How to Move Your Plants to Your New Home
Updated: May 12, 2021
You’ve spent months, if not years, creating a lovely garden. Is it true, however, that you must leave everything you’ve worked so hard to cultivate behind when you move?
No, thank goodness. If the conditions are right, you can safely transport your beloved plants to your new home and help them thrive there with some careful planning.
Moving your garden is always a bit of a gamble. Even in the best of conditions, plants can be fickle, and abrupt changes in light, temperature, or other factors can be stressful on them. However, they are a part of your home and the result of a lot of hard work, so it makes sense to try.
But, before we get into how to move plants, a word of caution. Trees and in-ground perennials, for example, are expected to remain at your home if you sell. The buyer has the right to expect to receive the property’s main plants with their purchase, so if you’re planning to remove something large – say, a tree that holds sentimental value for you – you’ll need to notify the buyer in writing, and possibly replace it with a tree of similar size. Hedges are another example.
Your vegetable garden is entirely yours. Crops are considered personal property, so the seller is free to take them.
After you’ve determined which plants you can and will take, you’ll need to figure out how to transport them safely and if you take the time to do it correctly, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor in your new home. Here are some pointers to get you started.
Consider the time of year.
Moving your plants in the middle of summer, when the weather is hot, the air is dry, and the sun is strong, is never a good idea. Exposed roots are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of the summer heat.
It is possible to move your plants successfully in the summer, but you must take extra precautions to ensure that they are properly watered and transported, and that their roots are never left exposed to the sun.
Before uprooting plants, make sure they’re hydrated.
When it comes to surviving the stress of a move, a dry plant is at a significant disadvantage. Give your plants a deep soak the night before you plan to dig them up to allow water to permeate into the soil and roots.
You don’t want to drown them, but you do want to give them a lot of water, so they have something to hold on to during the uprooting process. It’s a good idea to start deep soaking your plants once a week in the weeks and months leading up to your move, because a once-week deep soaking is better for your plants than more frequent shallow soakings. Also, do your final deep soak at night when the water will evaporate less.
Give Plants a Good Trim
Make sure your plants are as healthy as possible before moving to help them stand the best chance of survival. Trimming all dead or excess stems and leaves is one of the best ways to do this, as it prevents the plant from wasting energy on parts it doesn’t need.
You’ve probably been trimming your plants anyway, but give them one last look before you move and remove anything that doesn’t belong.
Uproot with Care
The uprooting stage of the moving process will be the first major stressor for your plant. Even though your plants should still be moist from the deep soak the night before, water them again before digging them up to ease the transition.
Then, using a trowel, dig a ring around the plant, making sure to go wide enough to avoid cutting any roots. Remove the plant from the ground, keeping as much soil as possible attached to the roots. Place the plant in a pot with soil (and water it again) as soon as possible after uprooting it, or wrap the plant’s base (the roots and soil) in a damp burlap sack.
Replant as Quickly as Possible
If at all possible, transport your plants in your car. If they must be loaded onto the moving truck, make sure they are loaded last, so you can get them off as soon as possible.
Now for the most important part: whether you’re moving tomato plants or rose bushes, make sure you have a plan in place to get them back in the ground as soon as possible. If you haven’t already planned where each plant will go (which is fine), dig a temporary trench to house the plants until they’re ready to go to their permanent locations.
Before transporting your plants into the trench, make sure it’s well watered and that wood chips are mixed in with the soil to help it retain moisture. Fill the watered hole halfway with fresh soil and the plants (there should be more mud than dirt). Allow the soil to soak up the water before filling the hole with dirt and watering it again. Make sure the soil isn’t too compacted, as this will suffocate airflow.
Minimize Environmental Stress
Take extra precautions to limit environmental stress while your plants are settling into their new yard. You’ll want to keep the plants out of direct sunlight for at least the first few days while they adjust to their new surroundings, and you’ll want to water them every day while they recover their strength.
If your plants are wilting, check the soil a few inches below the surface to make sure it isn’t dry, which indicates you aren’t watering them enough. You’ll be able to transport them one last time to their final destination once you – and they – are ready.
No matter how careful you are, moving your plants will always require some luck, so don’t be surprised if you lose a few along the way. However, with the right precautions and quick timing, you should be able to successfully replant your garden, roots and all, at your new home.