The True Cost of Low Priced Plants

The True Cost of Low Priced Plants

Earlier this morning I was reading my morning news and I came across an article that immediately piqued my interest. I found it so interesting in fact, that it got my wheels turning, and my fingers tapping. This article gave me a range of emotions! I’m still unsure as to whether they’re better identified as angry or as interested.

You see, the article that I had read this morning was about my industry, my day in and day out reputation, that I take great pride in. So, understandably I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered that someone was attempting to provide guidance to our customers, or if I was just annoyed that they had done such a poor job at trying to do so.

The article I had read was about the differences between low cost $5 plants and more expensive ones from garden centers. While they tried to help the many customers struggling with empty pocketbooks amidst the raging pandemic, the article both insulted the industry and the consumer. 

Even the most amateur gardeners would read this article and surely see that the writer of this piece missed a lot of important parts of buying plants.

But, what I did appreciate about this article, was that it proposed a very important question, that both the writer of the piece and myself at times have asked. 

Why is it that some plants cost more, and what exactly are you paying for?

The Garden Industry

Before diving right into the answer of why some plants cost more and what exactly you’re paying for, I think it’s important to understand a little bit about the Garden Industry and what we do.

Much like other agricultural fields, this work requires exposure to the sun for long hours through the hottest days of the year. It asks you to get your hands dirty, and not just lightly, but nails stained from the constant exposure to the dirt, kind of dirty. Not to mention the exposure to chemical treatments, insects, and other unsavory pests.

Nursery and Greenhouse professionals work exceptionally hard to deliver beautiful plants that will bring each customer years of joy and happiness. 

It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and by no means, is it a job for everyone. 

But despite the stressful nature that this industry can have, many growers, sellers, and workers are still some of the kindest people you can do business with. 

This industry is surrounded by the joy and beauty that these plants bring to people!

Fundamentals of Cost

Now that you know a little bit more about the work that goes into our industry, we can look at a couple of important factors that affect the cost of the plants you see at your favorite plant shops. 

As a customer, one of the best ways you can support your green thumb and the Garden and Nursery Industry is by having a good understanding of what the pricing means.

1. You get what you pay for:

I was raised on this important philosophy during a time when you really did get what you pay for. While times have changed, and the cost of goods overall has risen, for the most part this is still true.

 2. You only pay for quality once:

My boss said this to me earlier this past year, and it was the only time I ever needed to hear it. Simply because it’s incredibly true.

When it comes to plants, quality plants are a gift that keeps on giving. They can save you extra costs on everything from root booster to pesticides.

3. Bigger isn’t always better:

Sometimes bigger seems better, but this idea isn’t always true. When it comes to getting your money’s worth, size does matter. But, what is sometimes missed is that the “more” you may be getting is not what you expected.

When it comes to buying plants the “more” could mean a variety of things. It could mean taking home pests, or diseases that could very well cause damage to the rest of your landscape. In other ways the more you could be getting is an unhealthy plant that led you on to believe that because it was bigger, it would be better.

Quality growers will often take the extra steps to prune or cut back plants so that they can regrow the following year with more body. When this step is skipped, it can actually impact the growth of the plant negatively. 

Sometimes this means that the plant will need more time to grow full, but if it’s good quality, it will be worth the wait!

4. Bulk buys receive discounts:

This is true throughout the market in more than one industry. The more that a vendor buys from a supplier, the more savings a vendor can pass along to their customers. Acknowledging this global truth of market exchanges is where you’ll be able to compare big box store discounts and small business achievements.

What’s In the Cost

There’s a lot to take into consideration when you’re purchasing plants. Your landscape is an investment in yourself and your home. If you’re going to spend the time on it, you’re going to want it to look nice.

Buying cheap plants can mean you’re compromising quality. The plant could be short on nutrients, or root hardiness causing it to die faster. But, buying the most expensive plants can easily keep you from completing your gardening goals. 

When deciding on new plants and how much they’ll cost here are the factors that will impact the cost of your plant and what you’re getting for your money:

On Staff Experts: 

When it comes to the quality of plants, there is one key ingredient that really makes a difference in the cost, the people.

These days, the human impact can be easily overlooked in identifying quality and cost. But for my industry, the human touch really makes all the difference.

Companies that invest in their employees will have happier employees, and that trickles down to the quality of care they give to their plants.

Insightful experts and careful employees can quickly impact the quality of the plants that a company sells. The natural human attention to detail is important when it comes to growing and selling plants. Staff members must have the knowledge and the skillset to give the care that plants need to thrive. 

Knowledgeable staff can also quickly solve problems that often arise in the Garden Industry. Quick and informed decisions can be the difference between making a season flourish or closing their doors.

Boxing and Packaging

Believe it or not, this has a huge impact on the overall health of your plant. Many plants are shipped from larger wholesale growers to smaller nurseries and sellers throughout the country. Cutting costs on boxing and packaging can mean exposing the plants to harsh weather conditions that can ultimately impact their health. 

Pests and Disease Treatments

The overall health of a plant before it gets to the customer starts with the grower. Using effective and proven methods to keep the plant healthy from harmful pests and diseases is fundamental to the overall health of the plant. Each state sets out different requirements for treatments against pests and diseases to protect their local environments and plant communities. If a grower does not adhere to these regulations, it often comes at a greater cost to everyone involved. 

We know that the best growers use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plans, and certify their operations in compliance with their state and federal regulations. That’s why we take the extra step and time for every piece of inventory to be sure that it has been certified to ship to your area.

Quality Variety: 

Like many industries around the world, the Garden Industry is continually developing new and beautiful varieties for their customers. But, keeping up with the latest trends comes at a cost. 

