5 Tips For Growers Shipping Plants Online

5 Things For Growers Shipping Plants Online

2020 was THE year for shipping plants online! Despite having been around for several years, until 2020 the Home & Garden Industry never quite jumped on the eCommerce bandwagon. But, desperate times called for desperate measures.

While there were already a couple of players in the industry, like our client Nature Hills, there were still many growers throughout the U.S. who didn’t see the value in shipping plants by way of the internet. But, as quickly as 2020 began, all of this changed.

In 2020, the demand for online shopping of live plants was at an all-time high.

The pandemic forced both large and small businesses that were selling plants to pivot and consider this new market with little time for second-guessing. As these businesses and growers extended their shipping services to meet the increasing demand from people all over the world, regulators were also getting to work.

While shipping plants online may be a good change for the industry, regulators and industry experts have a long list of reasons why shipping plants throughout the United States can be just as hurtful as it is helpful.

Here are the 5 things growers and online plant nurseries need to know about shipping live plants using the E-Commerce model.

1. Regulations Still Apply

While many growers and nurseries would expect nothing less, unfortunately, there are still some companies out there that may be a little surprised by this. Despite the number of web pages out there (roughly 1.7 Billion of them), Regulatory Officials have wasted no time at all in auditing online websites.

While getting garden plants delivered to your doorstep sounds like it would be harmless enough, there are still a number of online stores that do not disclose the origin locations of their goods. If a plant comes from overseas or from an infected nursery, that order, and consequently that plant put all the other plants in that truck at risk. 

To combat the efforts of negligent sellers, regulators throughout the U.S. have pivoted to auditing online storefronts and notifying businesses if it looks like they’re selling invasive plants or non-compliant goods. 

2. Knowing Where Your Plants Come From

When it comes to shopping plants online knowing where your plant is coming from can be challenging. As a consumer, not all companies are transparent in their supply chain to try and protect their network from the competition, but that doesn’t make it less important.

When buying and selling plants online location is quite literally, EVERYTHING. If a plant is coming from overseas there is quite a bit of risk that the plant can pose to the North American ecosystems and consequently, you run the risk of the plant never being delivered.

But, if the plants are coming from different parts of the country, chances are you’re going to get it. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to get it fast, or that it’s still in compliance. Different regions of the country have different regulations for compliance, because of their vulnerability and risk to their agriculture, businesses, and the environment. 

A prime example of this is the state of California. They have so many different ecoregions within one state that some parts of the state can’t ship to the other. The different environments contribute to different pests, plants, and diseases posing a risk to the other plants in the other regions of the state.

Before investing too much as a grower in your e-Commerce journey, make sure you’re already fully invested in the most up-to-date certifications and regulations for where you’re shipping.  

Every state is different, and while you’re State Regulator may say that everything looks good, the destination state may have different ideas. It’s good practice to reach out to ensure you have everything you need.


3. Applying Restrictions On The Site: Plant Sentry™ API 

Believe it or not, despite everything we do in our business, we still have room for more! 

Besides being a one-of-a-kind database for all of the regulation and compliance needs for the Garden Industry, we also have a modern technical approach to aid in protecting any type of plants. 

Plant Sentry™ has developed a state-of-the-art API that can connect with the shopping cart feature on any e-Commerce website! The value that this tool can bring to your website is immeasurable. The API service uses the destination location of the plant against our database to ensure the customer request can be met, and saving you the hassle of managing restrictions. 

If you’re a grower and would like to learn more about this feature, please reach out to us in our Contact Us section below and we will be happy to tell you more!

4. Shipping Your Wide Selection of Plants

Once you’ve nailed down your compliance and have Plant Sentry™ set up on your site, you’re pretty much ready to rock and roll. 

But, there’s just ONE more thing.


Shipping live plants is a delicate process and should be treated as such. During the pandemic carriers have been overwhelmed with record highs of packages, making traveling through the mail a bit more difficult for live goods.

With that in mind, you want to make sure your packaging will keep your plants healthy and alive throughout their journey. With carriers sometimes taking anywhere from 1 to several extra days to make a delivery, set your business up for success and optimize your plant’s packaging.

This includes making sure all required labels are easily accessible for officials and your packaging indicates fragile or live goods.

5. The PPQ Mail Interception Dashboard

As if we couldn’t give you enough tips to make you successful, the USDA’s APHIS team also has your back!

In efforts to help combat unauthorized shipments of goods into the U.S., the USDA-Plant Protection & Quarantine (PPQ) team uses both specially trained detector dogs and their innovative PPQ Mail Interception Dashboard. Each of these services works to protect the people of the U.S. and prevent unauthorized shipments from making their way illegally through our country.

The dashboard tracks and provides visual data on locations of the stopped packages, and provide unique insights into where the unpermitted shipment came from. The program aims to achieve turning this information gathered into ways that the agency can put a stop to the numerous mail pest pathways throughout the country. 

So there you have it! In 5 easy steps, you too can launch your e-Commerce version of your business. Whether you’re looking to ship to Los Angeles or New York City, be sure to stop by our Contact Us page below to reach out for our help.