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Getting the "Dirt" on Relocating House Plants

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 2:42 pm    Post subject: Getting the "Dirt" on Relocating House Plants Reply with quote

Getting the "Dirt" on Relocating House Plants
By Lizzy Scully

Tips for a triumphant transplant

If you're anything like me, the first moment you walk into your new home you'll be eyeing its corners and shelves for the ideal places for your family of plants. In fact, I've just moved into my new home in Lyons, and last night I lay on the floor on a bunch of pillows (I don't have the furniture in yet), and envisioned where to put my green buddies. "I'll hang the vine in the southeast corner, and the Christmas cactus right below it on the small, oak table, right next to the amethyst geode," I thought.

And this morning when I got up, the sun was shining in the perfect place in my front garden for my irises. I plan on moving both my indoor and outdoor plants. But how, I wondered? So, I called Mick Gainan, the owner of Gainan's Heights Greenhouse & Garden Center in Billings, Montana. The shop has been around for a half century, so they ought to know what they're talking about, I figured.

In regards to my indoor plants, Ganian says, "Put yourself in the pot. Plants are like people; they don't like to move."

When moving them from one house to another, their entire orientation is going to be different. Try to find places for them as quickly as possible and that they are most familiar with (i.e. if they faced south in the old house, try to find a south-facing spot for them in the new house.) If there isn't a similar geographic location, don't worry. It's not unusual for plants to go through an acclimatization process (just like we do!) and lose a few leaves. In time, they'll adapt and thrive.

According to, plants should be watered the day before the move. Also, prevent the compost from shaking out of the pot during the move by padding it down with damp newspaper. Then, roll the plants into a tight cone of newspaper and pack them tightly together in the car. Upon reaching the new abode, get them in place as soon as possible and away from direct sun, drafts, or heater vents. Be sure to mist them daily "to prevent shock while the roots become settled again in the pots." For outdoor plants, Gainan reiterates, "plants should be relocated as quickly as possible."

And although I shouldn't really move my irises right now because it's early spring, he says I may get away with it because the ground hasn't yet thawed out in Estes Park, which is at an elevation of around 7,500 feet.

"Take about a foot of soil with them," he adds. "They are temperature sensitive. When the ground warms up, the root system takes hold. They may not bloom this year, but they'll probably make it."

When transplanting outdoor plants, Gainan recommends putting them in a sheet of burlap.

"Take as much soil as you can, and pop that whole plant out of the ground," he says. "Plant them in the new location as soon as possible, the same day if you can." Other helpful tips include using something like Vitamin B1 Plant Starter to help reestablish the roots in the soil. The folks at also suggest keeping an eye on them for the short term.

"Observe any garden plants that you plant at your new home. Difference in soil, climate, and air quality will have an effect on their health. Keep a watch on their progress and call in some local help if you're having problems."

Lizzy Scully Managing Editor Find the Best Places to Live in America for you on For more information on relocation, check out the blogs:

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