How to Move Plants

People get attached to their houseplants. Sometimes it takes years of weekly watering to get them fully grown and just the way you want them.

Nobody wants to get rid of their houseplants when moving long distance to a new home. Here are some tips and tricks on moving plants to your new house.

Moving Plants to your new homehouseplants on windowsill in front of window

Building a thriving collection of houseplants is a labor of love that can keep you occupied for a lifetime. If you’re moving, you don’t want to give up your plants — you want to bring them to your new home.

Moving plants isn’t an easy task. You must take great care to store your plants in a healthy environment during transportation. Even then, long-distance transportation can cause stress and shock to a plant. Some plants may not make it through the trip.

If you’re willing to put forth the effort, though, you can move your plants safely. When you reach your new home, your plant collection will improve the air quality and decorate the home beautifully. These plant moving tips can help.

Check the Characteristics of the New RegionMap of United States Climate Regions

Are you moving plants to a different area of the country? If the climate differs drastically from the area in which you currently live, some of your plants may have difficulty making it through the transition.

Most houseplants will be fine if your new home’s indoor environment will be roughly the same as that of your old home.

Outdoor plants, though, are sensitive to seasonal changes, temperature fluctuations and changes in rainfall amounts. If you want to move your outdoor plants, check to confirm that they’ll thrive in their new climate.

Contact Your Local USDA Branchusda website under a magnifying glass

If your moving plants across state lines, it’s likely that you’ll need to conform to regulations designed to protect local agriculture from pests and diseases.

California, Florida and Hawaii in particular have very strict regulations regarding moving plants to their state.

Regardless of where you move, though, it’s likely that you’ll need to have a local USDA inspector examine your plants before you move them.

Your local USDA office can tell you what’s necessary and visit the USDA’s Travelers Section for more information.

Sterilize Your PlantsPlant in plastic pot

You’ll have two goals when preparing to move your plants. The first goal is to make the plants lighter.

Swap your clay pots for plastic pots, and prune your plants as much as possible. Pruning your plants both reduces their weight and clears away extraneous branches that might break during transport.

When moving plants to plastic pots, replace the existing soil with new, sterile soil. Sterile soil is free of diseases and pests; it’ll help you obtain the certification necessary for transport across state lines. To decrease the chance of a new infestation, place a flea collar at the base of each plant.

Manage Your Plants’ Water Intake

Stop watering your plants a few days before the move. Minimizing the water in the soil will make the plants lighter and minimize the chance of a fungal infestation.

Check your plants throughout the moving process. The soil and roots should be moist but not overly wet. If the soil seems very dry, add water.

Prepare Your Plants for the Move

Moving Houseplantswoman moving her potted plants inside her house

After moving your houseplants to plastic pots and obtained the relevant certifications from your local USDA inspector, wrap the pots in plastic bags.

The bags will keep the soil in the pots if the plants tip during the move. Poke a few holes in the plastic so the roots can breathe.

You may also consider packing wet sphagnum moss over the soil before you wrap the pots in plastic. Sphagnum moss retains moisture and can prevent your plants from drying out.

Moving Outdoor Plants

To move an outdoor plant, you’ll need to dig the plant up and place it in a burlap bag.

Dig around the plant carefully to preserve the roots as well as possible. For easier transport, you can place the burlap bag inside a plastic pot. Pack the empty space in the pot with wet sphagnum moss to keep the roots damp.

If you have an outdoor plant that’s difficult or impossible to move — such as a rose bush — you may want to take cuttings from the plant and transport the cuttings instead.

Although cuttings may take time to grow, it’s better to bring cuttings of a favorite plant to your new home than to bring nothing at all.

Moving Seedlings and Cuttingsplant cuttings in beakers with water

Seedlings and cuttings are easy to transport with the help of transport tubes available from your local florist.

Before placing a plant in a tube, pack damp sphagnum moss around the bottom of the plant. You can keep the moss in place with a damp paper towel.

Move the plants in a box with dividers to keep the tubes from shifting.

Plan Your Transport Strategy

Plants are extremely delicate. Because many variables affect how well plants handle transportation, some moving companies may not want to touch them.

If you need to move your own plants, they’ll handle travel best in the passenger area of your vehicle. Protect your plants from direct sunlight and extreme temperature changes.

If you use your car’s air conditioning system, keep the temperature control on a moderate setting.

If you stay in a hotel during your trip, bring your plants inside with you. They may not cope well with the rapid temperature changes that take place in your car overnight.

Water your plants sparingly throughout the trip unless the soil seems especially dry. During the summer months, wet soil could harbor mold. During the winter months, wet soil could freeze.

Ship Your Plants as a Last Resort or Give Them AwayPlant packed in a shipping box

If moving your own plants isn’t an option you’ll need to package the plants for shipping.

After following the above instructions to prepare your plants for transport, place the plants in boxes.

When you prepare a plant for shipping, place as much wadded paper or bubble wrap as possible around the pot to minimize shifting during transport.

Write “LIVE PLANT – FRAGILE” on the box, and clearly mark which end is up.

Do you have any plants that you can’t ship or transport yourself? Give them to friends or family members who will love them as much as you do.

Unpacking and Monitoring Your Plantsmarried couple unpacking a plant from their car

Since transportation involves a great deal of stress for a plant, it’s important to unpack your plants as soon as possible after reaching your new home.

Monitor your plants closely for the first several days after moving in. Minimize unnecessary movement of the plants and exercise care when watering them.

Many of the most common problems that plant owners encounter after moving happen due to over-watering. If some of your plants fail to thrive in their new home, ask a local florist for advice.

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