Question from Reader: Moving Houseplants

Photo courtesy: Deep Friar


I’m a huge lover of house plants and have quite the collection of African violets, amaryllis, spider plants, orchids, etc. How do I go about taking them with me? My mother had the same problem with her own house plants, but I can’t ask her how she did it as she is no longer of this world, and my army dad can’t really remember the specifics of the moves as he’s been retired for roughly 20 years now. ~ Cynthia


Thanks for your question Cynthia!

I’ve always taken the houseplants in the car with us when we move. I put them in plastic bins or trays so the water won’t spill in the car and we wedge them into the back seat or cargo area so they won’t tip over. If the journey is long, I take a watering can with me or at least a dedicated water bottle for the plants.**

In the summer, I have hooked up sun shades on some of the car windows so that the plants don’t get direct sun. We leave the car window open a crack if we leave the car unattended. I leave the plants in the car overnight if we stop.

In the winter, I have arranged the car so that the plants are not near any of the windows and brought them into hotel rooms (covered in blankets) so they don’t freeze.

There are times when you, unfortunately cannot take the plants with you.

When we got married, I flew from Ontario to BC to join my husband. I had a ficus that I bought when I was in 3rd year university. I left it with my parents because I couldn’t take it on the plane with me. (My parents still have the ficus and it is doing well 24 years later.)

This year, we have moved to the United Kingdom and I was not able to bring ANY of my plants with me. Nor was I permitted to bring seeds, bulbs or clippings. The empty plant pots that I had, were thoroughly cleaned and dried before they were packed.

I donated all of my plants before we moved. I left my variegated ficus with my parents. (I think they are hoping I don’t leave that one for 24 years!) I had some smaller plants that I gave to the children’s school. The teachers will take them home and care for them in the summer and return them in the fall to brighten up the common areas.

If you’re considering leaving your some or all of your houseplants behind, ask the following places if they would like to receive donations:

  • seniors’ centres
  • shelters for victims of domestic violence
  • libraries
  • rehabilitation centres
  • Military Family Resource Centres (They often gift plants to new families moving in.)
  • schools
  • friends and family

You may wish to create a little card to go with the plant that details the care instructions.

I hope that answers your question. Perhaps my readers will have more advice – especially those with greener thumbs than mine!

**Always separate plant water from people water. You can water a plant with non-drinking water and you don’t want people drinking from that water bottle – especially children and the elderly!

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