Moving Guide for Houseplants and Garden Plants

       ABC Kortsch Moving and Storage understands that the time and care that our customers invest in their plants and gardens is a precious commodity. Many times, people have nurtured and watched a particular plant grow for many years. Plant life and greenery contribute positively to our well being, help us create comfortable homes, and encourage relaxation. Sometimes, customers have “hereditary plants” that have been passed down through several generations.


       We understand that your plants are important to you. This guide is intended as a starting point to help you ensure that your plants reach your destination in good condition. The information in this guide is intended as general advice. If you have rare plants or plants that require special handling, we recommend that you consult a greenhouse or floral center for specific care instructions. You may even wish to engage their services to transport your plants for you.

Preparation 2-3 Weeks Prior to Your Move

Will the moving company move my plants for me?


       Most moving companies will not move your household or garden plants. Since plants are living things that need specific conditions to survive and resist damage, they are considered perishable. The moving company cannot guarantee or maintain the proper temperature, moisture and air flow conditions for your plants. Since they are perishable items, they cannot be covered under insurance for loss or damages, either. Due to these issues, it is a better solution all around for you to transport your own plants or engage the services of a plant or flower delivery service so that your plants can receive the care they require in transit.

Are there special considerations if I am moving to another state?


       Depending on which state you are moving to, you may not be able to bring your plants along. Some states have strict agricultural statutes that limit which types of plants can be brought in, or which bans them completely. They want to prevent their plants from being exposed to any potential insect or disease threats. Some states won’t even let you bring any fruit over the border. You will want to check out the regulations for the state you intend to move to well in advance of your move date. The best way to obtain this information is to call your local US Department of Agriculture.


       Generally, though, most states only require very basic plant transportation conditions. Usually, they require that the plants being brought across the state lines have been grown indoors in sterilized potting soil, and not in soil from outdoors. You can choose to transplant any plants you have growing in soil from outdoors into sterilized soil from a nursery or garden center for transport.

Can I move my plants in the pots they are in now?


       Sure, you can move them in the pots you’ve got them growing in – but, if you have large outdoor planters full of soil, or your indoor plants are in ceramic pots, you may want to consider repotting them for your move. Ceramic and terra cotta pots full of soil are heavy, and breakable. Repotting your plants into lightweight plastic containers and pots will not only protect your expensive pots, but will help your plants arrive with a larger chance of safety.


       It is best to repot plants 2-3 weeks prior to the move, and you should choose containers that are just large enough for the size of the plant. It is recommended that you transplant far enough in advance to allow your plants time to bounce back from the stress of being transplanted, since moving day and placement in a new home will be stressful enough for them.


       Replanting with clean pots and sterilized potting soil prior to your move gives you an opportunity to look each plant over for pest problems and make plans to take care of them.


Preparation the Week Prior to Your Move 


How do I take care of plant pests?


       It is a good idea to check each plant over before moving. Look for insects, mildew, or other signs of plant diseases. It makes sense to try to remedy these problems before you move rather than transporting the trouble and contaminating your new place.


       Properly diagnosing and eliminating plant pests can be problematic, due to the sheer number of common plant ailments and symptoms. Some of them are easy to identify and treat, but we recommend that you contact a reputable greenhouse or nursery for help with eliminating plant pests effectively. You will probably have success starting the diagnosis with a good plant book. Anything that you are unable to cure or remedy should be left behind, rather than taking a chance of spreading it at your new location.


       There are a few simple ways that you can start to try to eliminate pest problems. One suggestion is that you move all of your plants into the garage and set off a bug bomb. This might not be a great idea if your garage is attached to the house, though. Another suggestion is to place your plants into large plastic garbage bags and stick a pet flea collar or bug powder in there with them. You will not want to put the plants outside again after they’ve been treated, because it will just risk them becoming affected again.


       Pets and children should be KEPT AWAY from any pesticides or pesticide residue. Many insecticides contain dangerous chemicals, and you should always read and follow the directions on the label. If you are unsure of what to purchase or how to use what you have purchased, it is a good idea to contact a nursery or greenhouse for advice.

