Don’t Do Damage: How to Safely Transport Your Succulents Long Distances

It can be tricky to move your succulents to a new home. These tips will help the moving process go smoothly and safely.

I've moved quite a bit in the last few years and I've had a lot of practice moving my plants.

Sometimes it went well, other times… not so much.

Let's dive into moving pots of succulents. The size and shape of your succulents will determine how to secure them during the move.

The two most important things to remember are:

  1. Prevent everything from tipping over
  2. Keep cactus away from everything else

Each time we move cactus my husband kindly tells me we can't get any more and my mother says we should probably just throw them all away and not worry about moving them. But… I keep getting more and we keep moving them.

Don't water before moving

Watering succulents before moving them is a big problem. First, it makes the pots extra heavy. Second, generally succulents don't get as much airflow in a car or truck and the soil won't dry out as quickly. This can quickly cause your succulents to rot.

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Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

Hopefully you'll know you're moving a week or two in advance. Make sure you soak the soil and then let it dry out completely by the time you move. In my case, I usually water 4-5 days before the move.

This allows the soil to dry out but the succulents are hydrated enough they can last a few more days or even a week without water.

Contain small containers

This is one trick I wish I had learned a long time ago. I have a lot of small pots of succulents. I've had such a hard time transporting them in such a way that they stay upright during the whole move. It seems even a slight bump would tip everything over and soil would go everywhere.

Here are two items that will help keep pots secure:

  • Plastic bins
  • Kraft paper (or towels, rags, newspaper, etc)

I highly recommend getting a set of plastic bins. I used plastic storage bins for my garden organization project and they were perfect for transporting my collection of smaller pots.

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Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

I was able to fill most of the bins with a mix of larger and smaller pots so there was hardly any extra room left. The pots kept each other in place and everything fit tight enough that they didn't shift or move if we were on a bumpy road.

However, not all of the pots fit perfectly together inside the bins. For these I used a roll of Kraft paper and crumpled pieces to fit in between the pots. This helped hold things in place and support smaller pots.

The Kraft paper is great because it's strong so you don't have to use as much as you would a lighter weight paper. However, you could also use newspaper, grocery bags, towels, rags, etc. Anything you can wad up and gently stuff between your pots.

If your succulents are short enough you can also put the lids on and stack them to save on space. Just don't leave them in there too long or you may encounter problems (more on that on the next page).

Use nursery flats and trays

Have you ever noticed how many different types of trays nurseries use to display plants? They have a lot! Usually they get recycled or thrown out so ask if you can take a couple the next time you're there. These will make life much simpler (and cheaper) when moving your plants.

The type at the top left is especially nice for moving multiple pots and preventing them from tipping. So, take a look under the tables the next time you're at a nursery or ask someone if you don't see any.

trays propagating succulents moving succsPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

Planters with handles

I've recently started planting some of my succulents in felt grow bags. They are awesome! It makes moving succulents so easy because the bags are very sturdy and have handles.

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Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

They aren't the most attractive option, but if you need to move your succulents very much (whether from house to house or just to different areas of the yard) these are a really great option. This size (5 gallons) is really stable so it's not very likely to tip over in the car.

Use a plant dolly or cart

Big pots can be tricky to maneuver. I have two items that make moving large pots (or a lot of pots) so much easier:

  • A plant dolly/trolley
  • A flat bed cart (with attachable tub)

I've had the plant dolly for a while. You may have seen me mention it on my post about pot feet. I usually have one of my larger pots sitting on it all the time. However, while moving I usually wheel one pot to the car or truck and then use it for a few more pots to follow.

blue succulent pot plant dollyPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

This minimizes the heavy lifting. As long as you have a relatively smooth surface this will really make the move easier.

The flat bed cart is also incredibly useful. I got this one from Bonsai Jack when he was trying out some new products for their warehouse. It can hold up to 600 pounds!

henry helping move succulents cartPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

I used the cart to transport my bins of succulents and a few medium/large pots that didn't fit in the smaller containers. I've used it so many times over the past few months that I've had it. My two year old really likes it as well 🙂

plant trolly moving succulentsPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

If you're moving things over any sort of incline I highly recommend using the tub that goes with the cart. It will make a huge difference. Before using the tub I had quite a few things slide off  when going down a small hill.

