How to move houseplants cross-country?
September 4, 2022 4:23 PM   Subscribe

I’m moving from Calgary to Montreal and I have a sentimental attachment to a handful of houseplants. Some aloes, a couple pothos, and a geranium. I won’t be driving myself. I’ll be hiring a moving company, and flying myself. Is there any reasonable way these house plants make it to Montreal alive? Help?
posted by sixswitch to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How long is the wait between when you close the doors on the moving truck and when the truck parks at the new place? The aloe will be fine unless it's like a month. The pothos and geraniums, could you use watering globes or self-watering planters? That could probably tide you over for 7 to 14 days.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:34 PM on September 4, 2022

I have moved around a hundred plants long distance at once, I have a number of plants that have logged thousands of miles on the road over several moves.
I can give you lots of tips for moving them in a car, truck, or trailer you control, but most movers won't take live plants. So you should ask about that first and also decide if you want to try deceit. But they will be much safer if you don't have to fully enclose and hide them.

Taking on the airplane as carry on is possible but not a good idea. Checked air baggage will generally get too hot and too cold and be roughly treated and carries substantial risk.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:50 PM on September 4, 2022

Best answer: Whatever method you use to move them, I would take cuttings from the pothos and geranium and carry those with you as backup. In case the plants don’t make it, you can start again with the cuttings. (I’m not sure how well aloe vera does with propagation by cutting.)
posted by corey flood at 5:07 PM on September 4, 2022 [7 favorites]

I moved a small number of houseplants from New York to California by shipping them via UPS. Since I was moving in August, I shipped them via 2-day air, and they all arrived in good shape.
posted by Lycaste at 5:29 PM on September 4, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: How To Ship Plants: Tips And Guidelines For Shipping Live Plants By Mail, at a gardening site
How to ship live plants, by a shipping company
Seconding taking cuttings.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:33 PM on September 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Give cuttings to all your friends, mail some to some people in or near Montreal (maybe a Mefite or two, even), and let them grow backup plants, just in case; if your sentimental plants don't make it, you can get cuttings from whichever of your friends are successful.

You can also mail yourself cuttings. Put them in the mail the day you leave, as long as it's in that sweet spot of weather that's not freezing and not baking -- they might end up being left in a truck outside. However, you can also mitigate this by a) traveling / mailing them on a Monday or Tuesday, and b) using a two-day or overnight shipping option.

You can also fly with cuttings.

To give your cuttings the best chance at success, maybe learn about best practices for rooting cuttings for each plant. Pothos is super easy! And I've had great success with my aloe plant...which dates from the 1970s when my mother bought it. The geranium I can't help you with, but I have faith in you!

Finally: You can pack plants so that they will be safe (minimal soil, just enough moisture, plastic around the roots, padding around the stems, completely enclosed by a box, only a short time in the dark). The real variable is the temperature gradient in the truck, and how long they will be in transit/in the dark. If you try having them moved by movers, make sure they are placed in the truck last, on top, and in a position where nothing will shift and crush them.
posted by amtho at 7:36 PM on September 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm in Montreal and would happily receive and pot your cuttings, or take delivery of plants if you need to ship them to a local address. DM me if I can help.
posted by zadcat at 5:43 AM on September 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

Data point: I have ordered live plants from nurseries. They've been shipped enclosed in cardboard boxes and have been fine. This page has a chart showing what type of shipping one nursery uses for different distances - perhaps that will be helpful.
posted by FencingGal at 6:58 AM on September 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

If your idea is to have them on a moving company truck, you might want to check with them first. Here in the US I was repeatedly told by movers they will not take plants across state lines (whether it's an actual agricultural law, or they don't want to take responsibility for the plants not making it I don't know).
on preview - what SaltySalticid said.
posted by Dotty at 6:23 AM on September 6, 2022

Response by poster: In the end:

- took the two pothos in small pots and a bunch of geranium cuttings as carryon in a big Lego shopping bag with cardboard on the bottom for stiffness

- kept the giant aloe in the dark for a week, then unpotted it and put it in a garbage bag inside a hard suitcase that got checked

- went to Archipel on arrival and bought a bunch of dirt and pots (the aloe had babies!)
posted by sixswitch at 12:35 PM on October 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

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