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Posted on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 - 03:14 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

How to Ship Plants so they Arrive Alive

by Leif E. Foliage
All too many times do we send or receive plants through the mail or UPS only to have them dead upon arrival. Nothing can compare to the heartbreak of opening some long-awaited package and having loose soil and dead plants stare back at you. Here are some simple tried and true methods to help you avoid the dead plant blues:

Always remove the pot before packing. Make sure you send only the healthiest plants and check them for parasites before sending. Place the root-ball in a plastic bag, moisten it and wrap the top of the bag loosely around the stem of the plant and tape it closed. Put another plastic bag loosely over the pre-misted top of the plant, so that it meets and somewhat overlaps the bottom bag. The plastic bag should not compress the plant. Wrap loosely and tape to the bottom bag.

Be sure the box is sturdy and large enough. The box should measure four to six inches larger than the plant in each dimension and be sturdy enough to withstand the inevitable abuse it will take in transit. However, unless your plants are properly packed inside the box they will be bounced all over and the box will show no signs of damage. This is the worst scenario; you expect that the plants will be ok because the box seems unharmed. When you open it, soil and dead plants fall out.

This is the most important part: First, fill the bottom layer of the box with packing material so that there is at least two inches of packing material covering the entire bottom.

Place the plant in the package on the packing material so that the plant will not touch the sides, top or bottom of the box.

Fill in all around the plant with packing material so that the plant is held immobile, but not crushed by the material. Put packing material over the top of the plant in the same manner. Shredded newspaper or styrofoam (soya) peanuts are the best. They provide support without potentially damaging rigidity. Crushed newspaper can be used with care to avoid hurting the plant. The plant should be completely suspended in the packaging material and as immobile as if it were sealed in a block of plastic.

Now you are ready to seal the box.

Have a good grade of tape and don't be afraid to use it. Tape all of the edges and seams of the box. Glue the address labels to the top of the box and run clear packing tape completely around the box, covering the labels for protection and to add strength to the box. Wrap tape completely around the other two axes of the box as well, so there are bands of tape keeping the box from bursting in any direction.

Use the fastest method of shipping you can afford. Most plants can stand up to four or five days in the dark without any more damage than severe wilting and foliage loss and can be revived by light, heat,water and time. Any longer than that and (with the exception of unrooted plants and cactus/succulents) you risk losing the entire plant. Parcel post is not a good way to send live plants. Priority mail seems to be the quickest and cheapest.

Always mail as early in the week as possible. Having a plant sit over the weekend in the post office in the dark will not help it any. Inform the recipients ahead of time to be on the lookout for their plants.

If you are expecting plants and you have a P.O.box, check it every day.

If your plant arrives looking dead, give it light and water. The foliage may all have died, but the roots are probably still alive. Treat them as though they are. Pot them and give them love and hope for the best. Some plants can die back to their roots and make an amazing comeback. Don't give up hope. Have patience; it may take months.

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