It goes without saying that moving is a pretty stressful time — aside from all the paperwork, packing all of your belongings into boxes that will enable you to locate things at your new home is an art in itself. I spent the first 6 weeks after my move trying to find my sieve… turns out I gave it to my neighbour along with half my saucepans in a pre-move Marie Kondo moment. Over the last few months I’d been sorting out cupboards + de-cluttering but even then, the number of boxes soon mount up + you always need more than you anticipate.
And that is before we begin to talk about that little plant collection that has been growing over the last few years…
If you are planning on moving with plants then this three part series of blog posts should help to take you through the process of what to do before, during + after you move to help keep your plants happy. I moved 300 miles with 200 plants in winter so I’ve tried + tested these methods first-hand! I wanted to wait a while before writing these posts to give myself some time to reflect… + to observe how my plants coped too. Please share this post if you find it helpful.
More often than not, you’ll have an estimated timescale for your move in advance + there will initially be other things to consider ahead of your houseplants of course! For me, houseplants were pretty high on the list of things to try + plan though as they would impact the overall moving process for a number of reasons…
I have around 200 plants. I needed to decide HOW exactly I was going to move them! Removals companies do NOT generally like plants + won’t insure against them if they get damaged. Some are so scared of plants they charge a huge premium… I had a variety of quotes + the dealbreaker was finding a company that I felt comfortable with. I tried a number of nationwide removals firms which were out of my budget so in the end I got recommended Shiply — you list your ‘job’ as an advert + people will quote for the work. It’s sort of like eBay in reverse! You can compare quotes + schedules until you find something that works for you. I chose a mid-range option + was extremely pleased with the service (FYI this is not sponsored, I am just a happy, paying customer!). All companies will ask for an itinerary of items you will be moving + an estimated number of boxes. If you have any plants that are on the larger size, make a list of ‘medium’ + ‘large’ plants that can’t be boxed with average height + spread clearly indicated. This really helps to try and see your plant collection as a removals company would.
I’m the first to say that I’m a tricky customer because alongside a hearty plant collection, I collect vintage (read: HEAVY) furniture, have a lot of art + most of those plants have ceramic pots around them. Oh + I probably need to mention I lived in the second floor of an apartment with no lift + no assigned parking space!
At this stage, it’s a good idea to get the details of your removals firmed up — I’ll admit this was one of the most stressful aspects as I’d begun to feel like ‘Laura the one with all the awkward plants and heavy furniture!’. BUT once you know how you’ll be moving from A to B you can start to get organised. I needed a removals company but chose to pack up my apartment myself — there is usually an option to pay for ‘pack + move’ but this does not cover plants + in all honesty, I would not want someone else packing up these!
NOTE: Double check there are no restrictions with moving your plants to your new location — this was not an issue for me but if you are moving between countries make sure you are clear on the legalities.
The next thing to do is order your packing equipment…
It can be bit of a reality check when you are reminded that your houseplants are living things that can be delicate, awkward + fussy… they can’t just be thrown into a box! I’ve had an online plant shop so have plenty of experience packing plants + sending them all over the place so I had some ideas how I wanted to go about wrapping things up. On that note, it’s worth saying that you could actually mail some of your plants to yourself if you think that’s a feasible option for your situation. To begin with I asked around some friends + family to collect any spare boxes from things they had ordered or from the offices they worked in (get them to okay it by the manager!). Supermarkets + hardware stores sometimes have free boxes you can take so it’s worth looking into this too. Fruit crates can be pretty strong if you aren’t moving far + can lay them out in your car (I did this on my previous Summer move a few years ago) but are no good for stacking.
I knew I needed to order a range of cardboard boxes in different sizes from a few different suppliers for all my moving needs (not just the plants). Some I got just as boxes + others as ‘packing kits’ which included parcel tape, permanent markers, bubble wrap + paper tissue. If you know any one that reads an actual physical newspaper, ask them to keep these for you as packing materials — they make great padding around things like cacti. By having boxes in a variety of sizes, you’ll be able to see what works best for the sizes of plants you have… but I wouldn’t get anything too large as this will be heavier + more risky to move without breakage.
Look around your space + note anything you might have already you can repurpose into plant containers… I had some recycling bins that held 4 or 5 plants when packed, two plastic storage tubs that were great for stacking + housed quite a lot of my smaller cacti + succulents (all individually packed inside + taped shut)…+ 4 apple crates that I had used as kitchen shelves. These were great for holding 4 or 5 of my medium sized plants in each (all wrapped but obviously now unable to be stacked).
As it was winter when I moved, I thought I would try out using some protection fleece for my larger plants in particular — I got three rolls + two ‘tunnels’ (below right) from Wilko which was quite affordable + I can report that they worked brilliantly. I have since re-used them for my outdoor plants when there has been a cold snap in the weather up here. Another thing I had in abundance were recycling bags — they are ‘bin-bag’ sized so I thought these could come in really handy to wrap around plants as an additional layer of insulation, plus, they could be re-used + recycled.
I’ll get into the packing process in the next post, but next lets talk about plant care before moving…
A few weeks prior to moving is the ideal time to carry out a proper plant inspection of your collection — it helps to be a little bit ruthless here + identify any you might want to pass onto friends or family! I decided to focus on prepping my houseplants for moving which meant that I kindly asked my family to take + look after most of my outdoor plants… some of these were in heavy pots + were too much of a headache to add into the mix! I did bring my oxalis tubers (easy to transport) + my two cycads but everything else is being looked after in the greenhouse for now.
Prune anything you have been meaning to, remove any dead leaves + generally give your plants a good clean. I wouldn’t advise doing any major repotting pre-moving (especially in winter) as the plant will take time to settle + adjust — wait until you + your plants have settled in your new space! If you have anything potted in an extremely heavy pot, consider switching it to a plastic one if you have it. Most of my houseplants are in nursery pots so I removed their cache pots + packed these separately where I could… my cycad made the move ok but case in point — the pot got knocked + smashed to bits:
It’s at this point that you’ll also want to check for pests — if you have any plants that are recovering from an attack or something that just looks a bit ‘iffy’, separate it so that it doesn’t get boxed with other healthy plants.
I found it helpful to begin to group plants with similar needs together at this point to pack together. Think about sizing too + start to visualise plants that would pack well together. I found one larger plant with 4 or 5 in each of the corners of the box quite a good system to start with. I’ll go into this more in the next blogpost.
Watering advice is season- and location-dependent so bear this in mind. I moved in winter + the best option for me was to keep my plants on the dry-side… some were dormant + needing little watering anyway. In cooler temperatures, it’s best to not water too close to moving as this can cause some damage to the roots if they are sitting in wet, cold potting mix. Best to water as you normally would + not make any drastic changes. If you are moving during the warmer months, water a day or two before moving if possible. Be warned…this does make the boxes heavier to carry!
Winter + plants + moving is not an ideal combination but this was out of my control. This meant that simply sitting plants in open top boxes wouldn’t work as it would be too cold; there are other options here such as heated vans + heat packs but this is pricey when you consider the amount of plants I was shifting from one end of the country to the other. I was moving from A to B in one day so my plants wouldn’t be sitting in a van overnight; try + avoid this if possible as extreme temperature fluctuations are a no-no.
For general tips on moving I found this Post Office moving home checklist to be really helpful + kept me on top of the paperwork + organisational side of things.
In the next instalment, I’ll be focusing on how to pack your plants + how to make the moving process as seamless as possible.