Written by

Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

How to Pack Houseplants for a Move

Just as pets and kids, plants too are loved equally by homeowners, especially if you have a sprawling backyard and an ardent passion for gardening. You might have taken great care bringing them from the nursery, planting them, and then watching them grow. We are sure you don’t want all the love and fertilizer you poured into them to go waste, right?


You don’t always have to part ways with your plants. They can be indoor plants, potted plants, or the ones sitting with their roots deep in the ground of your yard. You can carry them along while moving to your new home. When you look up homes, a sun-kissed corner surely reminds you of your plants. You can plan which plant will go where in your new home. But all that is in vain if you don’t move them right. They need special care, just like your pets, while moving. To know how to pack houseplants for a move, read on:

Plants That You Cannot Take With You

Before we elaborate on packing and moving your plants, let us tell you that you cannot move all your plants. Forgive us for dampening your spirits, but no you cannot carry that tree your mom planted as a kid. All the trees, shrubs, and flowering plants that are planted in the ground in your backyard cannot be moved. Such trees and plants fall under the next homeowner’s rights after you move out. If you really cannot part with any tree or shrub, you need to let the buyer know it when you are selling your home. There is little you can do once the property is in the next owner’s name.

Though this comes across as a disappointment. Don’t worry about your vegetable garden, as crops are the sole property of the seller. So you can dig out those tomato plants and peppers growing in your backyard, pack them and take them with you. Be vary about which shrubs you are prohibited to uproot and pack. So you don’t waste time in packing them up only to know you cannot carry them.

Plant Care Before The Move

Plants are not like furniture that you can disassemble, pack up in bubble wrap, and load on the truck. These little living things need personal care at every stage of moving. If you move them without preparing them beforehand, they might even die. Ideally, you should start preparing them for the big move at least three weeks in advance.

Repot In Plastic Pots

Moving plants directly in their clay pots is a recipe for disaster. The clay pots can easily break during shipping and harm your plants. So, a few weeks before the move, repot the plants in plastic pots. Add fresh sterile soil as you do this so your plants get a chance to breathe and settle. While buying plastic pots for this purpose, ensure they are shatterproof. Roads are ruthless; any bump or disturbance can shake your belongings on the move. Strong shatterproof pots guarantee that pots don’t break and slice through the roots of your plants, harming them in the process. When the repotting is done, just pack those empty clay pots in boxes and move them as you would move any other fragile item.

Prune Extra Growth

Get your hands on some sharp scissors or gardening shears and start trimming your plants. All that excess growth, dead leaves, and excess stems need to go. Check for dust and weed, remove these as well. This makes sure your plants are not wasting energy on unnecessary growth. If you have wide leaf plants, trim out some of the leaves that take up space. There are two reasons for doing this: to fit your plants in the packing boxes and so that they find it easy to accustom themselves to their position in your new home.

Check For Insects

You need to keep an eye out for insects, parasites, and pests in your plants. As you prune them, watch for signs of damage to the leaves, discoloring, or spots. You need to spray insecticides if you notice an insect problem.

Deep Soak The Plants

Soaking is extremely important for the plants in your backyard. Before you uproot them for the move, water them well and soak them overnight. This helps the plants hold on to some water when they are in the moving process. Never miss this step during summers, as roots can dry out quickly. In case you are moving in the winter months, stop watering them a few days before the move.


Things You Will Need To Move Plants

Few things to keep in hand so things don’t go messy looking for them at the last minute. You need to get some things from the nursery or home improvement store. So it’s better if you shop for them in advance.

  • Moving boxes for all pots
  • Shatterproof plastic pots
  • Sterilized potting soil
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber bands
  • Towel or napkin
  • Kraft paper
  • Tape, scissors, and newspapers
  • Spray bottle
  • Wooden chips

Packing The Plants

It is going to be much easier if you are just carrying the plants along in your car. Simply keep the small plants in boxes with no lids and place them on the seat. The larger plants can go on the floor of the car. But if you are sending them with the movers, shipping them by post, or transporting them by air, you need to pack them well.

