La Orotava Acclimatisation Gardens was created by Royal Order of Carlos III on the 17th of August, 1788, due to the need to cultivate species from the tropics somewhere in Spain with a suitable climate. The intervention of Alonso de Nava y Grimón, VI Marquis de Villanueva del Prado was essential both in the decision making and also to establish and develop the gardens in the early stages. In 1790, the plans and memo were drawn up and work starts on the plans drawn by Nicolás Eduardo, architect from La Laguna. In 1792, 35 new plantations are started.
French naturalist P. Ledrú, who visited the island in the late 17th century, was the first to catalogue the species grown in the Gardens. He proposed a systematic organisation of the collections based on the Linnean classification of 1753.
From 1832, the year in which Alonso de Nava, founder and first director of the Gardens, died, it has become dependent on several different agencies until 1983, when responsibility was transferred to the Canary Island Regional Government, where it came under the Research and Agrarian Technology Centre of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
It has major collections of tropical and sub-tropical plants, with special emphasis on varieties of palms such as Bromeliacea, Araceas and Moracea. There are many plants and trees that are interesting because of their beauty, size, age, rarity or remote place of origin.
As a scientific institution, the Gardens carry out international germo-plasm exchanges, it has a herb garden specialising in native Canary flora, with more than 30,000 files and develops research programmes on the flora and vegetation of the Canary Islands and the conservation of endemic species. Ever since it was created, the Gardens have had an exhibition area of 20,000 m2, which is presently being increased, and an adjacent area of 40,000 m2.