Plant shopping in Merida, Mexico

Merida nursery one

Roses and bougainvillaea were massed on one side of the path in one nursery, with lime green and darker green foliage plants on the other. The tall evergreen, a skinnier one than I’ve ever seen, was simply labelled Koster. I couldn’t find out what it was, but of course there was a language barrier.

Shopping for garden plants in March–and not online or from a catalogue?  Not in my part of the world.  But while on vacation near Merida, Mexico (and missing Canada Blooms, which was taking place at home in snow-and-ice Toronto while I was basking in 30-degree-pus temperatures), I had a yen to visit a nursery and do some plant shopping.

So one morning I took in two of them on the outskirts of Merida, the capital of Yucatan State and a half hour’s drive from the Gulf of Mexico, where we were staying. There were more nurseries to visit, but I confess that by the time I toured two the sun was high overhead and I was wilting. I had to escape to the seaside, my lounger and an ice-cold drink.

I was just looking, anyway, with no plans to buy because I had no place to plant anything.

beach and boat

The planted beach in front of our villa was a restful sight at any time of the day, including easy morning and late afternoon, when fishermen would be heading out for the day or returning home with the catch.

Lots of succulent beach plants grew outside our rented ocean-front villa, plus coconut palms that threatened to bonk us with falling fruit, oleander, hibiscus and wildy colourful bougainvillea –obviously in season, since it was showing off on walls and fences everywhere.

If only I could grow some of these beauties in my garden!

The Merida nurseries weren’t that different to the ones at home.  Near the front they featured eye-catching pots and flats of colourful geraniums, gerbera, calendula, petunias  and impatiens in full bloom that you immediately wanted to buy. In the Mexican climate such plants have a longer lifetime, and some even grow as short-lived perennials.  Large tropical plants were loosely grouped to show off their best attributes and smaller ones were massed together, especially if they were in bloom. Areas of plants were were set out with paths in between and plenty of reaching space. Many plants, like the ones  on my home page, sat under mesh roofs to protect them from the strong sun.

As at home, some plants seemed to be mislabelled or not labelled at all, or they were simply mysteries to me.  The bank of pots  below  were labelled Truen-Venus  O. lili.  They contained dainty plants with pretty rose flowers, and they looked like they might work as a ground cover, but darned if I knew what they were.  At Vivero Xochimilco, they were reasonably priced though, at  30 pesos, or $2.50 Canadian, for a generous pot.

truen venus olili

I figured I could identify plants by looking for their botanical names, but Truen Venus etc definitely wasn’t one, nor could we translate it from Spanish. In fact, botanical names  were not to be found.   The beautiful  Spathiphyllum wallisii below, which is called Peace Lily at the nursery near my home,  was labelled  Cuna de Moises, or Cradle of Moses, in Merida. It may be something else in Veracruz. This just underlines to me the importance of using botanical names to identify plants, no matter where you live.  The well-grown, large plants on display were 250 pesos each, or $21.25 Canadian. I paid $20 for one at my local nursery last summer, but it was a good deal smaller than the lush specimen below.

peace lily

Bromeliads were in abundance in many varieties, all unlabelled. I loved the one below, which was also 250 pesos/$21.25 CDN, and could see it in a giant container on my front walk, maybe with some silvery grey licorice plants trailing over the edge (okay,okay–Helichrysum petiolare.)  If there was one plant I really really wanted to take home with me, this was it. Using sign language and the help of my almost-fluent husband,  the nurseryman told me that this plant produces a large spiky maroon flower later in the season.  Now wouldn’t that be something!

single stripedbromeliadPom-pom trees or other  other evidence of topiary were nowhere to be seen, but one latticed ficus  was displayed in a centre bed lined with royal palms. I can’t imagine the years of work it took to train those ficus. The price tag was 2,500 pesos, but at $212.50 CDN I considered  it a steal.

lattice ficus

The nursery nearly next door focussed more on foliage plants, and it was a welcome retreat in the heat of the day, with tall trees, natural paths and plants growing as they might in your own garden.

shady nursery

lime tree









This nursery  offered bromeliads too– a whole bank of them, also unlabelled. These colourful plants are a favourite choice for foundation plantings for homes and big shopping malls, of which there are many in the lovely colonial city of Merida.

bromeliad massed

4 thoughts on “Plant shopping in Merida, Mexico

  1. The plant labeled as Truen Venus appears to be what we called Mexican Heather when I lived in San Antonio, TX. (Cuphea hyssopifolia)

    • Hi JOe:
      Thanks a lot for the input–I Googled Cuphea hyssopifolia and it looks like the same plant I saw in Mexico. It’s not hardy where I live, near Toronto, so I wouldn’t recognize it, and I don’t remember seeing it on my travels farther south. Now, can anyone tell me what Truen Venus O Lili means?

  2. Can you please tell me the name of the plant nurseries you visited . We are new to Merida and have not been able to find a place to buy plants yet. Thank you

    • Hi Maria;
      Glad to help…me, a visitor to Merida, helping a resident, even if she is a recent one. The nursery most featured on my blog is Vivero La Flora de Xochimilco, and it’s near the Alta Brisa exit on the north side of the Periferico. Address on their card is Anillo Periferico S/N Carr, a Cholul, rumbo a Progreso. Phone number is 943-37-24.
      There are at least three nurseries on the same road, close by, but I only visited two. Sorry, I didn’t get the name of the second one, but it seemed to specialize in foliage plants.
      Let me know how it works out, will you?

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