Moving with Plants: Tips for a Green Transition

Woman packing plants for a move.

Moving to a new home is exciting and stressful. For a plant, there’s no excitement, only stress.

As much as your cat hates being moved, your plants dislike it more. Why else would they send out roots? It’s their way of saying, “We’re not going anywhere.”

So, for a plant enthusiast, leafy companions add a layer of complexity to the moving process. You’d like them to arrive at your new digs in more or less the same condition they left the old place.

Let’s explore how to make the green transition as smooth as possible.

Declutter Before You Move

Purge the Unhealthy Ones

We all have that one plant we bought on impulse or received as a gift. But now, it has seen better days and isn’t thriving no matter what you do.

Or maybe you propagated a dozen spider plants during a gardening binge, and they’ve taken over your living room.

Moving is a prime opportunity to say goodbye to your struggling or surplus green pals.

It may seem harsh, but it’s also a chance to start fresh. Plus, you’re reducing the stress of moving plants that may not survive the journey. Bid them a fond farewell, try to rehome them, and focus on the plants that can make the journey with you.

Assess Your Plants

Before packing a single pot, take stock of your plant collection. Identify the requirements of the plants you have. Some may thrive in sunlight, while others prefer shade. Some like drier soil than others. Understanding your plants’ needs will guide your moving strategy.

Create a Plant Moving Plan

Setting a timeline that considers each plant’s unique needs. Succulents and cacti can withstand weeks without water, making them perfect candidates for an early move.

On the other hand, moisture-loving species like ferns and ivies should be moved closer to the relocation day to ensure they don’t dry out.

Maintaining the proper environment is crucial for your plants’ survival. Evaluate factors like light exposure, temperature, and humidity in various parts of your new home. The south-facing window perfect for your sun-loving plants might not exist in the new place.

Sketch a rough layout of your new home with windows, radiators, and other significant features. Place your plants in the sketch, considering their light and temperature preferences.

You might have to be creative with plant placement — think hanging plants in bathrooms for extra humidity or using plant stands to get closer to light sources.

With patience and care, your plants should adapt and thrive in their new home.

Gather Moving Supplies

The right moving supplies are a must.

  • Sturdy, breathable containers to keep your plants secure yet well-ventilated.
  • Bubble wrap or newsprint to cushion delicate plants.
  • Plant-friendly tape to secure the packing materials without harming plants.

It takes time and effort, but the goal is to get your plants to your new home in the best possible condition.

Prune & Repot

Start by pruning excessive growth. This makes your plants easier to transport and reduces stress during transit. A good rule of thumb is to trim back overgrown or wilting leaves and dead or dying branches.

Healthy roots are key to a successful move.

If a plant has outgrown its container, it may be time for a bigger home. Choose a pot that’s only slightly larger than the current one — it should provide enough room for the roots to expand slightly but not so much that the plant struggles to absorb water and nutrients.

Finally, repot your plants early enough that they have time to adjust. Repotting stresses a plant, and an immediate move after repotting may be more than it can bear.

Pack Your Plants on Moving Day

  • Securing your plants in their designated containers.
  • Use bubble wrap or newsprint for extra cushioning.
  • Wrap them loosely to allow air circulation.
  • Placing taller plants in sturdy boxes with holes cut out for light and air.
  • Label the boxes as “fragile” and with “this side up”

Watering Strategies

Hydration During Transit

Overwatering can be as harmful to a plant’s health as underwatering. You want to ensure your plants are hydrated but not soaked.

Start by watering your plants a couple of days before the move. This gives the water time to reach the roots, but the soil won’t be saturated on moving day, which could lead to a mess or encourage root rot.

Keep a spray bottle handy during transit to mist the plants if they appear to be drying out. Plants may need more hydration in hot, dry conditions and less in cooler, humid climates.

Consider Climate

Your leafy friends are susceptible to temperature and climate changes. Shield them from extreme conditions during the move.

  • Insulate Against Heat: Avoid leaving your plants in a hot car for extended periods. The intense heat can scorch the leaves and rapidly dry out the soil. Transport your plants in an air-conditioned vehicle; if that’s not possible, use heat-reflective material or sunshades to keep them cool.
  • Protect from Cold: Conversely, if you’re moving in winter, wrap your plants in newspaper or bubble wrap, especially for tropical plants that might not handle the cold well. Keep them in the warmest part of your vehicle, and try to minimize their exposure to the cold while moving them in and out of buildings.

Unpack & Settle in

Packing your plants becomes a top priority once you arrive at your new home. Give your plants time to acclimate to their new surroundings. They’ve just been through a shock, so a careful, systematic approach can spare them from further stress.

