DIY Mail Live
Sometimes we need to mail a live plant. What is the right way to mail a live plant? It's pretty easy if you have the right supplies gathered, and a little bit of patience.
First, make sure you will be mailing the plant to a place that accepts them. Meaning, a country like Australia will not allow you to send living plant material from say, the USA, or anywhere else that I can think of. You can send seeds to Australia.
Certain states, like Arizona and Hawaii, may also ban you from sending live plant material into them. Florida bans citrus, and so on. Unless you have a certificate from the Agriucultural department of that state, and even with it, you need to check if what plant you want to send is legal to that state or country. So check with all of the proper rules before sending out plants. The National Plant Board.org has a page on laws and regulations that pertain to the USDA and other shipping information here in the states.
Get yourself an account with the USPS. You can get free boxes from USPS here. You can mail a couple of decent sized live plants in the medium sized tube box. The Post Office will deliver them right to your door. Just set up an account, and order the appropriate sized box you think you will need. They also sell the other packing materials you may need, like shipping tape. I usually get shipping tape from Walmart much cheaper. You will also need an indelible ink pen, some plain copy paper, scissors and a space where you can assemble everything.
For the plant itself, you will need a sandwich baggie or other Cling Wrap cellophane, and some damp sphagnum moss.
It is best to fertilize the plant you will be shipping about 2 days before it is due to be sent out. This way the plant will suffer less shock. Make sure it has a good, strong rootball, and slips easily out of the pot and maintains it's soil well. This type of growth will get a healthy plant where you are trying to send it.
Now comes the day you are ready to begin packing up the live plant to mail out. Assemble everything on your work surface, starting with the plant itself. Remove it from it's growing planter, and place on the cellophane you have already laid out and cut to larger than needed size. Alternatively, you have used a sandwich baggie, as your plant's root ball will easily slip into it. Now take some damp sphagnum moss and try to cover the rootball with it. Because I am mailing out more than one plant, I first place the I.D. tag in the baggie or cellophane, so person knows which cultivar is which.
Remove any abundance of lower leaves that may interfere with the taping process. (as seen in top photo) Now either wrap the cellophane or slip rootball with spahgnum moss into sandwich baggie. Use some of the transparent packing tape to wrap and hold the cellophane around the trunk of the tree, but beign careful not to get the tape nto the trunk itself, just the top of the cellophane. This creates a seal that will hold in the moisture the plant needs for the journey ahead. Be sure the cellophane is sealed around the entire plant, adding any tape you may need to do this.
Now get the box prepared. Move the plant and any other materials out of the way, and lay up the opened box. Place the plant at one end, down just above the bottom where you will flap it up to close. Now wrap more packing tape around the sandwich baggie and press tightly the tape ends onto the box itself. This holds the plant in place during the rough ride the Post Office will likely put it through. Stabilize it well, adding all the tape you need to be sure it is in place. If you did it right, you can pick up the box and the plant will not move from the bottom of the box.
Close up the box, tape it very well, including down the rib, and place precut to size 'TO' and 'FROM' labels you have written in indelible ink. Completely seal them in the transparent tape. That way, if the Post Office accidentally gets the labels wet, they will not smear the addresses.
Send the off as Priority Mail. Mail them right after preparing them, and within 3 to 5 days your friend should have a fantastic, healthy new plant. And you'll get a big 'THANK YOU!'