How to Safely Move Plants to a New Home
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Some of us treat our garden and house plants as if they were children. They bring color and energy to our houses. We care for them, keep track of their growth, and buy special things to keep them happy. However, unlike moving with children, moving with plants requires some extra preparation.
Before you pack up your plants and trees, it’s better to do some research and make sure that it’s not a “problem plant” that will get you a fine at the borders. In fact, transporting plants is serious business, and however, you might have to leave some of your cherished plants behind. In this post, we’ll discuss how to move plants to a new home, why some plants can’t be taken across state lines, and how to plan to move your plants.
Prepare to Move Your Plants.
If you are going to take your plants to a new place, keep in mind that moving plants requires planning. Don’t leave this task until the last minute. Plants need a safe way to be transported.
If you are moving for a long-distance across the country, you probably can’t move your outdoor plants with you. Some states may prohibit certain types of plants or require a certificate of inspection.
Why Some States Don’t Allow Entry of Plants.
There are several reasons why plant moving gets regulated, and the most common ones are pest control and protection of the states’ economy. Moving household plants may not seem like a big deal, but it’s true that most states regulate the entry of plants in order to prevent the spread of disease and pests.
States that cultivate crops strictly protect their land with regulations. For example, Florida and California prohibit bringing citrus plants. California also restricts fruit and nut trees and pine trees, including indoor plants. Minnesota and Idaho protect their main crops – corn and potatoes respectively.
The main reason is that bringing a new plant into an ecosystem may affect it. And if plants are infected, they spread certain pests or diseases that may accidentally infect a major crop and affect the whole region’s economy.
So if you are moving to another state, make sure you check their guidelines on taking plants across state lines. Generally, states will require that household plants at least be in sterile potting mix or potting soil. But still, expect to be stopped at the border line when transporting plants, as state officials can check your plants for diseases and pests.
Before You Pack Up Your Household Plants and Trees, Go Through the Following Resources:
- The USDA Department of Agriculture Regulations
You can also check their Q&As regarding moving with plants. The USDA and other federal entities have outlined rules for transporting plants.
- The State Plant Regulatory Official (SPRO)
Check SPRO regulations in the state to which you are moving and each state you are driving through to know more about the restrictions on the household plants and trees you are going to bring to that state. Here you can find contact information for each state’s SPRO.
- Your Current State Department of Agriculture
Contact your current state’s entity if you’re having trouble finding the information you need for the state where you’re moving to. You can also find some helpful information on the website of the National Gardening Association.
Your Options If You Don’t Meet State Regulations.
You did some research, contacted USDA, and found out that you don’t meet the destination state’s regulations and you have to leave them. In this case, it’s better to consider finding a new home in advance for your beloved plants.
- Give your plants to your relatives or friends.
There should be someone in your network who loves flowers and plants, and would be happy to take your plants and take care of them. Reach out to your friends or post your flowers on your social media accounts to see if there’s someone interested in adding some new greenery in their house.
- List your plants online.
Besides social media, you can also list your plants on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, OfferUp, etc. There are also websites and marketplaces like PlantSwap.org where you can donate, and even swap your flowers.
- Contact local facilities.
If your moving day is close, you have limited time to list your houseplants online, and your friends can’t take them, try donating your plants to local schools, libraries or hospitals in your community.
How to Pack Your Plants and Prepare for The Move?
When you are moving to a new house, figuring out how to move plants means knowing how to pack them correctly. You’ll want to start moving your plants to unbreakable plastic pots. We recommend doing it 2-3 weeks before your move. Plastic pots are great for transporting garden plants and carrying common household plants that are normally in heavy ceramic pots. To make it better and easier to pack, prune your larger flowers and plants. So you will get more healthy compact plants.
A great option for transporting plants without taking the entire plant is to use a cutting. A cutting is a small piece of your plant that you can replant in new soil to grow that same plant. They are usually 3-6 inches of the stem or root. To pack your cutting, wrap it in a wet paper towel or newspaper and secure the wrapping with a rubber band. Then, place it in an open plastic bag.
