Best Place to Buy Plants and Comic Books

Exotic Planterium and Card & Comic Collectorama
2008 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, (703) 548-3466
Photograph by Charles Steck

It’s kind of incredible that a store like Exotic Planterium and Card & Comic Collectorama exists, let alone that it’s been around since 1974. The legend of Exotic Planterium goes something like this: Its owner, Dennis Webb, grew up in Alexandria, and his mom owned a vintage and antique store in Del Rey. When he was a kid, his mom let him have a small corner of her store for his own inventory of the stuff he loved: comics, sports cards, and other pop culture ephemera.

Eventually, Webb grew up and got a degree in horticulture. But he didn’t go on to be a botanist or anything like that. Instead, he took after his mom and opened up his own shop just down the street: Exotic Planterium, which merged his love of comics and cultural collectibles with his other love of plants and horticulture. Those two worlds could not be more distant, yet somehow they work together at Webb’s store, where you can find vintage Superman comics as easily as you can find exotic succulents for your terrarium.

But the most charming thing about Exotic Planterium is its peculiarity, which is rare to see in the increasingly affluent and bougie neighborhood of Del Rey. After more than four decades, Exotic Planterium has survived long enough to become a neighborhood staple. The market for comic books and exotic flora isn’t exactly bustling, but Webb has managed to turn his quirky little shop into a kind of tourist destination.