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Transporting plants between states always involves some risk, but with the proper precautions it can be done safely and legally.

If you’re considering bringing some favorite flora from Hawaii to California, read on to learn everything you need to know.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Transporting plants from Hawaii to California requires inspection and permitting by both states’ departments of agriculture to prevent spreading pests and diseases. Certain plants are prohibited, and all must be bare root or soil-free. Proper packaging and climate control during transport are essential.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover key factors like inspection requirements, permitted and prohibited plants, recommended shipping methods, and how to keep plants healthy during the transition.

With the right information and preparation, your Hawaiian plants can thrive just as well in their new California home.

Inspections and Permitting Requirements

Bare roots plants

When bringing plants from Hawaii to California, there are certain inspections and permitting requirements that you need to be aware of.

These regulations are in place to protect the local ecosystem and prevent the introduction of invasive species.

Hawaii Export Inspection

Before plants can be shipped from Hawaii to California, they must undergo an export inspection. This inspection ensures that the plants are free from pests and diseases that could harm the environment in California.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture conducts these inspections to ensure compliance with the export regulations.

It is important to note that not all plants are eligible for export, so it is crucial to check the specific requirements for each plant species.

California Import Inspection

Upon arrival in California, the plants are subject to import inspection by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

This inspection is aimed at preventing the introduction of pests and diseases that could harm the local agriculture and natural resources.

The inspectors will carefully examine the plants to ensure they meet the import requirements and are free from any harmful pests or diseases.

If any issues are found during the inspection, the plants may be subject to quarantine or other measures to mitigate the risk.

Required Documents and Fees

When bringing plants from Hawaii to California, there are certain documents and fees that need to be submitted.

These may include a phytosanitary certificate issued by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, which verifies that the plants have undergone the necessary inspections and are free from pests and diseases.

Additionally, an import permit from the California Department of Food and Agriculture may be required.

The fees associated with the inspections and permits vary depending on the type and quantity of plants being imported.

For more information on the specific requirements and regulations for bringing plants from Hawaii to California, you can visit the websites of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture ( and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (

Restricted Plants

When it comes to bringing plants from Hawaii to California, it’s important to be aware of the restrictions in place.

California has strict regulations to prevent the introduction of invasive species and pests that could harm the local ecosystem.

Understanding these restrictions will help you navigate the process smoothly and avoid any potential legal issues.

In this section, we will discuss the different categories of restricted plants and provide information on how to comply with the regulations.

Prohibited Plants

California has a list of plants that are strictly prohibited from being imported from Hawaii. These plants pose a significant risk to California’s native plants and agricultural crops.

Some examples of prohibited plants include the coqui frog, which is known for its loud and invasive calls, and the miconia tree, an invasive species that can rapidly colonize native forests.

It is important to familiarize yourself with this list to ensure you are not unknowingly bringing a prohibited plant into the state.

Also read: Can I Bring Seeds Back From Hawaii?

Plants Requiring Treatment or Certification

There are certain plants that are allowed to be brought into California but require specific treatment or certification before they can enter the state. This is to ensure that any potential pests or diseases are effectively controlled.

For example, the ‘ohi’a lehua plant, a beloved native Hawaiian plant, requires treatment with a specific fungicide to prevent the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death, a disease that has devastated ‘ohi’a populations in Hawaii.

Similarly, certain fruit trees may require certification to ensure they are free from pests like the Mediterranean fruit fly.

Suggested Low-Risk Alternatives

If you are unable to bring certain prohibited plants or plants requiring treatment or certification, there are plenty of low-risk alternatives available. These alternatives are typically non-invasive and pose minimal risk to California’s ecosystem.

For example, instead of bringing the coqui frog, you can consider introducing native California tree frogs to your garden.

Instead of the miconia tree, you can choose from a variety of beautiful native California plants that will thrive in your garden.

The California Native Plant Society website ( is a great resource for finding suitable alternatives.

Remember, it is crucial to be aware of and comply with the regulations when bringing plants from Hawaii to California.

By doing so, you can help protect California’s unique environment and ensure the health and sustainability of its native flora and fauna.

Recommended Shipping Methods

bare root plant preparation

When it comes to bringing plants from Hawaii to California, it is important to choose the right shipping method to ensure the plants arrive in good condition.