  1. Unpack Immediately: Don’t let your plants languish in their moving containers. Unpack them as soon as possible to give them fresh air and light.
  2. Check for Damage: Look out for broken stems or leaves and signs of stress like wilting or discoloration. Prune damaged parts to promote new growth.
  3. Give Them a Drink: Water your plants post-journey. Be careful not to overwater. Hold off a bit longer if the soil is still damp from the pre-move watering.
  4. Place According to Plan: Remember the moving plan you made? Now’s the time to put it into action. Place your plants in the spots you’ve identified as best for their light, temperature, and humidity needs.
  5. Monitor and Adjust: Keep a close eye on your plants for the first few weeks. You might need to move them around until you find their perfect spot.

Common Challenges & Solutions

Here’s a list of potential issues you may encounter and how to address them.

  1. Wilting: This could be due to various factors, from dehydration to shock. Make sure plants are adequately watered (but not overwatered) and given time to adapt to their new environment. A little wilting after a move is normal, and your plants should bounce back with proper care and patience.
  2. Pest Infestations: The stress of moving can make your plants more susceptible to pests. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of infestation, like discoloration, spots, or unusual leaf drop. If you spot an infestation, isolate the affected plant to prevent the pests from spreading, and treat the problem with an appropriate pest-control method.
  3. Temperature Fluctuations: If you’re moving in very hot or cold weather, take extra precautions to protect your plants. Insulate them against the cold with bubble wrap or newspaper, or use sunshades to protect them from intense heat.
  4. Damage During Transit: Despite your best efforts, plants can get damaged during the move. If this happens, prune the broken parts to prevent disease and promote new growth.
  5. Slow Growth or No Growth: After a stressful move, your plant might hit the pause button on growth. It’s their way of coping with the change. Keep caring for them as usual; with time, they should grow again.

Incorporating Plants into Your New Space

Your plants can contribute to a lively and welcoming ambiance. Here are a few imaginative ways to incorporate them into your new space.

Living Room

The living room is typically the most spacious and light-filled area in the home. This makes it ideal for larger plants like Fiddle Leaf Figs or Monstera Deliciosas. You could also create a mini indoor garden with several plants on multi-tiered stands.


Herb plants like basil, rosemary, and mint can thrive in your kitchen. They look good, purify the air, and serve a practical purpose in your cooking.


Many tropical plants love the humidity of the bathroom. Hang a Boston Fern in the corner or place a pot of peace lily on the counter.


Snake and Spider Plants are known for their air-purifying qualities and can help create a healthier, more relaxing sleep environment.

Home Office

Plants in your work area can reduce stress and increase productivity. Compact plants that can fit on a desk, such as succulents and cacti, make excellent office companions.

The placement of each plant should be guided by its light and humidity needs and your aesthetic ambitions.

FAQs about Moving with Plants

Q: Can I move all types of plants the same way?

A: Each plant has unique needs, so tailoring your approach to individual species is crucial.

Q: How do I prevent my plants from wilting during the move?

A: Adequate hydration before the move and careful packing can help prevent wilting.

Q: Is it necessary to repot my plants before moving?

A: Repotting is optional, but can benefit plants with crowded or unhealthy root systems.

Q: What should I do if my plants show stress after the move?

A: Gradually reintroduce them to their normal care routine and monitor for improvements.

Q: How long can my plants stay in moving containers?

A: It’s best to unpack your plants immediately upon arrival at your new home. Prolonged confinement can stress and harm plants.

Q: How do I know if my plants suffer from temperature fluctuations?

A: Signs of temperature stress can include wilting, discoloration, or sudden leaf drop. If moving in extreme weather, take extra precautions to protect your plants.

Q: Can I use sunlight as a substitute for indoor lights for my plants after moving?

A: Yes, you can, but remember that different plants have different light needs. Make sure each plant gets the right amount of sunlight for its species.

Q: How can I ensure my plants get the right amount of humidity in my new home?

A: Use a hydrometer to measure the humidity level. You can mist the plants or use a humidifier to boost humidity.

Q: Can all types of houseplants thrive in the kitchen?

A: Not all houseplants are suitable for the kitchen. Choose plants that tolerate warmth and humidity, like herbs or aloe vera.

Q: How frequently should I water my plants after the move?

A: Watering frequency depends on the plant species. Start with your regular watering routine, but keep an eye on the soil moisture and adjust as necessary.

Are You Planning a Move in Metro Los Angeles?

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