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Yes you can take your plants with you when you move. Tips on what to do when moving with plants to your new home. Planting ahead, modular containers, moving vans, taking cuttings, and when you should leave your plants behind
If you’ve been following my last few YouTube videos you’ll know that we’re in the middle of moving house. It’s been stressful, I won’t lie. We’ve had the past three weeks to get keys to the new house, rip down the wallpaper and rip up seventies carpet, demolish and rebuild a bathroom, and redecorate the whole house. AND we’ve had to move. This is our last week still having access to the old house and these are my tips for how to move with plants.
This piece is in partnership with Gardena, Europe’s leading brand of high-quality gardening tools. Over the summer they’ve sent me their AquaRoll M Hose Trolley, a comfort sprayer, and the NatureUp! vertical planter. This month they sent me their Balcony Basic Set to help me with the move.
Moving With Plants
If you’re renting you’ll likely have to return the property in the same state as you took it on. That means digging up your plants is probably expected, so happy days. If you’re selling your home, either dig up your plants before it’s on the market or negotiate. You might want to take your prized roses or plants with sentimental value with so let the estate agent and/or buyers know. As long as that’s made clear, and the garden is tidy afterwards, then moving with plants is probably not going to be an issue.
We’ve known since May that a move was on the cards. We’ve been renting for years and just bought our first house. Fortunately, I have an allotment and so I’ve been steadily moving plants there in preparation. If you have access to the new house, and permission, move your plants well before you move house. If you don’t have access to someplace to put your plants in situ, dig them up in preparation and put them in pots. Even some trees and shrubs will be fine if temporarily planted into large containers.
When You Can’t Take Your Plants
I can think of at least three reasons why you can’t take your plants with you. The first may be due to plant restrictions and moving plants from one country to the next. Even some states in the US have restrictions on moving plants from one area to the next. The other reason you might not be able to take your plants with you is that they’re too well established. Ten-year-old lavender plants and rosemary shrubs could make a move but it might only be successful during the dormant season.
One last reason that you would need to leave your plants is that you’ve sold them. If you’ve sold your house with a lovely garden then the buyer will expect that lovely garden on moving day. Be 100% clear and upfront about your plants when selling to avoid any issues. You can also run into legal issues if you take plants without notifying the owner, especially if plants are on the contents list. Be absolutely clear and upfront if you want to move your garden when moving house.
Take Cuttings of Plants and Shrubs
In the case that you can’t take established plants with, you can take cuttings. Lavender, rosemary, and even tomatoes all take root easily. Many fruit bushes can also be propagated from cuttings. Taking cuttings is simply strategically cutting a piece off a parent plant and encouraging it to grow roots. These smaller rooted plants will be far easier to move than their larger mothers. Best of all, you can take dozens of cuttings so have even more plants for free.
Moving Potted Plants
Houseplants can be a breeze to move, and if you have just a few then you can tuck them into nooks and crannies in your car. You can also move them in a van, as I did a couple of years ago when moving potted plants from one house to the next. I just mixed them in with outdoor plants for the short drive to our new home.
Moving an outdoor container garden is relatively straight forward, too, even in the middle of the growing season. The only thing that I’d caution on is weight. If it’s been raining, pots can be heavy. The moisture will help keep the plants hydrated during the move but be very careful when moving and loading them into a vehicle. Using a sack truck or wheelbarrow will be the safest way for both you and the plants.
If it’s high summer and plants are flush with delicate growth you might want to protect them with bubble wrap, cloth or straw during the move. Some buffering between pots will help make sure they don’t knock against one another and break. Don’t worry about washing pots off until after you’ve moved them to their new home, though.
In winter plants will be dormant so moving potted plants will be even easier. Just don’t keep them stored in a warm place for long — you don’t want to give the false impression of impending spring. When the plant is dormant and under the soil level you could even set one pot on top of the next if pressed for space.
One of the easiest things for me to move was the Gardena NatureUp! vertical planter. It’s modular so that means that each piece can be taken off and then reassembled, even if plants are growing in them. After moving, it’s just as easy to put back together again. Although I have the planter in the greenhouse now, I have plans to mount it on the wall next spring. I love that I have the option of moving it around from house to house and having different set-ups. Gardena also sent me some gardening gloves and this Balcony Basic Tool Set to help with the move.
Packing Plants for Moving
If you need to move plants in a vehicle, there are a few ways to go about it. Whether it’s a car’s trunk or a van floor, It’s a good idea to lay a waterproof membrane down first. It will better protect the surface from soil and water, even if the plants are in pot saucers. We learned this lesson the hard way when moving plants a couple of years ago. The blue carpet inside Josh’s van was absolutely filthy afterward and needed some serious cleaning after.
If moving a container garden or houseplants, just stack the pots in, right side up, and drive to the new property. If you’re packing plants for moving and they don’t have a pot, then it’s best to put the root ball in a plastic bag. It will help keep the roots from drying out and you can open the bag to water the plants, if necessary. Plants stored in bags can be laid on the floor of the vehicle and don’t need to be right side up.
If the house is a good drive away, know that plants can survive semi-to-full darkness for a few days. They’ll be stressed but can recover once you take them out and give them a bright place to live. Garden companies frequently send plants through the mail but if you’ve ordered some you’ll know that there are directions to unpack them immediately. Mostly they’re perfectly fine and the same will go for darkened vans.
Moving Plants in a Moving Van
When packing your moving van with plants make sure that the pots can’t tip over. Wedging them as close together as possible helps. If you’re worried about them breaking then put some padding between. For short trips, like my recent move, a relatively disordered moving van set up works fine. I had the BBQ, gardening materials, and plants all crammed into the same space. Everything survived the trip.
If you’re moving further away, you’ll need to be more diligent with packing plants. Make sure that the soil is moist, that the pots and foliage are protected, and that nothing is going to tip over if you need to slam the brakes.
If you’re travelling over several days, and the temperature is hot, opening the back of the car or van at intervals will help leafy plants survive. It can lower the temperature and you can check on them to see if any need watering. Check over the plants each time you open up, and move and water any that look like they need it. Packing plants for moving doesn’t have to be as careful and bubble-wrapped as you would think though. Plants can be tough and recover, even if dug up, bundled up and transported across country.
Give Things Away
No matter what your situation, when you move house you’re going to have to give things away. It could be that you discover a hidden cache of old plant pots while preparing for the move. It could also be that your new garden is smaller than your previous one.
Give your plants to friends to take care of and either sell or pass on other items to those who need them. There are a couple of recycling centres here that have special areas for plastic plant pots — I’ve left all my spares there for others to use. If there’s a seed swap or plant share happening around the time you move, take your spare plants and gardening tools there. Moving house is a great opportunity to de-clutter the garden shed.