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As a general rule, most states require transported plants to be grown indoors in sterilized potting soil — not soil taken from outdoors. You may purchase sterilized soil at your local lawn and garden shop. Read the label carefully to make sure the soil contains the right mixture of loam, peat or sand needed for your particular plants.

If you cannot take your plants along, consider taking cuttings. Simply wrap the cuttings in wet moss and newspaper and place them in unsealed bags. Place bags in a carton and fill in around them with light packing material. The cuttings should survive several days' travel and be ready to take root in your new home.

Preparing For The Move

Now that you've decided which plants will accompany you to your new home, take precautions to help them survive the trip.

Three weeks before moving day:

Repot plants that are in clay pots into unbreakable plastic containers of the same size; changing pot sizes can be detrimental to some plants.

Two weeks before moving day:

  • Prune larger plants for better packing and to produce healthy, bushy, compact plants that are more attractive.

  • To prune, simply pinch back newer growth with your thumb and forefinger.

  • Succulents (e.g., cacti, jade plants) and ferns do not respond well to pruning.

One week before moving day:

  • Check plants for insects and/or parasites.

  • If you use insecticides on your plants, use them with extreme caution and follow label directions.

Two days before the move:

Water your plants normally. In winter months, over-watering may cause plants to freeze. In warmer weather, over-watered plants are subject to fungus growth during transit.

Moving day:

  • Pack your plants in the morning or the night before.

  • Wrap your large houseplants with an old sheet or tissue paper to prevent branches from breaking.

  • Place the pot in a box, making sure it fits snugly at the bottom. 

  • If necessary, use paper around the base to hold the pot in place.

  • Punch air holes in the sides of the box and loosely fasten the lid so plants can breathe.

  • Set the boxes upright and clearly mark the lids. This will help you avoid loading them by mistake into the moving van.

  • If you follow this procedure, your plants will be ready to travel up to three days before requiring further attention.

On the road:

  • Load plants as close to your departure time as possible.

  • Avoid putting plants in the trunk of your car, if possible, since heat, cold and lack of fresh air can damage the plant.

  • In warm weather, make periodic stops in shaded areas and crack a window. Avoid exposing the plants to direct sunlight at all times.

  • In cold weather, avoid letting the temperature inside your car become hazardous to your plants. If needed, wrap plants thoroughly with newspaper or paper bags.

  • You probably will not have to water your plants during transit. If they seem unusually dry, water them at first opportunity; otherwise, postpone watering until you have arrived at your new home.

  • Your plants may require light. When staying overnight, it is a good idea to bring plants indoors and open cartons to expose plants to the light.

Arriving At Your New Home

Upon arrival at your new home, unpack your plants as soon as possible. Remove them through the bottom of the box to avoid breaking leaves and branches. Try not to move them around too much until they become acclimated to the surroundings.

With the proper attention and care, your plants will flourish in their new home. And you can settle in more comfortably with your favorite plants around to admire and enjoy.

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