How to Successfully Move Plants to a New Home

My Garden Life
February 24, 2021
Table of Contents

You’ve nurtured and cared for your plants and now you are moving. Plants often have sentimental value, such as a plant started from a dear friend’s collection, or a plant you may have received on a special occasion. However, as much as you may want to take your plants to your new home, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you start packing your boxes. Here are three helpful tips to consider when moving with plants:

1. Research Your New Locality

screen shot of the USDA website

While moving involves many details, knowing that it is against state and federal laws to move some plants between states is important. Regulations exist to prevent the spread of pests, diseases, and invasive plant species that might have devastating consequences if introduced into new regions. Begin your research as soon as you know you are moving. Compile a list of your plants and research locality rules for the state or country of your new home. Many state agriculture offices are a great place to start your research. The National Plant Board website contains helpful contact information per state as well as the USDA website.
Tip: For houseplants you must leave behind, consider donating them to friends or a local nursing home.

2. Pack Your Plants

packing plants with bubble wrap to prepare for a house move

The first crucial step to packing plants is to water them the day before the move rather than the day of the move. This gives the plants time to absorb the water and prevents spills during transport. Gather sturdy boxes and line the boxes with plastic. Use cushioning such as bubble wrap around each plant in the box.
One of the most secure places within your car for your plant is behind the driver or passenger seats. The floor is preferable for taller plants, while the back seat is suitable for boxed plants. Wrap tall plants in plastic to prevent stem breakage. Remember to poke holes in the plastic for air flow. If moving requires overnight travel during cold months, take the plants inside your hotel to prevent freezing.
Don’t forget any garden bulbs you want to move to your new home. Dig up the bulbs and place them in paper, not plastic, bags. Cut away any dead or damaged areas of the bulbs. By storing them in paper bags, the bulbs will keep nicely. Plant the bulbs in the new soil upon arrival at your new home. Digging up and relocating bulbs is something that is possible to do any time of year or season.

3. Help Plants Adjust to Their New Home

tired couple with moving boxes and plants

Moving is stressful for everyone, including your plants. Garden plants especially need time to adjust to the change in climate and soil. Unwrap plastic from the tall plants and remove plants from their boxes when you arrive at the new home. Give the plants sunshine and water if needed. If you repotted the plants in plastic containers before the move, wait a week before placing them back in their original pots or in the ground.
Plants are fragile and moving is a shock to their system. Keep an eye on them in the following days and weeks. If they appear to have problems in the new environment, reconsider your watering routine or the amount of light. Those are the two most common issues.
Caring for plants is an investment of time. Plants bring warmth, color and ambiance to a home. From your grandmother’s favorite African violet to bulbs of your favorite flower, taking them with you is important for feeling at home in your new place. Once you arrive at your new home, you’ll be less likely to become homesick once you unpack your plants and plant your bulbs. It’s like taking a little of your old home with you.
decorative outdoor lighting on a fence

Does your new home need extra lighting oomph in the yard? Here are ideas for adding some outdoor lights!


  1. Greg Mover

    Moving my beloved plants to a new home was my priority, and I’m happy to say it was a success! The key to a smooth transition was careful planning and preparation. I carefully dug up each plant to minimize stress during the move, preserving as much of the root ball as possible.

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Greg,
      Thanks for the good reminder to always try to dig as much of the root ball as possible when moving outdoor plants. Getting them replanted in the new location quickly, and then monitoring watering until the plants get established, should result in success.


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