Tips & Tricks for Moving with Houseplants

If you’re considering moving, your houseplants may have already crossed your mind. You may have even already gone through some of the stages of grief while you contemplate leaving your little green friends behind. Fortunately, you may not have to! Here are our best tips and tricks to help you and your precious mobile jungle survive the trip! 

According to the Census Bureau, the average American moves 11.4 times in their lives, so sooner or later you will need to know how to safely transport your plants.

First Things First 

According to the Census Bureau, the average American moves 11.4 times in their lives, so sooner or later you’ll need to know how to safely transport your plants. Before you begin preparations, there are a couple of things to consider in advance.

  1. Check out the state or regional regulations on imported plants, especially if you’re moving out-of-state. These vary dramatically from place to place, based on agricultural protection laws. States with particularly specific regulations include Oregon, California, and Florida, but it’s smart to check no matter where you’re moving.
  2. Consider downsizing. Set your favorite plants aside, and consider consolidating the rest. Give some plants to family or friends, donate them, or host a plant sale and make some money to buy new plants for your new place! But more on this later. 
  3. Be aware of the climate. Nobody likes moving in the winter, but plants have a particularly hard time. If you happen to be moving during extreme heat or cold, be aware of how this can impact your plants, and adjust your plan accordingly. If your trip will take more than one day, try to avoid leaving your plants out in freezing temperatures, and try to keep them out of intense light, which can be magnified by car windows.
  4. Unfortunately, many moving companies won’t move houseplants, so be sure to check the policies of the company you’re hiring.

Preparing for the Move 

Experts unanimously recommend preparing your plants for the move up to three weeks before the actual moving day, and for good reason. Your plants will need time to acclimate before the trip, whether you’re moving across town or making a long-haul cross-country. 

  1. First, give your plants some TLC. Prune back some of the excess growth, pinch off bugs, and trim dead leaves or branches. This will help them recover more quickly from the shock of the transition. 
  2. Consider doing a full soil-refresh for your plants. This will eradicate any pests or fungi that might stow away with you. It’s good for your plants, and it’s also responsible for the environment. 
  3. While you’re refreshing the soil, many moving experts recommend swapping out all of your heavy, breakable pots with plastic nursery pots of the same size. This not only makes your plants significantly easier to move—especially if they’re on the big side—but it preserves your expensive pots as well, which can then be carefully wrapped like any other ceramic. 
  4. A few days before the move, give your plants plenty of water. This will keep the soil from spilling out of the containers, in addition to nourishing your plants, which should be fine waiting 7-10 days for another drink.


  1. Pack your smaller plants into open cardboard boxes or plastic totes. Larger plants may need boxes of their own, but you can pack smaller ones together, so long as you avoid overcrowding. To ensure there’s no wiggling around, tuck them in with packing paper, newspaper, or even old socks and towels.
  2. To ensure that your pots don’t spill everywhere, you can cover them with plastic bags, which tie around the base of the plant, conveniently catching any spillage.
  3. If you are moving a larger plant or tree that you will have to tip onto its side, pack the opening of the pot with sphagnum moss to keep everything in place. 
  4. Whenever possible, keep your plants in the vehicle with you, rather than in the trunk, so that they have continued light access and less chance of falling over. 
  5. For larger plants or plants with lots of foliage, you can build a simple cone out of craft paper that will help keep the leaves safe. Ease your plant into the cone with the widest opening facing up so that the leaves are pinned upward rather than down. Secure the cone with tape, staples, etc, to help maintain the shape. 
  6. Make sure nothing can fall on or damage your plant, especially if you’re moving them in a moving van. 

Post-Move Care 

It’s not uncommon for plants to go into shock after a big transition (I call it a plantrum). This can mean the sudden loss of leaves, or signs of wilting, but these aren’t necessarily cause for panic. In most cases, your plants should show signs of recovery within a week or two. With that being said:

  1. Make your plants a priority. As soon as you arrive and begin to unpack, bring your plants inside and unbox them so that they can have space and light. 
  2. Figure out where in your new space you’re going to place your plants—while you may change your mind later, having a plan means you move your plants less, and thereby minimize the shock. 
  3. Give your plants (and yourself) time to recover. Moves are exhausting affairs regardless of your species, and your plants will need time to rest and recover, same as you. But the good news is, once they’ve adjusted to their new space, the pruning and refreshing you performed before the move should have them thriving in no time. 

Final Tips 

  1. One of the simplest ways to make your move even easier is to rent a dolly or a scooter board. These can make transporting your large plants a cinch and spare your back and your sanity. 
  2. If you know you need to downsize, but can’t bear the thought of getting rid of any plants, consider taking plant cuttings with you. Plant cuttings are easy to transport and take up considerably less room, and that way you don’t have to feel like you’re losing the whole plant! To transport a cutting, simply wrap a moist paper towel around the cut, secure it with a rubber band, and transfer in a plastic container, or even in a ziplock bag to maintain humidity. Plant moving made even easier! 

I hope you gleaned some helpful tips and tricks from this article. Have you moved with plants recently? What were the secrets to your success? What did you wish you had known earlier? As always, keep sharing your plant journey with us @houseofplantlovers. Happy moving! 

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