Moving? You're forgetting one important housemate: the plants. Temperature and light fluctuations, not to mention the jostling, are intolerable to most of them. That being said, you can make your move stress-free by following our tips from the "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook" and our most trusted moving experts to ensure that they arrive to your new address safe and sound.
Photography: Kate Mathis1 of 7
Check with Authorities
If you're traveling long distance, contact the state's department of agriculture as there may be restrictions. "Some states won't allow you to move 'dangerous' plants in so they can protect their crops like potatoes in Idaho, citrus in California, etc.," explains Kyle Tiller, Field Training and Development Specialist of moving company Two Men and a Truck. "A lot of states will regulate your efforts, but it is easier to get a plant that solely stays potted inside the home into a state, rather than ones that are replanted outside." Check the USDA's Plant Protection and Quarantine Program for federal regulations as well.
Photography: Bryan Gardner2 of 7
Tend to Them Before the Move
Start by refreshing the soil: "Before moving, you should replace the old soil with fresh, sterile soil so there aren't any bugs (hopefully) crossing the state lines or infesting your car while it's being transported," Tiller says. If your state requires a certified inspection, call your local agricultural department to schedule an appointment with an authorized examiner. They will provide you with the required forms to present at state borders if required. Two or three days before moving, water the plants well (the soil should be moist, but not sopping wet). It's important to keep the roots damp while en route.
3 of 7
Protect plants from heat, cold, sunlight (which is intensified by car windows), and wind by wrapping them in cones of kraft paper. Ivan Martinez, plant expert at New York-based Tula Plants & Design, calls this technique "sleeving": "Take a piece of craft paper—you'll want the width to be about the same as the height of the plant—and wrap the paper to make a cone shape, slightly wider at the top. Tape or staple to keep the shape. Then, slip in the plant with its pot from the top of the cone so all the plant leaves and stems get pushed upwards." For more delicate plants, such as cacti and succulents, he suggests placing them in a box and cushioning the empty space with bubble wrap or towels.
Photography: Richard Felber4 of 7
Store Safely En Route
Place plants in the car alongside you, never the trunk. Tiller's suggestion? "We recommend on the floor in the back seat where it's a little tighter and less of a chance for it to tip." And if the trunk is your last-ditch option? "Be sure there are plenty of items packed around it to keep it from falling over."
Photography: Kate Mathis5 of 7
Tend to Them During the Move
In warm weather, stop periodically in shaded areas and crack a window to let in fresh air. And in colder weather, maintain a comfortable temperature in the car. Avoid exposing plants to harsh winds and direct sunlight. If you stop at hotels along the way, bring them inside, so they are not affected by extreme temperatures. "Just be sure you don't crush any leaves or branches," Tiller warns, "or that anything will fall on top of it."
Swipe here for next slide
6 of 7
Tend to Them After the Move
When you reach your destination, make tending to plants a priority—unwrap and water as soon as possible. Post move, give them a few weeks to recover from the shock of relocation. Some of them may lose their leaves or wilt, but note that it is normally only a temporarily defensive reaction that should pass after you settle in.
7 of 7
And if one plant is too big or cumbersome to move? Snip off a cutting. You can do this with hydrangeas, begonias, succulents—each one calls for a different method. To take one, use a sharp knife to trim off a healthy growth, removing any excess leaves. Mid-move, keep the cutting moist by wrapping it in damp paper towels secured with a rubber band, and in a zip-lock bag. Once the cuttings root, it can be gently replanted in its new home.