How to Move Plants

When moving house, we don't always think through what needs to be done to protect plants in the move. Yet, some pre-planning is essential to ensure that they remain healthy and make the move intact. Here are some suggestions on moving your plants.


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    Decide which plants are going to move with you. Think realistically about space, weight, and suitability of the new house and/or climate for your existing plants. If you're moving interstate, check local quarantine regulations on plant movement and if moving overseas, it's likely that you cannot move plants, or that to do so will be extremely costly.
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    Prepare the plants a few weeks ahead. Clean them up several weeks prior to the move so that they're not stressed by carrying disease, dead leaves and branches, etc. Prune, deadhead, and generally tidy up the plants.
    • The less foliage on a plant, the less effort the plant has to put into protecting itself as a whole.
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    If digging up and transplanting plants from your garden, plan well ahead. It's a good idea to get professional advice if possible.
    • Dig up well ahead of time, months if possible.
    • Wrap the root ball in hessian cloth.
    • Place the plant in a cool, shaded area of the garden.
    • Keep the root ball moist (not wet) at all times.
    • Move with care; try not to move it more than necessary from the time it's dug out of the ground to the time it is loaded on the moving truck.
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    Remove pests and weeds. Check the plants to be moved one week prior to moving for pests and weeds. Eliminate them. You don't want to carry them with you and if the new place doesn't have an infestation of the same pests, here is a chance to break the cycle for your plants.
    • A quick fix for both plant and soil is to place the entire plant and container into an opaque plastic bag with a flea collar or pest strip. Leave overnight and remove the plastic bag the next morning.
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    Put the plants into suitable containers the day before moving. Cardboard boxes are the best choice for most plants as they're sturdy and breathe. Use dampened newspaper or packing paper to hold the plants in place within the boxes.
    • Protect the leaves using paper. Float a thin, damp layer of paper over the top of each plant to act as a protective layer.
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    Clearly mark the boxes so that removers know what they're dealing with. Write "PLANTS. HANDLE WITH CARE." in large letters.
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    Close the boxes on moving day itself. Give the plants a quick spray spritz and close the lids. Punch breathing holes into various parts of the boxes.
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    Unpack plants as soon as they arrive. Along with pets, plants should be your top priority for settling in quickly.
    • Take plants out from the base of the box. This will ensure that you handle the heaviest end of the plant and avoid damaging the stem.
    • Keep the plants in darker lit areas initially and gradually return them to brighter light, to give them a chance to adjust to the brighter light/sunshine again.


  • For plants that you cannot take but you still would like, take cuttings. Cuttings can be wrapped in wet paper towels and placed into a plastic bag. Take cuttings just before leaving and plant them quickly upon arrival – see How to grow cuttings for more details.
  • Bulbs can be dug up when dormant and stored in orange bags. They will transport easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle
  • Marker
  • Tape to close boxes
  • Plastic bag for cuttings

Sources and Citations

  • Elsie Agnes Allen, Household Hints and Tips, p. 420, (2003), ISBN 1-8651-5942-5 – research source

Article Info

Categories: Moving House and Packing