How To Move With Plants in NYC

by Paul Lenkiewicz

How to move with plants in NYC

Moving non-living things is hard enough. Some are very resilient and will survive for many days while you go away on vacation, other are very sensitive and need specific care. Moving with plants can become difficult, particularly during weather extremes, or when a long drive is involved. Follow these plant-approved tips to ensure your indoor garden survives the move and thrives in your new home.

Step 1: Create a Plant Moving Plan

  • Think about your new home…
    • Do you have enough space? Consider going vertical with hanging planters or a narrow shelf ladder 
    • Do you have the right lighting? If you’re moving from a sunny south-facing home to a shaded north-facing home (or visa-versa) your plants may struggle to adapt
    • Do you have the right humidity? 
      • Orchids, Fiddly figs, and other plants can be persnickety about humidity, so you may want to invest in a humidifier    
    • Do you have any new animals that like to nibble on plants? 
    • So you decided that you can’t move any of/all of your plants
      • Keep a cutting try to re-grow your favorite plants at your new home
      • Gift your plants to friends, family and neighbors before you go


Planning for plants in your new home is an important first step in the process
You can go vertical to improve sun exposure, and save space

Step 2: Plant Moving Prep

  • 2-3 weeks before moving… 
    • Remove dead leaves, branches, or give them a prune (do not prune ferns or succulents)
    • Take care of any pests
    • Re-pot in lightweight unbreakable plastic pots of similar size
  • A few days before moving day… 
    • Continue to water plants as normal, don’t overwater
      • If moving during the cold months, keep plants on the dryer side
Plants packaged in an open top box for transport
Keeping your plants happy during a move is challenging. Start preparing early

Step 3: Plant Moving Day

  • Day of move or day before…
    • Wrap larger plants with an old bed sheet or packing paper to prevent any breakage
    • Place each plastic pot in a box so it fits snugly at the bottom 
      • If needed, pack paper/old towels in the box around the base of the pots to hold them in place
    • Keep boxes open or punch air holes in the sides of the boxes to let plants breathe
    • Keep boxes upright and clearly marked
    • Load plants last and unpack first


  • After the move…
    • Unpack plants ASAP via bottom of the box to prevent breakage
    • Place plants back in their original pots if applicable
    • Find the perfect spot for your plants, ideally with similar lighting to your previous home
    • Enjoy your plants! 

Interstate Moving

In general, moving companies are not allowed to transport live plants across state lines. In order to avoid the spread of invasive species, pests and disease, the US Department of Agriculture has placed many restrictions on what live organisms can and cannot be transported across state lines. In addition, generally speaking, moving companies are not authorized to transport live plants, and as a result, almost all companies adopt a prohibition policy when it comes to plants. When moving from state to state, as a result of the regulations, it is best to move your indoor and outdoor potted plants on your own. 

Moving within New York State

When moving within certain states, the movers are allowed to take your potted plants in the truck. It may be the particular mover’s policy not to, so check with your moving service provider. In New York, there is no state regulation prohibiting movers from taking house plants on the truck. Florida, Texas and California are known to have some of the strictest rules when it comes to transporting household plants – so when moving within those states, be extra careful. 

To give your plants the best care, plan to move them on your own
Moving plants on your own may be your best bet

Moving Plants on your own

Besides the regulations and company policies, it may be prudent to move your houseplants on your own in your car. The back of moving trucks is almost never air-conditioned, and temperatures inside can climb above 100F on a summer day, which can hurt or kill plants within a few hours. You also need to consider what happens in case of an emergency. Should the truck get stuck somewhere, your potted plants will slowly die with no water and no light, even if the temperature isn’t a factor. If you care about your leafy friends, it may make sense to pack them up and move them in your own car.

Be smart – ecosystems can be sensitive

Even if you have checked and there are no regulations to worry about with your particular species, take a few minutes to inspect what you are taking with you. If there are any unwelcome bugs or fungi, this is as good of a chance as any to remove them. If one of your plants is sick, it may also be a good opportunity to say goodbye. 

At the end of the day, you don’t want to be responsible for causing serious agricultural issues in your area. Most indoor potted plants are most likely low risk, but outdoor plants can actually be more serious. For example, bamboo is an invasive species that grows at an alarming rate in south Jersey. After a man used Bamboo as a natural fence to get himself some privacy in his backyard, it became a serious issue in the state as certain species can grow up to a few inches a week, and seem to love the habitat. Citrus trees can be particularly sensitive to pests and competition – if your region is known for citrus (for example, Florida), be extra careful when bringing your outdoor plants to the region.

Even the most beautiful plants may need to stay back if you are moving to certain areas
If your plant species are not welcome in the region you are moving to, you have to say goodbye!

Ask CityMovers about how they will handle your plants

After you receive offers for your move, the messaging module found in your job details page is a great place to ask all of the movers who are offering their services to you how they handle plants. Depending on the time of year, distance, and other move details, your moving company may have additional advice for you to get your greenery to their new home safely. Start by posting a move on Citymove, and get moving quotes now.

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