A colorful bouquet of flowers, an exotic ornamental plant or rather a fruit tree for the garden as a Mother's Day gift? The choice of plants to give as a gift is wide. Many of the plants available in stores often have a long journey behind them. A large proportion of the cut flowers sold on the European market come from South Africa, South America or South Asia, among other places. Customers are often unaware of the logistical and administrative effort that goes into making a bouquet of flowers bloom.
When importing plants, including cut flowers or plant products from non-EU countries (except Switzerland and Liechtenstein), import conditions must be observed. For example, the goods in question must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country and undergo phytosanitary inspections upon importation. This document confirms that the plants meet the health requirements of the European Union. Cut flowers such as roses, orchids, chrysanthemums or carnations are inspected and literally scrutinized by trained and educated control bodies at the border control points, such as in Austria at Vienna Airport. This enormous effort is necessary above all to ensure that no dangerous plant diseases or pests are introduced from other countries.
Orchids for Mother's Day - without small insects
With orchid cut flowers, but also with orchid plants, the risk is high that an animal pest (small insect) is introduced, which is listed in the EU as a Union quarantine pest: for example, the melonthrips (Thrips palmi) - a species of fringe winged insect - which originally comes from South Asia and has now spread to many tropical countries. The melon thrips has a very wide feeding spectrum and can therefore infest many different plants besides orchids, e.g. cucurbits, solanaceae and papilionaceous plants. Thrips cause direct sucking damage and are vectors of several dangerous plant viruses. A mass infestation can cause a loss of up to 90 percent of vegetable crops.
Even though this species would not survive the winter in Austria due to the cold temperatures, there is a risk especially when plants are imported into glasshouses. In this case, Thrips palmi and viruses transmitted by it could spread uncontrolled in greenhouses in the EU, posing a serious threat to vegetable and ornamental crops. In addition to these specific import regulations, certain plants for planting from various third countries are also subject to a general import ban. For example, rose plants or fruit trees, such as apple, quince, pear and Prunus species, etc., may only be imported into the European Union from certain third countries and only under certain conditions.
Healthy plants end hunger, reduce poverty and protect the environment
On May 12, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will hold its first International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) under the theme "Protecting plants, protecting life." Following the International Year of Plant Health 2020, the annual day aims to raise awareness that healthy plants serve to end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and promote economic development. International plant health standards, effective monitoring and controls are one of the foundations of sustainable crop protection and plant health.
You can help keep our crops pest-free
You too can help prevent the introduction of plant pests and diseases. Get timely information from the Official Plant Protection Service about phytosanitary regulations when importing and bringing in plants and plant products by calling 050 555 - 33302, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or online: