This is a tutorial about the correct way to ship plants to friends or customers.
First, watch this video I made about shipping plants. It shows how to properly package plants for shipment.
There are few things to take notice of in the above photo. The shipper recycled an old fan box to ship these plants. That’s fine. The box took some abuse so you have to know that you and the person on the other end that are going to handle your box of plants with tender loving care. Everybody in the middle will treat your package a little on the rough side. If not really rough. Pack them so they can withstand a drop kick!
Notice multiple priority mail stickers on the box. Priority mail is usually a good way to ship plants, but make sure it’s obvious that the package is priority and not parcel post. The packages get treated differently, especially when it comes to speed of delivery.
Notice that the roots are wrapped in plastic and the tops are nice and dry. You can’t see it from this photo but below that plastic are paper towels that are quite wet to keep the roots of the plants hydrated.
The above photo is a “Large Flat Rate Priority Mail Box” provided by the post office free of charge. The U.S. Postal Service will give you free boxes for you to use for shipping things priority mail. Using the boxes for any other purpose is against the law, but if you use their service that’s a huge benefit from them. Flat rate boxes are good because if you can fit it in the box it ships for one price. If your shipment is really light you might be better off to use a “Non Flate Rate Box” and just pay by weight and distances. In many cases it costs less.
A Great Big Call Out to the United States Post Office.
Yeah, yeah I know. They are a government agency and they are clumsy and inefficient.
I’m here to tell you it ain’t so.
I love the U.S. Postal Service and I think they do an incredible and commendable job. We ship with them five days a week and seldom do we have any problems at all and our packages are delivered on time, in good condition. We use their Click-N-Ship Service and only have to visit the post office with orders going out of the country. They are very dependable and pick up our packages daily at the front door.
They are hard working people who care. And the agency overall does a great job. I’m sure they have their flaws as do we all, but I beg of you to support them and use their service as often as you can. They are struggling because of changing times, but if they go away, we will all miss them desperately.
To me this is one of the prettiest sights in the world. A bundle of small plants, lovingly grown by a person who cares, shipped to a person that is excited to receive them.
When it comes to shipping plants there are four things that are really important. Get these four things right and your plants will arrive safe, sound and happy.
1. Moist roots.
2. Dry tops.
3. Good packing. Don’t allow the plants enough room to slide around in the box.
4. Speed. Use the fastest method possible. However, you don’t have to pay those high overnight charges. 3 to 4 days is usually acceptable.
Plants both large and small can be shipped across the country. Smaller plants are easier to ship than big plants, but here in Perry, Ohio it’s not at all unusual to see trees that weigh 500 to 2,000 pounds loaded on a semi trailer waiting for delivery. I’ve seen trees so large that it takes a complete 40′ semi trailer just to deliver one tree! That’s a big tree. And believe it or not, when trees that big are dug and sold they are almost always hand dug because nobody has a hydraulic tree spade that size.
Most plants are shipped bare root for two reasons. Being bare root makes them lighter and easier to ship and in most states, if not all, it’s against the law to ship soil from one area to another. Soil can contain all kinds of things like Japanese Beetle grubs and other harmful pests that hide in the soil and nobody wants a problem they don’t already have.
If your plants are grown in a soil less mix, and if you have My Backyard Growing System you know what that’s all about. You can usually ship plants with root balls in a soil less mix.
Getting plants ready for the trip.
When I am preparing bare root plants for shipment I put them in bundles of five, ten or twenty depending on the size of the plants and tie the bundles with light weight nursery twine. Then I wrap the roots, only the roots, in paper towels and dip the roots with the towels in a bucket of water wetting the towels and the roots thoroughly. I squeeze out all the excess water leaving me with wet roots and wet paper towels.
I slip the bundle into a plastic bag, often a plastic grocery bag, pull the bag up tight around the root ball and put a string or rubber band around the bundle, right at what would have been the soil line in the nursery. Right where the roots and the top of the plant meet. I then pull the bag down so the top of the plants are exposed and dry and simply place them into my shipping box.
In the above photo you can see the paper towels through the clear plastic bag. Notice that the tops are dry. Dry tops are essential during shipping. Plants with wet tops will rot and overheat while in transit.
Pack the plants tightly so they can’t move around in transit.
Once you have the plants in the box use crumpled newspaper as filler so the plants can’t slide around in the box. When plants move around in the box you end up with broken tops and an unhappy person who is receiving the plants.
Properly tagged plants, properly tagged plants, properly tagged plants!
Oh me, Oh, My Oh!
There are two things that are extremely important when shipping plants to others. One is knowing what in the heck you are growing. You can’t guess at what variety of plant you have. And if you have My Backyard Growing System, you know All about My Rant about properly tagged plants. Secondly, tag the plants in such a way that they cannot possibly be mixed up and make sure the tags and the ink are water proof so they don’t smear, smudge or disappear during shipment. Got it? I cannot even begin to tell you have important that is.
What????????? Cotton Easter?
There is no such plant as “Cotton Easter” so before you give me a tongue lashing use your energy to grasp how important this lesson is. I bought these plants from a small grower who obviously is learning the ropes. Somebody that helps me around the nursery read the tags on the plants and simply copied what the tag says. And this is how things get all messed up. When you send out misinformation it gets perpetuated. That tag should say Coral Beauty Cotoneaster. And you should know, Cotoneaster is probably one of the most commonly mispronounced plants in the industry. So this is a pretty common mistake.
Notice how the tag is wrapped right in the bundle of plants? That’s pretty good, but an even better option is a strip tag that slips around the stem of the plants and can be pulled tight. What really matters is that whatever method you use, make sure it’s secure and legible.
This is a Wonderful Way to Make Extra Money from Home.
Grow a Few Plants, Pack them in a Box, and Off they Go to Your Happy Customer!
You Can Make Up to $93.60 in One Square Foot in Your Backyard. Take a Peek.