Moving House and Garden Plants

Most of us will own at least a couple of houseplants that we want to take with us on the move. Keen gardeners amongst us may also want to take garden plants with us. Plants are probably one of the Top 5 things we don't think about much during the moving process. After all, we have a lot of bigger things to think about and plants often just get put on to the moving van at the last minute. But they are also very fragile things and get damaged very easily. Even if they survive the move the trauma of the process can kill them off later!

If you're fond of your plants it's therefore wise to put some time and effort into making the moving process as quick and painless for them as possible. The majority of moving companies will NOT cover plants in their insurance policies. They're just too easy to damage. So, you need to take extra care yourself. You also need to bear in mind that certain movers will not carry plants or may have restrictions on those they carry according to your destination. Chances are you won't be allowed to move any plants internationally. Talk to your movers to see if they have any restrictions.

As gardeners often claim, plants have feelings too! You can move a plant apparently successfully from one house to the next only to see it wither and die a couple of weeks later. To avoid this you need to do some preparations well ahead of your move to get them in peak condition. Firstly, you need to think about how you will transport your plants. Your best option is to get hold of some sturdy boxes - you should line these with plastic ready for your moving day.

Assess all the plants you want to transport a couple of weeks before you move. Prune them, feed them and administer any pest control treatments to get them into peak condition. Think about the pots they're in - if you're worried about transporting stone pots, for example, repot the plants into plastic ones. Also, take some time to check that all pots are whole and not cracked. A cracked pot stands more chance of breaking in transit and thus damaging the contents. Make sure that the pots aren't too big for the actual plant - this can cause them to move about and damage themselves.

On your moving day (or the day before if you're pushed for time) make sure that none of the plants are water-logged and drain away any excess water. Pack them snugly (but not too tightly) into the boxes you've set aside and put some packing in place to hold them firmly. Do tell your movers that these boxes contain plants - although you won't have any insurance cover they will still take care with the boxes if you ask them to. Plants in large pots should be wrapped in plastic or placed in bags - you can also wrap the actual plant in plastic to avoid damage and to keep the plant together. If you do this be careful to make sure that the plastic is not tied together too tightly - they still need to breathe!

If you're moving garden plants (in this case it's always wise to tell the people that are buying your house in advance just to be polite) then the best time to dig them up is on your moving day. This minimizes disruption. You should dig up the plant so that you have a 'root ball' at the base. Wrap this in plastic and make sure that the earth in it is not too dry. If you want to move larger climbing type plants it's wise to tie supports to the stem to avoid them snapping in the moving process. Plants can be quite successfully transported in a dustbin liner that is tied at the top. This will help them retain moisture - although you do need to be careful as this isn't the sturdiest of solutions and you might want to put the bag in a box for extra security.

If you don't want to empty your old garden of plants then you can always take cuttings with you instead. Put them in a bag on damp paper or cotton wool. This should keep them going through the move for a few days and you can transplant them when you're ready.

Once you have packed up your plants for the move and transported them don't forget them! It's easy to get caught up with sorting out your new home and getting everything unloaded and unpacked but spare some time to sort your plants out early in the process - it'll pay off. You don't need to replant your garden plants straightaway - you probably won't have time for this. You can just dig a quick hole in your new garden and put them in it. Cover their roots to protect them, give them a quick water if suitable and then you can forget about them for a while until you're ready to plant them properly. Houseplants don't have such urgent needs as they'll still be in their pots but don't forget about them either. Take them out of their boxes and any wrappings as soon as you can and leave them in a quiet corner while you get on the rest of your unpacking.

If your move will be a long-distance one you might need to think about moving your plants in your car. You'll be able to manage the moving environment much better than if they are just stuck in the back of a van. This works just as well on short journeys if you're particularly attached to your plants and you're worried about the effects moving will have on them.

Your moving plant care doesn't stop once the move is done. Plants are living things and are sensitive - keep an eye on both house and garden plants for a few weeks after the move and make sure they are well-watered and fed as necessary. Your garden plants may be transplanted into soil that is different to that they are used to and they may need extra help and attention. Give all your plants a bit of tender loving care and they'll flourish in your new home!