  • Wrap a plastic bag over the pots and tie them securely in place with rubber bands. This ensures the soil stays in place when you pack the plants in the boxes. Choose a separate box for each plant according to the size and spread of its leaves. Secure the base of every box with packing tape so the plants have firm ground.
  • Place plants in their boxes and fill the newspaper in the empty space around the pot so it doesn’t move while moving. Make holes at the sides and close the lid half shut so that your plants don’t suffocate inside the box.
  • With a color marker, label every box as ‘Fragile’, ‘Handle With Care’, and ‘Live Plant’. Draw arrows on the sides of boxes that indicate the upward position so your movers don’t mess up while loading them in the truck.
  • Take a scissor or gardening shears and get a cutting of plants or shrubs that cannot be moved. Ask an expert or just Google if the cutting you are planning to take will regrow as not all plants propagate in the same fashion. Sprinkle a few drops of water and place this cutting in a damp towel or napkin so moisture is locked in while moving. If your move is long distance, keep spraying water once in a while to keep the towel damp.
  • While packing the plants that are coming with you in your car, just use kraft paper. Make a conical shape out of this paper and secure the sides with packing tape. Keep the cone wide at the top. Try making this cone in the shape of the plant so it gets covered fully. Now slide the plant inside the cone slowly, pushing the branches slightly upwards and securing it in place.

Moving Your Plants

There are several ways to move your plants. They depend on the distance of your move and the number of your plants.

Carrying The Plants In The Car

Load the plants in the cab of the car. Plants will wilt or face damage if you place them in the car’s trunk. When you are carrying them in the car, keep the air conditioner on so as to control the temperature. If you are moving over a long distance and take a break for the night, take the plants with you inside the hotel. Temperatures outside can drop to extremes in winter which will affect your plants sitting in the car. The same goes for hot summer nights. During a summer move, keep a spray bottle with you and keep spraying water on the plants to keep them hydrated. Leave a small crack open in the window for letting in the fresh air as you travel.

Loading The Plants On The Truck

When you have no place in the car or if your large plants cannot fit in your car, a truck is the only option left. Try to keep the plants in the cabin area of the truck so that the temperature around them can be controlled through the cabin’s air conditioning. But if the cabin is already filled, load them in the storage area of the truck. In such cases, place the plants at the very end. Secure the boxes containing your plants in place so they don’t topple over when the truck hits the road. When you reach your new home, your plants are the first thing you should remove. Quickly take them to a cool shaded area of the house and water them.

Shipping Over Mail

First, check with the laws of the state you are sending the plants to. Don’t forget to label your plants well with signs like ‘Do Not Crush’ or  ‘Live Plants, Please Rush’. Enter all communication details with the plants. Which includes the address of your new home, ZIP code, etc. There are many courier companies to choose from, the ‘Priority Mail’ service by USPS will take your plants to their destination within 1 working day. You can even ship them through ‘First Overnight service’ by FedEx.

Carrying Through Air

You can carry your plants along with you if you are traveling by air. But check the TSA (Transport Security Administration) rules beforehand. There are restrictions around the amount size of plants and around how much water they are carrying. Check with your airlines if there are any specific requirements you must abide by. It’s any given day better to carry only the cuttings and leave the pots behind while traveling by air so you can have your space and hands free for other luggage.


Post-Move Plant Care

Though you cannot see it, plants experience stress too. All the moving around and sudden change to a new environment can give them a shock. As soon as you get to your new home, start attending to your plants so they feel welcome at their new home.

  • If you brought any plant that has to be directly planted in the ground of your backyard, soak the spot where you plan to position it. Dig a hole and replant it in the moist soil. If you haven’t decided on a spot yet, temporarily plant it in a shady spot, never keep the roots outside for long. While replanting in the ground, mix small wooden chips with the soil so the water is retained.
  • For the potted plants, take them out of the plastic pots and replant them in their original clay pots. Unwrap the small plants which you had wrapped in kraft paper and water them immediately. Keep plants away from direct sunlight for the first few days, they don’t want harsh rays as they try settling in a new environment.
  • The cutting of shrubs or plants you wrapped in damp napkins should be unwrapped and planted immediately. Plant them in porous moist soil to promote faster growth. Keep them in the company of other plants so they grow well!

In the days following the move, you will see some wilting or shedding of leaves. There is no need to panic, it is just a defensive reaction as your plants try to settle in their new home. Before you know it, they’ll be happily blooming under the sun in their new corner.


Which Is A Favorable Season For Moving Plants?

Except for summers, any time of the year is a good time to move plants. Summers come with dry hot spells which are bad for the plants as they are uprooted and shipped. The unfavorable conditions are going to dry out the roots and affect the health of the plants, though you can keep spraying water to keep them moist during a summer move. If it is in your hands to plan the season of the move, avoid the summer months.

Can I Move My Plants To Another State?

