Importing hoyas from Asia can be very thrilling, as it can get you some species that are hard (or very expensive) to find locally. However, imports can be a gamble and while they can bring tons of joy, they can also bring serious disappointment. I’ve had my share of both. 🙂
Here are a few things that you should be aware of before deciding to import:
#1 Make sure to do some research on the regulations for importing plants into your country. This is very important so that the package doesn’t get destroyed by authorities upon arrival. Some countries won’t allow you to import at all as a private person, some countries have a limit on the number of plants and so on.
#2 You should also do some research on how much duties (taxes) you will need to pay and what are the fees for phytosanitary inspection of the plants upon arrival. These numbers can be fairly high and it’s good to be aware of them when calculating the total cost of hoyas. When buying from Thailand (if they ship to Europe with Dragon courier), Dragon courier will do the import procedures for you. This also means the duties will already be calculated in the shipping fee. Otherwise, you will need to do the import procedures yourself.
#3 The shipping cost can also be high, so calculate it in the total price of hoyas. For some types of hoyas, the final cost will still be cheaper than it would be when buying them locally, however, some hoyas may actually be more expensive in the end.
#4 Never decide to waive the phytosanitary certificate. The plants will get destroyed on the border if this certificate isn’t provided. Also, do check with the seller if they can provide it. This is one of those things, where you could imagine saving a few bucks but then get seriously f* because of it. 🙂
#5 Make sure that you can trust the seller before sending them any money. Many sellers will ask you to pay for the hoyas without protection (such as PayPal Goods & Services). If this is a well-known, trusted seller, I don’t mind paying without protection. However, if you are not absolutely sure that you will not get scammed, never send money without protection, always use PayPal Goods & Services. The plant sale is thriving, and unfortunately, there are many scammers who joined in on the hype.
#6 Find out about the seller’s refund and replacement policies before placing the order. Most of them do not offer refunds and will offer a replacement of dead plants with your next order. This does however mean, that you will need to order again and pay for the shipping costs one more time. Some of the sellers don’t offer any guarantees at all. This is usually not something that will prevent you from ordering, but it is nice to know beforehand.
#7 Do not try to import the plants when the weather anywhere on their way is very cold or very hot. They can freeze or get cooked. I try to import the plants when temperatures are consistently above 0 degrees Celsius at night, and before (or after) the summer hits in full swing. The packages from Asia will not be sent with a heat-pack and will mostly be protected by paper only. You can usually ask for the styrofoam, but don’t count on it.
#8 Some types of hoyas are notorious for traveling poorly. These you want to avoid because they have a high probability of dying on such a long and stressful travel. Do your research to avoid disappointment and ask the seller for their opinion.
#9 Do not expect the plants to arrive in perfect condition, this is rarely the case. Be aware that they will need some rehab and acclimatization. They can be severely dehydrated and some yellowing leaves are completely normal. You need to be able to provide them with a bright, warm, and very humid environment to enhance your chances of success.
#9 Hoyas will be shipped bare-root, the rootball is usually wrapped in moss. The regulations in most countries prohibit importing plants with soil. So this means they are taken out of their growing medium, treated for possible pests, and then packed in moss. Hoya roots will almost always be dead by the time they arrive. This is not a big deal, just keep in mind that you will need to reroot them.
#10 Some plants may die while traveling or a few days after. It is sad but rather normal. Don’t worry too much, this is a part of importing and you need to come to terms with it sooner or later. However, do consider this a little when calculating the total costs.
What to do with imported hoyas upon arrival?
When you receive the package, do not open the box right away because plants can get in a serious shock from a sudden temperature change. This can result in them dying. Leave the box closed in your room for at least two hours before opening, so that the temperature of the box slowly rises (or falls) to your room temperature.
When you unpack the plants, remove the moss and soak the entire plants in warm water (not too hot, not too cold). I add the Superthrive solution to the water because it helps with the further rooting. I usually decide on how much time they need to soak depending on how dehydrated they are. If the leaves are firm, I take them out after 15 minutes, if they are very dehydrated I leave them for an hour. You shouldn’t leave them in the water much longer than that, otherwise, the cells in the leaves may burst.
Next step, I wash them with clean warm water, so that Superthrive doesn’t stay on the leaves. Then I cut away all the roots. Please disinfect your scissors with alcohol after tending to each plant, so that you don’t spread any potential bacteria. I will also cut small pieces of the stem from the bottom until I see some sap, which is a sign that the stem is alive:
At this point, I will also make smaller cuttings from bigger plants, so they will have an easier job rooting.
After the cutting is ready (roots removed, stem alive), I dip the stem in 3% hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes to disinfect. Then I take them out and set them away for a few hours to dry and heal the cuts so that they don’t start rotting when in contact with moisture.
And the last step, rooting the cuttings. I will root them by a method in this article. Just one note to this, if they are traveling in colder weather, then don’t put them on a heat mat straight away, so not to shock them with temperature. Wait with the heat mat till the next day.
For the imported plants, high humidity is even more crucial for successful rooting. They have just arrived from the tropical climate and they are used to warm and humid conditions. You need to mimic this as best you can.
Good luck! Sometimes things will go wrong with the shipment, no way of avoiding it, but usually, they will go right if you should follow these suggestions. 🙂