I. Trading Overview
Trading is one of the most frequent activities I do, since I don't enjoy spending too much money on overpriced plants from retailers. (Not small stores like FTS, I love you all).
- Trading allows both parties to be satisfied with what they get.
- Minimal cost
- Get rid of propagated plants/basals/plants you don't want and replace with plants you do want.
- Often WYSIWYG
- Third-party trades become mucky, more on this later.
- Trades can easily be scammed, especially when untracked.
- Traders can include less of what they promise.
- Trades are harder to re-compensate than sales.
Trading, I find to be one of the more rewarding ways to acquire carnivorous plants. Trading utrics, helis, and neps, as well as other species, is best done when you have many copies of that same species around, and you feel like obtaining some new species. This is an excellent way to trade a division of a heli for a division of another heli, for example. I love to trade, since it is the easiest way to get beautiful plants in your grow-chamber.
Seeds and cuttings are easily traded via SASE, self-addressed-stamped-envelope. Be sure to send the SASE with your end of the deal inside, apply non-machinable postage on both envelopes, and voila! You will have seeds/gemmae/cuttings in no time. If you are feeling like you may be scammed (or your sixth-sense gets triggered), then ask instead of SASE, for both parties to send their shipments simultaneously in their own envelopes.
Boxes are a good way to trade as well, both UPS and USPS have great prices and services. I find USPS to be a little more on-time with priority and first-class boxes, I have even shipped boxes with stamps that arrive just fine. Postage can be covered by each person, or by one person for both ends if that is part of the deal. Enclose your plants in the box, and pack tightly. One test I do before shipping is to shake the box. If you hear ANYTHING, you must re-pack. Shifting is what damages plants.
Cautions and remedies
If you are suspicious of a new person, have them send their end of the trade first. If they are unwilling to do so, call the trade off.
Third-party trades should be avoided. I used to do these a lot, over 15 of them. The principle is easy: sell a plant to an internet friend/follower, and have them send the money to another grower, who sends you a box. However, I had a trade break down after bad communication, and it's just too many people to wrangle. The more people in a deal, the more likely it is to go south. If you must include a third-party, I suggest a group-chat or some way of talking to everybody. Communication is key.
DOA: If a species is DOA in a trade, and the box you received is not DOA, it is your responsibility to ship it, only if the recipient asks for it. It is up to you to negotiate who pays shipping the second time.
Sales are straightforward - plants, seeds, or other things in a box, for money in return.
- Money is universal, you can do whatever with what you get
- It is often easier to negotiate than trade
- Less involvement is required for both parties than a trade
- Scams are very easy with money
- Refundable items can cause problems
- DOA scams.
When selling boxes, it is very easy to create a label for yourself, but I find it good to ask the buyer to create a label and email it to you, not charging shipping on the plants but having the buyer pay for shipping up-front. This serves as a deposit, and a scammer is much less likely to scam once they have spent 15 USD for shipping.
Envelopes and SASE can be sent as normal
Problems and amelioration
Sometimes, something called a DOA (Death on arrival) scam can take place, in which a buyer claims that the plants have arrived dead or mangled on arrival. This is especially dangerous in moderated environments like Ebay, where the DOA scam can rob you of your money. It is important to state Refunds, returns, and replacements will be granted at the discretion of the seller, or any other disclaimer, to avoid getting such scammers. I have been scammed thrice in DOA scams, with gemmae (twice), and sarracenias (once). Small, perishable items are very easy to DOA. You can also tell a person to ask the post office for a refund, as priority mail comes with $50 insurance. This helps a lot.
If you, the buyer, is suspicious of a sale, use Paypal, and add 3%, do not use friends and family. That way, you can dispute the payment and get your money back if something happens.
I am including this just because communication is key. Document what goes into a box, take a picture with the flaps open and with the shipping label clearly in sight. Try to stick a non-identifiable body part, like a hand, arm, or leg, in the photo, so that the person knows you are not faking with an internet photo, this has helped me a lot, when I was establishing my credibility. Save all photos in a folder.
I find it good to gather information on everybody I trade with. For example, one of the first trades I did was with Nepenthes0260. I put his information into a spreadsheet saying his name, method of contact, handle, contents of the trade (his end), contents of the trade (my end), and his address. This has helped me remember and keep records, so I don't get any surprises in the future. It also helps to know what I have exchanged. If any issue arises, append the spreadsheet and put what exactly was claimed. If necessary, on a forum, Pm a mod if something happens, sometimes having a referee helps moderate conflict.
Send images (It's easier on instagram), liberally, if not, describe well what you are shipping.
Confirming a trade:
Before you confirm a trade, pm the other person in the following format.
Your end:Then, have them repeat this back to you to confirm. If anything arises, fix it.
Once you are at an agreement, ask if you are ready to 'lock and confirm' the trade, and prepare your boxes. This is key, to ensure that everybody gets what they want.
Laws and legal restrictions
CITES plants: Be incredibly careful shipping across state borders. It is technically illegal to ship seeds, propagules, cuttings, or plants, of anything on Appendix I across state lines. Be cognizant of selling CITES restricted plants on any platforms. For trades, there is a little more leeway, but try to confirm that what you are sending is legal.
If your box leaks, the USPS will throw it out or burn it. Ensure plants do not leak, by bagging them several times.
Aquatic utricularia should be shipped in test -tubes or centrifuge tubes, capped and sealed, and double bagged (in compliance with state laws). This means that they should be filled with clean water, not habitat water. The laws surrounding pond health are very strict.
Do not ship infested plants. It's bad for all parties involved. You are shipping a bad plant, the recipient receives a contaminated plant that they have to treat. Instead, before shipping, if you discover pests, spray a systemic Acephate or Imidacloprid about a week prior to shipping. It should be enough to kill all of the insects.
Be nice. Say please. Thank a person for their offer. You know, treat people nicely.
I hope this clears up any problems or questions.
Sources aggregated from CITES, USDA, USPS, Ebay, My experience, FTC posts.