Maine decorative-plant shippers who are sending Christmas trees and wreaths around the country for the holiday season can save money and lost products by noting important plant health regulations enforced by other states, according to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF).

“Shippers should be aware of the many state laws and regulations regarding the movement of plants and forest products,” warned Ann Gibbs, Maine State Horticulturist. “Many states, closely monitor shipments to prevent infestation by invasive insects and the spread of plant diseases. Planning ahead benefits Maine shippers by speeding along deliveries in this time-sensitive industry,” said Gibbs.

DACF staff offer wreath and tree shippers the following advice:

• Import regulations can vary from state to state; shippers should check regulations before sending plant material.
• Check out-of-state orders in advance, especially those headed to California, to make sure they are free of insects and other pest damage on the needles.
• Clearly identify products through labeling, beginning with the statement, “Grown in Maine,” followed by the county of origin and the name and address of the shipper.
• Labels should indicate the contents of packages, including the different types of greenery, nuts, fruits and cones used to decorate wreaths.

“Import requirements for cut trees, wreaths with ornamental nuts and fruit arrangements exist to protect regional agriculture and natural resources from the risk of plant pests,” Gibbs explained. “Unfortunately, despite the quality of Maine products, some shippers have learned about these regulations the hard way and have had shipments delayed, impounded or destroyed. We want to prevent any losses by getting the word out now,” said Gibbs.

An informational sheet, “Know State Regulations When shipping Wreaths and Trees,” is available online.

Shippers with questions are also invited to call: (207) 287-3891 or email sarah.h.scally@maine.gov

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.