Many new varieties have patents and trademarks to their creators. Suppliers, like Nature Hills Nursery, are willing to sell these new varieties, but often have to pay additional fees for royalties, marketing, and rights to sell the variety. 

Good Roots: 

When it comes to starting a healthy plant, it comes from the ground up! Strong and plentiful roots give plants the access they need to nutrients throughout their lifetime. 

The foundation roots create for strong and robust plants is something that is often skipped over when it comes to giving it the detail and attention it deserves.

When looking at low cost plants, this is something to be wary of. The soil of your plant should be wrapped within the roots and visibly abundant when it is removed from the cell it was purchased in.

Next Time You’re Buying Plants

The next time you’re out buying plants, I genuinely hope that you’ll consider more than just the price tag that you see. I’ve done the groundwork for you here, in hopes that the next time you’re comparing costs, you have a ready idea of what it represents.

Remember your fundamentals of, you get what you pay for and that you only pay for quality once. Bigger doesn’t always mean it’s better, and that bulk buying usually comes with greater discounts. 

These basic purchasing rules will help guide your review of costs. But, these weren’t the only tips I gave you!

The Garden Industry is a busy, constantly revolving machine. From the time the plants go into the ground to the moment they’re sent out on a truck, growers who provide quality plants really do put their best foot forward for their customers. 

They invest in their staff members because they know that the return is more than a machine could ever replicate. They establish strong IPM plans to protect their plants from pests and diseases they didn’t see coming. They pay a little bit more so that you can have branded quality varieties. They start good roots so that your plants have access to all the necessary nutrients. And they carefully select packaging that they know costs a little more on their side but means you’ll get a healthier and stronger plant.

So while the lower priced plant may look more appealing to your pocketbook, the slightly more expensive plant can give you so much more.

Pages To Visit:

Normally in this section of our blogs, we would include our citations. However, this week we focused on in house experts from our 3 companies! So instead of the usual citation, here are pages to our other 2 companies that help keep Nature Hills Nursery going. 




5 Important Topics For The Garden Industry In 2021

5 Important Topics For The Garden Industry In 2021

It’s officially a new year and the highly anticipated Spring season is just around the corner! Here at Plant Sentry™ this new year means a fresh start, full of new opportunities. That’s why we’re diving into the new year head first to look at the “5 Important Topics For the Garden Industry In 2021”. 

1. Integrated Pest Management Plans:

 We wouldn’t be who we are today, if this wasn’t the first conversation that we asked you to have with your teams. Integrated Pest Management plans are the backbone of a grow operations pest management efforts. The efforts are both effective and environmentally sensitive. [1] They consider the life cycle of pests that threaten their stock, and how to best combat them. 

Every growing season brings new challenges, and this year will be no different. Before and after the grow season sit down with your team that manages your IPM. Ask them how effective and efficient their efforts were before the big growing season, and what changes could be made now that it’s over.

Having a strong plan in place is how the best IPMs succeed!

2. Regulatory Compliance: 

Not to be outdone by the importance of a quality IPM, Regulatory Compliance comes in at number two. While it may appear second ranked in this article, it could arguably have been number one. Regulatory compliance efforts are essential for any business in the green and garden industry. 

Whether or not most buyers realize it, regulatory compliance is set out as rules and guidelines from the Federal and State governments [2]. Each of these regulatory bodies monitor and regulate invasive plant, pest, and disease movement throughout their lifetime within the U.S. As time passes they’ll pass rulings that can ban certain plants from moving from one place to another based upon their vulnerability. 

Each part of the country belongs to a different ecoregion. Sometimes, the ecoregion will also be determined by government bodies as to what plants will do best in those areas. All of these tools guide and tell growers where their plants can and cannot be shipped or sold. However, it is the responsibility of the growers and sellers to seek out and apply these regulations.

Proper following of these regulations can have HUGE impacts on a company’s bottom line. If plants are shipped or sold by someone and they have rulings around them that say otherwise, officials will burn and destroy the entire lot of those plants. These damages can result in the loss of thousands to millions of dollars.

This is why Plant Sentry™ [3] is so important! We’ve developed a database with consistently maintained regulations for compliance to help growers and sellers from losing their plants.

3. Scalability: 

Coming in at number three is the topic of Scalability. While the previous two topics were more focused on management systems for a business, we know that both of them play a bigger part in how successfully your business can grow.

2020 was a mad dash to pivot and create increased success from a booming opportunity within the green and garden industry. With a little bit more time for preparation this year, scalability should be easier to achieve for the expected influx of business. 

But, the pivots and foresight for growth shouldn’t end with the Spring 2021 season. Scaling your business can continue to grow well after the season has ended as you put together the pieces for the next growing season. Topics that you might want to focus more closely on, if you haven’t already, are going to be E-Commerce developments, curbside pick-up and shipping opportunities, and increased labor to pace the growth of your business. 

4. Sustainability:

If Sustainability wasn’t on your radar before, it most certainly should be in 2021. Across every sector and industry of the economy, businesses are pivoting in a greener direction. For much of the green and garden industry this idea of sustainable development has already been a large part of their practice. 

But there are still many who haven’t quite made it that far. If you’re one of the many businesses looking to buff up the sustainability of your business, there’s a few things to consider.

While much of the efforts towards a more sustainable future focus solely on greener actions, that’s not the only part of being sustainable. When developing ideas that might be best adapted for  your practices you should consider the longevity of your business as well. Greener efforts within your business should contribute to higher returns long-term. 

Some sustainable ideas worth adapting might include container recycling programs, selling more native plants, using more compostable materials, and many more. We recommend you take some time to chat with your team, ask their ideas, and then see what could work best for your business.

