Taking plants on flights, either for a gift or as a souvenir from a vacation, is not always easy but can be possible. Understand any restrictions for the particular airline you are flying with and take some steps to secure and protect your plant for the best outcome.
Can I Take Plants on an Airplane?
Yes, you can bring plants on an airplane, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the U.S. The TSA allows plants in both carry-on and checked bags. You should know, however, that the TSA officers on duty can deny anything and will have the final say on what you can carry when you go through security.
Airlines also set their own rules as to what is or isn’t allowed on planes. Most of their rules fall in line with those of the TSA, but you should always check with your airline before trying to take a plant on board. In general, if you are carrying plants on a plane, they will need to fit in the overhead compartment or in the space under the seat in front of you.
Bringing plants on a plane becomes more complicated with foreign travel or when flying to Hawaii. Do your research well ahead of time in case any permits are required and to find out if certain plants are banned or need to be quarantined. Contact the agriculture department in the country to which you are traveling for more information.
Tips for Flying with Plants
Once you know it’s allowed, you still face the challenge of keeping a plant healthy and undamaged while traveling. For a plant carry-on, try securing it in a garbage bag with a few holes punched in the top. This should prevent a mess by containing any loose soil.
Another way to neatly and safely travel with a plant is to remove the soil and bare the roots. Rinse all the dirt from the roots first. Then, with the roots still moist, tie a plastic bag around them. Wrap the foliage in newspaper and secure it with tape to protect leaves and branches. Most plants can survive hours to days like this.
Unwrap and plant it in soil as soon as you get home.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.