How to Pack & Move Your Plants

Plants help create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in our homes and, as part of our family, we want to keep our botanical friends safe and healthy during a transition. Whether you’re moving across the country or down the street, we have strategies and tips to ensure your plants arrive safely in their new home and stay healthy along the way. 

Important If You’re Moving to a New State

Some states have specific laws and regulations concerning importing plants. For example, some states only allow entry to plants that have been kept indoors, are potted, or have been planted in a certain kind of soil. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), among other federal agencies, has a set of rules in place to help regulate the shipment of plants so harmful insects, diseases or other pests, which some plants may carry, aren’t spread. Before you move, check the laws and regulations in the state you’re moving to so you can decide if taking your plant with you is the right choice. If you can take your plant with you into your new state, be sure to check out the state’s specific guidelines so that you import your plant properly.

Prepping Your Plants

Re-Potting & Pruning
Re-pot plants from clay or ceramic pots into the same size plastic pots and then pack the heavy ceramic pots just as you would any other fragile item.

A few weeks before moving day, prune larger plants & pinch back newer growth, remove dead leaves, limbs and flowers. The week before your move, remove dust and any obvious weeds or pests.

Taking the Temperature
It’s best to transport your plants in a temperature-controlled environment like your car. If you’re traveling long distance and making overnight stops along the way, bring your plants inside, particularly if it’s an extremely hot or cold time of year.

Water your plants 2-3 days before your move so they won’t be too damp and have the potential of leaking water. Plants typically need water every 7-10 days, so even if you’re on a multi-day trip they should be fine. The caveat to this is time of year: If it’s a hot summer move, water plants well on moving day and then check your plants along the way to ensure they aren’t drying out.

Specific Packing Tips Based on Size of Plants

Small Plants
The main concern of moving your botanicals is the possibility of them tipping over during the move or the branches breaking.

  • Wrap the pot only and leave the plant unwrapped. If your plants are delicate, pad them with shredded newspaper or tissue paper.
  • Nestle the pots close together in a box lined with plastic and leave the lid open. If the boxes have to be closed, mark “Fragile” in large letters on the side of the box and poke a few holes on the top and sides to allow for air to flow. 
  • Pack the plants in your vehicle last and place them in their own space or on top of boxes.

Large Plants
You’ll want to take similar measures with large plants as you would small, but often you’ll need a taller vehicle such as an SUV or pick-up truck with a canopy.

  • Large plants need a box to themselves. To ensure they don’t shift, use bubble wrap or packing paper to fill the spaces.
  • Taller plants can be tilted or uprooted slightly, if necessary (you’ll have to replant once you’re settled into your new space). So the soil doesn’t spill during the move, you can tape cardboard or plastic over the top of the pot.
  • Wrap your pots in blankets or packing paper to avoid dings and scratches.
  • Sprawling leaves can be gently contained with twine so they don’t obstruct your view when driving.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Put My Plants in the Moving Truck?
The best answer here is that you should check with your movers. Because of regulations and liability, many moving companies are not allowed or will choose not to transport living plants.

What If I Can’t Move My Beloved Plant?
We recommend either taking a cutting and replanting of your favorite botanical beauty at your new home or making arrangements to give your plants (healthy ones only) to your family, friends or neighbors. You can also donate them to community gardens, retirement communities or hospitals.

What About My Outdoor Garden Plants?
Cuttings (3-6” long) from your outdoor garden plants can be placed in floral tubes that are filled with water. This should ensure all your cuttings arrive safely and ready for your new garden. Remember, if you’re moving long distance, soil and conditions vary from one part of the country to another so your plants may perform differently at your new home.

Helping Your Plants Adjust to Their New Home

Now that you’ve arrived at your new home, you’ll want to:

  • Immediately remove all wrapping and take your plants out of their boxes (removing from the bottom of the box to prevent damage) or blankets and give them some water and a bit of plant food. 
  • Remember to place them in your home where they’ll receive the correct amount of sunlight. 
  • If you transplanted them into plastic containers and you want to place them in their original pots, it’s best to wait a week so you don’t overstress them. Doing so too early could stunt their growth or, even worse, the plants could die.

Taking extra care of your plants before, during and after the move will ensure that your botanical buddies will thrive in their new home just as you and your family will.

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Linda Farland

Assist Your Move was founded by Linda Farland in 2013. She is passionate about providing peace of mind for clients on the move – no matter how big or small the move – through meticulous attention to detail.

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