Moving With Your Plants.
Sometimes, to a plant lover, it’s just as difficult to leave a favorite plant behind as it is a pet when you have to move, especially if it’s a rare plant, one you’ve put a great deal of time into, or one that would be difficult to replace because it’s not that easy to find.
Of course, moving your houseplants in the summer isn’t a big deal, but if you have to move in the winter and want to take your houseplants with you, here are a few tips to ensure their survival on a cold road trip.
Some plants will just not tolerate any cold temperatures below 45 degrees even for short distances; they will go into shock the minute you take them out of your nice warm home and into the frigid air. These you will have to put in the front of your car where it is heated, and transport them from the house to a heated vehicle by covering them first. Do not, however, leave them sitting in the cold for more than 10 minutes covered with a plastic bag. People always think covering plants with plastic is a good idea to protect them from the cold, when in fact, it is a very bad idea because plastic conducts and radiates cold in an instant, and any leaves touching the plastic will surely freeze or be damaged.
It’s best to transport very sensitive tropical plants by wrapping them in some sort of insulating material before putting a plastic bag around them. Such as wrapping them in rags, towels, old sheets, any type of cloth before putting plastic around them.
If you are just transporting delicate heat-loving plants from a warm home to a warm car, you can get away with just placing them in paper bags or boxes if they fit. Any plants too big to transport in bags or boxes will have to be wrapped in cloth, covered with a plastic bag to hold in heat, and transported. If they are going in the back of a cold U-haul or other truck, wrap them with at least 1-2 inches of cloth tied securely and wrapped around the plant with string so it doesn’t come unwrapped. If plants are going to sit overnight in a cold truck because you are moving cross country over a couple of states or something, you’ll have to bring the more delicate ones into your hotel room – don’t worry, the hotel staff will only think you’re weird for a little while.
Any large plants too big to bring into the hotel will have to be very well wrapped and if you can place a couple of them right next to each other with the pots touching and wrap them all up together, the dirt in their pots will stay warm for at least 24 hours and will buy you some time. Wrapping plants individually and them placing them next to each other and wrapping them again as a group will help hold in heat from all their pots and their wrapping material will also stay warmer longer.
Christmas cactuses and some plants from the evergreen family, such as Norway pines, will tolerate cold as low as just above freezing, but don’t push them passed, say, 35 degrees or they will still freeze. Keeping them covered in the back of a cold truck overnight should not damage them as long as it stays above freezing. And wrap them in a group as mentioned above if possible.
You can purchase, or may already have, insulating covers or blankets made specifically for covering plants from frost. These will work great for road trips as well, but if they happen to be plastic, make sure to put a cloth barrier between them and the plant.
There is something called fleece plant jackets, or horticultural fleece. Although a bit pricey if you have a lot of plants, it works well for one of two very large plants that may be too large or delicate to wrap with cloth without breaking. You may need to trim them back a bit in order to fit them in the fleece bags; but don’t worry, it will grow back.
Bubble wrap has a build in type of insulating factor due to the trapped air pockets. It will work well for very quick, short trips but will not offer much protection from severe cold for very long, say over 1-2 hours. The bigger the bubbles the better.
Styrofoam insulating sheets or board work excellent and you will never have to worry about your plants freezing in them. You can purchase a 4×8 foot sheet from Home Depot for about $10 and, cut it into smaller panels to make a box to fit over your bigger plants. Tape it all together, make sure to enclose the pot as well to hold in heat from the dirt, and put a roof on it. Whalaa! Instant portable mini greenhouse. Quarter inch to half inch thick foam board will hold in heat for at least 2 days.
Once you get your plants unpacked and placed in their new home, give them an ample dose of water to rehydrate them after a long strenuous trip and because you probably let their dirt dry a bit to make them lighter to lift: right? Also dry dirt will stay warmer longer and be more insulating than wet dirt.