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Moving Houseplants: The Do's and Don'ts

Colonial Van Lines offers moving advice for human parents, dog parents, and now, we’re giving some to the long-neglected plant parents (we see you). You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into your beautiful botanicals, so of course you want to take them with you for the next chapter of your life. But moving with any living thing is hard, houseplants included.

Keep in mind the growing conditions of the state you’re relocating to. Some plants simply can’t survive in certain environments. If you’re unsure if your plant will thrive in your soon-to-be home state, you can reference the plant hardiness zone map.

Some states require inspections of plants upon arrival and won’t allow certain vegetation to cross their borders. California is notoriously strict about this. Check the USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Program for federal regulations.

This, and the less than ideal conditions of moving trucks for living items is why the majority of moving companies won’t move houseplants. We know that moving with plants isn’t as easy as haphazardly stowing them in a box. Read on for tips to keep your beloved houseplants alive and well during your move.

Give your plants some TLC before your move

Prune your plants to get rid of dead leaves or branches. If there may be pests in the soil, refresh it with sterile soil. Remove any dust or weeds. Water the plants thoroughly a few days before moving so that they remain moist for the duration of the trip.  

Be wary of changing temperatures

Avoid exposing them to harsh winds or direct sunlight. Maintain a comfortable temperature, preferably one that’s similar to their previous environment. This can be done by keeping them in the car with you instead of in the trunk. The trunk isn’t a great spot for houseplant transportation because they won’t receive much airflow or sunlight.  If you have to stop someplace for a night, you may want to bring your plants in with you, especially if it’s a super warm or cold time of year.

Pack your greenery carefully and strategically

You’ll need sturdy moving boxes and packing paper or newspaper. You can add bubble wrap to the list if you want to be extra cautious.

The first step is wrapping the base of your ceramic pots, so they don’t break, and then nestle your plants close together in a box. If there’s extra space between plants, fill the space with packing paper. Keep the top of the box open or poke some holes in the box for airflow. Make sure that the box is tall enough so that if there is some soil spillage, it doesn’t get all over your car. If you move with larger plants, you can tape cardboard over the soil to avoid messes.

If you’d rather not risk breaking your heavy ceramic pots or hauling their heft, you can repot your plants in lightweight plastic containers. If you’re new to repotting plants, The Sill has an easy to follow step-by-step guide.

The floor of your front or backseat are the best spots for your plants during a long drive. Those areas are a bit cramped, which means there’s less of a chance that the pots will tip. Be sure to pack your plants last and unpack them first. You can put them on top of other boxes if necessary.

If you can’t move all of your houseplants

Snip off a piece to regrow

If you have a plant that’s too large to move or is rooted in your yard, keep a cutting so that you can regrow your favorite plants at your new place. You can do this with a wide range of plants. Wrap your cutting in damp paper towels and keep it in a Ziploc bag mid-move.

Give your houseplants away to a loving home

You can give your plants to a friend with a green thumb, or you can donate them to a local school or organization. Another option is using Plantswap.org, a great resource for finding unwanted plants new homes.

Stressed about the logistics of your upcoming move? This is where we come in. At Colonial Van Lines, we simplify the moving process and go the extra mile to make your relocation as stress-free as possible. Get a free quote today.

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