Transport of Privately-Owned House Plants Into California From Other States

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Frequently Asked Questions

Download "Bringing Plants into California"

How does CDFA define the category "house plants"

Privately owned house plants are commonly small lots of tropical and subtropical, ornamental plants normally grown in indoor settings, in the possession of private owners or their agents (including commercial moving companies), and not intended for resale.

I'm moving to California; what specific types of house plants should I not bring with me?

Private owners of citrus plants, pine trees and fruit and nut trees grown indoors (or outdoors), are strongly discouraged from moving these into California unless all provisions of the applicable quarantines can be satisfied (refer to the state and federal quarantines listed below). This is because these specific types of plants present the risk of introducing serious pests or diseases that could harm many different California agricultural industries as well as the State's environment.

What basic guidelines about soil and growing conditions can I use to help me evaluate whether my house plants are suitable for entry into California?

To be eligible for entry into California, house plants should have been grown in an indoor setting only, such as in a home or enclosed greenhouse, and planted in sterile, packaged, commercial potting mix. They should not have been grown or maintained outdoors, even during the warmer times of the year, or planted in soil taken from outdoor or backyard sources.

Can my house plants be rejected if they show signs of even common insect or disease problems?

Yes, California's border inspection officers may reject and confiscate any such plant material. House plants must be free of surface pests and appear healthy with no visible signs of disease.

Either I, or a commercial moving company will be transporting my house plants to California, what do I need to do so that the inspection procedure at the California border station goes smoothly?

The commercial movers must be instructed to put the declaration "house plants" at the top of the inventory list for the shipment and the plants should be stored near the van doors to facilitate ease of inspection at the California border station. Likewise, private individuals moving their own house plants must declare them to the border inspector(s) and have them easily accessible for examination. Keep in mind that all agricultural materials (which includes house plants, fresh fruits and vegetables) are eligible for inspection at the border station when entering the State.

What specific state authority and plant quarantines apply to the movement of house plants into California?

The California Food and Agricultural Code provides the authority (i.e., Section 6461.5) to reject any plant material moving from one state to another which is pest infested, or for which there is reasonable cause to believe may be pest infested. Border station Inspectors may therefore reject and confiscate plant material presumed to present a risk of pest or disease introduction into California. Quarantines most applicable to the movement of house plants from other states include:

California Code of Regulations:
  • Section 3271 — Burrowing and Reniform Nematode Exterior Quarantine (in reference to both potting soil and plants)
  • Section 3250 — Citrus Pests (in reference to all plants in the citrus family)
  • Section 3280 — Japanese Beetle (in reference to potting soil)
  • Section 3282 — Lethal Yellowing (in reference to palms)
7 Code of Federal Regulations:
  • Subpart 301.45 — Spongy Moth (in reference to containers and plants)
  • Subpart 301.50 — Pine Shoot Beetle (in reference to plants)
  • Subpart 301.80 — Witchweed (in reference to potting soil and plants)
  • Subpart 301.81 — Imported Fire Ant (in reference to potting soil)
  • Subpart 301.85 — Golden Nematode (in reference to potting soil and plants)

What local, government contact can provide me with additional information on these California and federal plant quarantine regulations that affect whether I am allowed to move my house plants into California?

The Department of Agriculture in your current state should maintain a summary of the regulations affecting the movement of plant material into California. They should also be able to advise you on any treatment or inspection options that are available in that state for certifying plant material for entry into California.