I have a few small house plants I'd like to take home to Denmark when I leave the US. They're small enough so I can uproot them and pack them with wet paper in a tupperware box. And they can withstand cold.

However, am I even allowed to bring them to Europe? They are not endangered or exotic (3 small coleus), just from a flower shop, but I don't think someone inspecting the luggage will take that into account. When entering the US I am always asked to fill out a landing card asking if I brought any plants or 'produce'. I don't think I've ever filled out something like this when travelling the other way though.

I suppose I could just try, but I'd rather not get into any trouble with my luggage.

Thanks for your input!

2 Answers 2


As far as carrying them on the plane goes, you should be fine (just make sure that the soil is not too wet, so that it won't fall under the "liquids" rule... if in doubt, put the plants in checked-in luggage).

As far as Danish customs is concerned, the English-language information I could find ( http://www.skat.dk/skat.aspx?oId=2083356&vId=0 , http://www.foedevarestyrelsen.dk/english/ImportExport/Pages/Private_import_of_food.aspx , http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/plant_health_biosecurity/non_eu_trade/index_en.htm ) seem to indicate that there is no problem as long as the plants are not endangered species.

In particular, see the last link. It says that "small quantities of plants, ... that their owner or recipient will use for non-industrial, non-commercial purposes" are exempt from having to have a certificate for import.

From what I've seen, European customs inspections are pretty lax (though I haven't seen inspections in Denmark in particular). To be safe though, you may want to go through the "red corridor" when you arrive and declare the plants. This way, if they are illegal to import, they will just throw them away but you won't get into trouble.

  • While the plants may be okay, would the soil be? My feeling is that that might be a problem in and of itself, but I can't see any clear guidance. Feb 12, 2016 at 20:44
  • Thanks for your helpful and well-researched answer. I guess I can mark it as correct after I've tried..? As for soil, I won't be taking any, just some soggy tissue paper. These are tough plants.
    – jimmy
    Feb 12, 2016 at 23:58

Are these three particular plants of importance to you? Coleus is a pretty common house plant sold in markets all over the world and you maybe able to find it in plant shops in Denmark. Or perhaps take some seeds and grow them from scratch.

But if the plants are special to you and they aren't covered under CITES (unlikely since most flower shop versions are hybrids), then the first step is to clean the roots completely of dirt and vegetative matter. After unpotting them, you will likely have to dip the roots into a bucket of water multiple times to remove all the dirt. It is always good to trim off any insect eaten leaves or diseased looking leaves. Then use moist paper towels to wrap the roots, not tissue paper. When I box plants in a plastic container I add those styrofoam packing peanuts to fill the empty voids and avoid leaf/stem breakage.

Another method would be to take cuttings only, no roots, then put them in water upon arrival and let them grow new roots before planting them in a pot of dirt.

Upon arrival, as Eugene suggested go through the red line and declare them to be safe.

  • Thanks for the input. Yes, Coleus are very common but these have a sentimental value. Taking cuttings is maybe the best idea, or cutting them at the base to avoid the root/dirt issue.
    – jimmy
    Feb 13, 2016 at 16:50

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