What's the best way to send someone a live aloe plant in the mail?
July 5, 2010 10:07 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to send someone an aloe plant in the mail?

A friend in Europe asked me to send her a special type of aloe in a jar, sold only in the US, but - I thought what would be nicer would be to actually send an aloe plant. Googling around, all I could really find were flower services, nothing with a potted aloe plant. Is this even feasible? Any recommendations?
posted by critzer to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
If she asked for a specific type in a jar - I'd get her a specific type in the jar.
posted by quodlibet at 10:16 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Granted, aloe plants are very tolerant to neglect, but do you really want to send someone a living thing without their consent? It's a commitment and responsibility for them to deal with for the life of the plant (or they can deal with the guilt of ignoring the poor thing until it wilts away). In any event, you will probably not be able to send a plant to another continent due to invasive species laws, unless it originates from that country, like from an FTD-type service.
posted by Addlepated at 10:34 AM on July 5, 2010

When you say "a special type of aloe in a jar, sold only in the US" are you talking about a lotion or cream? Get her the lotion or the cream.

Also, find an aloe plant with pups (small offshoots near the base), carefully remove one or two taking care to get as much root as possible. Soak the roots in water, then wrap in a wet paper towel. Wrap a sandwich baggie around that and seal with a rubber band. Wrap the whole pup in newsprint and pad it securely in the box alongside the aloe lotion.

Before you take this on, though, you should contact your state's Department of Agriculture and ask them what's required to ship plants overseas. You may need to contact the foreign country for consent.
posted by carsonb at 10:38 AM on July 5, 2010

Aloes are very durable beasts as far as roots go. They're desert plants and so can handle periods without water; as long as they don't get their stalks broken or crushed aloes should survive a day or two in the mail just fine.

Some aloe plants grow almost on a plain; i.e. with stalks mostly fanning out to one side and its opposite. What I'd try, assuming it's like this and not a terribly wide plant, is this:

Enclose the roots (along with some of the potting soil) in a sealable sandwich bag. Add a bit of tape to keep the bag on the stalk. Buy a large enough bubble mailer envelope, cut two pieces of some hard plastic to fit inside, put some ping-pong balls or a bunch of packing peanuts between the stalks to prevent crushing, seal and mail.

Never done it, but I'd be fairly confident it'd survive a quick mailing.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:41 AM on July 5, 2010

Hate to be a killjoy, but aren't there regulations and declarations when it comes to sending live plants into another country?
posted by kellyblah at 11:06 AM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: I'd get her a specific type in the jar.

but do you really want to send someone a living thing without their consent?

Fair enough. I thought it would be a bit more novel/meaningful if I sent an actual plant in addition to the jar, but maybe that's too much. She's someone I think is cool and might appreciate the gesture, but maybe it's just not feasible.
posted by critzer at 11:08 AM on July 5, 2010

The biggest deal would be international angle, i think.

I just sent out four plants this spring, and I did it the way carsonb suggested, except I just used a padded envelope and marked it "FRAGILE", "LIVE ALOE VERA PLANT" and "PERISHABLE", as required by the Post Office regulations. They didn't have any problems that I know of.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 12:01 PM on July 5, 2010

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