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How to Transport Plants When Moving House

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Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

11th Sep 2018 (Last updated on 27th Mar 2024) 11 minute read

When moving with plants you should consider the weather, temperature, and the type of transportation being used. The materials used to protect the plants are important too.

With so much to consider when moving, your plants may not be at the forefront of your mind. As care and effort that has gone into growing them, you must plan their move carefully. This will help you to move your plants without killing them or causing damage.

In this article, we have discussed everything you need to know about the process of packing and moving your plants when moving house.

  1. How to Transport Plants When Moving House
  2. When is the Best Time to Move Plants?
  3. Before Moving Day
  4. On Moving Day
  5. Tips on How to Avoid Damage When Moving Plants
  6. Unpacking Plants in Your New Home
  7. Saving Money on Your House Move

How to Transport Plants When Moving House

Before loading your items, label the boxes that contain your plants. You should mark the top clearly and use fragile tape so the movers know to handle them carefully. Ideally, you should bring the plants with you in the car rather than placing them in the van. You can then keep a closer eye on them and this will help to prevent damage.

Extreme hot or cold temperatures can damage plants. When transporting the plants yourself, try to control the temperature of the vehicle as much as possible. This is especially important for larger plants. Smaller potted plants should be fairly comfortable in the removal van, but larger items will need more organisation.

If you’re placing your plants in the van, be thoughtful with how you arrange them. Do not place heavy items on the boxes as it will cause damage. Consider each plant’s preferences and try to find the spaces with the correct amount of sunlight.

Don't tape the top of the box closed for any plants in boxes, so the movers know not to stack any boxes. You should ideally avoid watering the plants for a day or so before the moving date. This will help to make the soil lighter and the plants easier to transport.

When is the Best Time to Move Plants?

Ideally, you will want to move plants at a time of year when it’s cooler. Early spring or late autumn is the best time to move plants. This will help to cause as little disruption to them as much as possible.

Between October and March, the majority of plants become dormant - this is the part of the plant cycle where they can adapt more quickly to a new environment, making it easier to move.

This time of year typically has the ideal climatic conditions for moving plants. The weather is usually mild and the temperatures are fairly moderate. It will also provide them with the best chance of survival once they have been replanted.

Different species of plants have different dormant periods, so you must do your research before moving. You may not necessarily be able to move during this period, especially if it’s a last-minute house move. Being informed about how to take care of the plants and help them recover when you have moved into your new home.

If you’re moving plants in a hot car or moving truck, this can damage the foliage. It can potentially kill the plants as it will be too warm for them to survive for a long period. It’s important to transport the plants quickly and at a temperature that will help to protect them.

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Before Moving Day

You will need to prepare the plants correctly before your moving day and plan in advance the best way to move the plants that you have. You will also need to consider the distance the plants will travel. Moving plants a short distance is very different compared to moving them across the UK.

You will need to ensure the plants are wrapped and secure during a short journey. However, they may not need the same level of care and protection compared to a long journey.

For long journeys, the plants shouldn’t be too dry and need good access to oxygen. They should be wrapped securely, and placed in suitable boxes. While this applies to short-distance moves, it’s not as essential. The plants will still need to be able to breathe.

Consider the Right Removal Company (What Do They Offer?)

While most moving companies will move plants, not every company will, especially if you need a long-distance house move. You can check with the individual removal company before you book your removal service.

Some white glove delivery services may cover live plants. As this is a specialised service, it is typically more expensive compared to standard removals.

Some removal companies may provide packing services that include plants, but this is unlikely. You will need to prepare and pack your plants for the trip. This includes wrapping large plants and ensuring there are holes in the sides of the boxes. Most vans are not temperature-controlled. This can further endanger your plants, especially in extreme temperatures in the summer months.

Do not place your plants at the back of a removal van. This is because they are at a higher risk of being crushed. There is less air circulation in van trailers especially at the back, which can cause a dangerous environment for them.

How Early Should You Get Your Plants Ready?

Your plants should be one of the last things you pack so they are in their natural habitat for as long as possible.

The quicker they can be packaged, moved and replanted the better. This will provide them with the best chance of survival. A few days before moving, you can place the plants into their moving boxes and begin to prep them. It’s not recommended to seal them up until just before you’re about to load them into the vehicle.

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On Moving Day

When it comes to your moving day, you want to ensure that the plants are moved as quickly and as safely as possible. That way your moving day will be straightforward and will only involve loading and unloading the plants into the moving van or car.

How to Pack Plants for Moving House

When packing plants, you should re-pot any that are currently in clay pots to shatter-proof plastic pots. This will prevent the pots from being damaged during transit. It will also make the plants lighter to carry.

You should prune the plants before packing them to remove dead or damaged leaves. This will help make the plant healthier and will help to prevent damage. Don’t forget to check for any pests, parasites or insects to ensure you don’t cause an infestation at your new home.