5. Trade Shows and Conferences

With the exciting arrival of vaccines for COVID-19 it’s starting to look like there very well could be some Trade Shows and Conferences this year. We’re not sure about you, but we’re pretty excited about possibly seeing our colleagues again!

Trade show season is always fun, but can also be a little overwhelming if you’re new to the business. There’s so many! 

Determining how many trade shows your business will attend should be a part of your business and marketing strategy for the year. If not every trade show will be feasible or possible due to other attendance barriers, look at attending trade shows that are going to have a maximum return for your attendance. 

Things you’ll want to consider are the demographics of the show and ask if they’re your target audience. Look at how many people will be attending for the best brand visibility possible. Work with what is going to be the best price with the best quality to really make your trip worthwhile.

While this year is almost guaranteed to be better, let’s not hedge our bets! Consider these important topics throughout the year to help improve your practices and your business.






The 5 Most Challenging Invasive Species of 2020

The 5 Most Challenging Invasive Species of 2020

(For the Garden Industry)

For months, I’ve been publishing content hinting at the end of the year. Well, it’s finally arrived, the actual end of the year. So here I am, participating in the annual moment of reflection for perhaps the most controversial and difficult year in recent history. As l look back, all I can think of is how much we’ve overcome. 

This year was nothing short of a challenge and being here today feelings like nothing shy of a miracle. But, looking back at all of the hard work our industry put in to thrive and stay afloat it’s not surprising that more growers and sellers saw upsides rather than downs.

With the ever present threat of invasive species, disease, and pests learning from this past year’s challenges will be just what we need to tackle 2021.

Let’s take a look back at this year’s 5 Most Challenging Invasive Species

#1. The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire)

This pest officially became so widespread this past year, that the USDA has ruled to roll back the quarantine efforts of the invasive species.

This pest officially infests all but 13 states of the contiguous United States of America.

Despite best efforts to quarantine and control the pest, the spread of the beetle has left many states with no other option but to remove the coveted Ash trees from their lands, and discontinue efforts of regulations. 

The new USDA approach hopes to reserve funding and efforts currently used for quarantining the Emerald Ash Borer, so that more effective management can be developed and executed. [1]

#2. Asian Citrus Psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama or ACP)

This particular pest is always at the top of our list when it comes to terrible, no good, invasive species. As we’ve discussed in some of our previous blogs, the Asian Citrus Psyllid spreads the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, also known as Citrus Greening, that currently has no cure.

Citrus Greening is responsible for a 21% decline in the fresh citrus fruit market, as well as a 72% decline in the production of oranges as of 2019. [2] The pest and its disease is currently found in 9 states throughout the contiguous United States, all residing within the citrus belt of the U.S. 

The ever growing threat of this pest and the disease it carries is the root of the numerous citrus agreements, certifications, and licenses that are necessary for the Green Industry. Maybe in 2021 we’ll finally be able to get rid of this sucker for good!

#3. Gypsy Moth (Asian & European) 

Besides being my least favorite invasive pest to look at, this pest sure is a doozy!

 It has many technical names. The Asian Gypsy Moth is scientifically identified as “AGM, including Lymantria dispar asiatica, Lymantria dispar japonica, Lymantria albescens, Lymantria umbrosa, and Lymantria post¬alba[3]. The European Gypsy Moth is scientifically identified as “lobesia botrana or EGVM” [4].

See? A doozy. 

But what’s more frustrating about this pest is the way that it invades its host trees and does just enough damage before leaving and making way for more dangerous diseases and pests to kill it off. Some of their trees of choice are Oak trees, Sweet Gum trees, Willow trees, Birch trees, Apple trees, and Boxelder trees. However, there are plenty of other trees they seek. The Asian variety of the gypsy moth eats both evergreen and deciduous tree varieties, while the European variety only targets deciduous trees.

But as if their damage wasn’t enough, these apparently evolved species of moths also are difficult to prevent and control. Their unique “ballooning” method of transfer that their egg sacs can have, allows for them to be carried by wind instead of just flight. 

It was estimated back in 2011 that for the 20 years prior this pest had caused $30 million dollars in damages A YEAR! [5].

#4. Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)

If you follow us on social media @PlantSentry, or frequent our blogs, you’re probably familiar with this pest!

This pest has been around since it was first found in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, management efforts against the pest have been challenging to say the least. Part of the difficulty in managing this pest is that their eggs, larvae, and adults easily travel undetected through contaminated material. These materials can include your shoes, firewood, and really anything else they can attach themselves to.

Educational efforts such as Play Clean Go help provide guidance to many of us who unknowingly transfer this pest in our outdoor activities. 

This pest favors grape vines, hardwoods, and fruit trees, but will devor just about any plant. The fruit industry has been particularly impacted by this [6]. So far their cost in damages has resulted in a $50 Million dollar decline throughout the state of Pennsylvania. [7]

Part of this economic decline as a result of the pest has also been 500 jobs lost throughout the state of Pennsylvania. [7]

#5. Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)

Ah, finally #5, Kudzu! Now here’s a real handful of an invasive species. This guy has been in the U.S. for years, all the way back to 1876, and was an introduced species originally used to help control erosion. Since its arrival this invasive species has become perhaps the most invasive plant species in the U.S.

This plant currently inhabits mostly the Southeastern portion of the country but can be found in 30 states throughout the U.S. 13 of the 50 contiguous states currently list this plant as a noxious weed, although it is no longer a federally listed noxious weed. [8]

With the ability to overgrow even trees in a forest, this plant overcrowds existing vegetation and prevents healthy growth of native species in their regions. It is currently estimated that this plant covers about 20,000 to 30,000 square kilometers of land throughout the U.S. [9]

Nationwide this invasive species contributes to roughly $500 million dollars lost in cropland and control efforts. [9]

Looking Forward in 2021

So there you have it, the 5 most challenging invasive species that we faced in 2020 throughout the Garden Industry.

