Nursery Inspection and Plant Quarantine

The nursery industry is a strong and growing part of Maryland's agricultural economy. Based on a crop cash value of more than $400,000,000, 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.

By law, and by reciprocal agreements with other states, plant material at each producing nursery is required to be inspected annually 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. MDA inspectors issued phytosanitary certificates for the movement of plants and plant products to 18 states and territories and five foreign countries. Most of the certificates were issued to meet requirements of Japanese beetle 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. The general health of Maryland-produced nursery stock is excellent.

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.

Maryland nursery products are sold throughout the world. Each year, plants are shipped to all 50 states and approximately 25 foreign countries. 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.

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