How to Safely Move Your Indoor and Outdoor Plants in 5 Steps

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated March 16, 2022
A young woman moving plants from the stairs
Photo: Geber86 / E+ / Getty Images

Have no fear: You can move your plant babies to your new home without worry

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If you’re preparing for a fresh start in a new home, you’re likely feeling excited about your upcoming move, but worried about how your plants will react to the uprooting. Since you’re a dedicated plant parent, you already know about plant care—now you need a moving plan. Here’s a step-by-step action guide to safely transporting your beloved plants to their new home.

Difficulty: Easy (1/5) 

Simple project; big impact. 

Total Project Time: 2 to 5 hours, depending on the number and size of your plants. 

Cost: $20-$100 

What You’ll Need


  • Paper bags

  • Plastic bags

  • Various sizes of moving boxes

  • Packing paper or newspaper

  • Packing tape 

  • Floral tubes 


  • Gardening gloves 

  • Garden shovel

  • Hand trowel

  • Pruning shears

  • Plastic pots and buckets 

1. Do Your Plant Research 

Before you plan to dig, repot, and pack, make sure your new home is plant-friendly. 

Learn About Plant Adaptability 

Not all indoor and outdoor plants can tolerate every environment. All kinds of natural ingredients like humidity and sunlight affect how they thrive. Indoor plants, like your hardy snake plant, can easily handle environmental changes if you can control the elements. 

But for your outdoor plants, you should use a plant hardiness zone map to learn about the climate and soil conditions at your new place before you decide to move your precious elephant ear plants into another yard.

Check Laws About Transporting Plants  

Did you know some plants are illegal in certain states? While many states don’t have restrictions, others regulate the type of plants entering the state. Officials could require verification of the plant’s health—specifically whether or not they have diseases or pests that could infect the local vegetation. The National Plant Board has more legal information about moving plants across state lines.

2. Decide How to Transport Your Plants

A woman unloading her plants from the car
Photo: svetikd / E+ / Getty Images

Top moving companies won’t be able to move your plants because moving trucks don’t have sunlight, controlled temperatures, or enough airflow for live plants. So you’ll need another way to bring your plants home. Before you start prepping the plants for the move, pick a transportation method, so you’ll know how to prepare. 

Drive Your Plants 

The most common and easiest way to transport plants is to drive them securely in your car. You’ll need to monitor the temperature during the drive and bring them into the hotel for overnight stays. The key to a successful trip is to pack them tightly in boxes stuffed with newspaper to restrict movement, plus a little shredded newspaper padding on top if you have delicate plants. The basic packing system also works for large plants, but you’ll need to angle or tilt them to fit in the car. 

Fly With Your Plants 

Yes, it's possible to fly your plants to your destination, but they’ll count as a carry-on or a checked bag. You’ll also need to secure them in a protective box or carrier. Check the airline’s and TSA’s policies before flying with live plants. 

Ship Your Plants 

If you have non-delicate plants that can withstand changing environments, shipping companies like UPS, FedEx, and USPS ship plants. Be sure to check their policies for packing and delivery. You might have to pay more for faster shipping to keep your plants healthy. 

3. Prepare Your Outdoor Plants for Moving 

With a few practical tips and a lot of TLC, you can prep your outdoor and indoor plants for a successful move. 

Outdoor Plants

You’ve probably watched these plants grow year after year through your kitchen window, so, understandably, you're hesitant to leave them behind. Here’s what you can do for a successful transfer. 

  • Trim and prune: It's easier to move smaller plants (6 to 12 inches). The cutting also stops the plant’s focus on keeping blooms and leaves alive during the move.  

  • Dig and bag: After cutting back, dig out your plants, leaving enough dirt around the root ball for protection. Place each plant into breathable paper bags or cut small holes in plastic bags. Take precautions during transport to avoid letting your bagged plants get too hot or dry during the move.

  • Consider potting: Plenty of outdoor plants, like herbs, can move into pots for travel. Give them a couple of weeks to adjust to the pots before moving day for the best outcome. 

Vegetable Garden Plants 

Growing fresh vegetables is a rite of passage for elementary school children and a passion project for plant parents, so it's easy to see why leaving them behind isn’t a preferred option. 

You have two choices for moving your garden plants, depending on the amount of available car space. You can transfer them into a large container, like a five-gallon bucket, or you can take a small cutting and insert it into a floral tube, ensuring it stays moist by covering it with wet paper towels. Either way, make sure you replant them in the ground or a grow room as soon as possible for the best results.

4. Prepare Your Indoor Plants for Moving

A woman watering plants in a sunlit room
Photo: AleksandarNakic / E+ / Getty Images

Plant lovers know that even the easiest indoor plant varieties can be finicky, so give yourself about three weeks to prepare your plants for their new home. 

Indoor Plants

Follow these steps for a successful relocation:

  • Repot with sterile soil: Switch from clay and ceramic pots to plastic early in the packing process so your plants can adjust. If you pack your pretty planters with your household goods, it helps keep them intact until you’re ready to repot again.   

  • Trim and prune: Ideally, you should trim your plants about two weeks before the move.

  • Inspect carefully: Check your plants for insects and parasites about a week before moving day. Apply insecticides if needed, but use them carefully. Remember that insecticides and fertilizers are household items you can’t pack if you hire professional movers.  

  • Water normally: Give your plants a deep drink two days before moving, but don’t overwater them. You don’t want to worry about freezing temperatures or fungus growth during transit.

5. Pack Your Plants Carefully

Once you’ve chosen how to transport your plants, you can start the prepping process a day or two before moving. Follow these steps: 

  • Use a plastic bag to cover the pots and seal around the base of the plant to keep the soil from spilling. 

  • Find boxes that hold your plants securely, and stuff the open spaces with packing paper. If you seal the boxes, ensure there’s plenty of airflow by poking a few holes into the box. 

  • If you pack cuttings, your primary goal is to keep the plant damp with wet paper towels, a rubber band, and a floral tube. 

  • Wrap large or tall plants with newspaper paper or a thin sheet to avoid breakage. 

6. Unpack Your Plants  

The unpacking process can be chaotic, but take the time to recreate the environment your plants previously thrived in as soon as possible. Use these steps to get started: 

  • Unpack your plants as soon as you arrive in your new home. Avoid damage by removing them through the bottom of the box.  

  • Let your plants sit still for a couple of days so they can acclimate to their new environment.

  • Repot your plants back into their original containers. 

  • If you see signs of transplant shock or think your plant is dying, wait a couple of days for recovery to kick in, and then intervene if necessary.

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