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man and woman moving boxes and plant in cold winter

How to Transport Houseplants in Winter (Step by Step!)

Are you transporting houseplants during the colder winter months? If so, there are a few things you will need to take into consideration before you start.

Keeping your plants warm is going to be critical to keeping them safe and ensuring they reach your destination in the same condition that they started in.

There are many things to consider when moving houseplants during the winter, especially if you have a long journey.

So, here is how you can safely move your houseplants when moving houses in cold winters, step by step:

Step 1: Preparing Your Plant

In the days leading up to the move, you should stop watering your plants unless they are desperately thirsty (and even then, only give them a little bit to drink). Dry soil is far less likely to freeze than wet soil, so they will be more cold-resistant if they are in dry containers.

Dry containers are also less messy to transport, and this may make moving them easier.

They will be lighter, too. Minimizing the amount of water is therefore a great way to prepare your plants for travel.

Next, consider whether you need to prune your plants a bit to make them easier to transport. They will soon regrow foliage that you cut off, so if you have plants that are particularly tall or a funny shape, give them a trim before you get them packed up to travel.

Step 2: Gather Packing Materials

Like everything else in your home, you’ll need to pack your plants into boxes or trays in order to carry them safely. You should gather up plentiful supplies of cardboard boxes and newspapers or bubble wrap.

Cardboard boxes are ideal for transporting plants in the water, because they will provide an insulating layer that will protect the plant from at least some of the chill.

Packing Small Houseplants

If you are moving small houseplants, you may wish to put a tray inside a cardboard box, and then stand the plants in the tray. With this done, you can screw up sheets of newspaper and use these to protect the pots, stop the plants from tipping over, and add further insulation.

The more newspaper in the box, the better insulated your plants will be.

The newspaper will help to keep the plants warm, trapping the air around them and keeping the cold out. You might want to put some newspaper in the box under the tray, followed by some on top.

Bubble wrap will serve the same purpose, but newspaper will work well if you don’t have any. You can also use brown packing paper, wool, or other warm materials, such as old towels or blankets.

Packing Large Houseplants

For larger plants, try packing just one plant into a box, but use newspaper to pad it and protect it. If your plant won’t fit in a box, consider just wrapping the container in cardboard.

This will insulate it, protect it from breaking, and should prevent the roots from freezing.

Your plant’s upper foliage may suffer, but the roots should survive the journey if the container is well insulated. Depending on the kind of plant, you may be able to use a cardboard tube or something similar to cover the foliage.

Step 3: Add A Second Layer

If you’re transporting plants in really cold weather, consider adding a second layer of protection.

For example, tying a bag around the plant will help a bit, even if it is thin. Alternatively, place boxes of plants into larger cardboard boxes, and add more newspaper or bubble wrap.

Adding a second layer will be particularly important if you are moving over long distances in cold weather.

Step 4: Pre-Warm Your Vehicle

Taking plants out of a warm house and plonking them in a cold vehicle is not a good idea. Plants suffer from shock when they are subjected to sudden temperature fluctuations. The vehicle will warm up as you travel, but it’s better to make it warm beforehand if you can.

Run the engine for a few minutes, or pick up the plants on one of your later trips so it is already warm before you put the plants in.

This will minimize the risk of them getting chilled.

Step 5: Take Only Plants

It’s very easy to get boxes mixed up, even if they are carefully labeled, when you are traveling with lots of stuff.

If you make a special “plant trip,” you are less likely to lose plants, forget about them, or accidentally put them down on a freezing sidewalk while you move other boxes around.

This won’t be practical for long-distance moves, but if you’re making multiple short trips, consider dedicating one or two of these to moving only plants. This minimizes the risk of accidents, and lets you quickly find and unpack the plants so they can be moved straight into your warm home.

Step 6: Move Plants Indoors As Soon As Possible

When you get to your new home, make sure that you prioritize moving your plants inside.

This is particularly important if you’re going to have the vehicle doors open, as heat will be lost and the vehicle will quickly get cold. If you can’t get all the plants out at once, shut the doors to minimize the heat loss.

Moving Houseplants Long Distances in Winter (Tips)

If you’re traveling a long way, you may want to consider getting some plant sleeves for your bigger and more delicate plants. These sleeves are designed to fit over your plant and protect it while traveling.

They are highly insulating and will prevent the plants from getting chilled, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

If you don’t have these, consider making your own version from cardboard. Wrapping your plants in wool may also work.

Ideally, you should take plants into your hotel room if you will be stopping over and the weather is really cold. Your car will soon cool once the engine is off, and your plants may get chilled.

If you can’t take them inside, minimize how long you stop, and cover them in several layers of cardboard or other insulating materials.

You may also want to consider an insulated box or case, but these will be expensive and will often not house very large plants.

Besides that, every other step from above applies to traveling long distances too.


How Long Can Your Houseplants Stay in the Cold?

It depends on how cold it is and how resilient your plant is, but is best if you don’t leave it in the cold for more than 24 hours. As a general rule, most plants will recover after up to 24 hours in cold temperatures. They may suffer significant damage in this period, but will not usually die.

Can Your Houseplants Stay in a Cold Car Overnight?

Unless you live in a really cold area, most plants will survive being in a cold car overnight, especially if you take precautions like wrapping the pots up or covering them with a blanket. The inside of your car will not generally freeze so your plants should be okay.

However, it’s still a good idea to avoid this is possible.

How to Keep Plants Warm While Moving in Cold Weather

There are several things you can do to keep plants warm, including putting them in cardboard boxes, wrapping them in newspaper, and spreading a blanket across them. These steps will all insulate the plants and reduce the risk of damage.

Keeping your plants directly into the flow of the car’s air conditioner is not a good idea, as it can get too hot.

Can You Revive Plants After Moving in the Cold?

Sometimes a chilled houseplant can be revived. In order for this to work, you must bring it into a warm environment as soon as possible. Do not put it by a direct heat source, however. Give it water to rehydrate the tissues and let it recover for at least a month before removing dead foliage.

Final Thoughts

If you are moving in winter, you’ll have to think carefully about how to transport your plants and prevent them from getting chilled.

Put them in boxes, insulate them with paper, and minimize the time that they will be exposed to the cold as much as you can.

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