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Ask Mr. Sage: Can I Get Coronavirus From FBTS Shipments?

First posted on Mar 13, 2020

Ask Mr. Sage: Can I Get Coronavirus From FBTS Shipments?

Dear Mr. Sage,

I’ve been reading lots of news about Coronavirus and can’t seem to find clear information about whether the virus can be transmitted on cardboard boxes. I want to place an order for my spring and summer Salvias, but I’m worried about whether mail order delivery is safe.


Salvia Lover

Dear Salvia Lover,

Thank you for raising this concern on so many minds and for your support of Flowers by the Sea. We don’t want to do anything to harm customer safety, so we have a coronavirus protection plan in place at FBTS. Before I explain our protocol, let’s get to the heart of your issue.

First, it’s important to note that coronavirus researchers think it’s unlikely to become infected by contact with the virus on mail, including cardboard boxes.

Coronavirus — also called Covid-19 and the “novel coronavirus” — spreads by droplets when people sneeze or cough. Some of these droplets are transferred to surfaces, such as doorknobs, from people’s hands. Droplets may fall on other surfaces, such as cardboard boxes, or be transferred through handling by people who have Covid-19.

On March 13, 2020, The Washington Post reported on research about duration of the virus on various surfaces. Experiments were conducted by the Virus Ecology Section of the Montana-based Rocky Mountain Laboratories, which is part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — a branch of NIH.

So, how long can the virus remain infectious on a cardboard box? Based on an information from Virus Ecology Section Chief Vincent Munster, the Post reported that “some coronavirus can potentially remain viable — capable of infecting a person — for up to 24 hours on cardboard.” However, Munster referred to it as a theoretical possibility, because the virus begins weakening 10 minutes after it lands on a surface.

Shipping further weakens the virus by exposure to heat, sunshine, and ultraviolet radiation as well as time on the road. Depending on the locale to which they are delivered, our packages take one to three days to arrive.

Back to our Covid-19 protocol at FBTS: Our first rule is that anyone who has symptoms of the illness or has been in contact with it can’t come to work. Second, everyone involved in boxing plants has to wash hands thoroughly before packing. Finally, we sanitize all hard surfaces in our packing area before we place any plants in boxes.

It’s worth mentioning that before FBTS became a Salvia farm, we ran a state-inspected goat dairy and cheese-making plant. We know how to maintain a clean facility, and we do it.

Salvia Lover, we want you and all our customers to know how important your business is to keeping FBTS alive and producing the broadest range of Salvias sold by any plant nursery in the nation. This year, we have the best selection of the finest plants in our history. We want them to find homes in our customers’ gardens and not in our compost heap. Gardening is work, but it's also a soothing activity that takes the edge off anxiety during tough times. Please don’t be scared of placing an order.


Mr. Sage


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