Proper plant care during a move is critical for ensuring your plant survives and is ready to thrive in its new environment.

Maybe you’re so worried about your plants that you stayed up the night before the move, frantically searching the internet for tips on moving them. 

Or perhaps you’re so laid back that you throw plants into the empty spaces in your moving truck, only to hit every pothole along the way.

Therefore, we asked our professional movers in the U.S. for their tips on how to move plants safely. 

In this article, we will cover pre-moving assessments and preparations, ways to pack and transport different types of plants, unpacking and replanting, and post-move aftercare for plants.

Assessing the Logistics of Moving a Plant

Plants are living organisms that require specific conditions to thrive, so it’s essential to think about the logistics before you load them into your moving truck. So, resist the urge to pack a single plant before assessing the logistical elements of moving. 

1. Make sure the plant is fit to move

How is the plant doing in its current home?

Before adding your plant to your packing checklist, evaluate its health to determine whether it can move. Try to avoid moving plants that are in bloom. This is when they become less resilient due to the energy they use at this stage.

Maybe your plants are too sick to move. In that case, the silver lining is that you make the determination ahead of time. Take this opportunity to dispose of your ill plant and lessen your moving truckload.

2. Move the plants yourself

Plants require special care and handling that might not be possible with regular moving services. Hire a professional moving company for most of your stuff, but plan to move the plants yourself. 

Use a Sprinter van, pickup truck, or cube van, and only use your car if everything can fit comfortably without obstructing your rear view. 

3. Use a plant hardiness zone map to determine whether you should move the plant

Consult the plant hardiness zone map to determine whether bringing your plant with you is intelligent. Indoor plants will have difficulty adjusting to different indoor environments.

In contrast, outdoor plants face the highest risks of not acclimating to the weather conditions, air quality, and local soil.

Preparing for the Move With Plants

Plants are sensitive to changes in environment, temperature, and light, which makes preparation crucial. Preparing for a successful move with a plant (or multiple plants) starts weeks in advance.

4. Call a local nursery expert or a horticulturist

Have some burning questions about moving a particular species? You could call your local nursery, botanical garden, or a horticulturist for professional advice on that specific plant.

5. Check state regulations for your final destination

Check state regulations for transporting house and outdoor plants before moving from one state to another. This exercise should clarify what species can and cannot enter the state and what instructions you must follow for legal houseplant relocation.

For example, California’s plant moving rules clearly outline the differences between indoor and outdoor plants and discourage people from moving pine, oak, fruit, and nut trees into the state.

The rules also tell commercial movers how to declare house plants and where to position them in the moving truck. If a local agricultural department needs to inspect your plants, schedule an appointment before the move.

6. Prune and trim the plants

Prune dead leaves and branches, wipe away dust from the leaves for about four weeks, and then again one week before moving.

7. Water the plant appropriately before the move

Water the plants 2-3 days before moving day enough to make the roots and surrounding soil damp not soaked.

Packing the Plant for Relocation

Use these plant-packing tips to avoid messy soil accidents or plant breakage during the transporting process.

8. Use flexible containers for transportation

Transfer plants from ceramic (or anything breakable) pots to flexible plastic or cloth ones for transportation and top up with new, sterilized potting soil.

Don’t close the top of boxes containing small plants. Leave the top open to allow airflow and ensure the box does not risk items falling on top of the plants.

9. Secure the root system and its soil for transportation

If you are transporting a large plant that you are taking from the ground, strive to keep all roots intact during the excavation to reduce the chance of rot rising into the stems after transplantation. 

Wrap the soil with wet paper towels or newspaper and secure it with plastic wrap or plastic bags. On moving days, keep a spray bottle of water. If the material surrounding the soil dries out, dampen it.

10. Support delicate foliage to protect it during transportation

Use wooden or bamboo stakes to steady long stalks when driven to the new location. One plant that needs such support is a hydrated “organ pipe,” San Pedro, or “fence post cactus,” which can snap if not fully supported during transportation.

Transporting the Plant

Moving with plants can be one of the most challenging aspects of relocation, but by following these tips, you can ensure they arrive healthy and ready to thrive in your new home.

11. Protect the plant from extreme temperatures and sunlight

The best method of transport is a van or pickup truck because smaller plants can become heat-exhausted in smaller vehicles on hot days, even with air conditioning.

Shade goes a long way in protecting plants from extreme temperatures and sunlight damage. Transport tall plants unpotted and lying on their sides, shaded with a tarp or cloth if they’re in an open truck bed.

