How to Keep Your Plants Alive When You Move

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Editor’s note:  During my last move, all my plants wilted in the Houston heat and humidity.  One of these plants had been with me for 11 years.  I had to start over after I got settled in.  Today’s article gives a lot of good tips to avoid killing your plants at your next move.

The Ultimate Survival Guide to Transporting Plants in Your Car

You are finally moving out of your old place and looking ahead to new beginnings. But, you’ve worked hard to keep a healthy garden or an impressive array of indoor plants that you are desperate to take with you.

The Zebra understands your separation anxiety with your plants, that’s why they created this guide to transporting plants. Their tips work best for smaller plants but can be used for medium-to-large plants, as well. Like all living things, plants require a balance of attention and careful handling, especially during moves.

Things to consider

If you’re moving, you already have plenty of other stuff to worry about, right? Plants can tag along, too, but it takes some prep work. Here’s a quick list of things to consider before you start shoving plants in boxes.

Size of plants and pots

Take inventory of your plants and which ones you can easily move. Consider your moving vehicle and space at your new destination when choosing which plants to relocate.

Digging and transplanting

Plan ahead for removing garden-based plants. Re-pot in plastic pots a few weeks prior to moving to lighten the weight load, while reducing the chance of pots breaking. When transplanting, don’t dig right next to the plant — dig further out to include more roots. For smaller plants, gently break up the roots when repotting and use new potting soil.

Types of soil

Gardeners usually work with five types of soil: sandy, silty, clay, peaty and saline soil.

Soil helps plant growth by providing nutrients, water containment, oxygen and more. Talk to a local nursery expert to find out which type your plant needs. Easy tip: Add packing peanuts to the bottom of a pot lightens the weight of your planter and reduces the amount of soil required.

Distance to travel

How far will you travel? If you’ll be on the road for a few days, taking plants won’t be an issue. If you have more than two weeks of travel, you may want to reduce the number of plants moved as you’ll be taking them in and out at each overnight stop.

Don’t leave plants in the car

Extreme temperature changes will injure plants. Skip packing plants into the trunk; bring your plants into the car where air circulates better. Keep plants out of direct sunlight, if possible.

Just add water

Two to three days before hitting the road, water all plants. Moisten the soil without drenching the plant, but make sure the roots are damp.

Use protection

A light sheet (for larger plants) and newspaper (for smaller plants) protect foliage from winds and freezing temps. Use these during transport to save plants from frostbite.

Load plants last

Make your plants the last items to load into the car. If you’re moving in the middle of winter, try loading plants through the garage to minimize exposure to cold. Like your kids, plants should be one of the first things you take out of the car upon arrival at your new destination.

Before the trip

Doing some prep work prior to relocating your plants will make the transition smoother for you along the way.

Call ahead

Moving across state lines? Be sure to call ahead to your new home state (or country) to check rules for transporting plants. Certain states — like Florida and California — have strict rules about plant transportation. The USDA website is a great resource for specific plant transportation laws.

Prep your plants

Try not to move plants when in bloom, if possible. Prune away any dead branches and leaves a few weeks ahead of time. A couple days before moving, remove any bugs and weeds.

Collect proper materials

Old bed sheets protect leaves from the elements. Pruners help keep plants healthy along the trip. A spray bottle makes it easy to mist delicate plants without soaking the soil. Boxes, trash bags, and tree netting are other supplies to consider buying for the trip.

Take cuttings

If you can’t take your whole garden, take some clippings for transplant. Clippings take up less space. Wrap wet paper towels at the ends of clippings and secure with rubber bands. Gather clippings the same morning you plan to hit the road.

Consult a pro

If you’re unsure if your favorite orchid can make the trip, talk with a local nursery expert or a horticulturist. Have a list of concerns written out beforehand so you don’t forget to ask your most pressing questions.


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Tranporting Plants



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