Moving can be stressful, especially if you’re carrying your precious greens with you. Even when well prepared, packing plants is more stressful for them than it is for you.
This article will teach you how to pack plants for moving so that they arrive safe and sound at their destination. We’ll also provide the necessary steps for good post-transit care.
So, don’t leaf your plants hanging! Ensure they have a seamless and stress-free voyage with the tips below.
Prepping Your Plants for the Trip
Don’t wait for the last moment. Start prepping your plants at least a week before the actual trip. That way, you won’t be anxious about the safety of your leafy family members during the whole ordeal.
Here are some things to consider before you start packing:
1. Choose The Ideal Time for Moving Your Plants
If you want to make the transport as comfortable for your plants as possible, it’s best to move them in the early months of spring and fall, when the chances of overheating or freezing are minimal. Likewise, if you live in highly humid areas, late spring or even summer can work well for your perennials, too.
For trees and shrubs, winter is also okay. Just note that you should move them in early winter when the weather isn’t too cold (ideally right after the leaves have fallen off).
2. Check the Rules and Regulations for Plant Transport
Before you pack your house plants for moving, you should check whether it’s okay to do so. Namely, there are different USDA rules and regulations for carrying plants from one county to another or across multiple states.
3. Make Sure Your Plants Are Pest-Free
Do a thorough pest check before you pack your plants. Better yet, treat them with a pest collar. This will not only help your plants stay healthy during the trip, but it will also save you the hassle of dealing with authorities and mountains of paperwork afterward.
4. Water Your Plants Three Days in Advance
Before you transport your plants, remember to water them well. Just be careful not to overdo it!
You don’t want the soil to be too wet as it can damage the roots, thus making the plant more susceptible to diseases. Not to mention that the excess water might make a mess of the transporting boxes and surrounding items.
5. Prune the Day Before
Cutting off any dead or dying leaves and branches will make sure your plants reach your new house or apartment strong and healthy. Also, don’t forget to trim down your house plant so that no growth exceeds the container you’ll be using for the move.
6. Pick the Right Supplies for Transporting Plants
Choose boxes that are big enough to fit entire plant pots yet tight enough to avoid them moving around freely; in other words, leave no wiggle room!
In the case you have more plants, use several smaller boxes instead. That way, they won’t be too hard (and heavy) to carry. Line the bottom of the box with padding, if possible, to keep the plants from twisting and breaking.
We recommend getting shatter-resistant pots, plastic wraps, and sterilized potting soil to minimize any potential damage. For larger plants, you’ll also need sphagnum moss, rhizome, and paper towels as an extra precaution.
7. Repot If Necessary
To stay on the safe side, pack potted plants for moving in shatter-proof containers. That way, you’ll protect your leafy friends from a particularly bumpy ride and also keep the original pots intact. Not to mention that plastic containers are a lot easier to transport than ceramic or clay pots due to their light weight.
We recommend doing this a couple of days ahead to allow the plants to settle in their new container; you don’t want to distress them more than necessary; the journey is bad enough! Also, be sure to use a sterilized potting mix to prevent infections.
Tips for Transporting Plants by Yourself
In this section, we’ll provide some general tips and tricks to make the journey as painless as possible. Consider the following before hitting the road with your plants:
- Develop a placement strategy. When moving by car or truck, your plants should be the last thing you pack inside, preferably on top.
- Make sure that the pots are secure. You don’t want them accidentally tipping over and spilling soil all over your vehicle! Consider wrapping the boxes with packing material like bubble wrap or newspaper to keep the pots from wiggling around too much.
- Pay attention to car temperature. Avoid moving during extreme temperatures. Not only is this bad for your health but it’ll surely harm your plants, as well.
How you transport a plant will also depend on its specific shape and size. In the following section, we explain the entire process in greater detail.
Packing Smaller House Plants
Smaller house plants, such as succulents or cacti, are no less tricky to transport. While they’re more robust than larger plants, they can still make a huge mess if you’re not careful.
Don’t underestimate the damage these bad boys can do to your vehicle, and consider the following:
- Wrap the pot with plastic wrap or a tight plastic bag to prevent spilling soil.
- Place your potted plants in boxes that are easy to handle and transport.
- Fill the empty space with newspaper or packing paper to fix them in place.
- Poke some holes on the sides for better airflow; you don’t want to have to revive your beautiful orchid after it bakes in the heat.
- Seal and label each box to prevent any mishandling during transit.
The last point is crucial if you opt to hire professional movers.
