Special Shipment: How To Ship Plants

Shipping plants may cause legal problems if not shipped properly.
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Last update:

June 22, 2023
Shipping plants and seeds is a lucrative business in the United States. The value of this market is over $15 billion and has been growing for years. However, there are many restrictions on shipping plants, and in this blog, ShipSaving will reveal all the important tips to shipping live plants and seeds.

The Challenges

Domestic Shipping Restrictions

Many states in the United States have very specific yet varied shipping restrictions when it comes to plants. Ideally, you will check with USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to make sure your shipment meets the requirements. For example, shipping citrus fruit or plants to California is prohibited. And as much as we love them, you can’t ship Mauna Loa and even flowers of jade Vine from Hawaii to the mainland US. 

It gets more complicated when you check shipping regulations for each state and specific plant type. Make sure you master the shipping restrictions on the plant you are selling and mark your product page to make it known to your customers. Disobeying regulations can get you into a lot of trouble since it involves legal matters. 

International Restrictions

The same rules and requirements apply internationally. They are even more complex due to the fact every country has a different set of rules. If you are trying to ship plants to foreign countries, you will need a phytosanitary certificate from that particular country. This applies to shippers who ship over 12 plants.

One example is when trying to send plants to the United Kingdom. You will need an import permit for this purpose. Without it, you are unable to ship plants. 

Shipping Labels and Handling

All your packages that contain live plants need to be labeled properly. You need to point out which type of plant that is and how couriers should manage the package. You can even provide labels such as ‘’do not rush’’ or ‘’live plants treated with care’’ so that handlers will be able to implement those requirements. ShipSaving can help you with generating shipping labels for plants and reducing shipping cost significantly.  

Using Corrugated Boxes 

Corrugated boxes are mandatory for plant shipments. They are very strong and they are ideal for this purpose. In addition, you can ship plants without a pot when using the boxes in question. 

They do come in various sizes and they can be shipped in many different ways and there are two main options in this case scenario. You can either purchase these boxes, preferably if you are a large business owner or you can make your own ones if you are a small business owner.

Preparing plants for shipping

This is a simple process, but there are a few steps you need to take. In general, plants are shipped without pots and without soil. You will need healthy plants and you will need to pack them properly so they don’t get damaged during transit. If you do all the steps properly your plants will always reach the destination in perfect condition.

The roots should be moist without soil

Soil cannot be shipped due to the fact it can contain various issues such as Japanese beetle grubs. That’s why you need to remove the soil (leave just small amounts on the roots themselves) dip them into the water and put a plastic bag over them. Use a rubber band to keep the upper part of the bag in place. 

Place 5-10 plants in a bundle

Always ship 5-10 plants in a bundle. This makes them stronger and more resilient. Yes, you can ship 20 of them in one bundle if that is possible. The only thing you need to know here is that tops must be dry. 

Pack them tight

The worst thing you can do is pack the plants loosely so they move during transport. Instead, pack them tight so they can’t move. Be free to use various mediums for that. You can use packing peanuts, newspaper, or something similar.

Use the fastest shipping option

When shipping plants you need the fastest service that will deliver the plants to the destination as quickly as possible. Always use the fastest method so you can be positive the plants will be outside the soil the shortest period of time. 

Best courier for shipping plants

A good thing is that all major shipping providers transport plant parcels. However, there are some differences and there are some variations in the process handling and price. Here you can see all those differences.


You need to check first with the requirements and regulations of the state where you are shipping a plant. Other points of shipping plants with USPS are:

  • When using Priority Mail Express, parcels arrive within 2 business days. The price is $20 for one or under a pound. 
  • Priority Mail will arrive within one day and the price is $7 per box.
  • Flat Rate Priority Mail will deliver between 1 and 3 business days. The cost is $12 per box.

ShipSaving offers great discounts on USPS Priority Mail services and even better, there’s no subscription fee and it integrates to over 20 platforms. Sign up today for free and access discounts instantly. 


There are no special packaging requirements here but you also need to check out with state requirements. Other than that, there are several shipping options available.

  • The first Overnight cost around $64 and will be delivered before 8am. This applies to packages up to 1 pound in weight. 
  • FedEx Priority Overnight costs $30 for a one pound package and it will be delivered before 10:30am. 
  • FedEx Standard Overnight costs $28 and will be delivered before 3pm. The price is for a package of 1 pound weight. 
  • FedEx Ground costs $9 or above and applies to packages with 1 pounds weight. It arrives in the afternoon.


There is no special packaging needed here. The only thing to keep in mind is the restrictions of the state where you are shipping a package.

  • Next Day Air costs $28 for a 1lb package. It will be delivered before 10:30 am.
  • UPS Ground arrives afternoon on the next day and costs $14. This refers to a package with a weight of 1 pound or less.

Shipping plants does need a few more things to keep in mind, but we’ve listed everything you need to know above so that you are ready to ship your first package with any plant. All you need to remember is that a package must meet regulations for a specific state where you are sending it and you must pack it properly.

Written on:

August 2, 2021
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