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The scoop on 'Steven Hammer's Sphaeroid Institute'

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Steven Hammer's Sphaeroid Institute

Mailing Address:
845 Mason Road
Vista, California 92084 (United States)

Phone: (760) 631-7898

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9 positives
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RatingAuthorContent
Positive PachyMatt
Glendale, CA
(1 review)
February 9, 2012
RE: Hammer Botanical Gardens - These are probably the most stunning and diverse, and massive collections of African succulents you will ever have the chance to see in one place. An absolute Mecca of rare plants requiring your pilgrimage. Representing mainly Lithops, Conophytum and Haworthia, with others ranging from Gibbaeum, Pleiospilos, glottiphyllum, Tylecodon, Andromischus, Titanopsis, Pelargonium, Sarcocaulons, but oddly, not one Pachypodium. My favorites are the C. Maughanii, solitary pudgy conophytums that look like colored little bladders and are anything but plant-like. This is a Baskin and Robbins store of succulents with 10,000 flavors. I took 190 photos and was just getting started when my memory card maxxed out. Just amazing.
Positive amanzed
Los Angeles, CA (Zone 10a)
(3 reviews)
December 31, 2010
Stephen Hammer is one of those rare individuals who excels in academic botany and field work, plus (as reviewed here) in his nursery operation, Sphaeroid Institute.

I'm not sure how he does it. His plants are beautifully grown with well-hydrated root systems, his customer service is good-natured and detailed, his prices are very reasonable, and his plants are expertly named and labeled with detailed names and collection data.

Maybe he has an army of living garden gnomes doing his bidding?

His knowledge about plant provenance and collection puts him in the highest rank of cactus and succulent plant sellers in North America and probably the world. This was my first order from Sphaeroid Institute--18 varieties!--but it will not be my last.

I do wish he offered the option of shipping in-medium (billing me for the added shipping), but he makes a persuasive case for why this is a Bad Idea.
Positive Haworthihead
La Mesa, CA
(3 reviews)
February 26, 2010
I have purchased about a dozen plants from Stephen Hammer and recently visited his nursery...wow. His plants are as beautiful as he is helpful and knowledgeable. VERY reasonable prices and he answered all of my (way too many) questions. Couldn't ask for more!
Positive Mr_Cleaver
Reeders, PA (Zone 4a)
(3 reviews)
October 8, 2007
Steve Hammer is the most helpful and accommodating South African plant seller you will ever find. Got a question about a certain Mesemb...he knows the answer. His orders are filled and mailed promptly and his selection of Conophytum and Haworthia are extensive. He has some odd stuff, too. What more could one ask? I have been dealing with Steve for 2 years and each plant has been a gem.
Positive kbutler
Phoenix, AZ
(1 review)
December 19, 2006
Steve Hammer is my "gifting service". We have a mutual friend that is most difficult to buy for at Christmas or to find a suitable Birthday gift. Steve has a pretty good idea of what my friend does not have in his green house.

All I do is send a check for the plants plus express mail cost. Steve always picks something extraordinary.

Steve is as extraordinary as his beautiful plants - it is a pleasure doing business with him.

If I had my choice of a diamond or a Hammer plant, I would take the Hammer plant without hesitation. Steve hydrates the plants before shipping and they always arrive in perfect condition. I am currently anxiously awaiting three more plants. I always feel like Steve did not charge me enough. I have never received so much value for so little money from any other grower.
Positive desert21
(1 review)
December 16, 2005
If you are a serious collector of mesembs and haworthias and live in the US you will not find a better resource for these plants. As others have stated, Steven Hammer is a leading authority on Conophytums and Haworthias-- a true pillar of the succulent plant community, Even more, he's a really nice guy with a great sense of humor and usually has a very quick turnaround on orders. His published list is relatively limited, but if you are looking for a specific plant, write him and ask because he probably has it.
Positive dave12122
East Haddam, CT
(69 reviews)
September 18, 2005
Steve provides probably 75% of the known Conophytums, a healthy selection of unusual Lithops, very well grown Haworthias, and a smattering of South African bulbs and other genera. I find the plants to be of generous size, but a few do not adjust well from their "cushy" life of 350+ sunny days and low humidity to the rigors of growing under glass in the East. This has nothing to do with Steve obviously, but should be noted if you live east of the Mississippi. Some plants he sells which are very difficult to acclimate out here are:

Ruschianthus falcatus
Lithops optica rubra
Lithops "Hammerruby"
Haworthia bayeri
Haworthia bruynsii
Haworthia lockwoodi (very prone to rot)
Conophytum pubicalyx and other tiny species that tend to dry up forever during the dormancy period


Sending the plants bare root doesn't help much, obviously this is dictated by California state law. But I can't help but wonder if the plants were sent in pots if they would adjust to the drastic change of less sunlight and increased humidity more readily. I find Steve's prices to be fair, maybe a little high for the Conophytums which are very easy to keep in his climate. Lists are sent on line and you need to act very quickly for the choicest items. All in all, a treasure trove if your are interested in Haworthias and Mesems, in particular.
It's unfortunate that many species which grow like weeds in California need a lot of "fussing" in eastern states to flower and live year after year.

Positive Uncarina
Seattle, WA
(4 reviews)
April 29, 2005
Steven Hammer is the best. I've ordered Haworthias from him twice and they've been beautiful. The plants were vigorous and healthy. They've been growing great since I got them over a year ago. I would definately order from him again. I don't know anything about his mesembs as I don't grow those. However, they're probably just as beautiful as the Haworthias. He is a leading expert on mesembs also. I can't praise the guy enough for providing such great plants.
Positive Crasulady2
Valley Village, CA
(5 reviews)
January 8, 2002
Another A+ nursery, clean as a whistle, beautiful mesembs.
He is considered the world expert at this time. He grows So. African plants, I don't know about cactus. Beautifully wrapped for shipping, spotless well grown and labeled. Email him at night only, he responds very quickly, ethical, writes books, lectures. Nice size plants, some very cheap, other that are slow growing he deserves and asks more. Plants are all seed grown or his own hybrids. Be sure to request a catalogue on line.

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