nursery by appointment. Visitors to his large greenhouse can select from thousands of specimens in 4-inch pots. Although collectors want to snap up rarities before he can transplant them into larger containers, Josh has some set aside for home gardeners and landscapers who prefer bigger specimens.

Aloe ferox flower colors (hybrid varieties) (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

These are a few Aloe ferox flower colors coming soon. Others in the Gallery below include pink and bicolor.

Josh told me in Feb., 2024 that in two years he’ll have “a tremendous amount of hard-to-find, rare things in 3- and 5-gallon size pots.” Included will be “all different flower types of Aloe ferox, from cherry-red to white, school-bus yellow, bicolors and pink.”

Aloe capitata in bloom with dudleya (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Aloe capitata in bloom with dudleya, in a granite basin

Aloe ferox becomes a tree over time; if you want smaller ornamental aloes, ask about A. angelica, A. peglarae, A. comosa and A. capitata---to name a few (see Gallery).

But there’s no reason to wait. “Aloes do really well as small plants in the ground,” Josh says, “because there’s no impediment to the roots. They can set a nice big foot down and go vertical and sideways as fast as they want.”


I'd like to have Aloe angelica but it can't handle freezing temps (my garden gets frost). However, Josh's hybrid Aloe 'Red Hot' (in the Gallery) might be perfect in a deck pot.

Fairy Castle Acanthocereus tetragonus (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Acanthocereus tetragonus (Fairy Castle)

Btw, when I visited, Josh graciously gave me a plant that had sold out at the C&SS show before I could grab one---a multicolored 'Fairy Castle' cactus. At the show, a little girl observed that it looks like red and yellow gummies. It does indeed.

Another I find fascinating is Aloe bulbillifera var. bulbillifera. It produces offsets along its bloom stalk like an agave or haworthia might. You'll see Josh talk about and show this quirky species---and many others---in the video tour.

Find Josh Allen online

What do you think? Is there a rarity that surprised you, or one you'd love to have? Tell us in the Comments!

Gallery of Rarities (In-ground)

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