It’s difficult to look at this list without concern for the future and wonder what combative steps we might take as an industry against these species. At Plant Sentry™ we ask these same questions and we have these same concerns. This is why as a company we’ve set the standard to provide the best possible guidance not just for ourselves, but for those we serve in resolving the challenges that invasive species bring. 

Our company, Plant Sentry™, started out as a small idea, but it has turned into a component for much greater change. Throughout our industry companies and clients are showing more interest in working to resolve the challenges and issues that invasive species bring. As we greet the new year of 2021, we’re confident that our community will continue to encourage a brighter future with less invasive species.

Until then,

Happy New Year from Plant Sentry™












Oh Christmas Tree!

Oh Christmas Tree!

Nothing says “ ‘Tis the Season” like a decorated evergreen variety adorned with Christmas lights and Christmas ornaments from top to bottom. Beautifully needled branches are carefully coated with decorations, and tucked with presents and tree skirts around their trunks. Just one of these sparkling trees adds a touch of holiday cheer to your home. Internationally this tree is recognized as a symbol of Christmas and annual Yule tidings.

But, what many don’t realise is that before it becomes a Christmas tree, this beautiful symbol of joy and togetherness is just a tree in a forest or on a farm.

A Brief History

When Christmas trees first began their journey as these beloved holiday symbols, it was the 16th Century and things were very different then. It wouldn’t have been uncommon for someone to simply chop down their own tree and haul into their village or home. 

But as time has passed, our processes for scouting and cutting down trees have changed significantly. No longer is it permissible to simply walk into the woods and bring home the perfect sized tree.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association roughly 350 Million Christmas trees are grown on tree farms throughout the United States. Out of all these trees sold, about 25 to 30 Million of them are real trees! [2]

Year after year as the holiday season approaches tree growers throughout North America prepare for some of their busiest selling seasons. The state of Oregon is recognized as the number one grower and seller of Christmas tree varieties in the United States. [3] While they produce and sell millions of evergreen trees a year, there are still people who seek the historical route of cutting down a tree in the forest. 

Finding the Right Tree

While seeking out a real Christmas tree has a lower carbon footprint than artificial trees, before walking out into the woods for yours, there’s a few things you should know. 

First, as we mentioned carbon footprints, you should think about yours. While an artificial Christmas tree may last longer, you would need to use it for about 12 years in order to begin offsetting its carbon footprint. Many artificial trees are manufactured overseas and must travel before arriving at the stores for consumers to buy. Whereas a natural and real Christmas tree has a significantly lower carbon footprint.

If the environmental factors of a Christmas tree matter to you, consider composting or recycling the tree after the holidays to decrease the carbon footprint.

The second nugget of information for you to consider is that purchasing from a local tree farm is a great way to support your local economy! While Oregon produces the most Christmas trees nationwide, there are plenty of other states that grow them too. Look throughout your local community for a grower reasonably close by and have the type of trees you’re looking for. Buying local is also a great way to prevent the spread of pests and disease that can occur in interstate plant shipping. 

Trees that are shipped from overseas must be certified from pests such as the Pine Shoot Moth, and the Phytophagous Snail. Other serious pests of concern are the Mountain Pine Beetle and the Southern Pine Beetle that have ravaged a number of pine environments within recent years. Much like the transferring of firewood, evergreen trees, our beloved Christmas trees, pose real threats to the environments that they move into. Shopping local helps keep your local ecosystems safe and your environment healthy. [5]

The third and final bit of information that is important for you as a Christmas tree lover is that if you want to cut down your own tree in the forest, you’re going to need a permit. While technically the forest is public land, much of it is protected by parks and forestry services.

If you’re looking to cut down your own tree, reach out to your local forest services office to obtain a permit and cutting instructions. Your local forest department will also provide you with the specific dates, times, maps, and accessibility information needed for cutting down your tree.

The Star On Top

There are a few more tips that you should consider before heading out to cut down your own tree and they are:

-Most permits for holiday trees are issued in November

-Always tell someone exactly where you’re going and have a backup plan for safety.

-Err on the side of caution and pack emergency supplies including food, water, insulating materials, and first aid supplies before heading out to chop down your tree.

-The tree you select must be at least 200 ft. away from main roadways, campgrounds, and recreational areas.

-Check with your local forest department before heading out for your chopping for road closures, weather warnings, and potential fires. [4]

There are several more tips to be aware of before cutting down your own tree in the woods, be sure to visit the U.S. Forest Service’s website for more information.

With the wonder of the Christmas season all around, we wish you all the best luck in finding your perfect tree!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!


Plant Sentry








We’re Grateful

We’re Grateful

2020 has been a wild ride, and as things start taking on a sparkle of hope, we remain excited, yet apprehensive for the future. This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States and it looks a little different than last year. What is typically the beginning of a warm and rejuvenating American holiday season, this year will be a holiday tradition for many filled with less. 

As dismal as that idea may be, this holiday season may be just what we needed here at Plant Sentry™.  2020 was an unprecedented year! You’ve heard this a dozen, if not hundreds of times, in the media this year. But seriously, it was unprecedented.

How It Changed Us

This year has required great strides in character from all of us, but from our industry even more so. Nursery Management Magazine conducted a survey this past September and found that 47% of their readers in our industry had experienced a sales increase. They also found that 23% had experienced a sales decrease. [1]

We’ve heard growers use the terms “mad dash” and “challenging” probably more this year than ever before. But, what’s amazing is that not a single one of them ever saw these challenges as something that couldn’t be overcome.

So while many of us are still working to fulfill inventories for 2021, we’ll always remember this year as the first season that really showed us just how far we could go.

