The principles of how to move are clear: Place household items in boxes and wrap fragile pieces like art frames and dishes in bubble wrap or some new biodegradable packing paper. But packing plants is another story. Plants are living organisms, and excessive movement, lack of moisture, or changes in light from bouncing around in the truck can affect plants while you’re transporting them. Perhaps for these reasons, many houseplants end up on Craigslist or gifted to friends.
However, leaving your best housemates can be heartbreaking—especially those cute little succulents you promoted. No need to abandon your plant babies. Before you transport your houseplants, check out this plant-moving tutorial from Becca De La Plants shared on YouTube for trial-and-error methods. Tip: Stackable plastic crates (or airtight banana boxes you can get from your grocer) are excellent containers for smaller plants. Then, read about how experts explain three different moving scenarios that will satisfy your green offspring.
How to prepare plants to move a short distance
You may be tempted to package indoor and outdoor plants together. don’t Even if your move is traveling across town, take extra precautions against pests, says Jason White, founder and CEO of All About Gardening in Williamson County, Tennessee. “Instead, package indoor plants separately from outdoor plants to avoid bugs crossing from one pot to another,” she says.
To prepare your plants for the short move, you’ll need:
Step 1: Look for errors
According to White, start by carefully inspecting each outdoor plant pot with a magnifying glass to check for pests such as mealybugs and spider mites, especially along the plant’s soil. Optional: De-bug your plants with neem oil. A simple way to do this is to spray both sides of each leaf with morning spray. Allow the oil to dry on its own for at least 24 hours before transporting the plant.
Step 2: Protect the pots
Evaluate your pots and planters. “Don’t travel with pots that are prone to cracking,” warns White. Two to three weeks before moving, repot the plants in shredded containers, such as plastic nursery pots, she says. If you don’t have time to repot, wrap each planter in bubble wrap or cardboard between pots to keep them from banging. Wine dividers work well.
Step 3: Trim dry leaves and water
Cut off dead or dying leaves with shears or shears, says Melody Estes, landscape design horticulture supervisor at Project Girl in Greenville, Maine. You can water the plants the morning of your move or before placing them in the boxes, but make sure the soil isn’t too wet. This can lead to root rot, and you don’t want plants sitting in standing water for too long, as the motion of the car can cause muddy water to leach out.
Step 4: Find a suitable location for sensitive plants
Make sure your delicate houseplants are kept in their own area. For example, if a planter is small enough that your car’s cup holder can fit it, consider placing a delicate plant there. Otherwise, find a box that’s snug enough to avoid shaking the room. However, use your judgment; Some plants, such as burro’s tail or other succulents, aren’t worth transporting because they’re more sensitive to movement and their leaves may fall off, White advises. Other species are shallow-rooted, which makes them too weak to transplant.
Step 5: Use open boxes
For all other houseplants, make sure to keep them in open boxes (ie without lids) large enough to enclose the plant pot. Larger plants can stick to the open tops of boxes, and like delicate houseplants, these plants shouldn’t have much or any wiggle room. When necessary, line the space between the pot and the carton with packing paper, filling and cushioning as much space as possible.
How to avoid plant or planter damage
Switching to plastic nursery pots is a great way to keep your plants and pots safe. But there are other options. James Mayo of Exubia, a biophilic design firm in London, explains that how you choose to place your plants together is important. “Plants with hard, rubbery leaves like snake plant or succulents don’t tangle or intertwine with other plants because they’re too stiff,” he says. So, pair these plants with tangle-prone plants like palms, dracaenas, and ferns. Meanwhile, Carol Lang, veteran leader of Carol Lang Interiors, a full-service design firm based in Fair Haven, New Jersey, says there’s one way to practically guarantee that pots won’t crack: separate pots from plants.