When trying to make that rental property or on-post house feel like home, if you are anything like me, adding something green and growing is a must. Two (green) thumbs up if that new home also has room on the back deck from some container gardening, or better yet, enough yard space for a garden.
But no matter how hard you work to cultivate that bumper crop of cucumbers or nurture the philodendron that has occupied the corner of your living room for so long it’s practically a family member, PCSing often means you have to leave your plants behind.
But, if you happen to be preparing for a CONUS PCS, then you may just be able to take some of your little leafy friends with you. It just takes a little bit of planning.
Before you move any plant, make sure you check local laws for both the state you are departing and the one you are about to call home.
Some states restrict or prohibit the import or export of some types of plants. The reasons are many. The most common of which is that some plants can destroy or negatively impact local habitats, so check the law first.
Some packing companies will allow you to ship plants, especially if the pick-up and delivery dates are a week or less apart. If your mover will ship plants, ask if they have special boxes for just this sort of thing.
If not, you can prepare your plants for shipment by lining the inside of a sturdy box (big enough to completely surround your plant) with plastic. You’ll also need enough bubble wrap to pack the plant in the box to keep it from tipping over. You might also consider cutting some holes in the side or top of the box to let as much light into the box as possible without damaging the integrity and sturdiness of the box.
Oh, and make sure your plants are the last thing on the truck. It will help make sure they don’t get damaged because something heavy gets stacked on top and it will ensure they are the first thing off the truck when the movers arrive at your new address.
Most indoor plants can survive in the darkened conditions of a packing box with a good watering for about 3 to 5 days. If it’s going to be longer than that before your household goods arrive, then consider shipping it ahead to a friend or ask a neighbor to ship it to you after you get to your duty station.
If your plan is to keep your plants with you, say in the back of your car while you are moving, just make sure you give them some time in the sun and if temperatures get extreme (too hot or too cold) take them inside with you when you stop to rest for the night.
For outdoor plants, the process gets a little trickier. You can give yourself a head start by planning for a potential move when your first plan your garden. And just like house plants, if you are going to ship an outdoor plant, the trip can’t be more than 3 to 5 days inside a box.
Bulbs are a great option for replanting. Daffodils, tulips, peonies and countless others all start with a bulb. While you can dig up bulbs at any time during the year, it’s best to try to pull them out of the ground before spring (this might mean the previous fall if you have a heavy winter season.) Allow your bulbs to dry a bit away from sun and wind and then store them in a paper bag. They are fragile, so pack them like you would anything else that is breakable.
Small shrubs and trees can also be transported without too much hassle. When removing them for transport, just make sure you keep the entire root ball intact. Wrap the entire ball in plastic, and then use paper or plastic wrap to ensure the remainder of the plant isn’t damaged during the move.
If taking a big bush or tree with you isn’t possible, consider taking a cutting. Roses, violets, begonias, citrus trees, poinsettias and geraniums are popular option. Take the time to research the best way to take a cutting for each type of plant and just like the other options, try to limit the time the cuttings are without sunlight and water to no more than 5 days.
If you happen to grow plants with seeds that are easily harvested, like watermelon or squash, take the time to dry the seeds, then store them in a paper envelope and when the season is right, plant the newest generation at your new home.