The Impacts

Like so many other industries we faced the challenge of keeping our employees safe, while continuing to meet the demands of our customers. COVID reignited a fiery passion for plants for many of our customers that created a demand for some companies beyond what they could carry. 

In other parts of our industry companies like Sakata Seed America were donating masks and gloves to medical workers within their areas.[2] AmericanHort headed up efforts on H-2B visas and relief efforts for horticulture. With so many additional hoops to jump through, growers and industry supporters throughout the country showed support and compassion wherever they could, even if it meant donating their orchids to hospitals. 

Some growers saw loss, losing inventory and not being able to pivot to an online storefront fast enough also became a challenge for many. The face of horticulture changed continually throughout the year as e-Commerce took demand and many of the ways we connect with one another were postponed or cancelled.

There’s not a doubt in our minds that 2020 changed our industry for the better but just how much is something we’ll continue to see in the months to come. 

Reflection & Gratitude

Fall leaves in a pile with a lot of color

The challenges of this year were nothing short of extraordinary, yet we overcame them. 

At Plant Sentry™, as we sit down with our family members in our bubble tomorrow, we’ll be reminded of all the moments of gratitude that this year brought. 

We’ll reflect and feel incredibly grateful for each and every one of our clients that allow us to continue to assist in shipping safe and healthy plants. 

We’ll say “thank you” for another year in this industry, and another year to come. 

We will remind ourselves that while so many this year are struggling simply just to keep a roof over their heads, we have been fortunate enough to keep ours. 

In a world that is constantly changing and moving at the speed of light, we’re especially grateful for this time of reflection, and the opportunity to say “Thank You.”

If you’re looking to tighten up your shipping efforts through regulatory and compliance efforts, be sure to drop us a message in our “Contact Us” box below, and let’s see how we can help.

Happy Thanksgiving From Plant Sentry™





Another Annoying Pest: The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

Another Annoying Pest: The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

Throughout the history of our blogs, we’ve tackled a number of pests that require heavy regulations. But until now, we failed to recognize one that deserves just as much attention as the Spotted Lanternfly or Japanese Beetle. As we’re sure you can guess from the title we’re talking about the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis). 

This brown leafhopper has made quite the name for itself throughout our industry. In just the State of California, the pest has contributed significantly to the spread of Pierce’s Disease. The disease affects grapevines, costing California roughly $100M dollars per year [6].

But, California isn’t the only state that’s affected by this pest. Throughout the country States persistently battle this insect in hopes of avoiding another year of steep costs and damages to their livelihoods. 

The Shot of the Sharpshooter

So how does this pest contribute to the above disease and so many other damaging diseases? 

If you’ve missed our other blogs about pests, then allow us to get you caught up. Leafhoppers are known for being vectors of plant diseases throughout the plant world. What this means is that the leafhoppers behave as carriers for the disease. 

Once they’ve contracted it, they don’t take on the same side effects or negative impacts that you’d see in a plant. But, instead continue to behave normally, by feeding on a number of different plant species. In visiting various healthy plants, the insect then transfers the disease to the plant and contaminates it.

The disease that the sharpshooter specifically contracts and spreads, is the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. This bacterium causes a number of diseases but is primarily known for its cause of Pierce’s disease of grape, phony peach disease, and Oleander leaf scorch [3].

But, as if the disease wasn’t enough, the pest has other ways of causing damage to plants. The insect projectiles, yes, projectiles, a substance that once dried leaves a white hard residue on the fruit of the plants. This residue can cause discoloration of the fruit and the need for post-harvest washing [1].

But it isn’t just their sticky droplets of projectile or the disease that they carry. The nymph stage of the insects also proposes a problem. They are known for feeding heavily on the plants they are hatched in, removing ten times their weight in plant nutrients. As a result the plants are weakened significantly, and are at risk for other harmful diseases and organisms to prey on. 

The Life of the Glassy-Winged

The lifecycle of the pest is similar to that of other pests we’ve discussed before. The female lays her eggs in groups of 3 to 28 under a set of leaves. For optimal success, the female will often choose plants like holly, sunflower, or citrus that provide ideal nutrient conditions for the nymphs. 

Once the eggs are established, the female will then projectile another white substance called bronchosomes over the eggs. These brochosomes are developed only after mating so that they can be dispersed over the egg masses [4]

The eggs will then overwinter [5] and hatch between late March and April. As the early Summer season approaches the nymphs will begin to hatch over 10 to 14 days. This cycle will allow the species to reach their peak around the Summer months and begin laying their own eggs. Once August arrives the insects will begin to decline, and start migrating to more covered areas, such as forests for hibernation.

Where to Be On the Look-Out

While these pests may be native in some parts of the country, there are plenty of places that they aren’t. 

The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter is a large leafhopper that is native to the Southeastern part of the United States and New Mexico. [1]  However, this pest is currently invasive in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Hawaii. As a response to the identification of the glassy-winged sharpshooter as an invasive species, many of these states have implemented strict certification laws that require treatment plans for the pest. 

The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter doesn’t seem to be incredibly partial to any one type of plant. The range of species that the pest will eat run from the common woody plant to the annual and perennial herbaceous plants [3]. This variety of preferences is part of the challenge that growers face in combating the insect.

The species indulges in somewhere around 360 different plant varieties [5]. Some of the most common plants they can be found in are acacia, avocado, crepe myrtle, grape, hibiscus, some roses, periwinkle, and eucalyptus [3]

Taking ‘Em Out

Like for so many other pests in our field, it’s important to be on a constant lookout for anything unusual with your plants. One of the best things you can do for pest management is to keep a watchful eye. Then, if you see anything unusual or that looks like signs or symptoms of a pest or disease, you can act quickly.

