If you have one lonely houseplant and you don’t remember where it came from or you are not sure how it has managed to even stay alive all these years then you probably will not mind giving it to a neighbor, family member, or friend when you move. However, if you have put a lot of time and effort into the gorgeous plants that are found throughout your home then learning about moving plants is likely high on your to-do list right now. You know how sensitive some species can be to change, so you are determined to do everything that you possibly can to make this move a smooth transition for all of them. Properly preparing for moving houseplants begins weeks in advance.

Moving Houseplants 3 Weeks in Advance

Providing you know about your move three weeks in advance this is a good time to do some repotting. This will help ensure they have gotten over their shock phase of being transplanted long before the actual move date.

If you have plants in any pots that are made of clay, ceramic, glass, etc., you will want to transplant them into unbreakable plastic containers. Choose pots that are very close to the same size they are in. This will help minimize shock, as well.

Moving Houseplants 2 Weeks in Advance

After your plants have had about one week to get used to the new pots they are in, you will want to do some seriously heavy pruning. First, pruning makes them more compact and a lot easier to move. Plus, you may be wondering how to move plants just so it is more convenient, but as a bonus, pruning yields attractive, healthy plants.

If you have any ferns or succulents, such as aloe, jade, cactus, etc. they should be left alone. They do not appreciate pruning. If you are not sure what your plants prefer do a simple Internet search to find out or stop into your local nursery and ask someone. If you don’t know the official name of your plant, take a picture to take with you wherever you go so the worker you talk to can identify it. You can also use Google’s reverse image lookup feature available now.

Moving Houseplants 1 Week in Advance

About one week before the big day, you have the fun job of inspecting all your plants for pests and disease and dealing with them appropriately, if there are any failures. Even newly transplanted plants are at risk for bugs, disease, and mildew. When possible, use natural remedies, especially during a move. Avoid chemicals as much as you can, especially when they are about to be transported. This is important to remember.

Moving Houseplants 2 Days in Advance

This is the final day to give your plants a drink. You want the water to be mostly absorbed before they start getting bumped around. Think of how you would feel if you went surfing five minutes after you drank a huge container of water.

Two days prior is also a good time to make sure that you have enough boxes. For long-distance moves, you will probably want to place each plant in its box, so keep this in mind when gathering some. If your move is local and you plan on transporting your plants in your car rather than the moving truck then empty beer, wine, or liquor boxes with handles on the side will work great.

Packing Plants

Packing the plants is going to get done either the night before the move or in the morning before the movers arrive. Large plants and those of any size that are sensitive should be wrapped in tissue paper. This will provide a little extra protection.

Line the boxes with plastic bags. This will help if they get tipped over for some reason. Create cushioning in the bottom of the box with crumpled paper, old towels, etc.

Make sure the box will comfortably accommodate your plant. Tall cartons are ideal. Place the plant inside and surround it with crumpled paper to hold them in place. Poke holes in the box and label it accordingly. If you are moving plants on a very hot summer day soak some newspaper in old water and then place them in the box to help keep the temperature cool. If you think of it ahead of time you can moisten and freeze these papers.

Note: If you prefer to have professionals handle the packing of your plants, be sure to consult with the FlatRate team about packing and unpacking services available for your move.

Loading Plants

Plants should be one of the last things you load. Keep them out of the sun in the summer and protected them from cold and windy conditions in the winter. If you are loading them in your car wait until the last minute. Have the vehicle running with the heat or air on so it remains a comfortable temperature in your car.

If the movers are handling your plants, they should be the last boxes loaded so they can be the first unloaded.

Tips for On the Road

The only reason you should need to check on the plants is if you have reason to believe any have fallen over. If you are making a cross-country move that will take longer than three days, you will need to water them on the road. Make sure they are positioned in the truck where they won’t fall over. Also, no other boxes must get stacked on top of them.

Let Them Settle

After moving plants, it can take a while for them to stop being angry with you for disrupting them. You may be anxious to transplant them into their proper containers, but you are best to leave them alone and let them get used to their new home. Keep in mind that even small changes in air quality, climate, and soil can affect their growth and their health.

Legalities of Moving Houseplants

The first thing you want to find out is if your moving company moves plants. Many people assume that all moving companies do, but quickly find out that they don’t. Even if they do, they rarely include plants in insurance.

When moving houseplants, knowing how to move plants across the country is a factor. If you are crossing a state line, you will need to find out what plant-related laws you have to obey. Some states, such as California and Florida, are very strict to help prevent the spread of disease and pests. Check with your Department of Agriculture to learn more about these regulations. In most cases, border patrol wants to see that the plants are being transported in sterilized potting soil. Since they may dig through your pots, consider wrapping the root ball of larger specimens in damp paper towels, so they can easily check the soil. If you purchased new soil and pots it is helpful to have the receipts ready for proof.


Your plants are not able to tell you what they need, so you need to judge their symptoms to address issues. Keep in mind that some symptoms are harder to notice than others. Look up your exact plant to find diseases it is commonly plagued by. If you have a plant that is just not strong enough to make the move consider rehoming it to someone else so it doesn’t have to go through the shock of a move, especially a long-distance one.

Leave all of the moving details to the pros! Contact FlatRate for a green-thumb move!

Categories: Moving Tips