What Plant People Need to Know About Bringing Plants to Mérida Mexico

Frequently, plants, seeds, and other agricultural items are not allowed when you enter a foreign country. But there’s more to it than just that. Bringing foreign plants and seeds into another country can actually upset the ecological balance of the country and that’s not all. Many repercussions occur that we may not even consider. It might appear to be a harmless seed or plant cutting but it’s possible that it isn’t. This is What Plant People Need to Know About Bringing Plants to Mérida Mexico.

This article was updated in August of 2023.

What plants and seeds can I bring into Mérida Mexico?

At this time, the answer is none.

As agricultural requirements change, it is best to visit the official Mexico government travel and tourism site for current information. Be aware, entry into Mexico can be declined if you are caught bringing plants to Mérida Mexico.

Subject to change at any time, this is a general list of items determined to have a risk of introducing pests or diseases:

  • Vegetables, vegetable products, and vegetable by-products
  • Land or soil
  • Pots or other items with vegetable-sourced content
  • Propagation materials including seeds, bulbs, and buds
  • Flowers and plants
  • Fresh fruit
  • Grains including corn, beans, rice, quinoa, wheat, sesame, sunflower, green beans, lentils, etc.
  • Green coffee and tobacco
  • Fresh chestnuts

purple, yellow, and pink flowers in a green field

Invasive plant species can harm the ecological balance by bringing plants to Mérida Mexico.

There was no mention of the term invasive species in environmental laws until 2010.

General Wildlife Law defines the term Invasive Species as:

“Non-native species or populations outside their natural distribution, capable of
surviving, reproducing and establishing in natural habitats threatening native
biodiversity, economy, or public health.”

By contrast, species not native to a specific location can have a tendency to spread. These introduced species are, to a degree, believed to cause damage in a variety of ways including the natural environment or human health.

Invasive plant species examples from the U.S.

  • Kudzu – Introduced from Asia in the late 19th century as a garden novelty. Kudzu grows at a rate of one foot per day. Mature vines can be as long as 100 feet. Kudzu can easily overtake anything in its path and is found predominately in southeastern states such as Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, the Carolinas, and Mississippi.
  • Andean Pampas Grass – Introduced from Argentina, this plant grows extremely fast with a dense concentration of razor-sharp leaves. Almost impossible to remove, the dry areas of the plants are a fire hazard. It is found in the southwestern part of the U.S.
  • Yellow Starthistle – Introduced accidentally through contaminated seed from South America. This plant is a bushy winter annual found in over 12 million acres in California. It is considered one of the most serious weeds in the state.

To make matters worse –

The destructive nature of foreign plants is not known for many, many years. Unfortunately, by that time, it’s too late. It can be impossible to predict the future outcome of these plants. Only today do we know the negative consequences of what seems, at the time, a good idea.

Growing vegetables, plants and seeds in Mérida

It is true – Many gardeners consider bringing plants to Mérida Mexico such as seeds or cuttings from native plants. Interestingly, some establishments have special packages of seeds that they pre-inspect and stamp for export.

Read the labels and fine print carefully to determine if you can bring your particular foreign seed or plant into Mérida Mexico.

All other materials, including personally collected from your garden or native country, must be inspected before they can legally be brought into the country. As you fill out your customs form, you will have to declare them. Without an import/export permit for agricultural products, it can be illegal to bring them into the country.

plant and flower vendor on a tricycle in front of a yellow house

Make no mistake about it . . .Don’t run the risk of confiscation through an attempt at smuggling them into Mexico. It’s best not to have problems at customs or with the Mexican government.

Bringing plants and seeds across the border is frowned upon.

While seasoned travelers may sneak seeds and plants, these are different times with many more restrictions and harsher penalties. While your deepest desire is to bring that rose cutting from Great Aunt Bertha, be aware it may actually harm the eco-balance in Mérida. Alternatively, gardeners who travel often inquire about transporting seeds or plants back from their trip. As well as, those who move to Mérida ask the same.

Believe me, I get it . . . One of the hardest things I left behind was a plant I’d been given by a dear friend many years ago. Not only was it my friend that I talked to every day but it also brought me comfort and joy. In the end, I knew it was impossible to bring with me. So, I had to find a good home for it which I did. When I am in Dallas visiting, I go and see my plant too!

Gardening in Mérida & the Yucatan Peninsula

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you will find a quite rocky limestone bed just about anywhere you are in the Yucatan Penisula.

  • Designing raised beds is the preference for most people.
  • Concrete blocks (like cinder blocks) give you a nice outline; located at Home Depot. YES! There is a Home Depot in Mérida and it’s wonderful.
  • The cinder block outline will help contain the fresh soil you need to buy.
  • Be sure to ask for clean soil and make sure it is of good quality. This may seem like common sense however there are quite a few varieties of soil you can purchase here.
  • You can choose to have a huge pile of dirt dumped in your yard. Be aware of how much you buy and where you are going to have it dumped. Remember the dogs and cats in your neighborhood may love rolling around in fresh, clean garden dirt.
  • Some places have the option for smaller more manageable bags of dirt. This is usually the preference for most people.
  • You may also find that your soil contains seeds or sproutings of other plants (maybe even weeds). This is part of the gardening process.

Like anywhere else, research sun-hardy and shade varieties. Some plants will thrive in both environments while others will scorch in the intense heat. For a better understanding of the year-round climate, go over to my weather article. Of course, determining which months are more conducive for planting your new garden is key.

close up of green seedlings

Consider this – Definitely, you’ll find a selection of seeds in local stores. Check out the plants at the Slow Food Market and from other local vendors. They can also give you some advice and direction on what, where, and when to plant.

Final thoughts on bringing plants to Mérida Mexico

Notably, please be conscientious as you consider bringing plants to Mérida Mexico. I’m sure you know someone who’s done it or they know someone. At the end of the day, it’s not about whether you get caught or not. It’s really about how one small plant can upset the ecological environment.  A simple mistake may not be felt for many years to come. Nonetheless, keep in mind the invasive plant species for a frame of reference.

But the truth? I am not a die-hard gardener like my friend Janet (who has an amazing way with ALL plants). However, I do enjoy getting out and talking to my green friends. What I do know is that gardening makes you happy.

So what’s gardening all about?

  • Providing a connection to nature which can be important in the city
  • Relieving stress for mental and emotional therapy
  • Improving physical health with a form of exercise and includes breathing techniques
  • Instant gratification to immediately see progress and a sense of satisfaction
  • Being outside is a good source of natural vitamins
  • A great hobby which uses every single aspect of your mental and physical being

Just imagine, beginning a garden learning about native plants, species, flora, and fauna. Create a new experience without introducing foreign plants into Mérida Mexico. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Remember, some plant species thrive in one climate. On the other hand, some may also overtake helpful species in another climate. Seeds can also contain pests and diseases not seen by the naked eye.

Surprise yourself at the wonderful and different plants in Mérida. Some of my favorites are Flor de Mayo, Orchids, Bromeliads, Henequen, Coconut Palms, Bamboo Palms, Chaya, Sour Orange, Mango, and many other kinds of fruit trees. There are over 300 different types of Wild Orchids that anchor themselves to tree branches.

There is an incredible amount of information you can find on the internet, talking with your local nursery and chatting with neighbors. If you’d like to connect with other expats to talk about all things green, join Life in Merida: Visitor & Resident Hangout.