How to Ship Plants Across Cities or States?

If you own a business that ships plants and other horticulture products, it’s essential that you know what steps to take so they arrive safely at their destination.

The horticulture and agriculture industries are among the most prominent worldwide, and many people buy plants as gifts. The US alone is a $15 billion market for these products. If you are in the business of selling plants, it’s a non-negotiable to protect your inventory from damage and loss during shipping.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to ship plants and the steps you can take to ensure their safe arrival.

How to Ship a Potted Plant?

Some delivery companies send plants all over the country, so you’ll need to choose a quick route to get your plant successful in this fierce competition. It is important to know the city-and state-wise rules when shipping plants. For example, mentioning shipping address and return address on the outside of the box. So, make sure you receive confirm order of plant before shipping it. Thus, you can ship potted plants, pack them well and deliver them quickly. Below are the essentials you will require to perform shipping process for plants. 

Essentials for shipping plants safely 

To ship plants, you will need the following packing material for careful packaging.

  • Partitioned corrugated cardboard boxes with dividers or plastic plant shipping boxes with dividers are ideal for packing plants.
  • Pots made of light plastic
  • Potting soil that has been sterilized
  • Shredded tissue paper, Newspaper, packing paper, or packing material
  • Bubble wrap
  • Flea collars
  • Plastic bags/ Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands or ties
  • Paper towels
  • Strong packing tape

How to Send Plants in the Mail? 

To ship certain plants, remove them from the pot or dirt and shake off any large lumps. Wrap the plant’s roots in plastic bag after wrapping them in a couple of moist paper towels (to slowly release moisture) or by misting the roots first. 

Before spraying, mix a few drops of polymer moisture crystals with the water if the trip lasts longer. If you’re shipping succulents or cacti, check to ensure they haven’t recently been watered—they travel best in semi-dry soil. To prevent breakage, you can also wrap their stems’ tops.

When trimming cut flowers, be sure to cut at a sharp angle. They will travel significant distances if you do this. After that, place them in a jar with clean water for three to four hours. Then tie them into a cluster or wrap the end in wet paper towels. Also, you can place the entire plant stems inside a plastic bag with some water and close the bag.

7 Beneficial Steps For Shipping Plants 

The following steps will show you how to ship plants.

1. Do detailed analysis

Before you ship plants, do enough research by going through the National Plant Board website, it’s an excellent resource for any questions regarding your live plants and their care. If you are planning to deliver them to customers (plant parents), they must be in the best possible condition. Reach out to the representative in your current and future states if you have questions regarding your particular plants and want to be comprehensive before delivering them to customers.

2. Pick the right packing supplies

Packing a plant for shipment is easier than you might think. Just use corrugated cardboard box, rubber bands, heavy packing paper, and newspaper; maybe bamboo stakes if the plant is bigger or needs more support.

If you want to be extra careful with your plant, add small pieces of Styrofoam around the base so that it doesn’t shift inside the box.

3. Avoid using wrong packing materials

As a business owner, you must avoid wrong packing materials such as hard-to-recycle plastic, which is an unnecessary container for your plants. The type of container works well when most of your live plants are the same size and shape. Use only the tape to seal the box.

4. Assemble carefully

Placing live plants in a pot before shipping them is a great way to keep them safe during delivery.

If you’re sending bare-root plants, you will want to wrap the roots in padded material to keep the plant’s roots from being damaged during transit. Consider putting your plant in a larger container than it needs and then adding excess soil or other materials around it to give it some protection.

If you are concerned about the weight of your package, we recommend keeping the plant together with its pot and then moving that piece in one direction while moving the pot in another direction. This way, you’ll be able to avoid shifting around too much dirt, which could damage roots or cause other issues.

5. Protect temperature-sensitive plants

Heat packs are a great way to protect temperature-sensitive plants during delivery. It will keep the temperature regulated so that it won’t get too hot or too cold.

Extreme temperatures can damage your plants. This can happen whether you’re shipping in the summer or winter because plants are sensitive to changes in temperature.

6. Manage your shipping options

How long can you keep a plant in a box without it wilting? It depends on the delivery situation. If you ship your plants immediately, they will be fine for a few days. If you want them to go longer, consider adding water and light to the box, so they don’t wilt on the way. If you want your business to be successful, you need to deliver a healthy plant to your customers without damaging it.

