How to move plants

Flatmates Team


You’ve spent months, if not years, coddling that monstera. Not to mention the ever-temperamental fiddle-leaf fig! But now you’re set to move to a new place. How will you do it without damaging your plant babies?

image Richard Drury

Moving house with plants can be a challenge, especially if they’re large and valuable. But it definitely doesn’t need to be a disaster! With a little preparation, your precious palms and peace lilies won’t just survive — they’ll thrive when you get them to your new pad.

Follow these steps for a stress-free move

1. Prune your plants 2 weeks before the move
There’s no question about it: moving house with plants is stressful, and not just for you! Pruning your plants before the move will mean there’s less foliage to dry out or get damaged during the move. So two weeks before the move, take some time to prune old, dead, damaged or lengthy growth from your plant pets. T

2. Check for pests and diseases 1 week before the move
Removing pests and dealing with plant diseases will again reduce the stress on the plant and help it bounce back after the move.

A week before moving day, set aside some time to inspect your leafy beauties. When you find a pest, spot or other invader, deal with it as you always do or Google for solutions if you’re unsure how to handle it.

3. Water 2 days before the move
The prospect of moving house with plants may conjure images of pots leaking in the moving van — or on the carpet of your car. That’s easily avoided: water your plants 2 days before the move to avoid any drips or leakages.

4. Wrap the plant on moving day
Any plant with fronds or branches is best wrapped gently in an old sheet or plastic bag (add plenty of holes so the plant isn’t steaming in there!). Secure the wrapping with string or tape.

This helps avoid damage to the tenderest growth and prevents branches getting snagged on other plants or items during the move. It also keeps them out of your face while you’re lifting and shifting each pot!

5. Box up the pot
After water damage to your car or other possessions, the next-biggest hassle with moving plants is getting potting mix everywhere. The solution? Box up your plant’s pot, either in a taped cardboard box or a plastic container.


6. Store plants in a cool place until it’s time to move
Once you’ve prepped your precious plants for the move, put them in a comparatively cool, shady spot to await the big moment where they’re actually transferred into the moving vehicle.

Consider the typical conditions the plant enjoys in deciding where you should place them for this period of time — putting tropical plants in a freezing garage is not the go. But placing them somewhere a little cooler than their ideal spot will help avoid evaporation from the soil, and can also get them out of the way of the other things you’re moving.

7. Secure plants during the move
Once you’ve got the plants into the van or vehicle, make sure they’re not going to jostle — or worse, tip over — in transit. You’ll probably need to tie The plant to the side of the vehicle to hold it in place, or pack multiple boxes tightly around the box that’s holding your plant. If the plant’s a tall one, you’ll want to secure its trunk or main stem as well. Don’t let branches or foliage rub against other items you’re moving, as that will damage your leafy friend (and may mark your furniture too).

8. Control the temperature
If it’s a hot day and you have plants in the car, don’t drive with the aircon on full-tilt, or place your plants either in jets of cool air or full sunlight. Focus on keeping them shaded and controlling the ambient temperature in the vehicle so it keeps plant stress to a minimum.

9. Unload, unbox and water
Once you get to where you’re going, unload those plants immediately and with tender loving care. Move them to a (comparatively) cool area out of direct sunlight. Next, gently take off their wrappings and remove them from their boxes. Then give each one enough water to thoroughly dampen all the soil in the pots. Don’t forget to let them drain before you move them.

10. Position your plants according to their needs
A new house means finding new spots for your botanical beauties. While that might prove challenging, it can also present opportunities to improve the conditions for the odd plant that may not have been thriving at your old place.

Research the ideal growing conditions for each of your plants, and try to find the perfect positions for them in your new place. That might take some negotiation with your new flatmates, but on the other hand, they’re sure to enjoy the leafy lushness of your carefully tended plant babies!

Can you move plants across state lines?


If you’re moving interstate, keep in mind that some of the plants you love may be considered invasive pest species in the state you’re going to. They may also typically harbour insects that are dangerous to industry in other states.

For that reason, every Australian state and territory restricts the entry of plants and plant materials (like cuttings and seeds).

Your first stop is the Interstate Quarantine website, which provides links to each state’s regulations and outlines what you need to do in order to move your houseplants across state borders.

Next, check out the Quarantine Regulator for the state you’re moving to:

You’ll need to comply with the quarantine restrictions for the state or territory that will be your new home, and that may include getting certification of your plants’ health. Obviously, this can take time, so make sure you tackle plant quarantine issues sooner, rather than later if you’re moving interstate.

What else should I consider?


Will the plant thrive at your new home?
Before you start packing plants for a move, consider the conditions in your new place. You’ll need to find a suitable spot for each individual plant to thrive. If there isn’t one, you’re better off selling or giving the plant away.

Repotting from ceramic to plastic pots
If your plants are enjoying life in pretty ceramic pots, consider temporarily repotting them into plastic pots before the move. This will reduce the risk of breakage to your precious ceramic pots and it will make the plants lighter to move, saving your back on moving day.

When to pack your plants into the van
If you’re moving on a sunny or hot day, moving vans and vehicles are likely to heat up. So, keep your plants out of them until you’re basically ready to go. That way, you’ll reduce heat stress and evaporation, and keep your plants happier for longer.


Flatmates Team