Modes of Transporting Plants
A long-distance move in a van involves difficulties for plants, including heat, cold or dryness. Plants moved by van are shipped entirely at your risk. Airline companies accept plants as air freight but they do not provide any service other than the transportation itself. Plants may suffer from temperature extremes, lack of water, and restricted space within a container. It is your responsibility to ensure that the plants are properly packaged and labeled, and that they are delivered and picked up on time. In a car, you may be able to regulate the temperature, water the plants, and reduce their transit time by loading them as late as possible and unloading them as soon as you arrive.
How to Prevent Shock When Moving Plants
Most plants are prone to shock when moved. Shock can be minimized by creating a comfortable microenvironment for the plants to weather the trip.
Watering Your Plants
Cold-and-wet or hot-and-dry are the two most disastrous combinations for plants. If you are moving in the winter, ensure that all plants are on the dry side on moving day by watering them for the last time two or three days before the move. If you are moving in summer, water the plants well on the morning of the packing day and let excess water drain away.
It is easier to insulate plants from cold than to protect them from heat. If you are taking them with you in the car, transport them in the passenger area. If you have to use the trunk, cover the tops of the boxes with blankets to insulate them from heat or cold. If you leave the car, park in a sunny spot and close the windows in winter; park in the shade and leave the windows slightly open in the summer. If you are staying in a motel, bring the plants into your room at night.
Being plunged into a dark box may shock your plants. A week or two before the move, pull a sheer curtain over the window to reduce the light.
Place plants in a dark plastic bag with a bug strip and leave the bag in a cool shady place for a few hours, two or three weeks before the move. If this does not get rid of the insects, consider leaving the plant behind since the problem quickly gets out of hand in the confinement of moving boxes.
Moving Plants – Other Helpful Tips
- Excessive moisture causes rot. Ensure adequate air flow in the moving cartons.
- Stake vines and plants that have weak stems.
- Place hanging plants in individual cartons and gather foliage gently on top.
- If you must fasten large plants, do this with soft bands in the direction of the growth to prevent breakage.
- Cacti and other desert plants do not require much watering. Allow good ventilation to reduce humidity.
- Seedlings, ferns, tropicals and other delicate plants should be moved in the car’s passenger area, not in the trunk.
- Terraria should be packed in ventilated cartons with lots of cushioning. Remove ornaments for the trip.
Place cuttings in damp sphagnum moss and wrap them in plastic bags.
Preparing Your Plants for Moving
Two or three weeks before the move
Consult your local florist or a reputable plant book for information on pruning your plants. They will be more manageable and easier to pack. Also, treat them against pests.
Two or three days before the move
- Water plants for the last time if you are moving in the winter.
- Line packing boxes with plastic bags so moisture will not seep through and weaken cartons.
- Cut several holes about the size of a quarter in the lid and sides of the carton to ensure good ventilation and avoid excessive moisture.
- Mark the carton “This Side Up” and “Plants-Fragile”.
The day before the move
- In summer, water plants well in the morning.
- If they are in clay pots, wrap each pot in damp newspaper, then in several layers of dry paper. Wrap plastic pots in dry paper only.
- Construct protective funnel-shaped sleeves out of heavy paper. They should be the height of the plant and the diameter of its pot.
- Place the sleeve around the plant, making sure the foliage is gently folded, and tape it firmly.
- Stake larger plants carefully and tie their foliage if necessary.
- Wrap the pots and cover foliage with a paper funnel. Wrapping larger plants and interweaving their foliage makes them more susceptible to damage if they tip over.
- Place plants of similar size into the carton. Leave enough space between the lid and the top of the highest plant.
- Pad the pots well so they won’t jar against each other. Pack them closely for stability. Use a lot of cushioning paper.
On moving day
- Place newspaper (damp in summer, dry in winter) loosely around the tops of the plants.
- Close the lids and fasten with tape.
- If your plants are to travel as part of your household shipment and certification documents are required, give these to the Van Operator when he arrives.
- If you are taking the plants in the car, make sure the movers know they are not to be loaded into the van or container.
- Load the plants into the car at the last minute. Make sure they won’t be crushed or tipped over.
- Move the plants into the house as soon as possible and open the boxes.
- Leave the plants inside the boxes for a few hours to minimize shock.
- Later in the day, unpack and water them. To avoid breaking branches, cut around the base of the carton and lift it off the plants by its lid.
- Place plants in locations similar to the ones they were used to at origin, but do not place in direct sunlight until one or two weeks after the move. If you have moved from a warm sunny region to a colder area, cool white fluorescent lights might be needed.
- If you have taken cuttings, remove them from their plastic wrapper and root them without delay.
- Ethylene accumulation in the vehicle or simple shock can cause leaves to yellow and drop. Do not be alarmed; this is normal and should not last.
- Altitude, air and water quality, moisture content, and so on may be quite different in your new home, and some plants may have to be repotted in to a heavier or lighter mix of soil. A local horticulturist will be able to advise you.