Plants in a Blanket! Or: How to Ship Bare Root Plants

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.

Tutorial: How to ship bare-root plants in the mail.

First, gather your materials! You will need:

1. Sealable zipper bags

2. Rubber bands

3. Long-fiber Sphagnum moss 

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.

Soak long-fiber sphagnum moss in water and use it to hold moisture when shipping bare root plants.

 

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).

How to ship Venus flytraps and other bare root plants safely and securely!

Soak your Venus flytrap roots in distilled water before repotting or shipping bare root.

 

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.

Learn to ship your carnivorous bare-root plants safely and securely!
See the dead, brown area? Cut that off!

 

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.

Use sphagnum moss to keep roots moist when shipping plants bare root.

 

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!

Wrap your bare root plants in a damp paper towel to keep roots moist when shipping.  Click to read more!

Wrap your bare root plants in a damp paper towel to keep roots moist when shipping.  Click to read more!
One towel.
Wrap your bare root plants in a damp paper towel to keep roots moist when shipping.  Click to read more!
Two towels!

 

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.

Put bare root plants in a ziplock bag to seal in moisture when shipping them. Click for more info!

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.

How to ship bare root plants safely and securely! Click for more info!

How to ship bare root plants safely and securely! Click for more info!

 

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.

How to ship bare root plants safely and securely! Click for more info!

 

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.

How to ship bare root plants safely and securely! Click for more info!

 

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…

How to ship bare root plants safely and securely! Click for more info!

 

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.

How to ship bare root plants safely and securely! Click for more info!

 

Step 6. Seal up your box and send ‘er home!

How to ship bare root plants safely and securely! Click for more info!

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! 😀

7 comments

  1. Lois says:

    I have been found that the media comes off the roots easier if the pot has been left out standing water for 2 or 3 days

    • Maria says:

      Hi Lois! I’ve never kept my plants in water for that long. I’ll have to try that for the next repotting! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Jemma says:

    Was curious if you could recommend any way for sending sundews?
    Is there any issues with ziplock bags with them?
    Like the dew sticking the leaves together at all, though they can be easily separated I suppose
    Very useful tutorial btw 🙂

    • Maria says:

      Hi Jemma! I send sundews in the exact same way as flytraps. There is really no getting around sticking their leaves together. They can be easily separated and will get dewy again after some care in a new home. 🙂

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