As part of their plan to combat Pierce’s disease, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has developed a set of guidelines to aid in their approach. Their 3rd point in their 5 point plan of action, is to “Rapid Response.” When navigating control and treatment methods, the faster you act, the more you protect [5]

On the other side of the country, the University of Florida has identified a biological control of their own. A parasitic wasp called, Gonatocerus triguttatus Girault is native to Texas and Northern Mexico and so far has had a positive impact on the control of the sharpshooter. [4]

Other methods of control for the pests that have been found to be successful include removing host plants from the areas that are infected. This cuts them off from any nutrients to keep them going, as well as preventing attraction for infestation. 

There are also treatment methods that include chemical treatments, and other community education efforts that also combat the pests. As always, look into how the chemical treatments may affect your environment before applying and use only as intended. 

Leaping Forward 

As we’ve discussed throughout this article, there are a number of different factors that contribute to the spread and development of the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter. Moving forward, as we continue to battle the pest it will be ultimately up to the efforts we make. There’s never been a better time to pull up your boot straps and double down on efforts that could protect your business.

Hopefully, a few years from now, our efforts will have been successful and this wretched pest will be a thing of the past. Until then, it is up to each of us to keep our eye on the prize and continue our hard work. 

If you’re feeling like you need some assistance in how these pests may impact your shipping avenues, let us know in the contact box below.









Spotted: Lycorma Delicatula in Maine

Spotted: Lycorma Delicatula in Maine

Over the past few weeks in the industry, news outlets have been reporting a new and surprising find in the state of Maine, the Lycorma delicatula. This pest is better known as the Spotted Lanternfly. 

While the insect is not a fly at all, but rather a plant hopper, it has made its way around the globe through its ability to attach itself and its eggs to trees, pallets, stones, and other materials that are often shipped.

This pest first arrived in the U.S. to the state of Pennsylvania in 2014 on a shipment from Asia. Since then the insect has also infiltrated several states within the U.S. including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. While individual findings have also been sighted in Massachusetts and North Carolina, there is no identified establishment of the insect. [2]

While the pest prefers the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) they are also known to “settle” for about 70 other plant species. These other species include varieties that produce fruit as well as trees that are often used for timber. [1]

The pests destroy the plants they inhabit by feeding heavily on them and result in the trees oozing sap, leaves curling, and to suffer from dieback (progressive death of the twigs, shoots, and branches of the tree). The damage that the insects cause makes it easier for secondary pests to come in and kill the tree after the lanterfly has significantly weakened them.

Another way that this pest damages plants is in the sugary substance called ‘honeydew’ that they leave behind while feeding. The residue attracts ants, actual flies, and other insects that feed on the substance.

The pest is believed to have arrived in the state of Maine through trees from the state of Pennsylvania, as these trees are where the eggs masses have been identified. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has identified that the egg masses were found on the trees, but hatched adult stages of the insect have not been spotted.

The grown insects are about an inch long with a greyish brown body. They have black spots on their wings, and red underwings. Their egg masses are rectangular with a yellow-brown-grey wax coating on them. The eggs are about an inch long and may be found on any flat surface. 

They are asking residents of the state to keep their eyes open for sightings of eggs or adult versions of the pest. Any sightings should be reported to [email protected].

While the state of Maine continues to seek out every nook and cranny for the pests, in other states, scientists are working diligently to identify solutions against them.

Some states have begun breeding predatory species to combat the pest, while others are looking to treatment solutions. But, ultimately the question is being raised as to if, when, and how these pests may spread and affect more states.

For treatments, natural resolutions such as Neem oil are effective in discouraging the insects. However, for an abundance of them chemical treatment methods may be more effective. 

While scientists continue to search for effective solutions, quarantine protocols and thorough inspections are essential to preventing the spread.

To learn more how we can help protect you from the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly be sure to contact us below!







The Silent Struggle of the Citrus Industry

The Silent Struggle of the Citrus Industry

Throughout the world, there are a number of afflictions that can plague plants of all shapes and sizes. As time continues to pass, plants continue to change. Each change will often lead to an evolution that will potentially combat their native threats. But, there is one plant family that seems to be increasingly in danger with each passing year, that time and evolution can’t protect. 

The citrus family.

Last month we took a deep dive into what makes the two most powerful citrus states in the U.S. move. Now, we’re going to take you into the constant struggles these states face, as they combat a disease that has almost all but wiped out the global citrus supply. 

This month, we’ll be talking about Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as Citrus Greening Disease. This disease has been responsible for compromising every citrus species throughout the globe. With an immense workforce behind the industry, it wouldn’t just be our countertops that could be left empty if the fruits simply disappeared, but also the stomachs and wallets of the millions of people it employs.

So, What is Citrus Greening?

Citrus Greening Disease, or Huanglongbing (HLB), is a far-reaching citrus disease that has impacted the entire world of citrus growing. Once a tree has contracted the disease, its fruit will appear misshapen and green, while having a bitter taste. Within a few years of the disease infecting the tree, it will die.

The name Huanglongbing means “yellow dragon” and pays tribute to the yellow offshoots that the tree will develop as a response to the disease. The name also recognizes the yellowing and greening effects that the disease will have on the fruits.

While the disease is not contagious to human beings, the threat that this disease presents is a threat to the citrus family itself. It is currently identified that Citrus Greening has the capacity to infect every type of citrus on the planet. 

The disease is believed to have first emerged in 1919 in the Southern part of China. [1]  From there the disease will continue to spread all the way to the United States by 2005 when it is first identified in Florida. 

Since its arrival, “citrus greening has been responsible for a 90% reduction to the production of Florida’s most valuable crop” [4].

