Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quarantine Explained

I have been getting a lot of questions lately, pertaining to the quarantine here in Charleston on Citrus. It is Springtime and the desire to plant things is obvious. With the push to grow your own veggies and fruit, it is no wonder people want to grow their own Citrus.
The questions I keep getting are, "I want to grow some Citrus, but can't get any because of the quarantine". Unfortunately, there has been a lot of confusion as to how the quarantine works. I wanted to set the record straight.
Let me start at the beginning.
The reason for the quarantine is because of Citrus Greening. A couple of years ago a Grapefruit tree was discovered to have the disease in downtown Charleston. I have done a couple of blogs on the topic, you can read them here:
So I won't bore you with the details here.
Charleston County, the county I live in, and Beaufort County is under quarantine for both the Asian Citrus Psyllid and Citrus Greening. This means that Citrus can not LEAVE these counties. You can bring it in however.
So, if you live in neighboring Dorchester County and have a Citrus tree, you can bring it to Charleston County. Just be ready to leave the tree here. This also goes for the example of, if you live in Dorchester County and come to a big box store that happens to be selling Citrus trees in Charleston County, you LEGALLY can not buy that tree and take it home. Sure you can do it, the police and store employees are not checking drivers licenses, but it is still illegal. I can not even give a gift of a Citrus tree to anybody outside of my quarantine area.
Hopefully this clears that up a little. I know what you are thinking, then WHY are the big box stores selling Citrus trees if there is a chance of illegal exportation? The best answer I can come up with is, they don't know! I have asked many store managers that very question, I basically get the, "We sell what they ship us". So somewhere along the line there is a disconnect. I am trying to fix this in my small part of the world.
If you really want to know where the quarantines exist and learn more about this situation, check out this excellent website by the USDA:
The reason behind this blog today is to help clarify the quarantine of Citrus. Now, I am going to muddy the waters a little. Yes, you can basically bring Citrus from anywhere, other than from a quarantine area, into another area, unless you are a Citrus producing state. These states are, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona. You can not legally ship anything Citrus into these states. I had a person in Texas ask me how to get some Citrus seeds into her state, I told her THAT is even illegal. I sent her this from the Texas Department of Agriculture:

Part I. Texas Department of Agriculture
Chapter 5. Quarantines
Citrus Seed, Citrus Budwood, and Citrus Nursery Stock Quarantine
4 TAC sec.5.152, sec.5.153
The Texas Department of Agriculture proposes amendments to sec.5.152 and
sec.5.153, concerning restricted shipments of Citrus Seed, Citrus Budwood, and
Citrus Nursery Stock. The department proposes amendments sec.5.152 and sec.5.153
to include the State of California. Currently, citrus seeds, citrus budded
nursery stock or seedlings, citrus budwood, or any part of any citrus tree or
seedling may not be shipped, carried, or in any way transported by any means
into the State of Texas. Florida is the only state allowed to ship into this
state under certain conditions. It is necessary to amend the restricted shipment
section and the restrictions on citrus seed shipment section to include
California as a state from which citrus products may be imported because
California is a disease-free source of certified citrus budwood and citrus seed
for Texas producers.

Sorry about the legalize, but I wanted to show the information in its truest form. I would imagine that all of the Quarantine areas have similar statements.
There are some places that are authorized to ship into these Citrus producing states, but be careful, if you are shopping online they should state where they can ship to......make sure you ask. They have special authorization because of the way they grow their trees, either under screening or greenhouses. I have heard of Citrus tree shipments being confiscated because of illegal exportation.
Along these same lines, Yes, you can purchase a Citrus tree in Florida almost anywhere along I-95 and bring them back to your hometown. Again it is illegal! I have seen the federal order and it states that no leaves, twigs, stems, plants, trees, scions or cuttings can be moved from a quarantine area. This includes county and state lines. 
If you have any doubts whether you live in a quarantine area or not, I urge you to please check out the Save our Citrus website. Just in case here it is again:
I hope this sets the record straight and more or less makes sense. I want everybody to have happy, healthy Citrus trees! Please, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me. 
Happy Growing!


  1. I think it's rather oppressive for the government to ban any type of citrus.

  2. Hi! Any update on when citrus can be shipped into Charleston county or Berkeley County?

  3. @September Clues. They are not banning Citrus. They are only banning the export of Citrus from one place to another, IF, they are in a quarantine area. It is like not allowing somebody with the flu into your house, you don't want to get sick do you?

