Updates on Suspicious Seed Packets: How to properly dispose of seeds

What is going on with the seeds?

If you have not heard about these suspicious seed packets, visit this blog post for the full story. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) believes that the seeds may be part of a brushing scam. A brushing scam is when unsolicited items are sent to people to get false reviews and boost sales/product ratings.

What is in these seed packets?

Photo of package of suspicious seeds
Suspicious seed package received by FL resident.

The USDA has been collecting seed packets and testing their contents. As of August 12th, the USDA has not found any significant threats in the seed packets. Although only a small number of seeds have been tested, most packets have contained ordinary vegetable, fruit and flower seeds. So far, no invasive plant species or plant pathogens of concern have been identified in the samples.

What should you do if you received suspicious seeds in the mail?

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is now recommending two options:

  1. You can report the seeds and submit them for testing.
  2. You can properly dispose of the seeds.

What if I planted the seeds?

You can still report the planted seeds and submit any seeds/plant material for testing. You can also dispose of the plant materials as described below.

How do I report the seeds?

  • You can drop off the seeds at select local UF/IFAS Extension Offices. Please contact your local extension office for more information.
  • You can mail the seeds/plant material to the USDA. First, fill out this reporting form. Then, place the seeds and packing materials into a sealable plastic bag. Next, place the plastic bag along with a piece of paper with your name, address, and phone number into an envelope or small box. Mail the seeds to: USDA APHIS PPQ, 3951 Centerport St, Orlando, FL 32827.

How do I properly dispose of the seeds?

Do not open the seed packet. Wrap the entire packet with duct tape. Double bag the seed packet in sealable plastic bags. Be sure to squeeze out any air and seal tightly. Cover the plastic bag with duct tape. Discard in the regular trash. Only discard of the seeds in the trash after following these procedures.

How do I properly dispose of planted seeds or plants?

  • If your seeds/plants are in the ground, remove plants and soil at least 3 inches around the plants. Double bag the plants and soil in sealable plastic bags. Do not compost plant materials/soil. Discard in regular trash.
  • If your seeds/plants are in disposable pots, dispose of the plants, soil, and planting containers. Double bag the plants, soil, and planting containers in plastic bags. Discard in regular trash.
  • If your seeds/plants are in pots that you would like to keep, dispose of the plants and soil. Remove as much soil as possible from the planting container with a paper towel. Double bag the plants, soil and paper towel in plastic bags. Discard in regular trash. Wash the planting container with soap and water over a sink. Make sure the wash water goes down the drain or is flushed down a toilet. Soak the planting container in 10% bleach for 30 minutes and then rinse with water.

Other Resources

Here is a recent update from the USDA.

Here is a recent update from FDACS for FL residents.


Posted: September 2, 2020

Category: AGRICULTURE, Crops, Fruits & Vegetables, HOME LANDSCAPES, Horticulture, Invasive Species, Natural Resources, Pests & Disease, Pests & Disease, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: FDACS, Invasive Species, Mail, Seed Disposal, Seed Packages, Seed Packets, Seeds In Mail, Suspicious Packages, Suspicious Seeds, Unsolicited Seeds, USDA

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