U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists are working overtime to ensure that imported flowers arrive on time for Mother’s Day, but they must be free of pests and diseases first. 

According to industry statistics, around 80% of cut flowers sold in the United States are imported from across the world. 

CBP says that the weeks that lead up to Mother’s Day are some of the busiest of the year, when millions of cut flower shipments arrive from Ecuador, Colombia, the Netherlands, Thailand and Australia. 

“It is critically important not only to consumers, but to the vitality of the U.S. economy that cut flower imports are carefully inspected by CBP agriculture specialists,” said Carlos Martel, the CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “Some of these flowers may carry hitchhiking pests and diseases that could cause millions of dollars in damage to the U.S. agriculture sector.” 

LAX processed over 36 million cut flowers during the 2022 Mother’s Day season, which lasted from April 4 through May 8. It was the second busiest port of entry for cut flowers behind Miami. 

Agriculture specialists intercepted 358 pests of varying species on cut flower shipments during that time, CBP said. 

CBP recommends that all individuals looking to import flowers, plant materials and other agricultural items consult the Information Center section of their website. Individuals can also call 877-227-5511 for information. 

In addition, CBP now offers the CBP One mobile app, which allows travelers to request CBP services including agricultural product inspection. 

Travelers are also advised to declare all items acquired abroad to CBP officers to avoid civil or criminal penalties and reduce the risk of introducing pests and diseases into the U.S.