    @anonymous. Citrus trees CAN be shipped into Charleston and Berkeley County, as long as they are being brought in from a NON quarantine area. Once they are in Charleston County, they are here for good. Berkeley is NOT under quarantine, so they can be brought back out.
    I hope that clears it up for you.

  4. Hi. It's anonymous again:) Any suggestions where I might find a Meyer lemon tree for my mom for Christmas? I tried 2 different stores online and they both said they could not ship to South Carolina. Thanks for your quick response to my previous inquiry.

  5. Hey Anonymous....As a matter of fact I do know where you can get one. Going by your previous post, I am going to assume you are here in the greater Charleston area. Do you know where Abide-A-While Garden Center is in Mt. Pleasant? I know for a fact they just got a nice shipment in of Meyer Lemons...many of which have fruit on them.
    They are on Hwy 17 just up from I-526. If you need more info, just let me know.

  6. Thank you so much! That is actually the first place I was going to check.

  7. Darren,

    I am looking to purchase 6 to 10 ruby red grapefruit trees.. Do you know of a good & source at a good price?? I tried to order on line but was told thay could not ship to SC

    Tks George B

  8. George, Where did you go online?
    It depends on where they are as to whether they can ship to SC.
    Do you have your heart set on Ruby Red? Where in SC are you?
    You can e-mail me directly:

  9. Do you know of any nurseries that can ship a Meyer Lemon Tree and a Lime Tree to Texas?

  10. Hello Pamela,
    No, I don't know of any. Thought, being in Texas, there is BOUND to be a nursery in state that has them.
    What part of Texas are you in?
    If you do a google search for Citrus Nurseries in Texas, there are a number of hits. See if any of them are close to you.

  11. So it's still legal to ship from Texas to Michigan as long as they are not coming from those 2 counties? All online nurserys I've seen so far say they can't ship out of Texas so I'm curious if things changed since this post was written.

    1. Yes, things have changed since this post. Entire state of Texas is under quarantine for Asian citrus psyllid and sweet orange scab. The best website I know of to keep up with the changing scope of quarantines is
      Thanks for the question!

  12. My name is Neil, I remember reading somewhere that you posted about growing citrus from seeds. In that post you also said that there has been no known transmission of disease from seed, is that different now? If it isn't then why are seeds illegal now?

    1. Neil, That is a very good question. As far as I know, there has been no transmission of the disease via seed. I find it hard to believe that the disease can not be transmitted that way, but I am not a scientist. I believe that the seeds are illegal more as a CYA, just in case it is transmitted.

    2. Thank you for the prompt response and your excellent website Darren :)


  13. Do you, or anyone else, know or have a suggestion on where to purchase an Australian Finger Lime tree within the state of Texas? I would like a couple as would my sisters.
    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    1. Check with the folks on
      There should be somebody there from Texas that can help.

  14. I live in Dallas, at the grocery store, there are all kinds of citrus, including finger limes, they all have seeds in them. Am I to assume that they were all grow in texas?

  15. I meant to say "grown in Texas ".

    1. More than likely, Yes. Is it an absolute, no.
      If they have any kind of stickers on them, that will tell you.
      Being Texas is considered a Citrus producing state, it is difficult to get outside Citrus in.
      Your chances of being Texas Grown are probably 95%

  16. Ok, here is my question : is it legal to ship Citrus (fruit/seed) from California to Texas ?

  17. Ok, here is my question : Is it legal to ship Citrus (fruit/seed) from California to Texas ?

    1. 7even, No, you can not ship fruit from California to Texas, unless you have a special permit from the USDA.
      Seeds, on the other hand, it will depend on who you talk to.
      I have heard both yes and no.
      Supposedly, any of the citrus diseases do not carry over in the seed. However, the way the law is written, NO PART of the tree, leaves, roots, fruit or any other part can be shipped.
      My bottom line answer, I would say NO.

  18. Hello I have a quick question I live in Texas and I have a Meyer lemon tree it has given me lemons this year and my mom and New Jersey has asked me if I can ship some to her am I allowed to ship Meyer lemons To my mom In New Jersey

    1. Hello Virginia,
      Yes and No.
      Theoretically, if you live in a quarantine county, the answer is no. However, if you live outside a quarantine, then yes.
      To muddy the waters a little more, I have been told that, as long as there are no leaves, stems, twigs or any other part of the tree itself and you thoroughly wash the fruit, then yes, you can ship it to New Jersey.
      Just as a side question, what part of NJ? That is where I am from originally-
      Monmouth County- Middletown/Keansburg area.
      Hope that helps?!

