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How to Ship Live Plants by USPS

By Lauren Thomason ; Updated July 21, 2017
Water the plants well, about 4 to 6 hours before you plan on digging them up.
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Trading live plants with a long-distance friend isn’t difficult and doesn’t require any special equipment. In fact, according to the USPS mailing code, most plants are mailable within the United States, as long as the USDA does not prohibit them. Just make sure that you’re gentle with the plant as you remove it from the soil. Dig far enough away from the plant so you don’t damage the roots. Loosen the soil away from the roots, and rinse them off. Package and ship the plant as soon as possible.

Soak five sheets of newspaper in a container of water until the paper is wet but not sopping.

Fold the papers in half and place the live freshly dug-up plant, with the roots and stems in the center of the newspaper, and position the foliage outside the edge of the newspaper.

Roll the paper around the roots gently, keeping the foliage sticking out of the top of the roll.

Place the bottom of the newspaper inside a small grocery plastic bag, the type that you place produce in. Don’t close off the top of the bag. The roots need moisture and air to stay alive.

Wrap three to five more large plastic grocery bags around the entire plant to help cushion it. Wrap the plant in each individual bag, one at a time, rolling the bags closed.

Squeeze excess air out of the bags gently. And place the package into a similarly sized cardboard box.

Include a label or instructions in the box, so the recipient knows what the plant is and how to care for it. Don’t send instructions on a piece of paper that might absorb moisture; write on a piece of plastic or an ice cream stick instead.

Seal the box with packing tape and label the box with your return address and the recipient’s address. Include the extended zip code for speedier delivery.

Ship the package as soon as possible once packaged. Although the plant should arrive fine with normal delivery times, avoid sending live plants when shipping times might be slow due to national holidays or heavy mailing events, such as Mother’s Day.


About the Author


Lauren Thomason has written professionally since 2011 for online publications such as eHow. She is an avid gardener and crafter, history buff and science experiment fanatic. She holds a Master of Science in elementary education and is pursuing a Doctor of Education from Liberty University.