written by:
January 21, 2015
When it comes to impressive indoor gardens, certain plants are having their moment in the spotlight (we're looking at you, succulents, tillandsias, and fiddle leaf fig trees). The new Los Angeles shop Cactus Store has tapped into the—you guessed it—cactus trend, with rare and hard-to-find specimens on offer. Manged by Johnny Morera and owned by Help LTD., the 350-square-foot Echo Park storefront is a destination for those seeking a sharp addition to their homes.
Cactus Store Los Angeles

Head to Cactus Store at 1505.5 Echo Park Ave in Los Angeles, California, to spy an expertly assembled collection of rare cacti. The store's manager, Johnny Morera, became interested in the plants after what he calls "a long love affair bonsai."

"As a 10-year-old, Cuban-American of immigrant parents I was definitely an outcast in the Japanese L.A. bonsai scene," Morera says. "I showed up to seminar after seminar, and hung around a nursery more than I was attending grade school. Eventually that kind of perseverance—or annoyance—paid off and I was issued clearance to start studying under John Naka, the California bonasi legend. I got pretty far in the scene but, unfortunately, after skipping all of those classes, I got kicked out of high school. Then I got a job at a nursery where I was exposed to a lot of different plants and cacti. Cacti took my attention because they have many of the same sculptural qualities as bonsai and are at times as slow moving—and most are native!"

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cactus store interior

Morera was also attracted to cacti's resilience. "They thrive in the worlds harshest conditions, and not only do they thrive, they look completely bitchin' while they're at it!" he says. "I started collecting them…big time. I would say I had over 2,000 specimens in my personal collection at one time."

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Cactus Store Los Angeles

"A lot of nurseries sell cacti, but the difference in what we are doing is that we are not selling raw plant material delivered by a semi each morning," says the store's owner, Help LTD. "We hand pick every cactus that's in the shop from these crazy farms in the middle of nowhere near the border of Mexico and California. No one else is doing that—you aren't going to find these plants at a nursery."

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Cactus Store Los Angeles

Some of the cacti species available at the shop include cleistocactus supernova, pediocactus knowltonii, and thrixanthocereus senilis. "What we try to do is carry uniquely beautiful cactus that are not commercially available to the public," Help LTD. says. "But we try not to carry plants that only a cactus head would flip over—we're trying to bring these beautiful plants to the public, not pull them further away."

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Cactus Store Los Angeles

Head to Cactus Store at 1505.5 Echo Park Ave in Los Angeles, California, to spy an expertly assembled collection of rare cacti. The store's manager, Johnny Morera, became interested in the plants after what he calls "a long love affair bonsai."

"As a 10-year-old, Cuban-American of immigrant parents I was definitely an outcast in the Japanese L.A. bonsai scene," Morera says. "I showed up to seminar after seminar, and hung around a nursery more than I was attending grade school. Eventually that kind of perseverance—or annoyance—paid off and I was issued clearance to start studying under John Naka, the California bonasi legend. I got pretty far in the scene but, unfortunately, after skipping all of those classes, I got kicked out of high school. Then I got a job at a nursery where I was exposed to a lot of different plants and cacti. Cacti took my attention because they have many of the same sculptural qualities as bonsai and are at times as slow moving—and most are native!"

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