Preparation the Day Prior to Your Move

How should I deal with pruning?


       Choosing to prune your plants, especially the larger ones, a few days before the move benefits both you and the plant: plants will be more compact and easier to transport, and pruning back new growth creates bushier, more attractive plants.


       You should refer to a plant book or website or speak with a local greenhouse or nursery owner about the best way to prune your different plants. Some plants respond really well to pruning, and others like ferns and succulents do better without it.


What should I do if I have to leave my outdoor landscaping plants behind when I move?


       One way to “have your cake and eat it too” in regard to outdoor landscaping plants is to take cuttings from them when you move. For some homes, the gardens and landscaping is a part of the appeal of the home and one of the reasons that the buyer became interested. In some cases, it is simply impractical to take entire plants with you from the garden. In these cases, you can make your homebuyer happy, and still get to take a bit of your gardens with you to your new place.


       The day before your move, you should go around your gardens and take cuttings from the plants that you’d like to plant in your new location. Wrap each cutting in wet peat moss or newspaper, and then place them in unsealed Ziploc bags so that plants can get the air they need to breathe. Place the bags in a box and surround them with packing material so that they remain upright, and the wetness doesn’t leak out. Cuttings should be able to survive several days’ worth of travel until you can plant them at your new property.


How should I water plants prior to the move?


       Water your plants normally two or three nights before you move. Over watering plants can encourage the growth of fungus in the heat or might cause plants to freeze in cold temperatures.

Moving Day


How should I pack my plants for the move?


       Your plants should be one of the last things that you pack. This will limit the time they spend cramped in boxes and you will have easy access to them at the new location so that they can be unpacked with the first items.


       Long exposure to heat, cold, or insufficient air supply can cause plants to suffer. This is one of the reasons that the majority of movers will not agree to move plants – they cannot regulate the temperatures and conditions in the rear of their trucks. The best solution is to move the plants yourself. Remember, though, that the trunk of your car can pose an equal danger, since you cannot regulate temperatures and it lacks adequate air.


       The best way to transport plants is to pack them in appropriately sized cartons. Dishpacks work well for smaller plants, and you might want to consider using wardrobe cartons for taller plants. Make sure that you line the interior of the carton with plastic bags to protect the cardboard from moisture. Brace the base of each plant with newspaper to prevent tipping, and pack tissue paper lightly around the body of the plant to prevent damage. If it is blazing hot outside, you might want to wrap damp newspaper around plants to help them keep cool during transport.


       Remember to punch holes in the sides of cartons, and mark them “PLANTS.” Instruct your movers to load them into your vehicle last.


How do I care for my plants on the road?


       Cars can get uncomfortably to dangerously hot inside in warm weather, so it is best to remember that when stopping along the way. Try to park in the shade during hot weather, and in the sun in cold weather to protect plants from extreme temperatures as much as possible. If you watered plants two or three days before leaving, you shouldn’t need to water plants during the trip for shorter distances. For longer trips, you should water plants if and when they look too dry. If your plants are packed in covered boxes and your trip will take longer than three days, you will need to arrange a way to give them some exposure to light. Opening the tops of boxes for an hour or so during the day, or taking the plants into your hotel room overnight and leaving them in a lit room should get them through the trip successfully.


What should I do with my plants when I get to the destination?


       Plants need to be among the first things that you unpack when you arrive at your new location. A great way to prevent breakage and damage to plants is to open cartons from the bottom and remove plants by pulling them out from underneath the carton. You “go with the grain” of the plant’s growth and are less likely to bend or break branches this way. 


       Being transported this way will send plants into a state of shock. You should place plants in an out of the way place until the move is complete so that they are protected from damage. You will need to slowly reintroduce them to direct sunlight and you can do this gradually by placing them in indirect lighting.


       If you follow the instructions in this guide and rely on the advice of your local greenhouse or nursery personnel, your plants should make it through the move successfully. Given time, and some extra attention, they should regain all their former glory in no time.




Call our offices with any questions!