How to Move Plants to Your New Home Without Killing Them

How to Move Plants to Your New Home Without Killing Them
Photo: By SeventyFour, Shutterstock

Moving with a plant is delicate business. They could be jostled too much and their leaves risk breakage — they could even be knocked over entirely. And after all that, they’ve got to acclimate to a new environment. You want them to come with you to your new digs, of course; but you don’t want to damage their health in the process. So here are a few things to consider when you’re getting ready to move your plants to your new home.

How to prep your plants for transport

Transport prep for your plants actually begins weeks before your scheduled moving day. Atlas moving company recommends repotting your plants in durable plastic containers three weeks before the move. Repotting ahead of time acclimates them to a move-friendly pot before the big day so you can carefully wrap the clay, porcelain, or ceramic pot separately for the trip. Then, two weeks before your move, prune the plants down to size. Remove dead leaves and shape the plant for easier transport. Pruning will also promote greater growth once you’re in the new place.

Once you are one week out from the big day, check for any pests. Wipe down the plant or use natural sprays to remove any insects before packing them away. Finally, if you’re moving during a warmer month, water the plants the night before so they are properly hydrated for the big day. If you’re travelling in the colder months, however, water plants a few days in advance to prevent shock to the roots from wet soil and cold air.

How to pack your plants on move day

You can pack smaller plants in a regular moving box, making sure they fit snug and don’t slide around while in motion. Stuff newspaper or packing peanuts in any gaps to keep the plants sturdy. UPack suggests loosely wrapping larger plants in a plastic bag for an extra layer of protection. The same effect can be achieved with a light sheet or newspaper over the leaves. If you choose not to repot your plant in a plastic container, tape bubble wrap securely around the pot to prevent damage during the move.

If you’re travelling by car, make sure the plants are in the car with you or in the front cabin of a truck so you can keep an eye on them during the trip and regulate the temperature. For longer drives that require overnight stays along the way, make sure you bring the plants into the hotel with you.

When travelling by plane, you can bring plants directly on the plane with you — in most cases. Just make sure you’re following the liquid restrictions and check the TSA regulations ahead of time to be sure you can bring them along. To prevent soil spills on a flight or during travel, tape cardboard over the pot to contain the soil and protect the plant from possible uprooting while in motion.

You might also want to consider replanting from clippings when travelling by plane or long distance. If your plant can spawn from a clipping, you can easily transport them safely to your new destination.

Check plant transportation laws if you’re crossing state lines

Before you strap your plant babies in for the long haul, though, you’ll need to check the laws in your new town — if you’re crossing state lines. Due to the ecological risks, some plants are not allowed to cross state lines. As part of the “U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine Program,” the National Plant Board offers comprehensive information on each state’s transportation and quarantine regulations.

This initiative protects plants and wildlife in the area from outside contaminations and diseases. The site provides PDFs with each state’s regulations and plant quarantine requirements when moving across state lines. In some cases, your plant may not be allowed at your destination at all, and you’ll need to re-home it before you head out.

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