The RHS Warns Against Problem Plant Purchases Online

May 13th 2021

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is reminding gardeners to only buy online plants and seeds from reputable British garden centres or nurseries to minimise the risk of introducing new pathogens.

Plants and seeds for sale from reputable British companies may have originated from overseas but will have been imported following the government’s strict plant health regulations meaning the risk of inadvertently introducing new pests and diseases is significantly reduced, so too is the risk of them containing invasive or banned plant material.

However, plants bought from online marketplaces may not provide details of a plant’s origin nor be subject to the necessary plant health checks.

To mitigate the risk, the RHS is calling on gardeners to:

1. Ensure the online shop that you buy plant material from is based in Great Britain and is a reputable garden centre or nursery by checking the address and contact details of the company on the website.

2. If the origin of the plant or seeds you are buying is not clear, don’t buy them.

3. Don’t plant up seeds or other material that arrived unsolicited via the post, even as a gift, unless you are sure that it is from a reputable British supplier or you know the origin.

4. If you want to order plant material from a reputable overseas garden centre or nursery, you need to check that what you want to buy is allowed into Britain and what the requirements are for importation.

Lisa Ward, Principal Plant Health Scientist at the RHS, said: “The boom in gardening has seen online sales rocket over the last year, enabling many to find solace among their plants. However, gardeners need to be made aware of the issues around buying material that has not been subject to the right checks and approvals. A plant may be readily available or perhaps cheaper to buy online but the potential for that plant to cause problems on your own and surrounding plots isn’t a risk worth taking.”

For more information on the importing and exporting of plants by individuals:

Source: RHS Press Release