Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium

Learn how one family’s love of desert plants became a Palm Springs horticultural institution.

The Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium was established by husband and wife Patricia and Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten, back in 1939. This couple were Palm Springs celebrities, assisting Walt Disney with the design Disneyland’s Frontierland. Their contribution to the cultural and horticultural life of their city is commemorated on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.

The gardens continue to be lovingly curated by Patricia and Chester Moorten’s family. As you enter, look out for the family home, fondly known as Cactus Castle. Thousands of specimens sourced from all over the world are represented here, yet the one-acre (0.4-hectare) gardens retain a homey intimacy. The species are categorized geographically, taking visitors through exhibits of real terrain. 

Spend an hour exploring over a dozen arid biomes, such as the Baja California Peninsula, the South African-Succulent Karoo, the Mojave Desert and Mexico-Gran Desierto de Altar. Not limited to cacti, the gardens also display agave, bombax, and South African aloe plants. An interesting collection of rocks, crystals, fossils and gold-mining relics break up the flora and enhance the desert themes. 

Guided tours of the gardens are available, but it’s recommended that you book ahead. The garden staff are happy to answer questions.

Plants are available for purchase from the nursery, but make sure you’re permitted to take them home before buying. Allow yourself an hour for a thorough visit. 
The Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium is about 1.5 miles (two kilometers) from downtown Palm Springs and there is on-street parking The gardens are closed Wednesdays and the admission price is minimal.

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