Temperature plays a factor in how you treat your plant post-move, too. Going from one extreme to another could cause some species of plants to go into shock, and you’ll know this by the plant’s stress reaction

12. Secure the plant in the vehicle to prevent tipping or shifting

Steady the plant container between low heavy items. It’s important not to position plants next to items at medium height that could topple the plant and damage the stem or trunk.

Use bungee cords when possible to secure the plant by its container to the side of the truck.

13. Load plants last

Situate the plant near the van door for easy border inspection and unloading at the final destination.

Unpacking and Replanting

Unpacking and replanting the plant carefully upon arrival will be just as crucial as every other step. 

14. Check plants for damage or stress

Immediately after the move, check that the leaves and stems are free of visible damage, breakage, or snapped branches.

Over the weeks following the move, look for signs of stress or shock. These signs in a plant can take various forms; here are some of the most common.

  • Yellow, brown, or wilting leaves
  • Leaf and flower drop
  • Splits in the trunk, branches, or stems
  • Stunted growth (longer-term)

15. Don’t rush the replanting process

Don’t rush the plant repotting process; you could cause root damage, shock, or poorly composed drainage.

Post-Move Care

Monitor the plants for at least three weeks and adjust your watering and sunlight schedule to adapt to the new environment.

16. Perform regular plant care after moving

You may need to provide additional care and attention as the plant adjusts to its new home. There are several ways to perform plant aftercare.

  • Give the plant about an inch of water
  • Repot the plant
  • Trim any dead roots
  • Avoid fertilizing during post-move recovery
  • Bring your potted plants inside
  • Avoid pruning areas affected by stress or shock

If the new environment is drier than the last, more watering will be necessary, while a colder or more humid environment would call for less.

8 Types of Plants Shouldn’t Move

Certain plants are either restricted or not recommended for moving within the United States for various reasons, such as invasive potential, regulatory restrictions, or sensitivity to transport. Here are some examples.

1. Invasive Plants 

Many states have regulations against moving invasive plant species that can disrupt local ecosystems. Examples include kudzu (Pueraria montana), Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).

2. Protected Plants 

Some plants, such as endangered or threatened species, are protected by federal or state laws. Moving these plants with the proper permits or permissions is legal. Examples include certain orchid species and rare ferns.

3. Sensitive Plants 

Certain plants are sensitive to transplanting and may not survive or experience significant stress. These can include plants with delicate root systems or those not easily adaptable to new environments.

4. Quarantined Plants 

Plants under quarantine due to diseases or pests may only be allowed to be moved across state lines with proper inspection or certification. 

This is particularly important for crops and ornamental plants that can harbor pests or diseases.

5. Exotic or Non-Native Plants

While not all non-native plants are aggressively invasive, some may still pose a risk to local ecosystems if they escape cultivation. 

Although it grows in both states, you can’t bring citrus trees to California or Florida, lest you bring an infestation of Asian citrus psyllid with you.

Before moving exotic plants, checking local regulations and guidelines is essential.

Likewise, you can’t move passion fruit, pineapples, and palm trees to Hawaii because they are susceptible to disease outbreaks and soil contamination. 

The state grows enough of these things anyway!

6. Large or Established Trees

Moving large trees or well-established plants can be extremely challenging and may require specialized equipment and expertise. In many cases, it’s just not practical to move these plants, especially over long distances.

7. Cannabis

Thanks to the Farm Act, hemp can move freely across state borders. Cannabis containing THC, however, cannot even if you’re moving from one cannabis-legal state to another.

8. Plants with Specific Growing Requirements

Some plants have specific growing requirements, such as certain tropical plants that require high humidity or rare alpine species that require particular soil conditions.

Moving these plants without ensuring their new environment meets their needs can lead to their decline. Before attempting to move any plant, it’s crucial to research local regulations, consult with horticultural experts if needed, and consider the plant’s specific characteristics and needs.

Conclusion: Moving a Plant Ain’t Easy, but It Is Rewarding

Plant parents who have spent much time and effort caring for their orchids know that general plant care is complex but rewarding. Moving adds to the complexity, but being able to move into your new home is better surrounded by your luscious plant babies.

If you take your time packing, pay attention during transport, and monitor your plants post-move, you should avoid some of the worries that caused you to look for plant moving tips in the first place. Apply our expert tips for a smooth plant relocation experience; you and your plants will feel at home together again and in good health.