Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Signed, sealed, delivered
Since the COVID-19 lockdowns last year, Aussies hoarded more than just toilet paper and pasta – houseplants topped the list too.
In a post-pandemic world, online shopping has become a convenient norm, with almost every industry needing to jump on the bandwagon, and it was no different with plants. Though not as simple as sending flowers to a loved one, shipping plants is a whole different beast. So, if you are thinking of selling your nursery’s plants or selling some cuttings as a side hustle, there are some things you need to know.
Before posting any plant material, there are some important rules to remember!
Never attempt to import plant material from overseas - currently Wylde is an Australian only marketplace, and international sellers are not permitted
Make sure the plant you’re sending is not an environmental weed in its intended destination
Always check the Australian Interstate Quarantine Website - WA, Tasmania and the NT in particular have very strict policies in place
Check out the links at the very end for more information!
There are two ways to post an indoor plant to a customer or loved one – bare root or potted.
For many people who intend to buy a cutting or a baby plant from a nursery online, bare root is usually the easiest and the most common way to receive it. Bare root posting a plant cutting is essentially sending a plant without soil. It can be tricky but with careful packaging and care, sending a plant bare root in the mail is fairly fuss-free.
One of the most important things to be aware of is that you must send the plant in a moist condition and ensure that it remains moist for several days – mailing interstate may see the plant spending a couple of days in transit and in dry conditions your plant could wilt and be damaged when it arrives at its destination.
If your plant is already rooted in soil, carefully remove it from the pot and shake off the excess soil. Do not wash the soil off the roots as the native soil will make the plant’s transition smoother and it will be less of a shock to the plant.
If you are sending a propagated cutting, the steps from here on out will be the same. It is recommended to wrap the roots in a moist medium – this could be paper towels or sphagnum moss. Place the plant in a plastic bag or wrap some newspaper around it for protection.
The next step is to pick a sturdy box for your plant to be mailed in. It is common knowledge that some parcels aren’t handled with care – they can be dropped or thrown around from the time it goes from your nursery or home to its destination. So, pick a box that has some grit.
In terms of size, it is best to choose a box that doesn’t give the contents too much room to move. Make sure the plant is snug inside to ensure minimal damage will be done if worse comes to worst. It is also a good idea to add some cushioning like shredded paper to give it another level of protection, or to tape it down within the box.
Posting a plant in a nice pot or a more mature plant in its nursery pot is another option. This entails a lot of bubble wrap.
Like with bare rooted postings, one of the most important things to be aware of is sending the plant in a moist condition and ensure that it remains moist for several days – mailing interstate may see the plant spending a couple of days in transit and in dry conditions your plant could wilt and be damaged when it arrives at its destination. So water the nursery pot through to ensure this prior to posting!
Make sure the pot is wrapped with a thick layer of protection and attach a cardboard collar to the top of the pot around the base of the plant to protect the soil and roots (the cardboard collar can be substituted with thick tape if needed). Put the pot in a plastic bag and tie it securely. Stand the plant upright and mark the box “this end up" to ensure it doesn’t get thrown around and placed upside down.
In both instances, bare root and potted, label the box with “live plant” or “perishables” – although it won’t guarantee the package won’t be thrown around, it may be handled with a touch more care than usual.
For a visual guide, check out the link below to Gardening Australia's "How To Share Plants" video.
Quarantine and Biosecurity Precautions
Mailing a plant is pretty simple once all the precautions have been taken in packaging, but there is something slightly more complicated you need to be aware of.
Shipping to every state in Australia is not always the same, particularly for quarantine states. Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have strict biosecurity laws which makes sending plants more difficult. There are regulations around plants to protect a state or territory’s food crops, plant health and general biosecurity, so it will pay for you to do your research on what is and isn’t allowed in these places. To enable eligible plants to be shipped to quarantine states there are various legislations, forms and chemical treatments that must be undertaken.
For retailers that find this a bit daunting, don’t worry there is a solution! Plant concierge services can do the hard work for you. Companies like Home of Houseplant help nurseries send plants to quarantine states. Fully accredited to chemically treat and ship permitted plants into strict areas of Australia, concierge services facilitate sellers to deliver their plants safe and sound – and legally – to their destination.
If you’re thinking of sending a plant or cutting via mail – take the leap and try it out. After all, sharing is caring!