Tephrocactus geometricus (c) Rich Zeh

See Rich Zeh’s 30-Year Succulent & Cactus Collection

I'm eager to share with you my recent visit with a remarkable succulent collector---Rich Zeh.

Located in the community of Paradise Valley on the outskirts of Phoenix, Rich's landscaped garden encompasses an acre. In my new video, Rich shows us his garden and 960-square-foot, 20-foot-high greenhouse.

Of the latter he says, “I had a backhoe dig down 10 feet and had block walls installed." Along interior walls are in-ground planters that enable desirable (and occasionally finicky) cacti and succulents to stretch their roots---helping them grow more robustly than in pots.

As for Rich's extensive potted collection, you'll see succulents and cacti that have attained impressive growth, some thanks to being grafted onto host plants. However such specimens are not without challenges, Rich says, explaining why he prefers "plants that grow on their own roots."

Aloes vera in cactus garden (c) Rich Zeh

Aloes in Rich's cactus garden

Rich accumulated his Aladdin’s trove of rarities over the 30 years. "I'm pretty much maxed out on space," he says of a collection reminiscent of a Cactus & Succulent Society show. (He belongs to the Central Arizona C&SS, which when Covid isn't an issue, has a show and sale in spring.)

For both the YouTube video and gallery below, I combined photos taken during my visit with others provided by Rich. We wanted you to see as many of his plants in bloom as possible.

You’ll enjoy Rich's descriptions of succulents he’s nurtured for decades. Hear him explain how he keeps them healthy, where they came from, and what he likes best (or finds challenging) about each.

Btw, much of Rich's garden is underneath the lacy canopies of palo verde trees, which were in bloom when I was there. See clouds of yellow flowers overhead and drifts of dry petals in pathways. Heaven in Paradise Valley!

Don't miss the estate garden where Rich is a consulting expert

Debra Lee Baldwin, Woody Woodruff (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Tour an Arizona Estate Garden

For 15 years majordomo Woody Woodruff has kept everything running smoothly for billionaire homeowners on 7 acres in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, in Paradise Valley NE of Phoenix. His love of his “babies”—thousands of cacti and succulents—is evident, as is his Southern drawl.

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Rich Zeh Plant Gallery 

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  1. Kathy Juracek on May 22, 2022 at 7:46 pm

    Wow! Beautiful collection of succulents

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 23, 2022 at 8:11 am

      Thanks, Kathy! I’m glad you liked it!

    • Mike Mijalkovic on September 21, 2023 at 9:58 am

      Hello Debra
      I leave in north county of San Diego and have been searching for “aloe always red” for about 4 months without any luck!
      Any idea where to find it?

      • Debra on October 4, 2023 at 8:06 am

        Hm. Tari Colbry might know. She’s a succulent personal shopper, goes around to all the succulent nurseries and growers in north San Diego County.

  2. Sharon Atwell on May 23, 2022 at 5:10 pm


  3. Mike Bishop on May 28, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    What a fantastic garden and collection! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 29, 2022 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks Mike, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Horticat on May 29, 2022 at 4:48 am

    What an amazing collection! Thanks so much for sharing (and IDing everything). It was interesting to hear your discussion with Rich regarding growing conditions etc and it made me feel better to know that even the experts kill things occasionally 😉

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 29, 2022 at 12:17 pm

      Oh gosh, yes. I often think (gloomily) that the best way to find out how to keep any plant alive is to have killed one just like it. I have the empty nursery pots to prove it.

  5. Lisa Wells on June 14, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Excitement, heart racing, anxiety(it’s a good kind), I want them, I need them all!!!! The stranger the better. Decades ago I had a nice little succulent collection and I’m getting the urge again. Sansevieria are my main crave but stapelia or platyclada will do. Thank you Debra, for your website. I’ll be busy with it for a while.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on June 14, 2022 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Lisa — LOL “the stranger the better.” Rich has a lot more sansevierias than I showed you. I crave stapeliads too but they don’t like me. A for platyclada, I confess it’s new to me. Strange, indeed!

      • Lisa Wells on June 14, 2022 at 4:27 pm

        Oh, I’d love to be in Arizona, but I’m not. I’ve been looking through the resources finding Fallbrook, Bonsall, Escondido, alas no Valley Center. I haven’t begun the search yet, but was hoping for a head start. Wish me luck😉🌵. By the way, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty and usefulness of your website. Off to YouTube.

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on June 14, 2022 at 4:35 pm

          Have you been to Valley Center Nursery at 29115 Valley Center Road? I confess I’ve yet to visit. I’m curious what you think of their cacti and succulents. My goodness, Lisa, thank you for the glowing accolades. I hope my YouTube channel lives up to your expectations!

          • Lisa Wells on June 14, 2022 at 8:07 pm

            I was just at VC Nursery a few weeks ago and honestly didn’t notice any succulents, but we were there for soil. To me they aren’t overwhelming with plants. I’m more interested in seeing Rodriquez, also on Valley Center Road. Have you heard of Rocksmith Nursery? Not much info about them, but they’re supposed to have sansevieria. You have a good night and thanks for chatting with me.

  6. Lisa Wells on June 14, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    P.S. Euphorbia platyclada. aka: dead stick plant😁

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