This article was written by Alison St. John and first appeared on KPBS As the market for water thirsty plants dries up, sales of cacti and succulents are thriving — and San Diego’s North County is ground zero for all things succulent.
Debra Lee Baldwin’s garden in the hills north of Escondido is full of succulents — plants she learned to love as a child, growing up on an avocado ranch with a father who loved succulents' tough versatility.
“What you don’t realize is that you are in the epicenter of all things succulent," she said as she sat in the shade of an old live oak. "For decades, for generations, we’ve have succulent specialty nurseries here in San Diego and we’ve had collectors, but they were kind of the geeks of the plant world.”
Baldwin is one of the people credited with popularizing succulents and cacti nationwide. Her first book, “Designing with Succulents,” was published in 2007.
“The general public was getting more sophisticated in appreciating foliage over flowers, just as I was in my own garden,” Baldwin said.
Since then, interest in succulents has exploded, and the drought is just reinforcing the gardening trend, Baldwin said.
“When I was researching ‘Designing with Succulents’ in 2006, when I googled the word succulents, I got maybe several hundred thousand hits. If you do that now, you will get in the tens of millions,” she said...