7. Recommend customers to take care of the plant

The shipping business does everything possible to ensure the plant reaches the customer’s door healthy and happy. Even if everything’s done flawlessly, plants require additional care, which implies abundant water and sunlight. Occasionally plants need tender loving care (TLC) upon arrival.

Tips on How to Pack Plants for Shipping 

Knowing how to package for shipping plants across the country is essential to ensure they can survive transport and delivery without damage. Plants need the right amount of food, clear instructions about how to care for them during transport, and careful handling to remain alive.

  • Send bare roots 

    Shipping plants doesn’t have to cost your business a fortune. To ship plants, you should know that you can save money by minimizing the soil. The additional weight of the dirt will raise the price of shipping. Additionally, if the plant is jostled during shipping, hard clumps of dirt may hurt the plant. Note that, you can transport plants without soil but they still require nutrients.

  • Utilize the smallest box feasible

    When shipping plants, make sure to place the plant in a box that’s just barely larger than the plant, especially for small plants. Otherwise, it can get shaken around and may be damaged.

  • Give the plant a cushion

    To cushion your plant, use packing peanuts or crumpled paper. Place these materials around the plant after tucking it inside the box. If you prevent the plant from moving around inside the box and slamming into its sides, you will avoid potential damage and ensure that it reaches your consumers without incident.

  • Include a “handle with care” warning

    When shipping plants, use a “handle with care” tag to let the delivery person know to handle it gently. A label stating which side of the package is at the bottom is also a good idea. This label will assist in keeping the plant upright throughout shipping and ensure its safe arrival to your consumers.

Perform Plant Delivery Using Upper Route Planner 

Planning delivery routes for self-delivery instead of relying on a private shipping company/shipping services for shipping live plants is the correct choice and will definitely save you costs. But efficiently shipping plants will require you to stay on top of your orders, but it doesn’t have to be challenging or time-consuming. Upper’s route optimization software helps you automate the process while taking advantage of delivery route planning and optimization.

Upper adds to the convenience of your plant-delivery service that helps ensure your customers get the freshest plants possible. 

  • Upper plans and dispatches routes, saving up to 10 hours of your planning time. Its efficient automated multi-stop route planning makes sure delivery drivers and your plants spend less time on the road and get delivered quickly. 
  • Additionally, it guarantees on-time delivery to your customer’s doorstep. It records proof of delivery via digital signature and photographs for each order supplied, assuring you that plants won’t waste too much time on a delivery truck. 
  • With Upper, customers also receive automatic notifications of delivery status + ETA so they are present at the time of delivery and your plants are not wasted during back-and-forth deliveries. 

To learn more about how Upper can help you automate your plant deliveries, sign up for a 7-day free trial today!

Utilize Upper for Shipping Potted Plants

Minimize your shipping efforts using the delivery route planner like Upper. Get the fastest routes within seconds and deliver temperature-sensitive plants in a timely manner.


Certain plants can survive in the mail for about a week, but every plant has its own unique needs when it comes to staying healthy. To ensure that your plant survives the trip through the mail, you’ll need to research what it needs and ship live plants on a timeframe that allows for those needs. Such as shipping a live plant that needs lots of water and direct sunlight in two business days.

Yes. You can ship live plants through the mail. It is not only possible but efficiently possible given that you adhere to all the legal regulations, follow packaging process as mentioned, and make the delivery to end customer hassle-free by relying on a robust delivery route and optimization software.

Below are the cost approximations to ship live plants.

  • Priority Mail: One-working-day delivery, flat-rate boxes start at $7 for 1lb or less.
  • Priority Mail Express: Shipping costs start at $20 for packages weighing less than one pound and arrive in two business days.
  • Fixed Price Priority Mail: Prices start at $12 for packages weighing less than 1 lb and take 1–3 working days to arrive.


If you’re running a plant delivery company, route planning is essential when shipping time-sensitive green gifts like plants. We highly recommend following the instructions above to securely prepare and package your (house) plants. 

Also, adhere to all regulations and rules (shipping guidelines) to ensure that your clients receive their plants perfectly. For example, some states require certifications to prove that shipped plants are free of harmful pests and do not bring harmful diseases/ plant diseases.

Also, remember if you’re planning on shipping plants internationally, most countries have specific restrictions when importing plants. For example, when you ship plants internationally to France, they demand a plant health certificate due to the risk of environmentally damaging invasive species. While shipping plants internationally to the UK demands an import permit.

Use the Upper route planner if you need help planning and optimizing your delivery routes when shipping plants and for achieving high customer satisfaction.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.