By Craig Michaels

When motoring up Hwy 62 through Morongo Valley you may notice what looks like someone’s home surrounded by hundreds of cactus and other desert plants. The house originally belonged to immigrants Rosa and Anton Terp, whose name is on the sign out front. The building would eventually become the Cactus Mart in the 1960’s and develop into a unique roadside destination for those curious about the type of life that can thrive in such a harsh environment. The famous ‘Dig Your Own’ attraction was created to entice those coming from or going to the Joshua Tree park.

Current owner Nicole Holland, whose grandfather was a homesteader in Landers has been coming out with her family to the desert area since the 70s and 80s. In 1991, Nicole became a full-time desert resident and by the time she was 23, started in landscape development at Toscana and Big Horn Golf Clubs. This experience increased her knowledge of the benefits of landscaping with California native plants and cacti. Nicole settled in the Morongo Basin due to the open space and quietness of the high desert. When Cactus Mart came up for sale in 2012, Nicole knew the owners and frequented the nursery so it was a no brainer for her to make the shift from low desert country clubs and work directly with the plants she had grown to love and appreciate. When asked what she loves most about her job Nicole explained: “I don’t even consider it a job anymore. When you get to search for new species to bring in, it’s exciting and our customers excitement over discovering new cactus is always the best! They’re the best part of this.”  

The Mart is not only home to hundreds of Cacti but you can also find California native plants, trees, succulents, and some house plants too. Plant lovers can also find rare specialty items like the slow growing Boojums. Don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb, all customers receive a general care sheet for cacti and succulents. If you don’t want to contract an expensive landscape architect, consider inviting botanist Robin Kobaly into your yard for a personal consultation. Robin will help you appreciate and identify what you already have, and suggest what plants, pathways, or other structures you could incorporate into your landscape. You will also be surprised at the unique, creative, and custom items Cactus Mart offers for brides and grooms for their special day. Desert-inspired bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces will make your desert wedding special with a natural living arrangement that is unique to your personality.


Since the 1960’s, travelers from all over the world have made it a tradition to stop by the Cactus Mart to visit the Dig Your Own bar. You can dig for cacti usually about one to two inches high on the dig your own table for only 79 cents, as many as you can carry. Stopping at Cactus Mart is not only about bringing home a little cactus friend but to have fun learning how to plant it yourself. Stop by and check out the Dig Your Own bar today! For more info you can check out their website or call (760) 363-6076.

By Craig Michaels / Realtor / Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate / Leaskou Partners Inc.