A week before the move check your plants for insects and parasites. Be careful and follow label directions if you use insecticides on your plants.
Important thing you need to do is water your plants a few days before moving. This is especially important during a warm-weather move, as it will ensure that they stay hydrated throughout the journey. But don’t over-water them, because in warmer weather, over-watering plants may cause fungus growth during transportation. When it’s cold, it may cause plants to freeze.
When packing your plants for a move in the car, try putting them in cardboard boxes padded with newspaper that offer support so they stay upright. If you have smaller plants and flowers, wine glass boxes or cardboard boxes are great options to pack them.
If your plants are larger, consider placing them in a trash bag to avoid soil spillage, wrap them with an old bed sheet or newspaper to prevent breakage, then put them in boxes. It’s recommended keeping boxes open or poke some holes in boxes, so your plants can breathe. For additional security, you can buckle them up or fasten with a cord.
On the Moving Day.
Now when you’ve decided which plants will be left behind and which ones you will take to your new home, your next task is to help them survive the transportation. Pack them up a day or the night before the moving day. We suggest loading your flowers and plants last. When you load them, set the boxes upright. Don’t forget to poke some holes in boxes or leave them open. Now, your plants are ready to travel!
Some Helpful Tips During the Transportation.
- Do not put the plants in the trunk of your car. Because they can be damaged by lack of fresh air, by summer heat or winter cold.
- If you are moving in cold seasons, consider properly wrapping your plants with newspapers and blankets. Because cold temperatures can be hazardous to your flowers and plants. Try not watering them, unless they seem very dry. Even if you are moving in a warm season, do not water them constantly. Try to postpone watering until you arrive at your new home.
- If you are moving when it’s warm and sunny, make a few stops on the road, because your plants will need some sunlight and fresh air. But do not expose the plants to direct sunlight every time you stop.
- If you will be travelling more than 3 days to your new place, and planning to stay overnight in a motel, take your plants indoors and open the boxes to expose them to light. No matter if you’re moving in a cold season or when it’s warm.
Here Are Your Options for Transporting Plants.
There are few different options how you can transport your flowers, household plants and trees when you move. You should choose and decide how you will move them depending on the distance you’re moving and personal preference.
- Taking plants with you is the best option, whether you’re moving locally or long-distance. Because this way you can control their condition, environment, maintain a comfortable temperature for your plants, and take care of them throughout the trip.
- Ship plants via mail. If you don’t have space in your car for your plants, or you don’t want to have fuss at state lines, shipping them is certainly an option. Of course, this means more risk. Most large shipping companies will ship your plants, just make sure you follow their guidelines.
If you decide to ship your plants, there are some precautions to take. First, you need to make sure your plants are protected from extreme temperatures. Think about the season and the type of temperatures that your plant could travel through and prepare for that. You’ll also want to ensure that they have extra support so that they stay upright during the move.
- Use special services for plants. There are some companies like Roadie or uShip that offer specialized plant transportation services. Instead of exposing plants to the unpredictability of shipping via mail or sitting in the back of a moving truck with no sunlight, you can hire a company that specializes in transporting plants. Many of them even offer door-to-door service to ensure maximum plant safety.
Help Your Plants Adjust After the Move.
Once you’re in your new house, your plants will be dying for some fresh air, so you’ll want to first get them unpacked as quickly as possible. It’s recommended removing your plants through the bottom of the boxes in order to avoid breakage.
Next, place them back into their normal pots or planted into the ground. Make sure the soil has been watered before placing your plant. It’s also important that you keep them out of direct sunlight during those first days.
Try not to move your plants around too much for the first few days until they become acclimated. They’ll need time to get used to their new environment, give them a few days to recover. Finally, keep an eye on your plants for any sudden changes in condition.