Moving Plants

5 Tips For Moving Plants

By: Teri Silver

Getting ready for moving day means more than just throwing things in boxes and suitcases, especially when live plants are on the list. Plants grow in various sizes, and large ones can be quite a chore to package, so they’re not damaged in transit.

When moving plants to and throughout Ohio, especially those you want to transplant into the ground, consider your new home’s location, soil, and climate. Preparing plants and shrubs for the move will help them thrive in their new environment.

Before the Move

About three weeks before relocating — and depending on the size of each houseplant (and its root system) — remove your plants from any breakable clay pots. Replant them with clean soil in plastic containers. This allows the plants to settle into their new, albeit temporary, environment. Pack the empty clay pots in bubble wrap or boxes and move them as you would other fragile items.

Inspect for bugs by placing a dog or cat’s flea collar at the container’s base to draw out any pests. Water the plant two or three days before the move so that soil is moist but not overly saturated. Most plants can go seven to 10 days without water, as long as the roots stay damp.

Pack ’Em Up, Give Them a Ride (Preferably in Your Vehicle)5 Tips For Moving Plants

A moving van is not an ideal environment for live plants. There’s no sunlight, airflow, or water. If possible, it’s better for you to transport your houseplants and shrubs in your own vehicle. 

In Your Vehicle

Pack up potted plants with:

  • Firm moving boxes that are supported with stuffing inside.
  • Plastic (instead of clay) containers.
  • Bubble wrap.
  • Newspaper or packing paper/Styrofoam peanuts.
  • Plastic bags and ties.

If They Must Go in a Moving Van

  • Place a plastic bag over the container and tie it so the soil will stay in place.
  • Tape the box at loose ends, to be sure it stays secure.
  • Fill in empty spaces with newspaper or other packing materials.
  • Poke holes in box and plastic covering for plants to “breathe.”
  • Label each box “fragile” and “live plant.”

Too Big? Take a Cutting to Go

When you find a beloved shrub or bush is impossible to move, you can take a cutting that will sprout new roots.  Take a sharp knife or pruning shears and cut several healthy stems about 3 to 6 inches long. Moisten the ends by wrapping them in a wet paper towel, then secure each side with rubber bands or twist ties. If you have any, use plastic stem holders – you may be able to buy them from your local florist. Pack the cuttings by loosely placing them in a plastic container.

You’ll need to get them into a proper rooting material very soon after arrival. Cuttings won’t survive if they lose water.

Rules and Guidelines

When bringing plants to Ohio from overseas, you must abide by USDA rules, which determine if the vegetation is free of insects and disease.  Ohio also has a list of 38 banned invasive plants, and plans to update the list. Rules on invasive plants, which became effective in 2018, are firm: 

“No person shall sell, offer for sale, propagate, distribute, import or intentionally cause the dissemination of any invasive plant in the state of Ohio.”

Invasive plants are detrimental to the environment of the Buckeye State since they crowd out the native plants. 

Growing Conditions in Ohio

Whether it’s turfgrass or flower and shrubbery beds, the growing environment and climate in Ohio determines what will thrive outside of your new home. Ohio soils vary with their location. When embedding outdoor plants, ideal soil temperatures should be 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can call the extension office at The Ohio State University for help finding a soil test kit or a lab that will test the soil for you.  

Moving from place to place can be stressful but if you have a plan in place, your houseplants will be okay.  So, take a deep breath and stop worrying … you’ll get there!


Teri Silver is a journalist and outdoor enthusiast who spends her weekends mowing her 5-acre lawn outside of Columbus. She’s an avid do-it-yourselfer who refurbishes anything she can get her hands on.

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