How to Pack Plants For Moving (5 Tips)

How to Pack Plants for Moving

In my opinion, plants are the most underestimated challenge when it comes to packing and moving. Many people don’t really think about how to pack plants for moving until the very last minute. After all, plants aren’t something you’re going to pack in a box ahead of time.

The first time we really started accumulating house plants was when we lived in Miami. I still remember standing in the living room, the truck almost fully packed and looking at our plants and thinking, “What are we supposed to do with these?”

Neither Jen nor I are exactly green thumbs so the idea of getting of transporting plants a thousand miles without killing them was pretty intimidating.

We’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks since then and have successfully moved plants multiple times. (We have a Peace Lily that is living in its fourth house!) In this article, I’m going to share with you the best methods of packing and moving plants to make sure they arrive at your new house alive and well!

Table of Contents

Give Your Plants Away

House Plants
House plants come in all different shapes and sizes and some are much harder to move to another home than others.

Wait… what???

Here’s the truth. Moving plants, particularly if it’s a long-distance move, is hard. Even if you do your best to try to take care of the plants as you move, moving is very stressful for the plants. Changes in conditions like temperature and light are very stressful to plants and can end up killing them.

For this reason, sometimes it’s better to give your plants away if you know a good home they can go to. I know this can be hard because we can become very attached to our plants, especially if we’ve had them for a while.

Giving your plants away may not seem like the most enticing option, but it’s one you should at least consider.

Now, if you’re ready to jump through your screen and fight me for suggesting you give your plants away, don’t worry, there are other options.

Pack Plants in Your Own Vehicle

While most of your things will end up in the back of a moving truck, you do have coveted space in your personal vehicle(s) where you can move a few items. Jen and I are very strategic about what items get packed and moved in the “first-class” section that is our own cars.

No matter how well you pack your truck, things can always happen. Items can slide into each other, things can fall, etc.

Specifically, when it comes to your plants, extreme temperatures and lack of sunlight can kill your plants.

However, items you place in your car are much easier to keep a close eye on and keep safe. For example, I have a box of China that was given to us by my Grandmother that always gets the same spot in my car every time we move. If one of those pieces broke, I’d be pretty devastated so I keep them with me to ensure they’re protected.

Plants that we move are always first-class passengers, especially on long-distance moves. Not only does having them with you in your car make them easier to watch over, but they’ll also get some direct sunlight on the trip – something they wouldn’t get any of in the back of a truck.

Finally, when it comes to moving your plants in your car, be aware of whether your heat or AC is blowing directly on your plants. Having cold air blow on a house plant that’s not used to that for hours at a time could stress it out enough to kill it.

Keep Plants in Truck Cab

Move Plants in Your Car
Fitting all of your plants in your car or in the cab of your moving truck can be… overwhelming.

This is basically the same concept as putting them in your car. If you’re driving your own moving truck, then you’ll have some space with you upfront. If no one is riding with you in the truck cab then you have even more room!

Use this space wisely!

Whether its plants or other fragile items like a TV or a mirror, the space in the cab of the moving truck can be a great place to store items you want to be extra careful with during the move.

Can Plants Survive a Moving Truck?

I’ve not mentioned packing your plants in the back of a rental truck yet and there is a reason for this. A long distance trip in the back of a moving truck can be a death sentence for your plants. Even more so if it’s a multi-day trip.

The temperatures in the back of a truck can easily get either really hot or really cold, neither which is good for your plants. Combine that with the fact your plants will get zero sunlight on a truck and you can see why it’s a bad idea.

Also keep in mind that if you are hiring professional movers, most moving companies have live plants on their ‘do not ship’ list meaning they will not accept and pack your plants in the back of the truck.

If it’s a short trip – a cross-town move or a nearby city, then it’s possible your plants can survive in the back of truck.

Pack Plants at the Very Back of the Truck

If you absolutely must pack your plants in the back of the truck (I would reconsider giving them away first) then here are a few tips to give your plants the best chance to survive.

In this situation, I would put them on the truck last, so they are the very last thing that goes on the truck. This way they get to stay in their normal spot in the house soaking up sunlight as usual. Then when you arrive at your new house, they get to be the first thing off the truck.

If it’s a multi-day move, it also allows you to pull the plants out and perhaps get them a bit of sun and regulated temperature as needed throughout the trip.

If you do end up having to put your plants in the back of the truck, stay aware of the temperature outside. If the weather is either extremely hot or cold, this could put your plants in real danger in the back of a moving truck.

Should I Water My Plants Before or After Moving?

Watering House Plants

You want to water your plants a few days right before the move. Watering too close to moving day can lead to your plants potentially leaking during the move. Not the best situation if your plants are in your car.

Once you’re in your new home, try to find a spot that gets a similar amount of sunlight as where the plant previously sat. Then resume your normal watering schedule based on how long it has been since they were watered before the move. Add a little B-1 to that first watering as it will help with the shock from the move.

Final Thoughts on Transporting Plants

Notice I didn’t mention anything about packing plants in a box. I would avoid this at all costs. If you have a lot of plants, then organizing them in a box might make sense for you, but I would use an open-top box.

Have a plan ahead of time so you can limit the amount of moving around your plants actually have to do. Try to get them some sunlight throughout the move if possible and try to regulate any temperature changes your plant experiences throughout the move as much as you can.

Follow these tips and hopefully, your plants will arrive at your new home happy and thriving!

Good Luck with your move!


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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