You’ve always been proud of your green thumb, and now you’ve got thriving houseplants as your reward. Maybe you’ve got a lush garden or a favorite flowering bush too. Now your employer is relocating you to another state. So, do you abandon your leafy friends or move with as many of your plants as you can?

That depends on several factors, including state agricultural regulations whether you have friends who won’t kill your beloved Moth Orchid or other fragile houseplants within weeks of taking them on.

You may not have to leave all your plants behind, though. Here are 6 tips for moving plants safely to your new destination.

1. Check State Regulations.

You may think your citrus plant is innocuous but the State of California disagrees. Arizona is another state that won’t allow you to bring citrus plants and numerous varieties of nursery stock across state lines due to risk of introducing harmful pests or diseases. Before you uproot that shrub or pack up those houseplants, be sure to check with your destination state’s Department of Agriculture for regulations. You can also find a summary for each state on the National Plant Board’s website.

2. Prepare Plants in Phases.

Moving company Atlas Van Lines recommends taking the following steps before your moving day:

  • Transfer plants from clay pots into unbreakable, plastic pots of the same size three weeks before moving day.
  • Prune large plants about two weeks ahead of time to make them smaller for transport.
  • The week before you move, check plants for insects or parasites and remedy the situation if necessary.
  • Water plants two days before transport but only if they seem excessively dry.

3. Transport Plants in Your Vehicle.

Most moving companies won’t accept plants on a truck for a trip that takes longer than a day. You probably don’t want to turn your precious plants over to a moving company anyway. Place plants in your car, SUV or cab of your rented moving truck instead. Never stow plants in a car trunk.

4. Position Plants for the Drive.

Place your plants in sturdy, open boxes and fill empty space around pots with bubble wrap, newspaper or another packing material to ensure that plants don’t tip. Position plants out of direct sunlight at all times. If you’re traveling in a cold climate, keep the car warm and wrap the plants with newspapers or paper bags while the car is parked for more than a few minutes. In hot weather, take a break in a shaded area and open windows to allow fresh air to circulate.

5. Bring Plants Inside for Lodging.

It won’t do much good to carefully pack and care for your plants during transport if you leave them inside the car to wilt of freeze in a hotel parking lot. Do your plants a favor and bring them inside your hotel room for the night.

6. Relocate Outdoor Plants According to Season.

After years of cultivating shrubbery, flowers and bushes, it’s tempting to take a bit of your landscaping success with you. Don’t just start digging up plants willy-nilly, though. If you’re moving in dry summer heat, it’s best to leave perennials behind.

“Plants become quickly stressed when removed from the soil during this time,” according to master gardener Susan Patterson.

It’s also best to move trees and shrubs in the winter. When digging up plants, get as much root as possible and keep the root ball moist during transport, Patterson recommends. Replant as soon as possible after you arrive. Outdoor transplants generally take about three to four weeks to adjust.


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