The transportation industry is booming with online ordering, so it’s no big surprise that people want to know how to ship plants. Whether you’re moving cross country or you want to share your garden with a loved one, you’ll want to read up on the unique considerations before boxing up your beloved fern. Read on for a guide to help you prepare for shipping plants.
Know the Plant You’re Wanting to Ship
Before you send plants by mail, you’ll want to evaluate the likelihood that the plant will survive and what it might need before entering the shipping box. For example, some plants are too fragile for the traditional mail system. Others won’t survive being exposed to cold temperatures during certain times of the year or when traveling to certain climates.
Many plants will do best if watered the day before so they are thriving but their soil is semi-dry. You have to know about the plants you’re planning to ship or you might waste your money by putting them in the wrong shipping box or completing the wrong preparation.
How to Prepare Your Plant for Shipping
Learn how to pack plants for shipping and the preparation steps to do first to ensure the best chances for the plant to arrive ready to thrive.
Uproot the Plant if Possible
Start by removing the plant from its existing soil and wrapping the roots in moist paper towels. Don’t rinse the plant’s roots. This will help the plant retain some of its native soil and the microbes it is familiar with to make the transition easier.
Place the roots of the bundled plant in a plastic bag with a few teaspoons of polymer moisture crystals near the roots. If the plant has growths or offshoots, stabilize them with twist ties. Roll the plant in newspaper for some stem protection.
Find the Correct Packing Supplies
When looking for containers for shipping plants, be sure to pick sturdy boxes that will protect the plant during transit. The thicker the box, the more it will absorb bumps and shaking. You also want the box to be just big enough to fit your plant to prevent it from moving around too much during shipping.
Add some cushioning materials, such as bubble wrap, air packets or crumpled-up paper. If you shred your junk mail at home, you can use those shreds as cushioning for a free option. The plant should look nestled in the box without any visible, unfilled gaps between it and the box.
If you want to ship potted plants, buy some extra bubble wrap. You’ll need to ensure that the pot has plenty of cushioning to avoid shattering during shipping. Wrap the pot a few times in bubble wrap for the best protection.
Before sealing the box, place materials inside that identify the plant and tell the recipient a bit about caring for the plant.
Seal the box carefully with packing tape. For the best security for the box, reinforce the edges with tape. If mailing a potted plant, place a sticker on the box indicating which end should remain up to prevent the soil from spilling or the plant from suffering damage.
Make Sure the Box Is Labeled Correctly
Recipients need to know they have received a plant delivery, and it’s helpful if the delivery personnel know what’s inside to handle the plants with care. That’s where box labels come into play.
Add a label to the box that says “perishable” or “live plant.” While this won’t guarantee that the shipping company will handle the plant with care, it may help.
When attaching your shipping label, be sure it includes a return address. And cover or remove any old labels if you’re reusing a box to prevent mishaps with delivery.
Find the Right Shipping Company
With your plant prepped and meticulously packaged, you’re ready to evaluate shipping services to find the most affordable option that meets your needs. As you seek the best carrier, know that the cheapest shipping option might not be the best depending on the type of plant you’re sending. That’s because some plants can only survive in a box for a couple of days, requiring overnight or two-day delivery.
Ultimately, you want the fastest, safest shipping company. If you’ve started making a habit of shipping plants, you might also want to consider a company that will pick up your packages.
Depending on what day of the week you’re mailing the plant, consider whether the carrier offers Saturday and Sunday shipments. You don’t want the plant to get stuck in a box for too long because it sat until Monday.
Shipping Across State Lines
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a list of plants that cannot be imported into certain states. Each state is different so be sure to review the USDA database before prepping and shipping a plant.
The USDA prohibits importing certain plants into a state to protect local vegetation and avoid harmful diseases, insects and pests from entering the state.
Florida, California and Hawaii have some of the strictest guidelines for what plants you can ship across state lines.
Even once you know that you’re working with an approved species for shipping plants across state lines, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Shipping time to travel farther distances
- Added cost of shipping the plant farther
- State laws for shipping and receiving plants (see the National Plant Board for state-by-state plant shipping laws)
Remember Plant Aftercare
Now that you know how to ship live plants, consider the aftercare that the plant will need once it arrives at its destination. Treat the plant to plenty of water and sunlight to help it recover from the journey.
Even with the best packaging and preparation, plants can look wilted after their journey. The plant recipient should repot the plant as soon as possible to get it used to the new environment quickly. With the right care, the plant should recover and perk up after a few days.
Delivering Cheer and Clean Air Via Plant Shipments
Plants can provide a little pick-me-up while cleaning the air for those who have them in their homes. Shipping a plant to a loved one or preserving it during a move is a smart move — you’ll just need to do a little extra preparation to ensure the plant survives its journey and thrives in its new environment.
The U.S. Postal Service is generally the cheapest option for shipping plants. However, when shipping plants, you don’t want the cheapest option. You want the fastest option to protect and preserve the plant.
Most movers will place a plastic bag over potted plants to prevent the soil from making a muss during the move. But if you want the plant to have special cushioning and care, you should package and prepare the plant yourself.
While you can ship plants across the border, you need a phytosanitary certificate to do so. This certifies that the plant meets regulations for its delivery location.