Do moving companies move plants?

May 06, 2021|

To many, plants are like pets. We love them, nurture them and proudly watch them grow. Which is why when it comes time to move to a new home, it makes sense that you’d want to take as many of your favorite plants with you as possible. 

The question is, will a moving company transport potted plants? 

Live plants are obviously fragile, and it’s not like you can just bubble wrap them in the same way you might a lamp, toss them into a moving truck and call it a day. 

Whether you’re able to transport plants may depend on the kind of move you’re undertaking. If you’re moving long distance, across state lines, you may have to leave your green friends behind. 

States are wary of plants coming across their borders, because plants can harbor harmful pests or diseases that could damage crops or harm the new environment. For this reason, state regulations govern what can and can’t be brought across state borders. 

The US Department of Agriculture and the plant health agencies in the 50 states lay out exactly what the requirements are. You can check the regulations at the National Plant Board.

For example, Arizona, allows “house plants that are free of live pests and that are grown indoors in a commercially prepared potting mix, rather than outdoor soil,” into the state without an inspection. 

New York requires plants to have an “unexpired inspection certificate issued by an authorized official from the state of origin attached.” 

California, Florida, Hawaii and the other states have their own rules, so if you’re even thinking about trying to transport plants to your new state, you’ll want to check the restrictions first. 

That said, it may be a moot point, because no matter what the state regulations say, many professional movers won’t take on plants at all for a long-distance move. They’d rather not run afoul of the rules in order to sneak your houseplants across the border. 

The situation might be different if you’re simply planning to move across town, not cross-country. Local movers may be willing to move your plants. 

“On a local job, it’s up to the driver’s discretion,” says Kim Ramsey, president of Liedkie Moving & Storage in Schenectady, New York, a moving company that’s been around for more than 100 years. 

Some movers may allow you to throw those large plants in the back of the truck, but that doesn’t mean you should. The greenery may not fare so well on the journey. 

“Local movers may take them but will offer one caveat,” Ramsey says. “If they get them there, they’re not responsible for what happens to them. The plants could turn brown because of the shock. They’re not used to that environment, and they suffer when taken out of the environment they’re used to.” 

Even if your move only lasts a few hours, the sudden change of scenery and the lack of direct sunlight and air could harm your plants. 

Your best option is simply to transport them yourself, if you’re able. That means packing plants carefully and loading them into the trunk of your car, or for taller plants, into the back seat. 

To prepare them for the move, you may need to repot. Ceramic pots or clay pots are fragile and could well break on the journey, so you may want to transfer your plants into a plastic pot, using a sterilized potting soil to avoid bringing pests or diseases into your new home. 

Wrap a plastic bag around the pot to keep the soil from spilling out. 

If you need to pack plants into moving boxes — good for several small plants — wedge packing material tightly around each pot that so they won’t shift in transit. 

Once you arrive at your new home, immediately unpack them and place them back in their original pots. Give them a good watering, and place them roughly where you think they’ll live. Then give them love and maybe play them their favorite song to help them continue to grow for years to come.

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