Shamrock Seeds Confiscated at Dulles International Airport

This past Thursday, several people had a damper put on their attempts to have an authentic St. Patrick’s Day. Passengers emerging from their plane at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia and Palma airport to cala dor, were met by a group of federal agents looking for passengers carrying prohibited meat on the Aer Lingus flight. During their search, the agents found the meat, as well as 16 packets of shamrock seeds. Because a permit is needed to import the seeds, they were destroyed along with the meat.

If you are itching to grow your own authentic Irish shamrocks, don’t despair! There are easier ways to get them out of the country. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend in Ireland, have them mail you a packet or two. Otherwise, you can look to the Internet for help.

Irish Gifts from, not only carry a variety of gifts from Ireland and the U.K., but they offer shamrock seeds, as well as authentic Irish dirt to grow them in if you’re especially superstitious. While you can purchase individual packets of seeds (prices range from $1.95 – $2.95), the website also offers a set that includes a 1 lb. bag of Irish dirt, shamrock seeds, and a charming Belleek China bowl with two shamrocks painted on the front. The bowl is hand-crafted in Belleek, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

However, if you don’t want to wait and aren’t picky about authentic Irish shamrock seeds, go to any garden supply store or shopping center and likely their garden section will be able to provide you with grown shamrocks ready for your care.

So what is a true Irish shamrock? That’s a tricky question. According to, no one can agree. However, the most referred to species is the Trifolium repens or white clover. Fortunately, the myth that shamrocks won’t grow well unless they’re in Irish soil is one that is easily dispelled. I’ve had my shamrock plant for over two years and it’s still growing strong.

If you’re growing your shamrocks from seeds, you can plant them in small pots with any moist soil mix. Before planting, place your seed packet in the refrigerator for 24 hours. After that, pour the seeds into damp dirt just below the surface and lightly cover them with more soil. Keep the dirt moist and put the pot in a warm and sunny location. It’s important during this time and throughout your shamrock’s life to not overwater or expose it to extreme temperature changes.

When caring for the shamrock plant, it’s fairly straightforward. Keep your plant in a sunny location and remove damaged or dead leaves. Here’s the only trick with shamrocks: if you see your plant drooping or looking brown, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. The shamrock is merely dormant, not dead. Cease watering and put the pot in a dark place. The dormant period usually lasts about 2-3 months. Once the period is up, return the plant to its place of honor and begin watering again.

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