How to Pack Large Plants for Moving — Cuttings
Most trees and shrubs can be repotted even without roots. So spare yourself the trouble of a costly and complicated transport and cut them down to size.
Place the cutting in a container and fill it with a few inches of water. Add some hormone powder from your local gardening store, and the roots should start growing back. Keep them in the water until time for transport.
Once everything is ready, wrap the roots in a dampened paper towel or cloth. Next, wrap a plastic bag over the roots to keep them warm and moist. Put the cutting in a cardboard box, secure it in place with some old newspapers, and you’re all set!
Transporting Whole Plants Bare-Rooted
If you’re worried cuttings will ruin your precious plants, just move them bare-rooted instead. This method is excellent for transporting large, bulky plants as it greatly saves up on space and significantly lessens their weight; you can even pack your smaller plants if it’s more convenient.
Here’s how to wrap a plant for transport step-by-step:
- Soak some sphagnum moss in distilled water to retain as much water as possible.
- Remove the plants from their pots and wrap dampened paper towels, sphagnum moss, and rhizome around their roots to make a plant “burrito.”
- Seal the wrapped roots within a plastic bag and gently squeeze the air out.
- Place the bag in a transporting container or wrap it in burlap.
Plant Care After Transporting Your Plants
Giving your green travelers the right attention after their trip is as important as prepping them for the long journey. If done correctly, your houseplants will once again beautify your home office desk and make your life worth living.
Here’s what you should do to welcome the plants into their new home:
- Unpack your plants straight away — if you don’t want to stress your plants to kingdom come, free them of their packaging as soon as possible.
- Do a pest and disease control check. Ready to bring your plants inside? Give them a thorough inspection first! Look for pests and diseases, and if a plant looks suspicious — place it in quarantine.
- Check for any damages sustained from the transport of the plants — trim any damaged or loose parts, such as yellow leaves and twisted branches, to speed up the plant’s recovery process. We recommend treating the injured area with cinnamon or a similar disinfectant.
- Mist tropical plants. To keep these types of plants alive, you need to mist or water them as soon they arrive. To do this correctly, check out our tips on watering orchids.
- Give your plants some room to recover and adjust to their new climate. It’s best to leave your plants in a comfortable area with plenty of indirect sunlight for a few days to let them “catch their breath.”
- Repot your greens if necessary. Disregard this step if you opt to use original containers to pack your potted plants for moving. If not, it’s time to remove the plants from their transport-friendly containers.
- Prevent transplant shock by using pots of similar sizes and potting media of similar quality that your plants are used to. Also, place your plants in a spot with similar lighting (orientation and intensity) to that of their previous home.
- Adjust your plant care. Revise your care and watering schedule to match current conditions. For instance, if you’ve moved into a place with a warmer climate, water your plants more frequently.
- Refrain from moving your plants for a while. Moving plants around too frequently and without proper care can put tremendous stress on them; enough to make them wilt!
No matter how well prepared you are, moving is never stress-free. Especially when you have to consider all of your plants, as well. That said, with these awesome tips and tricks, you’ll be more than ready to transport your little green friends to their new home safely and keep them thriving for years to come!
What do you do with houseplants when moving?
If you have lots of plants, you can just hire a few experts to make the whole ordeal less cumbersome. Most full-service movers know what to do and how best to handle your leafy companions. Conversely, you can pack the plants yourself and transport them via truck companies, planes, or even in your own vehicle.
How do you transport plants over a long distance?
Repot your plants into shake-proof containers that are easier to transport. These containers will lower the stress on the roots of the plant and make sure the soil stays in place during transit. If you provide sufficient light and airflow, your plants should be fine.
How do you transport house plants in cold weather?
Start by watering your plants two to three days prior to moving them. After that, use cardboard boxes to pack your plants, and fill any excess space with newspaper or packing paper. For extra isolation, put the boxes in trash bags that you can firmly close. You can wrap trees and larger plants in burlaps, too.
Should I water my plants before or after moving?
Preferably do both. Watering them beforehand will help them stay strong and hydrated, whereas watering them right after moving will ensure they recover quicker from the whole ordeal.
Can I leave plants in a hot car?
Your plants will most likely die if you just leave them in a car with dry air. However, if you humidify the environment enough and make their stay as brief as possible, they stand a good chance of pulling through.
You’re most likely to get away with this if you leave more robust plants such as succulents or cacti. Opening a window and avoiding direct sunlight will also help. Yet, the best way to keep your leafy family members alive is to learn how to pack plants for moving.