Yes, but not all the plants. Some states have restrictions and state guidelines about importing certain plants. Like transporting plants is only allowed if they were indoor, potted in particular soil, and so on. While sending them to another state, check with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) database. These rules are in place to prevent the entry of insects or diseases some plants might be infected with. Check the guidelines once before you decide to move your plants, if there are restrictions, it is best to give your plants to friends or neighbors.

Can I Hire Professional Movers To Move My Plants?

If you are moving locally, there isn’t a need to hire a mover to move your plants. But contact professionals for long distance moves. Movers are trained in aligning plants a certain way while loading them, and take precautions during the move and unload them carefully. The safety techniques and ideal positioning of certain plants is best left to movers for longer moves.

How do you wrap plants when moving?

When you wrap a plant, start with the lower, heavier branches and work your way up to the upper, lighter branches. You will need to use a lot of long pieces of material to create enough loops for wrapping. Use cloths that are soft on the outside and rough on the inside (cotton is best). Next, loop one end around the branch and tie it in a knot. Twist and loop again. Make sure to keep an even amount of pressure distributed so that it applies symmetrically at all points on the branch. Finally, secure both ends with knots before cutting off any excess material. When you finish the first few wraps, pull them tight by pulling at each end respectively until there is a small bulge in the middle. This is the last point that you want the plant to grow, so remember it for future reference!

How do you transport plants long distances?

One way to transport plants long distances is with the use of a truck. The truck can be either leased or rented, and you can usually find an option that matches your price range. You can also have the plant bulbs delivered to your destination if you do not want any driving hassles.

Can you move plants across state lines?

It's usually not a problem to take your houseplants with you when moving from one state to another. However, exotic plants and any plant that has been cultivated outdoors are restricted.

Should you water plants before moving?
When you move your plant, be sure not to water it just before moving, not to let it get too heavy. You don't want the mess of dripping water in a car or truck where there are limited spaces for things like clothes and blankets!

Can I take my plants when I move?

The best time to take care of your indoor plants is right after they are unpacked, where you can give them good watering. This will also be the perfect opportunity for you to tend any outside shrubs or trees transplanted during the move and need some extra love!

Do movers move plants?

If you want to take your plants with you when moving long distances, check in advance if the movers are willing and able to do so. If not, bring some of them into the car beforehand - they might be too big otherwise. Moisten them at regular intervals during transportation for optimum results!

Do plants get stressed when you move them?

Every time you move your plants, it causes them to experience a change in their environment. Plants can adapt themselves when we make changes like this, and they do so by adjusting their water or nutrients requirements. It can be challenging for a potted plant to adjust when you move it from one place to another. However, plants can adapt themselves well under any circumstance and make their new environment feel like home in no time.

Is it bad for plants to move them?

Plants are living organisms and therefore require certain conditions to grow. If you remove a plant from one location, the quality of light it is getting may change and its proximity to heat sources such as fireplaces or televisions; these changes could potentially have an adverse effect on growth. For this reason, if your circumstances do not allow for moving plants around too often, try growing smaller plants that will be easier to transport rather than large ones with deep root systems like ferns which would take more care in transplantation but ultimately give off less adverse effects when moved between two different environments.

Can I fly with a potted plant?

You can bring plants on planes. They will be packed safely inside checked luggage or hand luggage as long as they fit the airline size and weight restrictions, but don't pack them with too much soil, so it's not heavy to carry around!

Is taking plants from Florida illegal?

Answer: Yes. It is illegal to take plants or small living animals that are not attached from state parks in the U.S., and you can only pick seeds if they are on the ground or leaves from a branch that has fallen to the ground naturally. However, some states have exceptions for collecting live baitfish like fireworms or worms. The reasoning behind this law is because it helps regulate invasive species, which could damage natural ecosystems heavily if released into nature unprotected by man-made boundaries such as park fences.

How do I keep my plants warm when moving?

There is a variety of insulation that you can use on your plants, and each has its own benefits. Generally speaking, it's best to find the right mix for your specific climate. Plants respond well when they are given blankets, towels, or burlap sacks; newspapers work too. Some do better with sheets of plastic rather than paper because plastic tends to insulate more.

How do I care for my plants after moving?

After moving plants, it's always a good idea to inspect the roots. If there is any dirt still clinging to the roots, gently shake off the excess. Afterward, water the plants with cold water to help regulate the plant's temperature and help with stress.


Also See: Benefits of having Indoor Plants