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How to pack plants for moving so that the movers (or you) don’t damage them

Whether you're moving across town or across country, here's how to make sure your plants survive the trip

When you move with plants, one of the most exciting parts is getting to set them up in a new space! You get to find the perfect window, the perfect arrangement, and the perfect amount of light for all your blooms to live their happiest lives. However, if you haven’t moved with plants before, or if this is your first time moving them over a long distance, you may not know how to pack plants for moving the right way. Since packing plants is such a delicate task, it’s imperative that it’s done right. We’re here to help with a simple guide to plant-packing that will ensure all your houseplants arrive in one piece.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

1 hour

What You Need

  • Shatterproof pots or containers

  • Pruning shears

  • Sturdy boxes

  • Packing tape

  • Plastic grocery bags

  • Newspaper, extra plastic bags, or bubble wrap

  • Sterile scissors or knife (for moving cuttings)

  • Damp paper towels (for moving cuttings)

  • Sandwich bags (for moving cuttings)

Houseplants

How to prepare your plants before the move

Whether you’re driving your plants to your new home yourself or hiring movers to do the job, there are some basic precautions you can take to ensure your plants arrive safe and sound. As you plan, keep in mind that regulations regarding moving plants will vary from state to state and country to country. Follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines to help limit and prevent the spread of harmful insects and pests attached to foreign plants.

Step 1: Three weeks before the move: Repot into shatterproof containers

This gives your plants time to get acclimated to their new pots before being moved. Shatterproof containers will help ensure that any bumps or sudden movements won’t break anything, slice into the roots of your plant, or harm the soil.

If you’re packing your plants to have movers shuffle them around for you, you’ll want to make sure you repot each of your plants. However, if you’re going to move your plants in your own car, you can decide whether the risk is enough to repot them or if you’re confident that you’ll drive safely enough to protect them.

Step 2: Two weeks before the move: Prune any plants you're worried about

Prune back leafier, bushier plants if you’re worried about how much space they'll take up, or if you're worried about long stems breaking during the move. Repotting and pruning two to three weeks before moving will give your plants some time to settle and decrease the risk of experiencing shock when moved to a new environment.

Step 3: Two days before the move: Cease watering plants

Plants should be watered normally until two days before the move. After the move, wait to water your plants until after they’re in their new environment. If the soil is too wet during the move, it could freeze or provide a good environment for fungus (or fungus gnats), depending on what time of the year you’re moving.

plant pack moving hands holding jpg
Anna Shvets/Pexels

Packing your plants for the big move

When the time comes, how you pack your plants will largely depend on whether you’re transporting them yourself or having movers do the job. If you’re planning to take plants in your own car, you may find that it’s easy enough to just put small ones in an open box, set larger ones upright on the floor, and be on your way; however, if you’re packing the plants for professionals to move, or if you have a lot of plants to move at once, here are some tips you’ll want to consider.

Step 1: Choose a box that can comfortably fit your plants and tape up the bottom so there’s minimal risk of the plants falling through.

Step 2: Secure plastic bags over the pots to help prevent the soil from spilling, and then place the bagged plants into the box.

Step 3: Fill the empty spaces between the pots with packing material like newspaper, extra plastic bags or bubble wrap.

Step 4: Seal the box, put a few holes in it for airflow, and clearly label the outside so anyone who handles the box knows to be careful with the contents.

plant pack moving large houseplant jpg
Daria Shevtsova/Pexels

How to move a cutting from a plant too large to take with you

If a plant is too big to move in a box, taking a cutting might be the happy medium between going without your plant entirely or risking the safety of your plant and your other belongings. Before you decide to go this route, double-check to make sure the plant can be regrown from a cutting.

Step 1: Once you have determined your plant can be regrown from a cutting, use a sterile pair of pruning shears, scissors, or a sharp knife to cut a healthy piece of the plant the morning of your move. Depending on the plant, this might be a root cutting or a leaf cutting.

Step 2: Wrap the cutting in a damp paper towel and secure it in a sandwich bag or clear wrap so that it stays closed through the move. Be sure to keep the paper towel moist throughout the move, and propagate the cutting as soon as possible after arriving at your new home.

Moving is a massive undertaking that can present many challenges to you and to your plants. By following our tips, you can safely relocate your plants from their old home to their new one without worry.

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