From fiddle leaf figs to an arrangement of succulents, houseplants add so much beauty to our homes, but moving them is tricky. Most houseplants and potted outdoor plants find a long-distance move traumatic, and some won’t recover. Unless you’re planning a local move, save the stress of relocating your houseplants by gifting them to friends and relatives. However, if you just can’t bear to part with a rare cycad or a cherished orchid, follow these steps to raise the chances of your plants surviving the trip to your new home.

Moving Supplies You’ll Need to Pack Your Houseplants

  • Moving boxes
  • One plastic pot for each plant, the same size as the clay pot
  • Sterilized potting soil
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Plant stakes
  • Kraft paper
  • Packing paper or newspaper
  • Packing tape

Steps for Packing Houseplants for a Move

1. Understand state restrictions

If you’re moving to a new state, first check the state’s Department of Agriculture website to make sure the plants you want to bring with you are permitted. If you know something about seed and nursery catalogs, you’re aware that some states prohibit certain plants because introducing new plants from other areas can spread disease, pests, and weeds. Don’t even think about trying to sneak your plants across state borders. State officials inspect moving vans at border crossings and will impose fines for illegal contents.

2. Understand your moving company’s restrictions

Most moving companies will not transport plants, especially for long-distance moves. Be sure to confirm with your moving company before you start to pack your plants. If they won’t carry your plants, make sure you have adequate space in your vehicle to do so.

3. Consider temperatures during the move and the climate of your new home

Consider your plants’ hardiness and their adaptability to environmental changes. And be aware that the cargo area of a moving van isn’t temperature controlled. If you’re moving during temperate seasons, your leafy buddies will be able to survive about two or three days inside the truck. During the summer and winter, most plants won’t survive a single day. They’ll be a lot happier if they can accompany you in the passenger compartment, not the trunk, of your car with the A/C  or heater keeping them comfortable.

4. Repot each plant into a plastic pot

About a month before your move, repot your plants into plastic pots the same size as the original pot. A month should give your plants time to adjust to their new pots and soil, allowing them a better chance of surviving their trip. Use fresh, sterilized potting soil. Sterilized soil is free of pests and reduces the chance of your plants carrying an unwanted traveler to your new home. You can buy sterilized soil at any home improvement center.

5. Prune and trim

About a week before your move, trim up your plants and prune as necessary. Pruning keeps your plants healthy, reduces the chance of broken branches or stems, and makes them more compact to pack up properly.

6. Water each plant

About two days before your move, thoroughly water each plant. On moving day, you want the soil to be moist but not soaking wet. Thorough watering a few days before moving should provide your plants with the moisture they need to handle the trip.

7. Add support

Stake leggy or tall plants to add support. Trees like palms and ficus may seem sturdy, but the continual motion of transport can quickly weaken their trunks and cause damage.

8. Contain the soil

If a plant is so tall that you’ll need to lay it at an angle or on its side, contain the soil by packing moistened sphagnum moss between the trunk and the edge of the pot. Wrap Kraft paper around the pot and over the moss, then tape closed. Avoid wrapping with plastic.

9. Wrap the plants

Use Kraft paper to make a paper cone for each plant. The cone will contain the branches, stems, and leaves, protecting them from damage. Wrap tall trees with Kraft paper, so the branches are protected. Avoid using stretch wrap or plastic to wrap plants and trees. Plastic prevents plants from breathing and can encourage mold.

10. Place in boxes

Put the wrapped plants in boxes and fill the air spaces around the pots with tightly crumpled packing paper or newspaper to prevent them from sliding and moving.