How to Safely Transport House Plants

Updated on November 7, 2018
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna writes about the care of plants (indoors, outdoors, and in gardens). She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.

Like Moving Your Loved Ones

Transporting your houseplants is much like moving your loved ones–you have to keep them safe along the way. And much like your loved ones, your houseplants will need time to adjust and acclimate themselves to their new environment. The better care you offer your plants during the big move, the more easily they will adjust to their new habitat. There are a few important steps you can take to ensure that your plants are transported safely and thrive once they get to their new home.

I Love Green Inspiration
I Love Green Inspiration

Plants are Sensitive

Before you start packing your houseplants in the back of a big moving truck, remember that your plants are extremely sensitive to hot and cold weather alike. Even a little exposure to cold weather can leave your houseplants burned by the low temperatures. Hot weather can quickly wilt and kill your houseplants, too. Never transport your houseplants in the back of a moving van or pickup truck. Your houseplants should always ride with you in a climate-controlled vehicle. Think of them as part of your family is an excellent guideline. Your indoor plants comfort is important.

Gardener's World
Gardener's World

Moving During Cold Climate

When the cold climate is here, be sure to wrap your plants up before taking them outside to the car so they don’t get too cold or freeze. A paper bag provides the best insulation, but a plastic bag will do in a pinch. Even a brief moment walking them to the car in the cold can severely damage your plants so much that you will not be able to revive them. Try to have the car warmed up before you put the plants in and don’t let their leaves touch the windows or the cold will burn them.

Monarchs in the Desert
Monarchs in the Desert

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Do Not Leave Your Plants in a Hot Car

When the hot climate is here, take care not to let your houseplants overheat. Always provide them shade in the car so the sun cannot beat down on them. The hot sun can burn your plants even in a moving vehicle that has the air conditioning on if you do not provide adequate shade. You also must take care not to keep them in a stationary vehicle on a warm day as the temperatures can rise to unreasonable levels in just a few short minutes. Do not leave your plants in a hot car. Once you purchase your new plants, you need to go straight home and get your new plant in a safe environment.

Drastic Moves

Depending on the type of plants and how drastic a move you have made (i.e. California to Washington), your houseplants will need to spend some time acclimating themselves to their new environment. This means that you need to gradually increase or decrease the light according to your plants' typical habits. Basically, just try to make their new home as much like their old one as possible so your plants have the best chance to survive in their new surroundings.

Talk to a Professional

Talk with your local nursery. Nurseries offer delivery service for plants you purchase and on occasions will help you move your plants for a fee. If you need help moving your indoor plants locally to a new location, they have professional staff who can safely move any plant of any size. Just give them a call and talk to one of their consultants.

Questions & Answers

  • My question is whether or not to use the air conditioner in my car to help the plants while I transport them to another place. Will the air conditioner in my car help or hurt my houseplants?

    I am assuming you are not transporting these plants from a nursery. Perhaps, you are moving to a new home or office. Transporting plants in a car is not an easy task if the time in the car is more than 20 minutes. I recommend cooling the car before placing the plants in the car to 72 degrees. If it is only two to three small plants, I would not worry. However, if you have some large bushy plants like Schefflera or a Ficus, it will require more than one trip. The key is to be patient and allow your plants plenty of room. Keep the air conditioner from blowing directly onto the plant. Don't water them for a couple days after they are in their new home because they will be a bit traumatized and need some time to acclimate to their new home.

© 2016 Kenna McHugh


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