As we tend to go deeper down the carnivorous plant rabbit hole, many of us end up selling, trading, or giving away parts of our collection. To cut down on shipping costs, sending bare-root plants is a popular option. But a plant out of soil is much like a fish out of water. It’s stressful, shocking, and the plant could die if proper care is not taken to increase its chances of survival. This post will walk you through the steps of shipping your bare-root plants alive and safely to their new homes! Read on below!
I’m dividing this guide into two parts. Part one is preparing the plant for shipping, part two is how to properly package the plant in its shipping container.
Part 1: Preparing your bare-root plant for shipping.
First, gather your materials! You will need:
2. Rubber bands
4. Paper towels
5. Spray bottle with distilled water
A quick note about the sphagnum moss. I find the moss pictured above to be very low-quality. I wouldn’t use to pot plants in or dress my pots. I only use it for shipping and to plug drainage holes in some pots. For better quality moss, look for New Zealand long-fiber sphagnum moss, or use orchid moss. Orchid moss is the exact same thing, only its’ actually cleaner and free of crappy grass and twigs that nobody needs. The Amazon link in the list goes to a much better quality moss. Anyway, I digress!
1. Soak your long-fiber sphagnum moss in distilled water.
This step will hydrate the sphagnum, which will allow it to retain moisture for long periods of time. We’re going to wrap the roots in sphagnum later, so keep it in water until we need it in Step 5.
2. Uproot and soak your plant
First, remove your plant from it’s current pot and gently separate any divisions and clumps of media from the roots. Once you’ve removed most of the soil you can with your fingers, soak the plant from roots to rhizome in distilled water. Let it hang out in the water for 10-15 minutes. The water will remove the rest of the soil from the roots while keeping them hydrated. Washing away the soil also allows you to check the roots and rhizome for any bugs or issues that may have been brewing underneath the soil. Being submerged in water will force bugs to drown or climb up to where they’re visible (and can be killed).
3. Cut off dead bits
This is really important! Take a pair of scissors and cut off any dead leaves or mushy, dead chunks of rhizome. If you’re shipping Sarracenia, you can cut off older pitchers that haven’t completely dried out. Any dead tissue will increase the risk of rotting and fungus, especially since we’re keeping everything moist while shipping. On Venus flytraps, be careful to not cut off any live, green tissue.
4. Get your paper towel damp
Spray a paper towel with your distilled water, so that it’s damp and not dripping wet. You can squeeze excess water out if you need to. There is no photo of this step, so I won’t insult your intelligence and assume you know how to do this!
5. Wrap your plants in sphagnum moss
Grab some of the sphagnum moss you soaked in Step 1 and gently squeeze out the excess water. Wrap the moss around the roots of the plant. If the roots are really long, you can carefully bundle them up a bit with the moss. There is no special technique to doing this. It’s just to keep roots moist for several days while in transit.
6. Wrap your plants in a paper towel
Wrap the paper towel around the roots, sphagnum moss and rhizome and hold it with a rubber band. For extra protection and moisture, I often wrap a second damp paper towel around the first one. Voila, you have a plant in a blanket!
7. Put plants in a ziplock bag
Put your blanketed plant in a ziplock bag and carefully squeeze the air out and seal it. With the sphagnum moss, paper towels, and plastic bag sealing in moisture to the roots, the plant will survive for at least a week in transit.
This concludes Part One! Onto Part 2!
Part Two: Properly packaging a bare-root plant
Alright! You did Steps 1 – 7 flawlessly, so lets move on to putting that baby in the mail! Unless you are sending seeds or very small plants, I don’t ever recommend using an envelope. You will most likely need a box, and it needs to be much bigger than the plant you’re shipping. The smallest box I recommend is a USPS small flat rate box. I use this to ship 1-2 Sarracenia rhizomes or up to 3 large Venus flytraps. You will need to pack the plant very securely, so use your best judgement. Don’t risk cramming a plant in a tiny box with minimal protection. It will likely get damaged.
That being said, there are different ways to ship plant and many of them work fine. This is how I do it, but you may find a way that works better for you!
Step 1. Plant in a burrito
Carefully roll the ziplock bag burrito-style that will cause minimal damage to the plant leaves. You can open the bag again to squeeze out excess air if you need to.
Step 2. Plant in a bubble
Wrap a layer of bubble wrap around the entire ziplock-bagged plant. This give extra padding as well as insulation against fluctuating temperatures.
Step 3. Cushion the box
Crumple some newspaper and stuff it down at the bottom and two sides of the box before putting the plant inside.
Step 4. Plant in a box
Put your plant in the space between all the cushioning. I put it in head-down, but it doesn’t really matter because…
Step 5. Last bit of cushion
Your’re going to crumple one last piece of paper and put it over the plant that is still exposed.
Step 6. Seal up your box and send ‘er home!
As a test, give your box a gentle shake. You should not feel or hear anything moving inside if you packed it securely.
Also be sure to check the weather of the city you’re shipping to. If temperatures are below freezing, I would strongly consider adding a heat pack to your package, which would mean a shipping in a bigger box. You’ll want some space between the heat pack and the plant so the plant doesn’t burn up. You can create space with more bubble wrap, crumpled newspaper, or packing peanuts.
I hope this post was helpful to you! Please leave a comment if you have any further questions! If you’re experienced with shipping bare root plants, I would also love to know how you do it! 😀