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How to Pack Plants Effectively for Moving

If you’re like most gardeners, the last thing you considered when working on your plant collection is how to uproot, pack and move them. Transplanting your collection could be a traumatizing experience for your plants, and moving them hastily and without enough preparation could cause serious, irreparable damage.

As unnerving as it sounds, however, there are ways to make the move easier for you and your seedlings. With the correct packaging, a good plan, and the care that you’ve always provided for your plants, they’ll have a blossoming start in their new home.  

Check Restrictions and Regulations:
Before moving, make sure that all your plants are allowed to go with you. There are strict state and international guidelines that often don’t allow certain types of plants. Most of these, however, could be cleared with proper labeling and specifications, such as the name of the name and address of the shipper and receiver, botanical name, quantity, and the state or foreign country of origin. If you have concerns of how to prepare the shipment, the non-profit organization, National Plant Board, provides updated information on the regulations and requirements for each state, as well as a list of other groups that specialize in plant inspection and travel.

Transplanting and Repotting:
Once you’ve selected the plants that will travel with you, it’s time to consider how to transplant these. Although optional, a clean and sterile plastic pot will do the trick when traveling a short distance. Just be sure to remove the plants from their natural setting two to three weeks before the move. Not giving them that grace period could cause a lot of harm, stress, or may even kill the plant. 

Separating and Wrapping:
Repotting is much better and easier for houseplants and smaller seedlings. If you have a garden to move, however, then individually wrapping the shrubs is the way to go. Simply surround the roots of the plant with enough soil to maintain the moisture; adding too little water could cause the soil to shift and move, while too much could soak and damage the packaging. Then wrap this base with a plastic bag and secure the top opening around the stem. Also, protecting the leaves and shrubs is essential, so enclose the leaves and stems with newspaper or plastic (poke several holes so that the plant could breathe), and arrange these inside boxes insulated with bubble wrap, shredded paper or packing peanuts.

Getting Your Plants There:
Packing your plants is only half the mission. How your plants reach their new home is just as important. If you decide to move them yourself, keep the temperature and speed of the vehicle stable. That means insulate the boxes and vehicle properly in the cold, and remain in shady or airy areas during the warmer days. Remember that there are businesses, such as FedEx, that offer advice and products, such as corrugated boxes and trays that will facilitate your plant’s move. These are best for the more fragile and sensitive types of flower arrangements, such as orchids and roses. Also, you can’t forget the moving companies although check with them prior to packing your plants, because they usually don’t cover damage and loss.  

After the Arrival:
Be sure to remove the plastic and water your plants as soon as you arrive. If you transplanted them, it is best to wait a week or so before repotting or planting them. Rushing your plants could stunt their growth and harm them. Slowly introduce them to their new environment and note their progress. Check the soil in your new home, the weather and temperature, and nurture them accordingly. Remove dead leaves and, if necessary, provide them with plant food. Observe them periodically for several weeks until you’re sure that they’re finally safe and settled.


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A Moving Company's Moving Story
June, 2012

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