Nursery Start-Up in Arizona

crystalchildJanuary 14, 2009

Hello. I've been growing African violets at home. I'd like to start a home-based business selling violets on-line. The following questions are, I think, such basic ones, but I've been unable to find answers. I also have read "So You Want to Start a Nursery" by Tony Avent. I hope someone could help.

1) Do you need a license to grow and sell plants? (I only have a retail license for my other on-line retail business.)

2) Do you need your plants inspected by the state? If so, how? Do they come over to you, or do you bring in sample plants to the Department of Agriculture?

3) Do you need a permit to ship interstate? I often see nursery catalogs saying, "This plant can not be shipped to such-and-such states," but how do you check all the states' restrictions?

Thank you,


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The US Dept of Ag has rules about importing plant material from other countries ..... EACH state dept of Ag has rules about importing & exporting plant material that affects that state.. then each city has its requirements on when & how to do busness.
You can/will need to contact each state you wish to ship to & get a copy of their regulation & then try to comply..... I know of NO one person/contact to get all the answers to your question.....

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 8:40AM
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I live in Oregon and yes there is an inspection you will have to go through , you must apply for a Agricultural License and they will take it from there.
The process is easy.
I believe that to ship there are regulations pertaining to that so there must be a special license for that too
Also each state is different for retail license, here where I live I can sell what I grow, tried to change my land use Zoning to be able to sell stock brought in but the state regulations were too rigid so I was refused on that request
Goog Luck in your new venture!!!!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 11:38AM
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Thank you both very much for such quick responses. I actually have visited the web sites of AZ State government and Dept of Agriculture several times, but they hardly helped. I suppose I first have to contact the Dept of Agriculture and ask for forms. I didn't realize I had to contact all the states for mail orders! Things seem more complicated than I originally thought. Thank you so much for taking time to help. I was a bit embarassed to ask those questions, but I'm glad I did. You have no idea how much your postings are appreciated!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 11:26AM
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Oops, I have to be more careful. Although I still have to contact the AZ Department of Agriculture, I've just found the Grower Permit on-line, at least.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 11:39AM
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you do not have to contact all the states for mail order. most restrictions depend on the 'ship from' state more so than the 'ship to' state.

when your agricultural agent comes and visits for your first inspection, they will have a ton of great material for you and will be able to answer your questions (or get back to you on those they have to research first).

they will be able to tell you what you need to do in order to ship to the most restrictive states (hawaii, california, oregon, washington and arizona) for your particular situation such as treat and get phyto prior to shipping, grow and maintain your plants in a closed environment or whatever.

a general guide to restrictions is here:

Here is a link that might be useful: national plant board

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 12:13PM
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This is it! This is one of the things I really wanted to know. Thank you so much, greenthumbs2000!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 2:18AM
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I am adding this in case someone may be interested in the same.

After a couple of unproductive phone calls, I talked to Brian McGrew of Plant Services, Arizona Department of Agriculture. He says that Arizona does not license nor inspect a very small indoor nursery like mine. I am free to sell in Arizona, according to him. He also says that I can ship African violets to ANY state. As long as I read other states' Depertment of Agriculture regulations, however, many states still say they need a certificate from the state of origin, etc...

I am very confused. I think I'm going to ask fellow mail-order nursery people for help in a new posting.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 6:28PM
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I e-mailed Mr G. John Caravetta of AZ Dept. of Agriculture (a member of National Plant Board) on Feb 4 for clarification on the above matter. Here is part of his reply I received on Feb 13, 2009, which may be useful for those considering a mail order nursery:


Please be advised that Arizona does not license plant retailers or wholesalers, rather certifications are offered to allow domestic movement of plant material. In order for you to have proper certification to ship African Violets interstate that are grown in Arizona you will need the following certifications:

AZ General Nursery stock Certification at a cost of $50.00 dollars per location per year. This fee is invoiced once an inspection has been conducted and it is found that your facility if free of all pests of quarantine concern and is in general good health.

Special Nursery Stock Certification for A) Brown Garden Snail (BGS) for shipments entering Texas and Florida at $50.00 per location per year; B) Ozonium Root Rot (ORR) for shipments entering California at $50.00 per year. The fee for these certifications is due with the completed application.


I hope this information will help future Arizona growers.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 3:32PM
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Akiko, Thank you for all of the information. I recently relocated from Texas and have been looking forward to starting a small nursery (only a few acres)with an herbal focus. I was having the same problem finding info on the Az ag site. You have saved my sanity! Thank you thank you thank you!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 7:16PM
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I'm so happy to hear the above info has helped! I was wondering if this would help someone before the info gets too outdated...

I have a few updates for you. I live in Tucson, and contacted the Tucson office for those three application forms. (I had not known there was an office in town!) I received everything in the mail within a few days.

I sent all the forms to Phoenix with my check, and a friendly inspector from Tucson contacted me, and she was at my door the following day.

Well, here is another funny thing... The inspector came for BGS and ORR certification, but not for general nursery certification. She said that her boss hadn't given her my general nursery inspection certification form. I showed her my copy, and she took another copy with her to the office. She said I would be probably seeing her again in a couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks passed, with no phone calls. I called the Tucson office, and no one was available. I left a message. No response. I called the office again and this is what I learned: The application form I had turned in was for Year 2010, and an inspection will be done any time between now and October. I asked if there was any way I get certified for this year. (Who would wait till next year when your plants are quickly growing and taking up space?) I was told to ask the Phoenix office. I called Plant Services in Phoenix (602-542-0981), and the lady I talked to said she would call me back the next morning.

I got a call from Tucson the following morning, instead of Phoenix. I was finally told that they would inspect and certify my nursery for this year. And I quickly received another application form by mail, which has "New Nursery Application for 2009" printed. I have no idea why they didn't send this in the first place. This is the joyful part of dealing with government, I suppose... Still, I'm happy now that everything has been squared out. (Or, maybe, just maybe, it's too early to say that.)

So, when you contact Phoenix or your local office, be sure to ask for two copies of the "Application for General Nursery Stock Inspction Certification," one for this year and another for next. Good luck!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 2:08AM
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