Here are some recommended shipping methods:

Bare Root vs. Soil Shipping

One option is to ship plants bare root, which means removing the soil from the roots before packaging them. This method is often preferred for smaller plants as it reduces weight and saves on shipping costs.

Bare root shipping also minimizes the risk of introducing pests or diseases to the receiving location. However, it is important to handle bare root plants with care to prevent damage to the delicate roots.

On the other hand, soil shipping involves transporting the plants with the soil intact. This method is suitable for larger plants or those that are more sensitive to root disturbance.

Soil shipping provides the plants with a stable environment during transit, ensuring they remain healthy and well-rooted. However, it is crucial to use appropriate packaging materials to prevent soil spillage and maintain proper moisture levels.

Packaging Materials

When shipping plants, it is essential to use appropriate packaging materials to protect them from damage. Sturdy cardboard boxes are commonly used, providing support and preventing crushing during transit.

Additionally, cushioning materials such as bubble wrap or packing peanuts can be used to provide extra protection and absorb shock.

For bare root shipping, wrapping the roots in moist paper towels or sphagnum moss helps maintain moisture levels during transit.

It is also important to secure the plant in place to prevent movement within the packaging.

In the case of soil shipping, it is crucial to use leak-proof containers to avoid soil spillage. Plastic bags or plastic wrap can be used to secure the soil around the roots, minimizing the risk of moisture loss.

Adding a layer of damp newspaper or sphagnum moss on top of the soil can help maintain proper moisture levels.

Maintaining Proper Temperature and Humidity

During transit, it is important to ensure the plants are kept at the appropriate temperature and humidity levels.

Extreme temperatures can damage the plants, so it is recommended to ship plants during mild weather conditions.

If shipping during hot weather, consider using insulated packaging or cold packs to maintain a cooler temperature.

Monitoring humidity levels is also crucial, especially for plants that require high humidity. Including moisture-retaining materials such as damp sphagnum moss or water-absorbing gels in the packaging can help maintain optimal humidity levels.

It is important to avoid excessive moisture, as it can lead to fungal growth or rot.

Remember to label the packages as “Live Plants” to ensure proper handling during shipping.

Following these recommended shipping methods will increase the chances of your plants arriving in California healthy and ready to thrive in their new environment.

Caring for Plants During Transition

Preparing Plants for Transport

Transporting plants from Hawaii to California requires careful preparation to ensure their safe arrival and continued health. Before transporting your plants, make sure to:

  • Inspect the plants for pests or diseases. If you notice any issues, treat them accordingly before the journey.
  • Trim any overgrown branches or foliage to reduce stress on the plant during transportation.
  • Secure the plants in sturdy containers or packaging to prevent them from shifting or getting damaged.
  • Water the plants adequately but avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.
  • Label the containers clearly with the plant’s name and any special care instructions.

Acclimating Plants After Arrival

Once your plants have arrived in California, it’s important to give them time to adjust to their new environment. Follow these steps to help them acclimate:

  • Place the plants in a shaded area initially, gradually exposing them to more sunlight over a period of weeks.
  • Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Monitor the plants closely for any signs of stress or disease and take appropriate action if needed.
  • Gradually introduce the plants to the outdoor conditions, starting with short periods of time and gradually increasing the duration.

Avoiding Transplant Shock

Transplant shock can occur when plants are moved from one environment to another. To minimize the risk of transplant shock, take the following precautions:

  • Choose the right time to transplant, preferably during the cooler months when plants are less stressed.
  • Use a high-quality, well-draining soil mix to provide optimal conditions for root growth.
  • Apply a slow-release fertilizer to promote healthy growth and minimize stress.
  • Provide adequate water to keep the soil moist but avoid overwatering.
  • Monitor the plants closely for any signs of stress and address any issues promptly.

Remember, each plant is unique, and some may require specific care instructions.

Also read: Can I Bring Fruit Back From Hawaii? A comprehensive Guide


Bringing plants from Hawaii to the mainland involves jumping through some regulatory hoops, but take the time to follow proper procedures and your plants will flourish in their new California home.

With clean bare roots, climate-controlled transport, and gradual acclimation to their new environment, Hawaiian natives like plumeria, bird of paradise, and orchids can grace your California garden with lush aloha spirit.

The most important considerations are thorough inspections, proper bare root packaging, climate control en route, and gradual acclimation once the plants reach their destination.

Follow the guidance in this article and you’ll be enjoying Hawaiian flora in California before you know it. Aloha!

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