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It's always fun to purchase new plants or trade with friends and family, but there's nothing more disappointing than getting it home to find it's been damaged by the weather. These are our best tips for safely transporting plants on those very cold or very hot days.
Transporting your plants
When transporting your plants you might need to wrap them to prevent damage. Sensitive foliage is easily bruised or even torn. Branches can break up and succulent plants can easily get scarred tissue from dents and injuries. Gently wrapping your plants and handling them with care when transporting them is key. Use newspaper, bubble wrap or similar material to insulate them.
- Flower, buds and new growth is especially sensitive to cold temperatures
Pack your plants
If you're buying tropical, indoor houseplants and the outdoor temperature is around 50°F (10°C) or below, it’s advised to insulate your plants for the trip. Most of our tropical houseplants are adapted to warmer temperatures and a sudden drop (even just a walk from the shop to your car) can do a lot of harm to the foliage and roots, even causing root rot.
If it’s between 32 - 50°F (0-10°C) outside, wrapping the plant in paper or placing it in a closed paper bag is usually sufficient. In lower temperatures, layers of newspaper are a good way to add extra insulation. Some shops might offer insulated paper bags too.
Plants don't generate their own heat as we do, so the plant will slowly be cooled down even when wrapped in the best way. If your plant will be going on a long trip, you can keep the air around it warm by using a heat pack, or a bottle of warm water packed together with the plant.
During hot spells, some plants can start to droop or become extra sensitive when transported. If the plant is sensitive to direct sun, it's a good idea to avoid it being outside for long periods. Small plants can be placed in a taller bag to avoid exposure to the sun. This will also protect thinner foliage from dehydrating wind. Packing up the plant with some garden fabric or wrapping paper can help too. Avoid leaving your plants in direct sunlight or in a car for a prolonged period of time if the temperature is high. A hot car is a sure way to lose all the foliage on your new plant.
Unpacking the plant
Wait awhile to unpack the plant when coming home. Plants are sensitive to both sudden drops and rises in temperature. Leave it to rest an hour or two before opening the package.
If your plant has gotten stressed by heat or sun, you can help it recover by placing it in a spot with bright but only indirect light. Water it carefully if the soil is dry. Misting the plant can also help it rehydrate more quickly. It can take a day or two before it has fully recovered.
Foliage that has gotten burnt by the sun won’t recover. You can go ahead and prune the affected leaves off as long as it doesn't have too big an impact on the plant. If the plant only has a few leaves or if it’s the majority of the leaves have gotten damaged, you should leave them on. Oftentimes there’s still some green, healthy tissue left on the leaves that can still produce energy for your plant. As soon as the plant has started to recover and put out new leaves, you can remove the old, scorched ones.
Do I really need to wrap my plant? Can't I just run to my car outside the plant store with it? It is perfectly fine to carry your plants outside as long as it can tolerate the current temperature. But as soon as the temperature drops and gets around 50°F or lower you’ll risk damaging sensitive plants. Even a short trip between your parked car and the shop can be enough to damage a plant.
I don't have any paper to wrap my plant, and the store doesn't either. What can I do? If the plant is small enough, you might be able to place it in your bag or under your shirt. If you've got a large plant, wrap a blanket or even your jacket around the foliage and bring your car around so you don't have to carry it too far.
How long can a plant be outside in the cold? It depends a lot on which plant you have, and how cold it is outside. Most plants tolerate temperatures above 50°F (+10°C) rather well, and when insulated, they often don’t need any extra heat source. 20- 30 minutes is usually safe. They get chilled much faster as the temperature is close to or below the freezing point. The colder it is outside the quicker the plant will risk getting frost bite.