If you have many large plants to move, wrap them with old bedding or even tissue paper to help protect the branches. Removal vans can be quite crowded if you have a lot of items to move. The more you can protect the branches from snapping the better.

Plants can make the air moist which will weaken the cardboard boxes. This is why you need to use sturdy boxes and durable packing materials. Smaller plants can be kept in regular moving boxes. Add newspaper, bubble wrap or packing paper between the pots to prevent them from moving during transit.

If you have delicate or fragile plants, you can use a dog crate, birdcage and even a cat carrier to transport them. This allows the plants to breathe during transit but also helps to protect them from damage. Finding the most efficient and safest way to transport the plants is essential.

Don’t forget to poke holes in the boxes and box lids that contain your plants. It’s advised that you keep any plants in a dry area of the house for a week before your moving day.

Tips on How to Avoid Damage When Moving Plants

Here are some helpful tips for moving plants during a house move:

1. Let the Estate Agent Know the Plants You’re Taking from the Garden

You should decide what plants you're taking before you set your moving date. Inform the estate agent of what you intend to take from the garden before contracts are signed and exchanged.

When moving home you will need to fill out a TA10 Form. This form involves the fixtures and fittings of a property. It explains clearly what is and isn’t included in the sale of the property. Plants in your garden are covered by this.

As a result, you will need to state clearly in this form the plants you are planning to take with you. If you don’t the buyer can potentially take legal action if they thought the plants were going to be included in the property.

2. Research the Climate You’re Moving To

Your plants may thrive in the particular climate you live in, but if you're moving to a new area, they might not survive. For example, if you live in the UK and you're moving from the South to the North, plants like fig trees may not grow because the climate isn't right for them.

Do your research on how the climate you’re moving to will affect your plants. Make the decision on which ones are staying and going based on your findings.

3. Check the Soil Type

If you’re transferring plants to the new garden, the soil type in your new garden will need to be checked. Certain plants need to have soil at a certain acidic or alkaline level to survive.

4. Know Which Plants Can Be Uprooted

Do your research to find out which plants can be uprooted and transplanted and which ones you should take cuttings from instead. Look up instructions on how to take proper cuttings from your plants and keep them in a pot filled with compost to root.

Plant and tree experts Ashridge Trees say to imagine the roots spanning as far as the branches reach and to dig accordingly. Moving trees younger than 5 years can be relatively stress-free, whereas older plants may need specialist help.

5. Show Your Removal Company the Current Garden

Make sure the removal company conducts a house removal survey before your moving date. They will then know exactly what you're taking and what is going to be involved. This will help them to handle fragile and delicate plants in the best way.

It also provides them with a clearer idea of how much space the plants will take up. If you have large potted plants or heavy ceramic pots that need to be moved, the movers may need special lifting equipment to move these.

6. Know How Big Your New Garden Is

Along with the soil type and climate, you'll need to consider the size and shape of your new garden. This will determine whether your plants are suitable or not. You should also consider where the sun will hit most and what plants need the most or least exposure to the light.

7. Keep Your Plants Well Hydrated

Moving house can affect your plant's regular watering schedule. Before the move, make sure the plants you’re transporting are sufficiently watered. Don’t forget to drain any potted plants a few days before your moving date. This will help to minimise the weight of the pots and reduce the chances of spillage during transit.

Do not let your outdoor or house plants dry out completely. This can cause them to die. A water sprayer is an ideal tool when moving plants. It will help to keep them hydrated throughout the moving process.

8. Know Which Plants You Should Avoid Moving

There are a few plants you will want to avoid bringing with you to your new home. This includes Japanese Knotweed which can grow as fast as 10cm a day. It’s capable of forcing its way through concrete, foundations, walls and drains. Japanese Knotweed can cause subsidence, major cracks in brickwork and even dampness.

You should only ever move native plants that are suitable to plant in the area. You should not move invasive plants that will harm the environment. If you are moving within the UK, this should not be an issue.

To learn more read: Plants That Can Damage Your Property

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Unpacking Plants in Your New Home

When you arrive at your new home, you should try to get your plants back into a similar condition they were in at the previous property. You should aim to do this as quickly as possible to give your plants the best chance of surviving the move.

Carefully unwrap and unpack your plants as soon as they’re off the removal van if you have space to safely do so. To help prevent breakage, you can remove the plants from the bottom of the box or container, rather than moving them by their top stems or leaves.

Once unpackaged, you can place the plants back into their original pots. Spray them with water to revitalise them if you feel they need it. You will likely need to water your plants if you’re moving on a warm day.

Find the right spot for each one in the new house by taking the amount of light and ideal temperature into consideration. The growing conditions should be as close to your old home as possible.

Some plants can suffer from transplant shock shortly after moving house. This happens if the temperature and conditions in the new home are different. They can recover from this, but you will need to keep a close eye on their condition and monitor them for a few days. During this time, avoid moving the plants to a different room because they need to acclimatise to the new environment.

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Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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