The principles behind the move are obvious: put household items in boxes, and wrap fragile items like art frames and dishes in bubble wrap or some of that newfangled biodegradable wrapping paper. But packaging equipment is a different story. Plants are living organisms and the excessive movement of hopping around in a truck, lack of humidity or changes in light can affect flora in transit. Perhaps for these reasons, many houseplants end up on Craigslist or are given to friends.

However, leaving your best roommates can be heartbreaking – especially those cute little succulents you’ve propagated. You don’t have to give up on your plant babies. Before you move your houseplants, take a look at the trial and error methods shared on YouTube in this plant moving tutorial by Becca De La Plants. Tip: Stackable plastic crates (or airy banana crates available from your grocer) make excellent containers for shorter plants. Then read on as experts outline three different relocation scenarios for your green offspring.

How to prepare plants for transport over short distances

You might be tempted to pack indoor and outdoor plants together. Not. Even if you’re just driving through town, take extra precautions against pests, says Jason White, founder and CEO of All About Gardening in Williamson County, Tennessee. “Instead, package indoor plants separately from outdoor plants to avoid insects moving from one pot to another,” he says.

To prepare your plants for a short move, you will need:

Step 1: Check for errors

Start by carefully inspecting each outdoor flower pot with a magnifying glass to look for pests like mealybugs and spider mites, especially along the potting soil, says White. Optional: Debug your plants with neem oil. An easy way to do this is to mist both sides of each leaf with the spray in the morning. Allow the oil to dry on its own for at least 24 hours before transporting the plant.

Step 2: Protect the pots

Evaluate your pots and planters. “Don’t travel with pots that tend to crack,” White warns. Repot the plants into shatter-proof containers, like plastic pots, two to three weeks before a move, he says. If you don’t have time to repot, wrap each planter in bubble wrap or place cardboard between pots to keep them from knocking. Wine dividers work well.

Step 3: Cut off dry leaves and water

Trim back dead or dying leaves with scissors or scissors, says Melody Estes, a landscape gardener at The Project Girl in Greenville, Maine. You can water the plants on the morning of your move or before they are placed in crates, but make sure the soil is not too wet. This can cause root rot and you shouldn’t leave the plants in standing water for too long as the movement of the car can cause the muddy water to spill.

Step 4: Find a cozy spot for sensitive plants

Make sure your delicate houseplants are placed in their own area. For example, if a planter is small enough to fit in your car’s cup holder, consider placing the delicate plant there. Otherwise, find a box that is tight enough to avoid slack. However, use your judgment; Some plants, like donkey tails or other succulents, aren’t worth transporting because they’re very sensitive to movement and their leaves could fall off, advises White. Other varieties are shallow rooting, which also makes them too susceptible to translocation.

Step 5: Use open boxes

For all other houseplants, be sure to place them in open boxes (ie, no lids) large enough to enclose the plant’s pot. Larger plants can protrude from the open top of the boxes, and like the delicate houseplants, these plants shouldn’t have much or no wiggle room. If necessary, line the space between the pot and the box with wrapping paper and fill and pad as much space as possible.

This will prevent damage to plants or planters

Switching to plastic gardening pots is a great way to keep your plants and pots safe. But there are other options. James Mayo of Exubia, a biophilic design agency in London, explains that how you put your plants together is important. “Plants with hard, rubbery leaves like the snake plant or succulents won’t tangle or intertwine with other plants because they’re so stiff,” he says. Therefore, combine these plants with plants that are prone to tangling, such as palm trees, dracaenas and ferns. Meanwhile, Carol Lang, veteran director of Carol Lang Interiors, a full-service design firm based in Fair Haven, New Jersey, says there’s a way to practically guarantee pots won’t break: separate pots from plants.

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