The active bacterium that infects the citrus plant is the Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las). Through the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri), the bacterium is spread infecting citrus plants or contracting the disease themselves. 

Once the psyllid has contracted the bacterium for the disease from an infected tree, it will then infect healthy trees with the disease-causing their decline and the spread of Citrus Greening. 

With few treatments available for the disease and no proven cure, conversations that surround Citrus Greening often focus on slowing the disease, and the extent of the damage that it has caused.

Measuring the Impact of the Disease

The impact that the disease has had on citrus trees has been overwhelming and dismal. In 2016, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture released a Fact Sheet that recognizes that as a direct result of Citrus Greening, we could see the destruction of the citrus industry within our lifetime. 

Most severely hit, is perhaps the citrus state of Florida where they’ve seen a decrease in orange trees by 20 million, since 1966. In addition to oranges, the grapefruit trees have also drastically declined, to roughly a third of the 14 million that they used to be.

With a recognized impact of serious proportions, the USDA and citrus community fear that the devastation the disease can cause to California, would be just as grave. 

California produces 80% of citrus fruits sold throughout the United States.

In response to the seriousness of Citrus Greening, regulatory efforts surrounding the citrus communities have amplified in hopes of slowing down the spread, and prolonging protection against it for those who have yet to be exposed. 

The states that have confirmed Citrus Greening are: California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The states that have confirmed the presence of the psyllid are: Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin islands. [3]

So far the types of citrus that are identified to be at risk from the disease are: Chinese box-orange, Curry leaf, Finger-lime, Grapefruit, Key Lime, Kumquat, Lemon, Lime, Limeberry, Mandarin Orange, Mock Orange, Orange, Orange Jasmine, Pomelo, Sour Orange, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, and Trifoliate Orange.

But…Not All Hope Is Lost

With the disease continuing to spread and ravage the industry, citrus giants are beginning to see signs of hope through developments against the disease that could just possibly save their entire way of life.

While we previously mentioned that there is no known cure for the disease, we couldn’t bring anything to your attention, at this time, that didn’t come alongside a hopeful ending. 

So, here’s the good news:

Researchers around the country have been working non-stop for years to examine every possible avenue that can expedite the discovery, management, and treatment methods for Citrus Greening.

At the University of Florida (UF) researchers have discovered that citrus trees grown “under oak canopies or alongside Oak (Quercus) trees, are healthy” [4]. Whereas the citrus that is grown a few rows away from this structure often show signs of HLB. 

This observation led to further interest from scientists and researchers that brought them to identify the affect that Oak (Quercus) leaf extracts have as a combatant against the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. Their findings identified that the leaf extracts from the Oak (Quercus) restored the leaves of the HLB infected citrus trees within their physiological parameters. This new discovery could quite possibly mean effective methods against the disease and perhaps greater longevity for the infected trees.

But, these discoveries and advancements haven’t come without a cost, and their own shortcomings. In August of 2019, the UF published an article that back pedaled the long believed “silver bullet” approach of antibiotic spray to fight against HLB. 

They acknowledged that the practice of spraying oxytetracycline and streptomycin solutions may not be as effective as originally believed in combating HLB. But, what they did find was that trunk injections of the bactericides resulted in access to the cellular structure of the trees and their fruit that allowed the oxytetracycline to effectively combat the HLB. 

But this isn’t all of the good news, finally, as we close out our article, we have one more amazing development against this deadly citrus disease. The first effective treatment, capable of controlling Citrus Greening. 

On the west coast, in Riverside California, University of California at Riverside (UC Riverside) has developed the first ever treatment method with curative properties through the use of antimicrobial peptides.[5] 

The peptides derive from a molecule extracted from the Australian Finger Lime. Through 2 years of grueling research Dr. Hailing Jin was able to identify the relationships between the citrus variety’s resistance to the disease and combative properties needed to be successful in other citrus varieties. 

Through the project’s successful trialing and development, UC Riverside has entered an exclusive, global licensing agreement to bring this treatment to market with the company, Invaio. The peptide treatments are needed a few times throughout the year, providing a cheaper and more effective solution in combating HLB than any other approach in the industry.  

Looking to the Future

While developments continue, and there are no guarantees of success, it is important to acknowledge how this disease came to be so difficult. While there were a number of variables that couldn’t have been controlled, there were a number of variables that could have.

The important takeaway from this disease is that while the challenges have been great, our efforts make a difference both in prevention and in treatment. 

As a plant lover, grower, protector, or admirer, it is our responsibility to ensure that our plants are being protected, and are protecting other plants.

When purchasing plants, be sure to ask what treatments your plant may have received before purchasing. Check to see if the plant is an invasive species to your region. And ALWAYS keep a watchful eye for signs of pests and disease. 

Diseases like HLB aren’t just won and lost in a single battle in contributing to its spread. The war is won through continuous combined efforts of regulatory compliance, and company’s like Plant Sentry stepping up to do the right thing. 

We’re always looking for new friends willing to do the right things for growers, consumers, and ultimately themselves. If you think you know one, or may be one of them, be sure to reach out to us below and tell us more about yourself!


[1] Bové, J. (2006). HUANGLONGBING: A DESTRUCTIVE, NEWLY-EMERGING, CENTURY-OLD DISEASE OF CITRUS. Journal of Plant Pathology, 88(1), 7-37. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from

[2] Citrus Greening FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2020, from

[3]  Citrus Greening. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2020, from

[4] Koestoyo, Posted:, 22, S., 23, J., 25, G., 22, A., . . . 18, E. (2020, February 12). Oak trees may hold antibacterial to help infected citrus trees. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from

[5] New tools in the fight against lethal citrus disease. (2020, August 25). Retrieved October 02, 2020, from


Mini-Blog: Invasive Species

Mini-Blog: Invasive Species

It seems as if the year 2020 can’t seem to get worse, but every time I turn around, there it is, even worse. For small islands like that of Hawaii, 2020 has been particularly difficult to navigate. In addition to the threat of COVID-19 and the ravaging effects it could have on a small disconnected island such as itself, climate change has made the year even more challenging. 