  19. We live in Orange County CA and my son has a handful of small citrus trees in pots that he just adores. If we move across country to New York State, can we bring them? I remain somewhat confused after reading quite a bit about quarantine.

    1. Hello Meyermama,
      This is a tough question!
      Theoretically it is illegal to move them:

      Portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties are under temporary state emergency quarantine for citrus greening disease. State and federal officials are conducting a comprehensive survey of the region to identify the extent of potential disease spread. California residents may call 800-491-1899 for general information on the state regulations.

      All of Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Ventura counties, as well as parts of Tulare, Fresno, and Kern counties are under quarantine for Asian citrus psyllid.

      For regulatory information regarding the movement of fresh citrus fruit, citrus nursery stock or other citrus parts (cut foliage, seeds, wood, etc.), contact the USDA State Plant Health Director’s office at (916) 930-5500.

      My suggestion would be to contact the above number and explain your situation. They might have a test or other suggestion, especially being you are not moving to a particularly "ABUNDANT" citrus producing state! LOL
      Hope that helps?!
      Good Luck!

    2. Thanks Darren, I am enjoying poking around your blog, my son just picked out a meyer lemon for his tenth birthday present ;)

    3. You are welcome!
      Poke around all you like!
      If you get bored and want to see more pictures of what I do and grow, check out my webpage:
      Let me know if you have any questions!
      Happy Growing!

    4. Would like to get Mom a Meyer L?emon tree in AZ. However, I live out of state and cannot ship due to restrictions. Can you recommend anyone who ships or delivers within AZ?

  20. Thanks fir your blog. I have owned a Meyer lemon for 20 years living in Pittsburgh . It lives happily in my house during the winter. We are moving to Florida in July and my friend mentioned that it is illegal to ship citrus houseplants and would be destroyed at the Florida border. That would be a crime indeed .
    Thank you for spreading this rule . I certainly hope that Meyer is sold within Florida ?!?! Why not.

    1. Hello Lemon Fan!
      That would be a true crime!!
      Being that you are in Pittsburgh and the tree is that old, why not take a chance and contact the Florida Department of Agriculture? They might be able to offer some kind of permit or leniency to allow you to bring it in.
      Here is a website that you can use to find the number
      I hope it works out, please let me know what they say.

  21. Darren I live in Austin Texas and I understand I cannot get a Meyer lemon tree shipped to me. My question is: do you know if they sell them at local nurseries or are any sale of citrus verboten? Thanks

    1. Celtic pride,
      Just doing a quick Google search for Garden Centers in Austin Texas that sell Citrus trees, a number of them came up.
      Depending on where you live in Austin, give a few of them a call. I am not familiar with the counties in Texas, but I am sure they would be willing to tell you yes or no that they can sell to you.

  22. Hey Darren, I’m the Pittsburgh person who had to leave behind a 25 year old Meyer lemon tree ( large pot) when we moved to Florida last July. Greatly appreciated that you warned me that Florida is very serious about citrus coming into the state.

    At Lowes, I’ve bought a new Meyer and a Valencia orange,both small. 16 inches. I had them in pots with rich soil and they struggled , lost lots of roots. Now they are in the ground and their leaves started to yellow from the veins outward.

    So i put on more fertilizer cause my husband said they needed more nitrogen..... they are not doing well and have small fruits but very few leaves left. Please Help me and my baby trees.

    1. Okay, trying to figure out where to start.
      I am just going to assume that they were healthy to begin with?
      How long did you have them in the pots when you realized they were struggling?
      What were your growing methods at the time? Sun, water, fertilizing, etc.
      What kind of fertilizer are you currently using?
      How much sun is it getting now?
      How long have they been in the ground?
      Can you send me any pictures? Send them to

  23. Looked healthy. Bought in October small (3 gallon pots) because the larger ones (7 gal) are usually badly prunedand i wanted nicely shaped trees in a few years.

    Valencia orange struggled early( lost leaves,all blooms) cause i thought its pot had poor drainage. Did MUCH better when put in ground.

    Meyer lemon did great in pot until transplanted into larger pot (10 gal) which I’ve learned has equally poor drainage.

    Both got water when soil was dry and citrus grandular fertilizerevery two week’s. Side by side, grown in Florida’s version of sun, probably at least 6 hours on east side of house. Same sun now .

    Switched to blue stuff fertilizer now warm weather ( Muir March) and when lemon started showing yellow veins.

    Been in ground about two months, planted with mix of old potting soil and native Fl sand so not to completely shock plants. Orange made a comeback once in ground, but lemon has nose- dived.

    Pictures sent on above . Lmk if need to retake