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How to Pack Houseplants for a Move

Published by Chris Townsend

How to Pack Houseplants for a Move

The concept of packing up your house may be simple enough, but when it comes to your houseplants the process may be slightly more complex. House plants are amazing for the home. They have been shown to increase mood, help prevent colds, and even enhance oxygen in living spaces. Unfortunately, there is one problem with house plants – if you’re not a green thumb, house plants are notoriously easy to kill accidentally.

Your house plants are living, breathing organisms that require special care to thrive, and this is especially the case during a move. And, if you’re moving out of state, there is some additional prep work required to not only ensure that your plants arrive unharmed, but to also comply with the law.

We’ve outlined some best practices to follow for transporting plants. That way, you can continue to enjoy all the benefits of houseplants in your new home.

Moving Your Houseplants to a New State

Undeniably, your houseplants are a special component that makes your house a home. Perhaps you’ve spent a long time growing them, or they may hold some sort of sentimental value. Regardless of the reason why you want to bring them with you, whether or not you should (or legally can) take them with you will depend on two factors: state growing conditions and local guidelines.

Understand Growing Conditions

When it comes to moving houseplants, you need to consider that not all plants can thrive in every environment. Although keeping vegetation indoors can make them very resilient, they can still be impacted by either moist or very surroundings. Before you think about relocating your houseplants, factor in the available light, climate, and regularity of rainfall at your new home.

You can also consult an online resource like the plant hardiness map from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine if your new home is ideal for your houseplants.

Understand State Regulations

If you’re planning on moving plants across state lines, you need to do your research first. Some states have very strict guidelines pertaining to houseplants. For example, some only permit plants that are potted, have been keep inside, and are in a particular type of soil. You can expect to find especially strict requirements in the following states:

The USDA, in addition to other federal agencies, has a set of rules in place that dictate the shipment of plants. By doing this, they are able to minimize the spread of destructive insects, diseases, or other vermin that some plants may carry. Before you think about moving your plants, make sure that you check the local guidelines and laws in the state that you are moving to.

If you are either not permitted or it’s simply not a good idea to bring your plants along with you to your new home, you might consider leaving them behind with family, a friend, neighbor, or even donating them to a local nursing home or hospital.

Packing Houseplants for a Move

Since houseplants are very delicate, it’s vital that you know how to pack them properly to ensure their safety during transport. Keep in mind that many moving companies include plants on their “Do Not Ship list” due to the lack of water, airflow, and sunlight in moving trucks. However, there are a number of ways to get your plants to your new home.

What you’ll need to pack your houseplant:

  • Plastic pots, to replace clay or ceramic pots during shipment
  • A durable moving box for each pot (the smaller the better so that it can’t move around)
  • Sterilized potting soil
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing paper or old newspaper
  • Flea collars
  • Plastic bags and ties

How to Pack Houseplants

Once you’ve assembled on the materials you need to safely pack up your houseplants for transit, follow these steps to execute the packing successfully:

  1. Re-pot all your plants into a plastic pot. This should be done a few weeks prior to moving day with new, sterile soil to allow your plant enough time to get acclimated to the new environment. Then, you can pack the empty pots you took the plants out of with bubble wrap, the same as you would any other fragile item.
  2. Inspect the plants for bugs. Position a flea collar at the base of each of the plastic pots to help attract any pests that may be lingering in your plants.
  3. Schedule a certified inspection. If your particular state requires an inspection, connect with a local agricultural department to schedule an appointment with an official examiner. Once you’ve been cleared, they will issue you a certificate that should be shown when you cross state lines. Or, if you’re shipping the plant, keep it inside of the box.
  4. Water your plants. Two to three days before the move, give your plants a good water. The soil should be moist to the touch, not wet. Many plants can go between 7 and 10 days without water. However, it’s crucial that the roots at least stay damp during transport.
  5. Place a plastic bag over the pot. Put the bag over the top of the pot and secure it at the base with a tie. This will help keep the soil contained.
  6. Put the plant into a small box. Make sure that you assemble and tape the box well, this includes taping the bottom. Once the box is sufficiently sturdy, place the plant inside.
  7. Fill extra space with packing paper. Use either packing paper or newspaper to fill any of the excess space in the box. You want enough for the pot to be secure, but not too much that it can’t breathe.
  8. Poke holes in the box. Puncture a few holes on the sides of the box to allow for adequate airflow.
  9. Label the box. Mark on all sides of the box “Fragile” or “Live Plant.” That way, anyone who handles the box during shipment will know to be extra careful.

How to Move Houseplants

When it comes to the actual moving of your houseplants, you essentially have three options to get them from one state to another:

  1. Shipping Plants Via Air

If you’re flying to your new home, you can generally take houseplants on the plane with you. However, in order to comply with TSA regulations, you want to make sure they don’t carry too much water or surpass carry-on limits. Check with your particular airline for their specific requirements regarding plants.

  1. Sending Plants Through the Mail

Shipping is another option for getting plants to your new home. So long as you adhere to each company’s guidelines, you can send them through FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Contact your local shipping office for restrictions, as they vary from shipper to shipper.

It’s recommended to take additional measures to secure plants when shipping them through the mail. Also, depending on the time of year, you may need to protect them from extreme temperatures by insulating the package.

  1. Putting Plants in Your Car

Taking plants with you to your new home is obviously the fastest and safest option. Putting them in the car during your road trip allows you to regulate the sunlight and water they receive during the trip. Avoid keeping them in the truck of your car, as this will restrict air flow.

Need professional movers to help you get settled into your new home? Look no further than Three Movers for all your relocation needs. Call us today for your free moving estimate and to find out how you could save up to 20% on your next move!

Full Service Movers

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving. Chris has a keen eye for detail and brings intelligence and passion to every project he’s involved with.

While getting his degree in communications from Santa Clara University, Chris started out with the company working in the field as part of our team of professional moving associates. Following graduation, he was promoted to our main office, where he has thrived in a role that involves increasing responsibility and requires him to wear many different hats. Some days, you may find him answering the phone and providing moving estimates, others he may be writing for our moving blog, and another day he may be coordinating a large corporate moving job or helping us with our marketing efforts. Chris has authored many of our in-depth moving guides, as well as provided our clients with information and advice to handle the complexities of their upcoming moving plans. Simply put, there’s nothing he can’t do and we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

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