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Have you received unsolicited seeds? Here’s what to do

Recently, residents in multiple states have received unexpected packages of seeds in the mail. Given the unknown origin and nature of the package contents, officials are cautioning anyone who receives such a package to NOT open it or use/plant any seeds it might contain, and instead to report the delivery to state and federal authorities.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) released new guidance during the first week of September. If you receive an unsolicited package of seeds in the mail, you now have two options. Here is all the information you need to decide which option works best for you.

an array of seed packets received unexpectedly

A collection of seed packets received without request by residents. [CREDIT: Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture]

There are two options available for handling unsolicited packages or plant material received in the mail:

  1. Report the seeds or plants and submit them for testing or
  2. Dispose of the seeds or plants using the methods described below.
Report Seeds or Plants Received by Mail and Submit for Testing

Instructions for mailing seed packets:

  1. Complete the USDA’s online reporting form. Place seed packets and/or plant material and mailing materials in a sealable plastic bag, and then place everything into a mailing envelope.
  2. Include your name, address, and phone number to contact you for additional information, if needed.
  3. Send seeds to: USDA APHIS PPQ; 3951 Centerport St.; Orlando, FL 32827
Disposing of Seeds or Plants Received by Mail

Disposal option for seed packages:

  1. Do not open seed packet.
  2. Completely wrap and enclose the packet with duct tape.
  3. Double bag the wrapped seed packet in sealable plastic bags, squeezing out any air, and seal tightly.
  4. Completely cover the folded bag with duct tape. This will help prevent the bag from bursting and will keep water and sun from reaching the seeds.
  5. Discard in trash.

Destruction option for seeds/plants already planted:

  1. Do not compost.
  2. Remove plants, including soil (at least 3 inches of surrounding soil if planted in ground).
  3. Double bag the plants and soil in sealable plastic bags, squeezing out any air, and seal tightly.
  4. Discard in trash.

For potted seeds/plants:

  1. Dispose of the planting container in two trash bags, as described above (recommended).
  2. If you wish to keep the planting container, remove as much soil as possible with a paper towel.
  3. Wash the planting container with soap and water to remove any remaining dirt. It is important to wash the container over a sink or other container to catch the run-off. Discard the run-off down the drain or flush down a toilet.
  4. Soak the planting container in a 10% bleach solution for 30 minutes and rinse.

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