Moving With Plants

Moving With Plants

Odds are everyone has to move their home at some point throughout their lives, and we know that this is one of the most stressful things humans have to do. Toss a thriving indoor jungle into the mix and things can get a little more complicated. 

Do they all have to sit on the ground? You can’t exactly stack plants. What about the hanging ones, or water propagations? And how do I not get dirt everywhere? 

Rest assured - I’ve moved my houseplant collection four times in the last two years, and I’ve learned a few things. This post takes you through every step I took to prepare, pack, transport and unload my 100+ houseplants into their several new homes. Having a resource like this post would have saved me SO much time the first time I did this, so I hope you find this as valuable as I would have then. 

Getting Ready

Time to get honest with yourself and your plants about who you really want to move with you and who you don’t. If you’re already set on bringing the whole gang, hell yeah brother, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

If a plant or two popped in your head while you read that, I recommend paring down your collection to make the move even a tiny bit easier. I didn’t just do this with my plants. I went through clothes, shoes, decor, dishes, etc., and anything I wasn’t stoked about was sold to help with moving costs or donated. Less things means an easier move, no matter what the thing is.

If you have your green homies narrowed down, here are the prep steps I’ve found most helpful:

  • Move everyone dry. Pay attention to your watering schedule and make sure all your plants are as thirsty as they’ll tolerate on moving day. They’ll be lighter to carry, dry dirt is much easier to clean in the event of any spills, and pots with attached water trays are guaranteed empty so there’s no sloshing water to worry about.

  • Anything vining or draping can be gently wound/wrapped and placed as much into or on top of its pot as you can get it. If your plant is too full for that, find a large enough bag with handles (preferably that you can tie together), hold the vines up out of the way of the pot and lower the plant into the bag slowly. Gently tuck any remaining vines into the bag. If you’re doing this more than a day or so in advance of move day, wait to tie the handles together so that the plant can still get some sunlight in the meantime.

  • Propagations - I’ve found it easiest to keep water propagating plants in their vases. Ideally, empty any water a day in advance and stick a wet paper towel around the roots in the vase to keep them moist without worrying about any water sloshing or roots drying out. Add small splashes of water daily to keep the paper towels moist if you’re doing this more than a few days ahead. If you’re shorter on time, dump the vases to mostly empty the day of the move.

    • What’s worked really well for me is to use a paper bag with handles, place the prepared propagations in their vases in the bag standing upright, and use any kind of packing medium (newspapers, bubble wrap, etc.) to fill empty spaces in between so they can’t bump into each other.

  • Make sure any bags of soil or other growing medium are completely sealed, and consider double bagging anything with soft sides to be safe.

  • Mentally/emotionally prepare for some minimal casualties. There’s a lot within your control to prevent damage as much as possible, but there’s a lot outside of your control too. Unfortunately a broken leaf or two may be inevitable, so it’s best to consider that outcome now so you’re not shocked if it happens. This is also not exclusive to house plants. There’s always risk involved when you have to move anything fragile, and all your plants should be handled as and considered fragile. 


Packing Time

When I pack, my goal is to minimize trips between the moving vehicle and home as much as possible. With that in mind, these points are key:

  • Boxes or laundry baskets are your friends. A container with walls and a top that can either stay open or be adjusted to the plants’ height will help keep pots from tipping over in the moving vehicle.

  • Anything small and light enough to carry in a box with other plants should be put in a box to carry with other plants, and tiny plants can even be placed in the pots of larger plants.

  • Consider the weather - what time of year are you moving? The colder the temperature outside, the shorter the amount of time your plants can tolerate being exposed to it. My rule of thumb is if a plant could be exposed to temps under about 60 degrees for more than an hour, I’m covering it with something.

    • Large garbage bags or paper bags are perfect for this - flip the bag upside down as open as you can get it, carefully tuck your plants’ leaves up into the bag and  pull it down, gently covering as much of your plant as you can.

  • Separate removable water trays from their pot and pack them in their own container. Trying to keep them under their pots takes up space that you could be using to efficiently pack more plants. The plastic ones can be shoved just about anywhere, but treat any ceramic/glass/etc. like dishes and wrap them lightly before you pack them.

  • Shoe boxes are perfect for plants short enough not to get crushed by the lid. I use them for anything I’m propagating in shallow trays, too. 

  • Fill empty spaces between pots with a packing medium to keep them from bumping into each other when things jostle a little during transport. 

  • Soil, stakes, gloves, or any other miscellaneous plant items can just be packed in a box or tub with a lid like any other item you’re moving. 

  • A general packing tip, any container that you can’t see inside of should get labeled on the outside, so you know what’s in it without having to open it up


Time to Load

Depending on the distance of your move and how many plants you’re moving, a haul dedicated just to plants is worth considering. If it’s feasible to do it that way, you don’t have to worry about packing plants with other items that could potentially jostle and damage them. If that’s not possible and you’re doing this all in one haul, load your plants last, because you’ll need to unload them first.

If you have a Uhaul or a vehicle with a tall enough cab for it, cheap plastic storage shelves are a great investment to help save floor space. These also work great because you can typically customize the height of the shelves to the height your plants need. Assemble the shelves, stand them up against the walls of the cab, and put your pre-plant-packed boxes or laundry baskets on them. Secure the containers to the shelves, and then secure the shelves to the walls of the vehicle. Any rope or bungee cords will do, just be careful if you need to weave whatever you use through any foliage.

If you don’t have space for shelves or don’t find that you need them, the loading part is pretty standard to loading other cargo. Just remember that you can’t stack anything that doesn’t have a lid or hard covering to protect it, so floor space is prime real estate. All your plants should be treated as fragile, because they are. As is true for moving anything, make sure it’s all secure as possible to prevent jostling or damage during transport. 


Upon Arrival

Welcome to your new home! When it’s time to unload, bring your plants inside first, especially if it’s cold outside.

  • Pick an area in your home close to some natural light that’s out of the way of where you’ll be moving other items. This is a spot where you can plop all your boxes and baskets down and let them chill for a little while you get the rest of your things inside. Don’t worry about aesthetics yet, just get everything out of the vehicle and into your new home - priorities. 

  • Once your plants are in a place where they can chill, uncover anything you covered so that it’s exposed to the temporary light source. Your plants have likely just been in darker conditions than they’re used to, so they’ll be grateful for a quick escape from whatever they were packed in. 

  • Remember they’ve also been dry for a little while, so get trays under anything desperate for water and give them a solid drink. Fill any water propagation vases back up, too. 

  • Once other high priority home things are in order (like beds and such), get plant shelves and surfaces set up so you can start to get everyone settled. It’s important not to be too attached to the first arrangement you set up, as you’ll likely move things around quite a bit. 

Be patient with yourself and stay flexible as you learn how the light moves through your new home. It’s worth noting that moving is stressful for non-sentient organisms too, so don’t freak out if your plants drop a leaf here and there as they adjust. Your plants will tell you whether or not they like a spot over time, and you’ll learn by observing what works best for who.


If you feel like you need more specific guidance, Slow Green Death is here for you. We know how stressful of a time this can be, so please send us a message over on the Services page to learn more about how we can help.


All the best on your new adventure and may all your plants’ deaths be Slow and Green,





Original post date: March 14, 2023

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