Getting ready to move comes with its share of stress and frustrations. It’s bad enough trying to get your belongings packed up and ready to go, but throwing live plants into the mix can make things even more challenging. A lot of plants will get stressed out when going on long-distance moves, and some of them may not recover. Thus, to keep your plants healthy and happy, knowing how to move them can be beneficial.
It will take some prep work to get your plants ready to move, but this could be the difference between them surviving the trip or croaking on the way (or shortly after arriving at your destination). Below are the steps you can follow to move your plants long distances.
How to Move Your Plants
1. Determine if There Are Any Restrictions
Many states have restrictions on the types of plants you can bring with you when you move. This may seem silly, but the goal is to protect their agricultural and natural resources. Some houseplants may bring disease, pests or turn into an invasive species (especially if they aren’t native to the area), and this can have harmful impacts on the environment.
Before moving to a new state, it’s a good idea to call the Department of Agriculture and find out for sure if you can bring your plants with you. Also, you can check plan hardiness map zone here
If the plants aren’t allowed, don’t try to sneak the plants into your new home. This could wind up getting you fined, and it could have negative impacts on your new surroundings.
2. Call the Mover
In addition to finding out if you can bring your plant to your new home, you’ll also need to call the mover to find out if they will take your plants. Some places won’t. For those that do, you’ll need to keep in mind that their vehicles usually aren’t temperature controlled. This means that your plant will be exposed to a variety of temperature variations as it’s moved from one place to another, and this can stress it out.
It’s advised that you don’t try to pack your plants and have the movers move then unknowingly. If they find out that you did this, it could void the rest of your contract. That means that if other items were damaged during the move, the movers won’t be responsible for them because you broke their rules.
If possible, try to transport your plants in your personal vehicle. This will ensure that they stay at a fairly constant temperature and they won’t have to sit on a truck for days before being unloaded. The sooner your plant can get settled into the new home, the faster it will acclimatize and become healthy.
3. Prepare Your Plants for the Move
If you know for sure that you are able to take your plants with you to your new destination, there are some things you’ll need to do to get them ready – and these will occur weeks before the actual moving day. This will include getting rid of dead leaves and branches. You’ll also want to remove any dust, weeds and pests. For ease of moving, it’s also a good idea to remove our plants from their heavy planters and put them in lightweight plastic pots.
4. Water According to the Season
Keeping your plants comfortable and well-watered is essential to keep them happy during the move. If you are moving during the summer, you’ll want to make sure they are thoroughly watered before placing them in your car, and then keep the soil moist throughout the journey.
If you are moving during the winter, then it’s advised that you keep the soil dry and water them for the last time a few days before your move. Once you get to your new home, you’ll want to keep the climate of your location in mind. If it’s more humid than your previous place, then you probably won’t need to water your plants as often. If it’s drier, you’ll need to water more often. You know your plants, so keep an eye on how they look and how dry the soil gets. This will help you ensure they are getting the right amount of water.
Should your trip take more than one day, you might consider bringing your plants into your hotel room with you. This will keep them at the ideal temperature, and it will give you a chance to make sure they have enough water to keep them healthy.
5. Pack Your Plants
On moving day, you’ll want to get your plants ready for the move. This will include adding stakes to support tall or leggy plants and putting sphagnum moss in the soil to keep it from spilling out. If you have a plant that is super tall, you might consider placing plastic over the top of the pot and securing it with a string. This will allow you to tip the pot onto its side and not have to worry about spilling the soil. You can also do this for all of your plants if you’re worried the dirt will get into your car.
You might also want to wrap your plants in cones made from butcher paper to help insulate them from intense sunlight and variable temperatures while they are being transported in your car. You’ll then want to place your plants into a box, leaving the top open, and place paper around the pot to keep the plant from sliding around.
Always place plants in a seat, not in an enclosed trunk. They will still need airflow and sun to remain healthy and happy.
If you don’t have room in your car and you can’t place your plants on the moving truck, another option you might consider includes shipping your plants. It’s not the best option for your plant’s health, but it can be a last resort if there is no other way to get them to your new home.
For this, you’ll need to remove the plants from their pots, trim down their roots, and wrap them in a wet towel and then place plastic around the towel. You put the plant into a box, and then you’ll add paper or bubble wrap to secure the plant.
You might consider adding some weight to the bottom of the box so that it stays upright, or you can add “This End Up” so that people know which way your box needs to go. You’ll also want to add “Fragile” and “Live Plant” to the outside of the box.
As soon as you get to your destination, you’ll want to unpack your plant and get it into a pot. Don’t forget to give it some water.
Take a Cutting
If you know your plant is too large to pack into the moving truck or take in your car, then consider taking a small clipping and growing a whole new plant once you reach your destination. This will allow you to take your plant with you, but it will be manageable enough that the trip might not stress it out and kill it.
After you have taken a cutting, consider giving the rest of the plant to family, friends or neighbors. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that it will be taken care of, as well as reducing your stress when it comes to moving your plant from one place to another.
Do What’s Best for Your Plant
Plants can add something extra to any home, and you’ve probably spent a lot of time caring for and nurturing your plants. When it comes to moving a long distance, you need to do what’s best for yourself and for your plants. Moving comes with a lot of stress, and it can have a negative impact on you and your plants. Your plants may never recover from the journey, so it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth risking their life and wellbeing by bringing them with you.
It’s possible to move them across the country if they are prepared and packed correctly (and if they are allowed in your new state). It will take some time to get them ready, and if you are willing to add these tasks to your already-long list, then that’s your choice. If you want your new place to feel comfortable and welcoming, then taking the time to prepare your plants will be worth it.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.