Secure containers and larger pots

Fortunately for my most recent move I was just going a few miles away. So, I filled the back of this Subaru Outback with all of my pots.

The rubber mat in the back prevented the plastic bins from sliding around. They were also packed in close together so there wasn't a lot of space to move anyway.

When I was moving them another time, I had them in the bed of a truck which was quite slippery. I used duct tape around the bins to hold them in place.

duct tape succulent planters truck movingPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

For larger pots you can also use straps and cinch them down tightly. You can group a few together and put a strap around all of them, or you can strap them to part of the vehicle to keep them in place, or both.

The key to prevent tipping is to secure the pots so they have a barrier that prevents them from falling. You could also put larger pots inside a large cardboard box just bigger than the pot. A box will generally be more stable than a pot.

Keep cacti (and your hands) protected

Remember at the beginning of the post I mentioned to make sure you keep your cacti away from everything? This can be tricky to do.

A great option is to protect the cactus and other succulents from touching each other. You can do this several ways.

First, you can plant all cacti together in one large pot. Then, make sure that pot is away from everything else. This may not be practical though.

The other option I recommend is to wrap the pot with Kraft paper, a towel that you don't mind getting spines in, newspaper, etc.

You'll still want to keep the cacti away from other plants if possible, but this should limit the contact the spines have with anything they may touch.

craft paper around cactusPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

Also make sure you wear gloves when handling your cactus. I know all too well how easy it is for your hands to get spines in them from just a slight touch.

It's also a good idea to wipe off the outside rim of your pot before handling it just to make sure there aren't any spines hiding there.

Shorten time in covered vehicles

While it may be a bit difficult, avoid leaving your succulents in a dark, closed space (like a trunk or moving truck) for too long. With limited light and air flow your succulents may suffer some damage.

This normally only happens with Aloes and Agaves, but play it safe as much as possible. The result looks like the succulent has been over watered and is starting to rot. Fortunately, the damage doesn't generally kill the plant and over time the new growth will look normal as long as you're caring for it properly.

overwatered rotting aloe moving succulentPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

Also keep your succulents in a temperate environment as much as reasonably possible. If you're moving in the middle of the summer, avoid placing them in an area that will get extremely hot (over 90 degrees). The opposite is true for winter, keep them somewhere warmer than 40 degrees to be safe.

Usually if you're in a car you'll be fine. It will be harder to maintain a mild temperature in a large moving truck. If you're traveling for several hours or days, just make sure to check on your succulents once in a while. Take them out of the car or truck if you will be stopped over night.

Pay attention to the new growing area

One of the most difficult post-move adjustments is finding the right location for your succulents. You need somewhere temperate for the first few days (even if your plants were full sun before). Then you can gradually ease them in to areas with more heat or sunlight.

This has proven to be a problem for me over and over. In our most recent move I had a collection of leaves and small cuttings I was propagating (you can see them in this post). I placed them in an area that I thought got shade most of the day. I went out two days after I moved them and was devastated to see they were mostly burned.

burned propagating succulentsPin
Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

Unfortunately, I've done this same thing before. So, learn the lesson from me. Keep your succulents in a very protected area until you determine where they will be best suited to grow. A little stretching is better than trying to recover from heat exhaustion and sunburn.

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Photo Credit: Succulents and Sunshine.

It's difficult to see the light in a new area at all times of day, but keep an eye on things to get a rough idea of what the sunlight is like. Then, start moving your succulents to their more permanent home once you're confident you've found the right area.

Fortunately, this is much easier to do indoors. Just find the brightest window and you'll be set!

Hopefully this will help you get through your next move without sacrificing any of your plants! And hopefully it keeps your car cleaner too. Just remember to do the best you can to keep everything upright and stuck in place and you should be fine!

This article originally appeared on Succulents and Sunshine.