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Moving House Plants Successfully

moving plants

Plants are an important part of any household. They provide a healthy environment for the people who live in the home as well as an impression of good health and peace. They can help to beautify an environment such as a home, or they can help keep your emotional state a positive one. When you move, it is very important that you make plans to move your houseplants in a manner that keeps them alive and healthy. For moves that take you just around the corner, this can be simple, but if you are relocating over long distances, the task will require a little bit more. Unfortunately, most long distance moving companies aren't able to transport your live plants for you unless your move is due to be completed within 24 hours, but that doesn't mean our experts are short of helpful advice that can put you on track to moving your plants safely.

Experience is Key

One of the first things you should do when you connect with a moving company is tell them about the things you are moving. Let them know that you plan on taking your houseplants and ask about special boxes, packing materials, or advice they may have for you. Often, moving company representatives have experience that you can put to work for you, so never hesitate to ask. If you have further questions, contact the US Department of Agriculture office in your local area.

Laws and Regulations

Before you go through the trouble of preparing and packing your plants, be certain that you are allowed to bring those specific plants with you to the state you are moving to. Some plants will require certification to avoid bringing harmful organisms into a state. Other states don't have such laws. The only way to find out what the requirements are for the place you are going is to contact the state's Department of Natural Resources and ask questions. Most US states will require that plants be in a pot with sterilized soil rather than soil or dirt from outside. You can purchase this kind of soil from a local garden store or hardware store, but be careful to purchase the type of soil that will help sustain the plant you are moving. Different types have different levels of loam, sand, or peat, so choose the one that is most conducive to the growth of your particular plant.

Leaving Them Behind

Often, you might find that you will have to leave your plants behind even if you did not want to. If you find that you are in such a situation, take a cutting from the plant and wrap it in wet moss or paper towels. Make sure to learn what to do for your exact plant (even outdoor ones) since pruning tomatoes could kill both the plant and the cutting. Place the cuttings in a large ziploc bag, but don't seal it. These bags can then be packed in a box and should be able to survive for a few days until you can get them into a new pot at your new home. After they take root, you'll be able to see your houseplants grow once more.


Getting your houseplants ready for the move can be one of the most difficult things to do before moving day arrives, but if you've already done your homework, and you know what you will be taking and what you will be leaving behind, you've already gotten off to a good start. As moving day gets closer, here are some other things that you need to take care of.

  • Three Weeks Before
    • Three weeks before the day the movers arrive at your home is a good time to work on transferring the plants to plastic pots for travel. Glass and ceramic pots may be pretty, but they can easily break and they are heavier than plastic. Remember to keep the pots about the same size so that you don't harm the plant you are re-potting.

  • Two Weeks Before
    • A week after you've transplanted your houseplants, consider pruning them by pinching back new growths. While this is good for growth for a number of plants, some do not respond well. Know what you are dealing with before you start, but always take steps to limit how bulky or bushy your plants are.

  • One Week Before
    • With one week to go, you need to take time to check the plant you are moving for bugs or other parasites. You can use insecticides on the plants at this point, but if you do, be very careful to use them as directed.
    • You can also take a more holistic approach to killing pests. The best way to do this is to place your plants in a black plastic bag with a bug strip or common flea collar. Leave your plants like this overnight in order to kill any bugs or pests that may have made their home in your plants. Make sure that the plastic bag is sealed closed so that the bugs do not escape.

  • Moving Day
    • Don't pack your plants until moving day. The longer they are kept in the confines of a box, the harder it will be for them to bounce back to normal after the move, and some may even die.
    • Consider wrapping the leafy parts of your plant in an older sheet or light packing paper to protect this fragile part of the plant.
    • Choose a box that will allow you to fit the entire pot in the bottom. Fill the empty space with packing paper so that the pot does not shift.
    • For smaller plants, close the lid and secure it, but poke air holes around the box so that your plant can breathe.
    • For larger plants, cut the corners of the box flaps out and close the lid around the main trunk or stem of the plant to secure the pot.
    • Mark these boxes as fragile with the appropriate side to be placed up.

  • While Traveling
    • It's a good idea to load your plants as close to travel time as possible.
    • Don't load plants in trunks or places where temperature extremes could pose a problem.
    • Be sure to keep the temperature in the car close to what your plants would thrive under.
    • You shouldn't need to stop to water your plants unless you are spending more than a few days on the road. The same goes for light.

Your New Home

Plants should be the first thing that you unload when you arrive at your new home. Take a moment to find a location where they will be able to settle as the rest of your things are unloaded into your home. Keep them out of high traffic areas and don't move them around as they are settling. This will help them thrive in their new home. Remember to check the soil and water them if they need it, but don't fuss over them too much. Plants, like most living things, will be stressed over the move. Letting them settle will help them release this stress and regain their beauty and poise.



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