Invasive species are increasingly detrimental on small island communities like Hawaii, who have delicate ecosystems that are deeply connected through each organism and their participating contributions to the islands. 

Due to the rapid increase of climate change, these invasive species are being given more advantageous opportunities to thrive and exist in these spaces.

In June of 2020, National Geographic Magazine published an article highlighting the different variables that have led to the blooming invasive population of the coqui. The brown tree frog is native to the island of Puerto Rico, where it is cherished and celebrated.

But on the island of Hawaii, this frog is responsible for the decimation of entire species of insects, birds, and plants. Hawaii has developed in such an isolated and delicate manner with unique properties that are a result of the distance between themselves and the mainlands. 

As a result, when invasive species infiltrate quiet and isolated environments the impacts on the native species are devastating and tremendous. 

But, Hawaii isn’t the only state whose National Forests have been struggling as a result of invasive species. Nearly every National Forest in the United States has been facing a challenging reality of depleted and changed ecosystems as a direct result of invasive species. 

It is estimated that more than 6,500 foreign species exist within the United States. To resolve this issue, the United States Department of Agriculture spends around $2.5 Billion dollars annually to combat invasive species.  

Despite the enormous bill that the U.S. Department of Agriculture foots annually to fight against invasive species, it isn’t enough. National Park workers need more than money to combat these species. They need your help! 

When you’re out in nature and see an invasive species be sure to report it, and if you know the local capturing and eradication procedures, do your part to help eliminate the problem. 

To report an invasive species visit:

But, that isn’t all you can do. Using and suggesting compliance programs, such as Plant Sentry™, can help growers protect their customers and environments from numerous invasive species.

Do your part and suggest Plant Sentry™ and report invasive species!


[1] Photograph courtesy Dr. Steve A. Johnson, & Linkel, P. (2020, June 29). National parks are being overrun by invasive species. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from


Mini-Blog: Compliance

Mini-Blog: Compliance

Compliance to some growers seems like it’s an exclusive right, reserved only for the large, nationwide operations with deep wallets. In our business, we’ve heard everything from it’s only for “small package” shipping, to it’s only for “wholesale” growers. But, really, it’s for both!

Compliance is often misunderstood as something that is one or the other when that’s simply not the case. 

As the importance of compliance continues to become more urgent, programs throughout the United States have been developed to help nurseries of each and every size. 

There is perhaps nowhere in this great nation that values the importance of compliance more than the West Coast. Specifically, California. Anyone in the industry can tout for the rigorous legislative initiatives the state has taken to protect their agriculture and garden industries. 

Plant Right

To aid in this initiative, a program was developed in 2005 to help combat the invasive plant species sales in the state of California. The program focused on both the benefits to businesses, as well as the environment. The program is called Plant Right and has an extensive list of allies ranging from American Hort all the way to the Nature Conservancy. 

The impressive relationships that this program has been able to forge speaks to the necessity and value that growers and their community gain from their initiatives. Through both educational and purchasing opportunities, the program provides a comprehensive, compliant approach to invasive plant species throughout the state. 


Outside of invasive plant species and within all 50 states, there is a great need for compliance for growers. What if, grow locations could certify their operations and practices showing the industry they’re compliant?

This is where a program, called SANC, steps in. 

SANC stands for Systems Approach to Nursery/Greenhouse Stock Certification and was developed through partnerships between more than 20 state agencies and the National Plant Board (NPB). 

The program focuses specifically on the cleanliness of the facility and growing better plants. Through identifying critical points in their operation, growers can better protect areas where pests and hazards have the opportunity to enter their growing locations.

Once the critical points are identified, the growers implement a “Best Management Practice” to reduce their risk and exposures. These efforts target points of entry, shipping locations, and points of production where the plants may be under increased risk.   

The program is currently being tested in 18 different facilities throughout 14 different states. It works for large, small, and even local growers in the U.S. The SANC certification can work for everything from healthier plants locally to shipping plants between states. 

Plant Sentry

While the SANC certification is great and offers a number of ways for growers to increase their compliance efforts, there are still a number of areas of compliance that are still left exposed.   

This is how Plant Sentry came to be. 

Plant Sentry’s development was inspired by SANC and its initiatives but wanted to offer even more comprehensive compliance. And thus Plant Sentry was born!

While SANC focuses on the facility of the plants, Plant Sentry focuses on the plants themselves. The Plant Sentry proprietary database contains a plant’s restrictive information applied to the different states throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

The three main targeted areas of compliance are disease, pests, and invasive plant species. Through our compliance knowledge, we’re able to effectively evaluate your plant selections and advise on the potential risks each of them face. Through consultation services, we offer the extended opportunity to develop your compliance efforts and obtain proper certifications for each plant.

Additionally, emergency response is offered 24/7 to aid in navigating any outbreak or potential risk. Our expert compliance team prioritizes each client’s needs to ensure the best possible outcome for the plants and their growers. 

No matter how you choose to begin your compliance journey, we’re glad you’ve started! As the industry continues to progress, growers are continuing to move towards meeting the market’s sustainable demands. 

Compliance is a sustainable effort. 

As your company considers its compliance journey, we hope to hear from you personally! However, we understand and appreciate that every journey is different. We stand by our suggestions for the other programs mentioned in this article and can only hope that it eventually will lead you to us. So if we don’t hear from you first, we look forward to when we do!