Whether you own a garden business, are looking to share rare plants with other hobbyists, or just want to give a friend a green gift, then you need to know about shipping plants through USPS.
Therefore, in this article, we discuss some rules to be aware of when shipping plants, as well as provide a step-by-step guide to preparing your plants for the mail. If you’d like to learn more, keep reading!
Can I Ship Plants with USPS In 2023?
Plants can be shipped through USPS, provided that they don’t belong to an endangered or protected species. It’s also important to check the destination state’s department of agriculture website to determine if any statewide restrictions exist in 2023. Plants should be shipped out of their pots with the roots covered in a moist paper towel.
Check out our guide to find out exactly how to keep your plants safe during shipping, as well as other related and useful facts!
Can You Ship Plants with USPS?
Plants can be shipped both domestically and internationally through USPS under certain conditions.
For example, endangered or protected plants cannot be mailed, nor can invasive species. We’ll go into more detail about plant mailing restrictions in the next section.
Which Plants Can You Ship Through USPS?
Most plants are eligible for shipping through USPS provided that they aren’t endangered or protected.
Some examples of endangered plants include the Baja rose, the Santa Inez golden banner, and the Yreka phlox.
Check out the United States Department of Agriculture database to see if your plant falls in either of these categories.
In addition to these nationwide restrictions, be aware that each U.S. state has different restrictions pertaining to the shipment of plants.
As an example, you can’t ship citrus plants to California from any other state.
Given the complexity of these restrictions, you should check to see if the plant is prohibited in the state you’re sending it to.
You can do this by looking at the destination state’s Department of Agriculture website.
If you’re hoping to ship a plant internationally, be aware that each country has its own restrictions and regulations. If you fail to meet these requirements, your plant may be stopped at the border.
To avoid any such hiccups, check out the destination country’s department of agriculture or postal service website before shipping.
Alternatively, you can check out USPS’ individual country listings to learn about restrictions.
How Do You Ship Plants Through the Mail?
Once you’ve determined that your plant is eligible for shipping through USPS, you need to know how to pack it so it arrives safely.
We’ll go into step-by-step instructions below, but here are a few general guidelines before getting started.
Semi-dry soil is best when shipping plants. Therefore, you should prepare your plant for shipping by giving it freshwater (if necessary) a few hours or days before the trip.
If mailing succulents, don’t water them the day of shipment, as they tend to hold water.
When it comes to fresh-cut flowers, place them in a jar of water for 3-4 hours before shipping so they can get some extra water ahead of their journey.
If you live or are shipping the plant somewhere warm, punch a few holes in the box for ventilation. Do not do this in cold weather, as this could damage the plant.
Now that you’ve got a good grasp on the general rules to follow, here’s a detailed guide for preparing plants for shipment:
1. Remove plants from the soil
Most plants ship best as bare roots, so you’ll need to remove the plant’s pot and shake off any excess soil.
You don’t need to rinse the roots completely. In fact, some leftover soil will help keep the plant healthy during shipment and eventual repotting.
2. Wrap roots with a moist paper towel
Lightly wet a paper towel with clean, room temperature water and wrap it around the plant’s roots.
If your plant has a long way to travel, you might want to wrap multiple paper towels in layers.
3. Wrap with plastic wrap
To keep everything in place, wrap the roots and the paper towels with a layer of plastic wrap. You can also place the plant in a plastic bag.
Either method will hold in moisture and provide insulation for the fragile roots.
4. Secure the plant
Secure the tip of the plant using rubber bands or by wrapping the entire bundle with newspaper. Both methods will stabilize growth and prevent breakage.
5. Place the plant inside of the box
Pack your plant in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box strong enough to withstand any damage from rough handling.
6. Fill extra space
After placing your plant inside of a sturdy box, fill any extra space with packing paper or newspaper. Doing so will prevent your plant from moving around during shipping.
7. Tape the box closed
Close the lid and tape all of the edges with strong packing tape.
8. Label the box
Using a permanent marker, label the box “Live Plants,” “Fragile,” or “Perishable.” While this won’t guarantee that your package will be treated with care, it can’t hurt.
Write the return and shipping address on the outside of the box, and remove or blackout old shipping labels if reusing a box.
9. Ship your plant
Once your plant is packaged, bring it to the post office or opt for home pickup.
When shipping, opt for Priority Mail. Plants are in a vulnerable state when shipping, so you should minimize transit time as much as possible.
On a similar note, we recommend shipping plants early in the week (e.g. Monday or Tuesday). This will ensure that the plant doesn’t get stuck somewhere over the weekend.
Shipping plants through USPS is a fairly easy process. Perhaps the most important thing you need to be aware of is whether or not your plant is considered protected or invasive.
Once you determine its mailing acceptability, the rest comes down to making sure it gets enough water, carefully wrapping the roots, and packaging it to eliminate movement as much as possible.