taking plants on airplanes (from FL to MN)

shiverFebruary 19, 2008

I'm getting (and reading) all sorts of conflicting advice on whether or not I can take houseplants on an airplane. I'm going to Florida in a few months and if I find some nice plants at the nursery, I'd like to take them back to MN with me on the plane. Has anyone actually done this, and were there any problems?

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bihai(zone 9)

We did it in the past many times, when we went from Hawaii to California, but only plants that were packed for export and already ok'd by the CA and HI USDA. And years before 9/11. We carried stuff onto the plane as carry on's in paper bags.

Probably the only thing they would not allow you to get OUT of the state of Florida with, I mean that they would actually CONFISCATE from you before you boarded the plane, might be citrus plants or citrus fruit. Unregulated Citrus doesn't move in or out of the state, PERIOD.

Because of the pretty radical difference in the climates between here (I live in Florida) and MN, most of the pests that would be heavily regulated that come OUT of Florida would not survive in MN anyway.

The safest thing to do would be to call your State Agriculture office and just ask. I can get you that number. You could also call the Florida Dept and ask the same thing. If they say its okay, your only hurdle would be getting it through airport security.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 12:51PM
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bihai(zone 9)

In looking at the MN regs, most of what they are concerned about deals with Gypsy Moth and vegetable pests like things that infect potatoes.

You could call the Director in Florida, Richard Gaskalla, at:
or email him at:

In Minnisota your Division Director is:
Gier Friisoe, State Plant Regulator

His assistant director, in case he's too busy to talk to you, is:
Chuck Dryke

Good luck and let un know what you discover.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 1:00PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

I do it every year. I carry one or two plants on either in a shopping bag, or in a tupperware type container and in my carryon. Just don't put anything in the checked luggage as the cargo area is not heated unless they are carrying cargo or animals that need it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 3:06PM
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I've done it recently, too - from Arizona to Ohio. The plants were pretty small, and the garden center packed them up nicely for me in a little box with the lid propped open for air and a carrying handle made out of packing tape. No problem at security at all. What are you planning to bring back with you, Shiver?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 12:19AM
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bihai(zone 9)

I think if you can get by the airport security, you probably have it made.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 7:49AM
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Well I don't know what I'd be buying---it depends on what I found when I went down there. I had a thought it might be nice to bring back a citrus, but I after reading bahai's note I guess I shouldn't attempt it. I don't want to risk buying something and then having security confiscate it because they don't know the specific rules on transporting plants. Perhaps if I find some small plants that aren't too expensive I'll try it....

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:32AM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

I've taken back orange and grapefruit trees to NJ and MA. As long as you're not bringing INTO FL, AZ, CA, or a few other places that grow citrus outdoors you should be fine with taking them out of FL. You can buy boxed citrus plants at some airports down there as souveniers. (probably spelled that wrong)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:20PM
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bihai(zone 9)

I think you might need to check the more current federal quarantine regarding citrus in Florida.
We have citrus canker, and citrus greening disease problems in FL and we are not even allowed to transport home grown fruit or non-nursery grown plants across county lines from one county to the next within the state.

You have to realize that agricultural laws can be revised on an almost daily basis by any state. In the case of citrus canker, the state has taken the unusual stance that they have gone into private property and basically instituted "marshall law" and destroyed citrus trees infected with canker in people's yards in an effort to control it. The homeowners want to be reimbursed for the loss of their trees but that ain't happening anytime soon.

Perhaps you should do some more in depth research before you possibly violate a federal statute

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 7:21AM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

When I lived in Fl, I remember not only did they go onto property and destroy trees that were infected, but also any trees that were within a certain distance of that tree. There were quite a few standoff between homeowners and "marshalls".
I wonder, is the entire state under quarantine? I do not encourage trying to take out a citrus if the quarantine is still in effect, DO NOT HELP SPREAD DISEASE!!! as little as 2 years ago, at the FLL airport the miniature boxed citrus were for sale to travelers as "Florida Memories."

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 7:41AM
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bihai(zone 9)

Yes, the entire state is under quarantine.
They have decided that, since the 2004-2005 hurricanes spread citrus canker to the extent that it will be impossible pretty much forever to eradicate it, they will concentrate on trying to reduce its spread instead. The laws allowing for the shipping of plants and fruit into and out of the state and even within the state have changed several times since 2006, its very hard to keep up with.

But for citrus greening, which is a bacterial disease, the current law seems to be (as of Jan, 2008) that APHIS has imposed a statewide restriction on the movement of all citrus, including live plants and plant parts, from FL to anywhere. This measure has been instituted pending further time needed to come up with better formulated, scientifically based laws. There are currently 30 known FL counties affected by Citrus Greening, and there is no cure for it except to destroy the trees once they are found to be infected.

Supposedly, all routes of export that someone would take to ship citrus are "aware" of this quarantine (UPS, USPS, Fed Ex, the airlines, etc) and know they are supposed to not ship or carry citrus plants out of the state. So if you tried to bring a plant onto the plane, they would probably confiscate it and you would have wasted your money.

We have signs posted in all of our local post offices about shipping citrus through the mail

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 8:09AM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

Thank you for that info. I surely would have tried to take something citrus back later this year. Would have been P.O'd had I not known about this and had my plants confiscated. I'll stick to the less dangerous stuff!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:57AM
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Mentha(9 CA)

It might be easier to pack all the plants as if you were going to mail them and check them in. Or go ahead and mail them to yourself. I know of a lot of people who are planning on going to the epiphyllum convention here in CA who are going to do just that. There are also those who are going to have carry ons just for that purpose.

I'd be more concerned about soil, than plants. It would be wise to remove any soil before boarding, then repot when you get home.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 2:44PM
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Shiver-- I always bring back plants any time I go somewhere warm within the US in winter! Last time we went to CA, I checked my usual carry on bag and rode home with a gigantic open-topped box of orchids in my lap. I've brought potted plants back from Florida many times, and never had any trouble getting them through security. Some friends who have a 2nd home in FL (must be nice, eh?) brought me a couple plants about 6 mos ago-- no problems. Obviously from what has been said, you wouldn't want to try transporting citrus trees right now. Also, the DNR has a "noxious weed" list; in particular there are some waterplants that are problematic... but I'd be quite surprised if any "regular" houseplants presented a problem.

BTW- I recently got a super-thick Styrofoam chest that fits tightly into a cardboard box. (Fleet Farm had them, I think from live bait shipments.) I plan on taking that along next time I go somewhere, stuffing it full of plants, and checking it so I can ride with my lap empty :)

I hope you have a great trip!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 2:17PM
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hello can take two plants in my hand baggage tomorrow iam travelling

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 11:07AM
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