You need to get some birthday flowers for someone, or bring a dinner party host a little something that isn't wine, but you don't know where to start and/or you're not sure if you should bring a plant or a pretty succulent terrarium or something else. San Francisco is home to a great many talented florists, and there is currently no shortage of succulents you could find no matter neighborhood you're in. But below is an elite list of plant shops and floral designers that will be sure to do you right, a few of which double as nurseries where you could potentially by the makings of an entire patio-scape or garden.

With a focus on California grown, Mission District's Ampersand is part flower shop and part design studio. The two owners encourage people to choose their own blooms, and every design is custom. They do wrapped bouquets, corporate events, weddings, deliveries, and pretty much everything else. Also, the barn where the store is located sometimes gets flipped at night into an event space. — Jack Morse
80 Albion Street near 16th Street


Elizabeth's Flowers
Yes, these are the flowers you've seen classing up the concrete scene at One Bush Plaza. Elizabeth's is particularly popular for arrangement deliveries and known for its exquisite small mixed bouquets — those go for about $35. It's a hit both in San Francisco and with out-of-towners phoning — I personally accept their arrangements, so please contact me privately for my address. —Caleb Pershan
1 Bush Street between Battery and Market streets

Farmgirl Flowers
If you want to keep it local, sustainable, and modern, and you want some flowers you'll really get some longevity out of, you can't do much better than this company, founded in 2010 by SF's own Christina Stembel. The place has gotten tons of national press, including this piece from the New York Times in January, because Stembel has succeeded in both cutting costs and reducing waste by limiting the options of consumers and selling just one seasonal arrangement each day, and using only American-grown, pesticide-free flowers. They started shipping nationwide last year, and the very pretty, burlap-wrapped bouquets, always with interesting foliage and at least 10 stems, start at $45. For in-city delivery, you can also get vases as well as a magnificent, "showstopper centerpiece" for $225. — Jay Barmann
901 16th Street and at the SF Flower Mart, or order online

Photo: Flora Grubb/Facebook

Flora Grubb Gardens
Flora Grubb is the hip kid garden center that SF always needed and desired, and every weekend you will find it teaming with succulent lovers and gardeners and mere on-lookers clutching their Ritual coffee (from the in-house coffee bar). The place is pretty enough to be a botanical garden all its own (see the thoroughly planted, rusted out car above), but it is indeed a retail shop with a lot of smart plant people to help you out — and planting stations where they'll show you how best to do whatever you need, from transplanting that cactus to arranging your own perfect succulent pot. None of this comes cheap, of course, but curation is everything, and worth a lot, for some of us. — Jay Barmann
1634 Jerrold Avenue

Photo via Yelp.

A full nursery tucked away in the Castro, Hortica has a huge selection of both indoor and outdoor plants. The backyard is stocked with outdoor plants, and the owner, David Gray, will happily tell you all about his carnivorous plants. This is both a great place to get a house plant after first discussing just exactly how much light it will get on your desk, and also to just stroll around the backyard nursery. Oh, and they also keep plenty of nursery supplies around if you're just trying to get some gardening done. — Jack Morse
566 Castro Street between 18th and 19th Streets

Photo courtesy of IXIA

Castro residents, even those who've never stepped inside, are all familiar with IXIA and its ever changing, sculptural window displays. The designers here specialize in earthy, incredibly imaginative creations utilizing a range of organic materials in new ways — mum buds and pebbles strung like beads on branches, twigs arranged to construct a rough cubic frame for a naturalistic single orchid amidst some moss. If your taste runs to the eclectic, and you wouldn't be caught dead giving someone a plain bunch of tulips, this is a spot to check out. — Jay Barmann
2331 Market Street between Noe and Castro

Photo via Yelp.

Mission de Flores
The unassuming flower shop on Folsom Street has a lot going for it, and not just the wonderful selection. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and nice, and will thoughtfully custom make you arraignments on the spot after a short conversation to determine what you're looking for. Prices are reasonable (although not the cheapest in the Mission), and they can make anything from event centerpieces to special-occasion (or any occasion) bouquets. — Jack Morse
2590 Folsom Street at 22nd Street

Photo: Paxton Gate/Facebook

Paxton Gate
This Valencia Street stalwart, opened in 1992, represents the epitome of the contemporary, eclectic, Edison-bulb-laden, Museum of Jurassic Technology-esque style of decor, complete with humane taxidermy, skulls, air plants, mounted magnifying glasses, and insects in amber. The inspiration for the place came from the passions of two landscape designers for the natural sciences, and the store evokes a mood and a specific "offbeat" era in aesthetics like few others. And if you're hunting for succulents or air plants, especially for gifts, you may end up walking out with more than you intended to buy, including but not limited to a framed butterfly specimen, or a handful of seashells. — Jay Barmann
824 Valencia (at 19th Street)

Photo: Instagram

Sloat Garden Center
If you want succulent and plant variety, and better prices than Flora Grubb, you're going to want to head to one of Sloat Garden Center's 13 Bay Area locations, starting with the three in SF. The place is independent and locally owned, originally opened in 1958 on the corner of 34th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, attached to the G.E.T. Department Store, and these days they're many peoples' go-to place for indoor and outdoor plants, including a big selection of orchids that make great gifts. — Jay Barmann
2700 Sloat Boulevard at 45th Avenue, 327 3rd Avenue, and 3237 Pierce Street

A terrarium temple with a full array of succulents awaits at this "Only In Bernal Heights" storefront with a small greenhouse tucked in back. In fact, Succulence allows you to assemble your own terrariums (or is it terraria?), even offering monthly vertical gardening classes. Oh, and if you are looking for a gift, they sell these tiny glass terrarium necklaces with little succulents in them that are so fucking twee that I truly cannot even.—Caleb Pershan
402 Cortland Avenue between Wool and Bennington Streets

Elizabeth's Flowers via Facebook