Nursery Inspection and Plant Quarantine

The nursery industry is a strong and growing part of Maryland's agricultural economy. It is the number two agricultural commodity in the state and the number one cash crop. It is a goal of this section to facilitate the production and sale of Maryland nursery stock by inspecting all plant material intended for sale or distribution to ensure that it is disease and pest free.

Maryland nursery products are sold throughout the world. Nursery inspectors look at plant material before shipment to determine whether all quarantine requirements are met. Each state or country has specific requirements for incoming shipments of nursery stock.


By law, and by reciprocal agreements with other states, plant material at each producing nursery is required to be periodically inspected for freedom from dangerously injurious plant pests prior to its movement out of Maryland. These inspections also facilitate phytosanitary certification of Maryland plants for export from the United States. Certificates are issued to meet requirements of various quarantines. Inspections of plants at plant dealers (garden centers, chain stores and landscape contractors) are conducted to intercept pests not known to occur in Maryland and to provide consumer protection.

Because agricultural and forest pests can hitchhike on nursery stock that is moved from one part of the world to another, the nursery inspection program also is charged with monitoring this pathway. Plant pests can cause serious economic loss due to direct plant damage or indirectly when reduced markets for Maryland products result because of other state or federal quarantines.

Maryland Law and Regulations require anyone who advertises, sells, installs, or produces nursery stock to be licensed with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. To obtain a license application go to Application for Nursery Inspection Certificate, Plant Dealer License, Plant Broker License, (see the Important Documents block to the right for downloads).


Personnel in the Nursery Inspection program work closely with government and university researchers, various industry associations, and the agri-chemical industry to provide the most concise and effective recommendations available.

For additional information on shipping plants, contact the Plant Protection and Weed Management Section at 410-841-5920. ​​​

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