Los viveros de Chihuahua 3

Today’s post concludes our nursery tour through the city of Chihuahua, Mexico by focusing on two nurseries located right next to each other in one of the posher neighborhoods. There wasn’t much difference between the two, so I’ve merged the photos together.

Our visit coincided with the height of the pandemic in 2021, right after the vaccines became available, so masks (cubrebocas – literally “cover mouths”) were still required.

I was amused and surprised to also see this sign for an herbicide advertised prominently at the entry gate, Mr. Herbicida’s Kill Weed spray (Mata Maleza). The skull and crossbones aren’t something that I typically associate with gardening and nurseries. Note the lower right where it clearly indicates in English that this is produced by Mr. Doggy. Well, if you can’t trust Mr. Doggy and Mr. Herbicida, who can you trust?

Below that sign was another advertising Mr. Poison’s (Veneno) Kill Plagues (Mata Plagas), also produced by Mr. Doggy.

Walking inside, the pesticide table was hard to miss. Let’s take a closer look.

I found it a little disturbing that the clear plastic bottles were filled with liquids colored like popular drinks, green soda pop, rompope yellow (a type of Mexican eggnog), horchata white (a rice drink flavored with cinnamon), and Jamaica red (a hibiscus flower drink) – all next to a concrete picnic table. This seems to be a bad marketing strategy.

Further in.

A really nice succulent that reminds me of an upgraded version flowering kale.

From all the nurseries, these bamboo plants were the winners for having the smallest root to shoot ratio. Those bags are so small! How are these even still alive?

L stopped to admire a topiary donkey.

There wasn’t much variety in the outdoor flower section, more moss roses and kalanchoe, but I liked the large foot on the pony tail palm visible just above the large, empty black rectangular pot on the left.

This was the first and only nursery with a bonsai section.

Lots of cacti, but nothing I hadn’t already seen elsewhere.

Although this startled me. At first I thought those little red and tan balls were flower buds…

…but a closer look revealed that they were just dried seed heads that had been jabbed into the flesh of some of the cacti.

Very nice blooming hoya for $27.50 US. Very reasonable, considering that I saw small, sickly rooted cuttings of this same plant going for over $90 at one of the local nurseries back home in Oregon. Just one of those examples of supply and demand, and the price gouging that happens once a plant becomes popular in one country and not another. This was the first nursery that used scientific names on some of their signs, perhaps indicating that it was serving a more educated clientele?

A dracaena houseplant (maybe Dracaena deremensis ‘Compacta’) in bloom, not something I typically see.

Very nice leaf form on these palms.

A large selection of pavers and pots.

Some of these were definitely not my style, like these disco-themed Liberace urns. But, it would be interesting to see them used in a more playful garden setting.

I did like the large terra cotta mushrooms though. I could see these lurking in a dark corner covered in moss, ferns, and saxifrages.

Fantastic leaves. Probably a Bauhinia species.

More boxwood. I was disappointed to see that this was in every single nursery we visited. Must be a popular plant. It is durable and somewhat drought tolerant, though some of these were in pretty bad shape.

I was not expecting to see Ajuga reptans.

But, this nursery had by far the widest selection of outdoor cacti and succulents.

And cycads – these remind me a bit of our native sword fern.

This was also the first nursery to have a selection of native shrubs (mainly Leucophyllum frutescens and Salvia species), though they weren’t in the best shape.

Behind that, oleander, crepe myrtles, junipers, and palms.

I’ll end this tour with a close-up of the serrated leaves of a sotol plant (Dasylirion species). These were sharp!

Okay, that’s the best money can buy in the city of Chihuahua. I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip through these three (really four) nurseries in very different neighborhoods (the first two are here and here). I couldn’t help but wish that we had found a nursery with a wider selection of the unique plants native to the Chihuahuan desert. We had several discussions in the car about whether such a nursery would even be viable – who would the customer base be? would there be enough interest to support it? would people be more likely to go out to the desert and dig up plants rather than buying them from a sustainable native plant nursery? L and I have toyed with the idea of retiring someday in the Chihuahua Desert, either on the US or Mexico side, and a native plant nursery would make a fun retirement project.

Next time in the series, we will visit a Mennonite nursery in the city of Cuauhtémoc. It’s a somewhat different style of nursery given that it’s run by a completely different set of people (Russian/German immigrants) with a very different history and religious background. Stay tuned.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Kris P

    The nursery plants here were a lot like ones you’d find in SoCal except for the bags on roots and the drink-colored poisons. I don’t imagine the latter would past muster here – legal claims based on the mere threat of harm would rapidly put them out of business. The Hoya price seemed high to me but then I’ve been surprised at how plant prices in general, and house plants in particular, have soared since the pandemic. I repotted an old and struggling Chinese evergreen this week rather than paying $50 for a new plant of the same size.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      It’s interesting to see how human safety is handled differently in Mexico. It seems to be a much less litigious society, so if you do something foolish, and get hurt or die, it’s your own fault for not being more careful.
      Some of the hoya prices here are still pretty high. I now see similarly sized hanging baskets in the $30-50 range in Portland. I love Chinese evergreens and have made the most out of the two different varieties I have, taking cuttings each summer so I can keep them lush and happy. The prices do seem crazy, especially for plants that I don’t think of as all that exotic.

  2. danger garden

    Donkey in a bag! I don’t know why that made me laugh.

    Is that a beverage sitting on the table in the bonsai section? Or pesticide? I appreciated your featuring the way the poisons were presented, so different from what we’ve come to expect.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I think that “beverage” is another bottle of pesticide or fertilizer, there were a lot of partially used bottles on the back shelf, all within easy reach of any customers wandering through. I’ve never seen such easy access here in the U.S. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the growers followed us so closely – to make sure we didn’t take a sip.

  3. Anna K

    Quite the spread… I marveled at those tall cacti. Not sure what they cost down there, but up here they would cost a fortune. Just the other day, I admired a cactus in a 5g can that cost $325 – wholesale! Those poor potted bamboos made me recall wearing shoes that were too tight. I wonder if they had grown out of their pots and anchored themselves in the ground…? You’d think the slightest breeze would topple them, if not.

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I didn’t pay too much attention to prices because I knew I couldn’t bring anything back. But, it was fun to compare for those few things I did get prices on. I bet you are right – those bamboo must have been rooted into the ground.

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