MU Extension: Do not plant seeds you did not order

  • Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension horticulturists are asking the public to report unsolicited seed deliveries.

MU Extension horticulturist Robert Balek notes that there have been reports from around the country of people receiving small padded envelopes of seed that they did not order. The seeds appear to originate from China.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ( and other state and federal agencies have issued alerts.

Don’t plant seeds from unknown sources, Balek warns. The seeds could introduce invasive species, pests, diseases, viruses and bacteria that could harm native plants, insects, crops and livestock.

Some social media posts suggest that the shipments are part of a “brushing” campaign, a technique used to boost an e-commerce seller’s ratings through fake orders.

If you receive one of these shipments, do not open the package, plant the seeds or put the seeds in the trash, Balek says. Buy seeds and plants from reputable companies.

Send the unsolicited seeds and packaging (still in the plastic bag) as soon as possible to Michael Brown, USDA APHIS Missouri state plant health director, at the following address:

State Plant Health Director
1715 Southridge Drive
Jefferson City, MO 65109

Include contact information (name, address, phone number) of the submitter.

Also notify Brown by email [email protected], and cc the message to [email protected] and [email protected] to let everyone know a seed shipment is coming.

If mailing the seeds is not an option, contact Brown at 573-893-6833 to make other arrangements.

Gardeners with questions can contact their regional MU Extension horticulture specialist, email Balek at [email protected], or visit the Ask a Missouri Master Gardener Facebook page at

More information

• USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: USDA Investigates Packages of Unsolicited Seeds From China.

• Missouri Department of Agriculture: Missouri Department of Agriculture Asks Residents to Report Unsolicited Seed Shipments.

Photo available for this release:
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has gotten reports of Missourians receiving unsolicited seeds from foreign countries such as China. Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Writer: Linda Geist

Media Contact

Robert Balek

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