Moving & Removals

For humans, pets and plants alike, moving can be stressful. For plants, the stress of the move can cause damage and even death, so it’s important to do some research before packing up your green friends.  

If you’ve hired movers, they might not cover damage to plants. Some moving companies will not even allow plants on their trucks. Not to worry, the safest way to transport your plants is with you, in your vehicle, where you can control the stability and temperature of their transport. Unless you hire a reputable moving company that can also assist with moving plants.

Before you start planning to move your plants, make sure it’s worth it. You don’t want to spend time and money transporting them only to have them expire on route, or even once you have them set up in their new home. Read below for some helpful tips to help you decide which plants should stay behind, and which plants can make the move with you. 

How to Choose Which Plants to Bring

Below are some things to consider when deciding whether to bring or leave your plants behind: 

1.1 Climate 

Is the climate similar? Some plants require a specific climate to survive so if you’re moving north or south, make sure your new spot will have temperatures that they can thrive in. For example, fig trees, while viable in Southern UK won’t grow in Northern UK. 

1.2 Soil 

For outdoor plants, shrubs or trees, you’ll need to make sure your new garden or outdoor area has the proper soil conditions that your current plants need. Soil testing kits are easy to use and reasonably priced and a good investment if you spend a lot of time in your garden. 

1.3 Legality 

If you’re moving abroad, make sure to contact your department of agriculture. There are restrictions on the types of plants and seeds you can bring across borders. 

1.4 Distance 

How far are you moving? The average plant, when prepared properly and taken care of on route, can survive 2 days. In the case that you need to stay in a motel in transit, make sure your plants come inside with you. Also remember to water them to keep soil and roots damp. 

Moving indoor house plants

You should start the process of preparing to move your indoor house plants approximately 2 weeks before your move. This will allow you plenty of time to prepare, re soil, re pot and pack your plants with minimal stress to the plants themselves.


Below is a step-by-step process of how to prepare your plants, and when, to ensure that you’re green beauties arrive safe and sound at your new home.

Step One – 2 weeks before moving day  

Replace old soil and transfer plants to lighter, plastic pots of similar size to their original containers. This should be done at least 2 weeks before your set moving day to allow plants time to adjust to the shock of being re-soiled and re-potted. 

Step Two – 3 days before moving day 

Three days before the move, water your plants. Soil should be damp but not soaked during transport. Keeping the soil hydrated will keep the roots loose and reduce shock during transport. If moving during hot, dry summer months, you can water the soil the day of but try and avoid moving plants in the summer if at all possible.

Step Three – Day before moving day 

Organise the boxes that will carry each plant. You can prepare the boxes beforehand. Create holes in the box (4-5, 2 pence coin size, air holes on each side of the box). These holes will insure that your plants get proper air circulation during the move. 

Write fragile and this side up on any box that will carry a plant in it. This will ensure that anyone handling the box knows to be careful.

Step Four – Day before moving day or day of 

To protect plants from the sun, wind or other physical damage, it’s best to wrap them in a piece of paper, creating a sleeve or a cone shape to slip the plant into. This way you’ll create shade and protect the leaves from breaking.

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.”

Step Five – Day of the move   

Once plants are sleeved, they can be put in boxes. This should be done on the day of the move, no earlier. Any space between pots can be filled with newspaper to prevent them falling over. Smaller, lighter plants can be boxed together, making sure not to crowd individual plants. 

Step Six – Day of the move  

Place plants in the car alongside you, and try to avoid putting them in the boot unless absolutely necessary. This makes them less likely to tip over and you can pack them snugly between the seats or other boxes. This also allows you to control the temperature in the car which will help keep your plants healthy during transit. 

Step Seven – Once you arrive at your destination   

When you reach your new home, make tending to plants a priority—unwrap and water as soon as possible. Plants should be brought inside immediately. 

Step Eight –  2 weeks after your move 

If you have transplanted your plants into plastic containers for the move, make sure to wait at least 2 weeks before putting them back in their decorative or ceramic pots. Moving is very stressful for plants so make sure you give them plenty of time to adjust. You don’t want to over-stress them by changing their location, then re-potting them too soon.

Step Nine – 2 weeks after your move  

Give your plants a lot of water during the first few weeks, they may wilt and leaves may turn yellow but don’t worry, this is often temporary. Give them the time and space they need and your green friends will be back to their old selves before you know it. 


Moving Outdoor plants, shrubs and trees

Moving outdoor plants can be a little trickier since you have to consider the condition of the soil during each season, as well as the type of plant and it’s specific needs. Moving your precious greens during the hot summer months should be avoided. Most plants are dormant between October and March so this is the best time to move them.

Step One – One week before moving day 

Map out where each plant will go once you arrive at your new home. This will ensure that you don’t needlessly move already stressed plants.

Step Two – One week before moving day

If possible, try and prepare the planting site ahead of time so your plant, shrub or tree’s new home is ready when you arrive. They should be planted in the ground, as soon as possible, so try and make sure the landscape is ready when you arrive. 

Step Three – Day before moving day or day of 

Dig up your plant, shrub or tree. Be sure to get as much root as possible when digging plants. The soil will help to protect the plants during the move.

Step Four – Day before moving day or day of 

Wrap roots of large plants, shrubs and trees in burlap.

Step Five – Day before moving day or day of 

Place plants in pots with plenty of room, and be sure that the soil is amply moist.

Step Six – Once your arrive at your new home  

Once you arrive at your new home, check plants for damage. Cut and prune damaged branches and leaves with sharp scissors or pruning shears.

Step Seven – Once you arrive at your new home   

Replant your plant, shrub or tree in their new home. This should be done as soon as possible, ideally the day you arrive. 

Step Eight – 2-3 weeks after moving day 

Once replanted, make sure to keep a close eye on your plants, giving them plenty of water during those first few weeks of adjustment. Some wilting can be expected.

Hiring a professional might be the way to go, especially if a certain tree or larger plant has sentimental value. An arborist is skilled in plant, shrub and tree removal so it’s worth consulting one if you have some larger plants that you are thinking of relocating. 

Did you know that having a well-maintained garden can add up to 20 per cent to your property value? If transporting your outdoor plants is not a viable option for you but you want to start a new garden at your new home, take some cuttings. Purchase some floral tubes, fill them with water, then cap them. This makes the transport a lot less labour intensive and stressful and should ensure that your cuttings arrive safe and ready for your new home and garden.

Not unlike humans, plants do need a little time to adjust after relocation. Make sure to give your plants some extra loving care during the next few weeks while they adjust to their new surroundings, keeping a careful eye on them and watering them often. 

We hope that our expert tips helped create a smooth, stress-free moving day for your plants.

Here at South London Movers, we offer professional removals throughout London with our award winning service. For more information about the services we offer, get in touch with us today – contact our team.