Otherworldly beauty at East Austin Succulents

‘Royal Spine’ agave

Two nurseries for the price of one. That’s what you get when you visit East Austin Succulents or Tillery Street Plant Co., as I did last weekend. The two nurseries share a spacious lot in East Austin, with Tillery Street’s offerings on display as you walk through the gate and East Austin Succulents’ on the far left by the greenhouse. Both nurseries focus on small succulents and cacti as well as larger xeriscape plants like agave and yucca. Tillery Street also offers drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, grasses, and perennials, while EAS has a more extensive selection of tender succulents, tantalizingly displayed in its greenhouse.

Pictured at the top of this post is my new must-have agave, the hybrid ‘Royal Spine.’ Just look at those orange-red leaf margins and spines! And those smooth, chunky leaves! Its “skin” reminds me of ‘Sharkskin’ agave; the chunky leaves are reminiscent of parent plant A. victoriae-reginae (the other parent is A. macroacantha). Why did I not buy this plant when Merrideth at the Great Outdoors showed it to me several weeks ago, or when I spotted it at East Austin Succulents demurely batting its eyelashes at me? Pure perversion, I suppose. Oh, it’s not hardy, I told myself, and I don’t want another potted plant to carry in and out in winter. Well, now I’ll just have to go back.

Not that that would be a bad thing.

EAS does offer succulents galore, and as soon as we’re past the danger of a freeze it’ll be time to snap up loads of these babies for filling your summer containers or cinderblock wall planters. (Or sooner if you’re a gambler like me.)

Kalanchoe in flower

Aptly named cow’s tongue prickly pear (Opuntia)

Coral-edged Aloe striata was in bloom too.

Thanks to Scott Calhoun’s new book, The Gardener’s Guide to Cactus, which I’ll be reviewing soon, I was able to ID this snowy-spined mound as Mammillaria klissingiana (I think).

So many strange and beautiful plants to examine! Remember, though, most of these are not hardy in Central Texas, so be prepared to provide winter shelter.

Larger specimens are arrayed along the fence.

Yuccas galore! No worries about winter hardiness with these.


When I asked whether they sell these cool “graffitied” metal planter boxes, owner Eric Pedley divulged that they made this themselves out of a bargain-basement filing cabinet found at a resale store. They removed the drawers, laid the cabinet on its side, filled it with soil (or maybe just the top half; you could use rocks to fill the bottom), and planted it up. A little urban-style spray paint completes the look. How clever is that?

Inside the greenhouse a smorgasbord of succulents and cacti awaits.

Colorful cacti

Neon-bright grafted cacti

And equally colorful kalanchoe flowers

Cactus flowers always seem such a jewel-like extravagance on a supremely rugged plant.

Ghost plant

East Austin Succulents specializes in dish planters and arrangements. Who could resist bringing a little one home for the kitchen windowsill? Not me.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

16 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    Good grief, it would be hard for me to leave that place without spending a wad of cash – I mean that in a good way!

  2. […] Street does have a Facebook page with contact information. Last year it began sharing space with East Austin Succulents (click for my tour). Stay tuned for more succulent and cactus […]

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I always see something new when I look at your blog. Cow’s tongue cactus. What a thought. Should be named cat’s tongue. Cats have very rough tongues. :)

  4. I must go there during my upcoming ATX trip(s)…very cool. Maybe I’ll fly, so I buy far less? Cow’s Tongue P. Pear…always a favorite, though so overused in Abq – El Paso…to me probably nostalgic, since mine and a few others’ froze up here. What I especially appreciate is that all the cacti and succulent places out here look ragged (that’s being nice)…the nursery you show looks nicely arranged and clean. Thanks!

  5. Cheryl says:

    Ohhhh. I can hardly wait until threat of frost is over so I can plant my cinder block planter “walls”! and I love that re-purposed filing cabinet!
    Cow tongues are not particularly soft either! LOL Once again Pam, thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Danger! Too many beautiful things…and yes, go back and get that Agave!

  7. Alison says:

    What a marvelous place! That filing cabinet planting container is brilliant!

  8. Yael says:


    What a wonderful nursery. Way too many things to like and Get. I love the Coral-edged Aloe striata. By All means go and get that Agave.


  9. Oh he of little willpower. But your photos make them look so enticing — I myself did not resist to the tune of $…well, too much at the Natural Gardener today. Love the pre-potted planter.

  10. Ally says:

    I just visited East Side Succulents and bought a cool sharkskin agave and a bronze dyckia. Both the East Side Succulents and the Tillery Street Plant Co. are cool stores. I’ll be back.

  11. All the agave, cactus, and other succulents are so fun….so different from the standard fare here. I keep looking at Color Guard Yucca, love the variegated foliage.

  12. commonweeder says:

    You are so lucky to have so many choices. I am excited to find I do indeed have a local garden shop that does have a good selection of succulents, even at this time of the year.

  13. You’re tempting me to the cactus-side with these posts! Your photos make them look so vibrant and beautiful. The ‘Royal Spine’ agave is spectacular!

  14. Gail says:

    Wonderful…I so enjoy seeing all the choices you have for your gardens.

  15. Candy Suter says:

    Wow I would not have left that place without a car load of succulents! They look so great and your photos are so great as usual! I want a couple of those large yucca’s in the large succulent photo!