How do you move houseplants from one state to another?
Aug 26, 2021
Calling all plant parents who are shipping plants across state lines
While you may consider plants to be part of your household goods, they're in a category all on their own for most moving companies (including U-Pack®). As living things, they can have different regulations and needs when moving them across state lines. Since you can't just place your houseplants in with your U-Pack shipment, we're here to help you figure out how to safely transport your plants while following any applicable regulations or laws.
Find out if you can (or should) move your plants
Whether you should move your plants to a new state depends on two factors: the state's laws and growing conditions.
Look up regulations for your new state (and any you're crossing through)
Each state has different guidelines for importing plants. In some places, anything goes. While in others, there are rules about soil, plant type and required pest-free certifications. While this may seem like overkill, it's vital to the health of local vegetation, as even small houseplants could bring harmful diseases, insects or pests into a new place.
The National Plant Board, a non-profit made up of every state's plant pest regulatory agencies, makes it easy to find the laws for your new state.
Tip: it's a good idea also to check the states you'll be passing through. If you don't want to take extra steps to cross into one of those areas, it may be a good idea to take a different route or ship your plants rather than drive them across the country.
Find out if your houseplant will thrive after the move
Make sure your plant will continue growing well in your new home. Indoor plants are usually hardier, but some could be affected by a change in moisture levels. Moving to very dry or humid conditions might not be a great idea for certain types. Look at a plant hardiness zone map for outdoor plants and consider the climate, light, and rainfall at your new home when deciding to take or leave them.
If it's not favorable (or not allowed) to take your plant with you, consider leaving it with a friend, family member or neighbor, or donating it to a local hospital or nursing home.
Prep, pack and move your plants
Lack of airflow, sunlight and access to water means you shouldn't put living items in a moving truck, not to mention that many companies have plants on their Do Not Ship lists, including U-Pack. So you have a few different options when it comes to transporting plants:
- Taking them with you in your vehicle
- Flying with them
- Shipping them
And the way you pack depends on how you're moving your plants across state lines. Let's figure out which of these options would be best for you.
Compare options for transporting plants
Any of these methods will get your houseplants to your new home, so choose the one that is the best fit for your circumstances.
Put them in the car
This is the easiest and fastest way to transport plants, and it also allows you to care for them during the drive. As long as you have room in your vehicle's cabin, this is usually the best choice. Remember to bring them inside when you stop overnight so they aren't affected by extreme temperatures.
Bring plants on a plane with you
Can you take plants on an airplane? Yes! You can either carry on or check plants if you're flying as long as you comply with TSA rules. Double-check with your airline for carry-on size limits and packing requirements.
Ship live plants with a parcel service
USPS, UPS and FedEx will all ship plants, but each company has different guidelines. When shipping, choose the fastest method possible and avoid shipping over weekends or holidays to ensure your plant arrives fast.
Protect live plants and cuttings
Start with a bug check and water before packing, no matter what moving method you're using.
Do a pest check. If your new state requires a certified inspection, call a local agriculture department office for examination and paperwork. Otherwise, look over the soil and plant to make sure you aren't moving any critters.
Water it. Water plants two or three days before moving. The soil should be moist but not too wet. Most can go 7-10 days without water, but it's essential to ensure the roots stay damp during shipment by providing a drink a couple of days prior to packing.
How to pack plants for moving
Pack according to the airline's guidance or follow the driving directions below if none are available.
Check with the shipping company for any packing guidance. If there isn't any, visit a local nursery. They can usually advise you on the best way to protect your plant before you send it off. Also, consider the weather when boxing it up. If the package will travel through extreme cold, for example, you may want to insulate it.
The key here is making sure your plant is secure while still getting enough air. Follow these different methods, depending on whether it's a potted plant or a cutting:
How to pack potted plants:
A few weeks before you move, repot the plant into a plastic container with fresh sterile soil. Pack the original clay or ceramic pots like other fragile items using our packing tips. Then prep the plastic pot for moving:
- Place a plastic bag over the bottom of the pot and tie or gather and tape it at the base of the plant to keep the soil contained.
- Prep a box that can hold the pot tightly by taping the bottom seams well. Then place the plant inside.
- Fill in extra space around the pot and plant with packing paper or newspaper, so it's secure but can also breathe.
- Poke a few air holes on each side of the box to allow for airflow.
- Label the box "Live Plant" and "Fragile," and keep it upright in the car.
How to pack cuttings:
For outdoor plants or those that are too big to move, you can take a cutting (a stem or root piece that you can replant at the new place). Here's how:
- In the morning, take a clean, sharp clipper and cut a 3-6-inch-long area of the flower or bush with healthy growth.
- Keep the end of the cutting moist by wrapping it in wet paper towels secured with rubber bands.
- Protect the end with a plastic stem holder (from a local florist) or with a small plastic bag.
- Treat it like a bouquet and handle it gently.
Tip: If you need to ship a cutting, plant it in a small plastic pot, then loosely wrap it in plastic to keep it humid. Place the cutting in a box using the directions above and the guidelines from your shipping service.
Have questions about shipping plants across state lines?
We're here to help! If you have questions about moving plants or other household items, leave us a comment below.
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