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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Saturday - April 21, 2012

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Transporting a plant on airplane from New York City
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can I transport via airplane a jade plant from New York City to Colorado in my suitcase?

ANSWER:

This is way over our heads (pun intended).  To begin with, Crassula ovata (Jade Plant) is native to South Africa. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they grow. The above link discusses the plant itself.

Beyond that, we don't know anything about transportation of live plants, carried on or checked baggage. You need to contact the airline you are flying on way ahead of time and get very explicit instructions. If the plant is small, it could probably be carried on in a paper bag where it can sit flat and be stable. It must have no insect infestation or signs of disease. It is also recommended that it be put in a plastic bag to prevent soil from falling out.

Now, whether or not to do this: We don't recommend it:

(1) Because we don't recommend non-native plants.

(2) If it is in a checked bag, the temperatures in an unpressurized cargo area could be fatal, as would standing in the sun waiting to be loaded.

(3) The leaves of most succulents are pretty brittle and easily broken, we don't think it would make it in a suitcase.

(4) You can easily go into any large chain nursery in Colorado and buy a fresh Jade Plant for whatever your purpose is.

(5) No matter what you find out from the airlines, your plant could still be confiscated by security personnel at the airport; it will be thrown away.

(6) This includes checked luggage; suitcases are randomly searched afte they are checked, and at that point you have no recourse, it will be thrown away.

Conclusion: We don't think it would make it, for one reason or another. Why go to all the trouble and expense?

 

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