Plant Relocation Guide: How to Safely Move and Acclimate Your Plants

Plant Relocation Guide: How to Safely Move and Acclimate Your Plants
With all the things you need to think about in the run up to a house move, thinking about how to safely move your plants on moving day might be something you’ve left till the last minute. Managing a safe house move with your children, dogs, cats, or exotic pets can require a lot of forethought and planning, but thankfully moving your plants should be much more straightforward - so don’t panic if you haven’t made plans for your plants yet.  

Here are our tips for transplanting (sorry) your house plants and garden plants from your old house to your new home. 

Keeping your house plants alive during a house move

Succulents and cacti are pretty robust and practically thrive on neglect, but other types of plant can be more fickle - some may droop and threaten to die if the temperature changes slightly, or if there’s more humidity in the air, or if you forget to water them just once!

Those more delicate plants can present a challenge when moving house. Keeping them safe during the journey and then settling them into a new home (with new light sources, new temperature fluctuations and new humidity) can be tricky. 

There’s a step-by-step suggested Plant Care Plan below, but in brief you can help your houseplants survive your house move by:
  • Gathering packing materials and wrapping them safely for the journey.
  • Unpacking your plants as soon as you arrive in your new home.
  • Placing your plants in as similar light/humidity/temperature as they were happy in at your old house.

Can you take garden plants with you when you move?

Many people don’t consider the emotional attachment they have to their garden before they move, but whether you’re a keen gardener or just enjoy pottering, it can be a bit of a wrench to leave your garden plants behind. Remember, though, that your new garden may have lovely plants and bulbs, and your old plants might not fit - or they might not suit the soil type or pH - so think carefully before deciding whether to take any garden plants with you.

It’s really important to note from a legal stance that any plants, trees, shrubs, bulbs etc with established roots in your garden are considered a fixture. This means that the people buying your home would reasonably expect you to leave those rooted plants behind when you move out. If you don’t, they could seek compensation from you for breach of contract. 

So, if you intend to take any rooted plants with you from your garden, you must make that absolutely clear when completing your ‘fixtures and fittings’ form.

Anything grown in pots can be safely taken with you, and you don’t need to mention that in your fixtures and fittings form - though it would be courteous of you to mention this to your prospective buyers when they come to look around.

Make a Plant Care Plan for your house move

If you’ve left this till the last minute, just do the parts that you still have time for. You might need to give your removals company a ring and check if any changes need to be made to existing moving plans to accommodate your plants.

Otherwise, you can create a Plant Care Plan from whenever offers have been accepted on your house, and check it periodically in the weeks and days before moving day.

1. Factor in your plants when planning your move. 
When you ask for quotes from removals companies, they will visit your home to estimate how much stuff you’ll be taking, so that they can judge how large the removals van/lorry needs to be and how long it will take them to load and unload everything. They won’t think to add space or time allowances for plants unless you specifically mention it. Some won’t transport plants because they’re so delicate - you might end up needing to transport them yourself in your car, or ask a neighbour to care for them at their house until you can return to collect them separately.

2. Gather packing materials 
To avoid your plants tipping over and breaking their stems during the move, you can pack them into cardboard boxes. You can get free cardboard boxes from all sorts of places, or your removals firm could sell them to you, or you can buy moving boxes if you prefer.

Each plant can be put in individual boxes if you have space for this, or you can pack several into each box as long as they’re wrapped carefully (use newspaper to fill any gaps to prevent them from toppling into each other). 

Ceramic or terracotta pots can be wrapped in bubble wrap or eco-friendly alternatives such as blankets or eco-bubble wrap and/or you can transfer your plants into plastic pots for the move to make them lighter to manoeuvre.

To protect the plants themselves, you’ll need garden canes and plastic wrap or fleet. To pack your plants, insert 4 canes around the edge of the pot, so that the tops of the canes are just higher than the top of your plant. Then wrap stretchy plastic or fabric around the outside of the canes to protect the plant from sideways impacts. Pop extra material on top of the soil to prevent it from spilling on the journey. 

If the weather is very cold, wrap houseplants in horticultural fleece to protect them from extreme temperatures.

3. Get rid of pests. 
Before loading your plants into the van or car, make sure they don’t have any pests. If they do, the pests can spread to your other plants during the move, and affect your other belongings.

a. Houseplants can be affected by a range of pests including thrips, scale, spider mites and mealybugs, and they need dealing with before you move. Clean your affected plants with soap and water, or dab them with alcohol, and then treat them with neem oil to prevent reinfestation.

b. Garden plants can be affected by all sorts of pests including woodlice, aphids, grubs, slugs and weevils. Wash off aphids and pick off visible insects, then remove any visible signs of disease to minimise the risk of cross-contamination. Pack your garden plants separately from any soft furnishings or furniture that might be affected - if possible, arrange to collect these separately from the rest of your belongings.

4. Get your plants ready for the move
Plants that live in ceramic or terracotta pots can be moved into plastic pots temporarily. This will make them lighter to carry, and you can stack the pots so they take up less space and won’t fall over or break as easily (wrap them in fabric, with a layer of fabric between each pot, for protection against breakage). 

Don’t water them for a couple of days before the move, so that they’re not unnecessarily heavy.

Plants that are rooted in the ground should stay in the ground for as long as possible. The day before moving day, dig them up making sure to excavate widely to avoid roots. Your buyers would rightly expect you to put good any damage and back-fill the holes.

Wrap your plants in the materials you’ve gathered as close to moving time as possible to limit the amount of time they’ll be without sunlight.

5. Acclimatise your plants
Find a place in your new home that best replicates the conditions your house plants enjoyed in your old house and place them there for a few days. As and when you’ve unpacked your other belongings and organised your furniture as you’d like it, you can decide where their new permanent homes will be.

Garden plants should be planted as soon as possible, but they will be quite happy for a few days in their temporary pots while you work out where their new homes should be. Take that time to get to know your new garden. Do a pH test (there are kits widely available, or DIY methods using basic kitchen ingredients will do the trick), and establish the quality and makeup of the soil in different parts of your garden. Make note of where the sun shines: which areas are shaded, and which lie in full sun. 

Taking those steps will enable you to find the best places in your new garden to replant the plants you’ve brought with you. Remember to water them in well and to use appropriate pest repellant measures, and let them bed in for a couple of weeks before feeding them.

Can self storage help?

We don’t advise storing plants in your self storage unit, because they won’t have access to sunlight. However, if you want to make more room in your car or removals van for your plants, you could consider using a self storage unit for other belongings that you don’t need to move into your new home straightaway. 

Things like boxes of books, out-of-season clothing/bedding and seasonal items like Christmas decorations or garden furniture could be kept safely in your self storage unit for a few weeks until you’re ready to move them into your new home (when everything else is unpacked and organised).

This can save you time and money on moving day (removals firms charge by the cubic foot, amongst other things), and can also make it easier to decide what you want to keep and what you’d rather sell or donate to charity. 

If you’d like to know more about self storage when moving house, please get in touch with one of our helpful team members who can give you all the information you need to make a decision. 

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