Moving Your Plants

Moving your plants on the van with your household goods can be challenging due to cold and heat and lack of light. Plants are shipped on the van at the owner’s risk.

How To Prevent Shock


Most plants are prone to shock when moved. Creating a comfortable microenvironment for the plants to weather the trip can minimize shock. If you are moving in the winter, ensure that all plants are on the dry side on moving day by watering them for the last time two or three days before the move. If you are moving in summer, water the plants well on the morning of the packing day and let excess water drain away.


It is easier to insulate plants from cold than to protect them from heat. If you are taking them with you in the car, transport them inside the passenger area. If you have to use the trunk, cover the tops of the boxes with blankets to insulate them from heat or cold. If you leave the car, park in a sunny spot and close the windows in the winter. Park in the shade and leave the windows slightly open in the summer. If you are staying in a motel, bring the plants into your room at night.

Two or Three Days Before the Move

Water plants for the last time if you are moving in the winter. Line packing boxes with plastic bags so moisture will not seep through and weaken cartons. Cut several holes about the size of a quarter in the lid and sides of the carton to ensure good ventilation and avoid excessive moisture. Mark the carton “This Side Up” and “Plants-Fragile”.

The Day Before the Move

In summer, water plants well in the morning. Construct protective funnel-shaped sleeves out of heavy paper. They should be the height of the plant and the diameter of its pot. Place the sleeve around the plant, making sure the foliage is gently folded, and tape it firmly. Stake larger plants carefully and tie their foliage if necessary. Place plants of similar size into the carton. Leave enough space between the lid and the top of the highest plant. Pad the pots well so they won’t jar against each other. Use a lot of cushioning paper.

On Moving Day

Place newspaper (damp in summer, dry in winter) loosely around the tops of the plants. Close the lids and fasten with tape. If you are taking the plants in the car, make sure the movers know they are not to be loaded into the van or container. Load the plants into the car at the last minute. Make sure they won’t be crushed

At Destination

Move the plants into the house as soon as possible and open the boxes. Leave the plants inside the boxes for a few hours to minimize shock. Later in the day, unpack and water them. Place plants in locations similar to the ones they were used to at origin, but do not place in direct sunlight until one or two weeks after the move. Shock can cause leaves to yellow and drop. Do not be alarmed; this is normal and should not last. Altitude, air, water quality and moisture content may be quite different in your new home and some plants may have to be repotted into a heavier or lighter mix. A local horticulturist will be able to advise you.