How to Ship Plant Cuttings

How to Ship Plant Cuttings With modern postal and courier companies, you can ship almost anything almost anywhere. However, some items are trickier to ship than others. Say, you have a beautiful houseplant and want to send some cuttings to a friend. What should you know to make sure the cuttings arrive to their destination intact? Let us offer a few tips on shipping plant cuttings.

First of all, when we say you can ship almost anything almost anywhere, you shouldn’t ignore the “almost” part. There are certain regulations and restrictions when it comes to shipping certain types of items, both domestically and internationally. Restrictions concerning live plants exist to prevent the spread of harmful insects, diseases, and invasive species.

Let’s start with domestic shipping. You can ship most plants within most of the United States provided mailing them is not prohibited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, it’s important to know that some states have especially strict regulations regarding the shipping of plants; they include California, Florida, and Hawaii. To find out the rules and regulations imposed by a particular state, check out the National Plant Board website.

If you need to mail plant cuttings internationally, you should check out the applicable rules, regulations and restrictions of the destination country. In general, small quantities of plants can be shipped internationally for non-commercial purposes, but each country has its list of plants that are banned from import.

Even if the plant you want to mail isn’t on the destination country’s prohibited list, you may need to obtain a phytosanitary certificate (whether the certificate is required or not depends on the destination country and the type of plant you’re shipping). You will also need to fill out customs forms. In short, you should make sure that all your paperwork is in order before you purchase any postage.

The next step in shipping plant cuttings is choosing the right shipping service. You want your plant cuttings to spend as little time in transit as possible, so express shipping is the way to go. For example, if you prefer to ship with the United States Postal Service (USPS), your best options are Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express for domestic shipments and Priority Mail Express International or Global Express Guaranteed for international shipments.

We understand that express shipping is more expensive than standard shipping, but if you want to make sure your plant cuttings arrive to their destination in the best condition possible, you should pay a little extra. If you want to save on shipping, we can recommend printing your shipping labels yourself using PostageMaker: this way, you get discounted rates (up to 25% of the carriers’ retail rates) and use express shipping services at a lower price.

If the shipping service you’ve chosen doesn’t offer guaranteed delivery on a certain day, you should ship your cuttings early in the week (on Monday or Tuesday) to help ensure they get delivered before the weekend comes and don’t get stuck in the mail until the next week.

When you know how exactly you are going to ship your plant cuttings, you should pack them properly. It’s best to ship cuttings that already have roots, but shipping fresh cuttings is also possible. In the latter case, you should cut them off the mother plant right before packing so that they stay fresh for as long as possible. Water the mother plant the day before cutting, packing and shipping to ensure the cuttings will be fully hydrated.

To keep the end of the cutting hydrated while in transit, cover it with some damp paper towels or damp sphagnum moss (the second option is more preferable for already rooted cuttings because paper towels can damage the delicate roots). After that, slip the end of the cutting into a small plastic bag and secure it with tape or a tie of some sort. Don’t put the entire cutting into the bag. Only roots! Alternatively, you can wrap the end of the cutting in some cling wrap.

Since plant cuttings are fragile, we don’t recommend shipping them in a padded envelope; you should opt for a sturdy box instead. Line the box with plenty of tissue paper, gently place the cuttings inside, and fill the remaining space with more tissue paper. The cuttings shouldn’t move around inside the box too much, but neither should you pack too tight. Tape the box shut and label it as “Live Plant” or “No Direct Sunlight”.

Once the cuttings are packed, all that’s left to do is print a shipping label and drop the package off at the nearest Post Office or arrange a pickup. Don’t procrastinate; the sooner you ship the cuttings, the sooner they’ll arrive.