How to Ship Plant Cuttings

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Because Propa is all about swapping plant cuttings, we know a thing or two about how to ship plants safely.

Shipping plant cuttings does not have to be difficult, but it does take some special preparation. It's not just about the packaging but also the timing, mail provider, and transit time. A carefully packaged and shipped cutting is a pot of gold to the receiver; do it right, and you'll have super happy plant parents and clients!

 

Things to Consider Before Mailing Plant Cuttings

 

Here are a few things to think about before mail your plant cuttings. 

  • Where is the plant going, and what is the quickest way to get it there? Time in transit makes a big difference in how the cutting does.
     

  • What is the weather – not just where you live, but where the cutting is going? Freezing temperatures and scorching weather will both seriously affect the plant cutting in shipment.
     

  • What type of plant is it, and how hardy is it to various weather conditions? Some plants are more sensitive to handling and weather conditions than others.

 

How to Prepare Plant Cuttings for Mailing

  1. Wait as long as possible to take the cutting from the mother plant. Water the mother plant thoroughly the day before removing the cutting so it will be fully hydrated. It's best to cut it off the day of shipping, helping it stay fresh and strong.
     

  2. Choose a robust section and cut the stem at an angle.
     

  3. If the plant cutting has lots of leaves, remove most of them, leaving just the ones at the top. Removing most of the foliage reduces the energy the plant needs to expend in transit keeping itself alive.
     

  4. If your cutting is unrooted, wrap the end of it in a few wrung-out damp paper towels. This is how the plant will access water during the trip.

    If your cutting is rooted, w
    rap the roots in sphagnum moss instead of a paper towel, as this will better protect delicate roots.
     

  5. Wrap the paper towel or moss with plastic cling wrap or a zip lock bag to seal moisture in. Seal it well while also taking care not to damage the roots. A rubber band around the top of the bag or plastic wrap keeps it secure and sealed.
     

  6. Make sure the foliage is dry – it may rot or get diseased en route if it's wet in a closed box.
     

  7. Wrap the entire cutting carefully in a newspaper – create several layers of a loose, but secure, newspaper cone around the plant.

 

How to Package Plant Cuttings to Survive Transit

 

  1. Choose a shipping method

    Two-day delivery is usually the best option economically and time-wise, but this will vary depending on where you live and where the plant is going. Look into the options and decide the best one. It might not be the same shipping method every time you mail a cutting. Shipping methods that take longer than two days are risky for the plant.
     

  2. Shipping day matters

    Mondays or Tuesdays are always best, reducing the potential of plant cuttings getting stuck in transit over the weekend.
     

  3. Choose a box size that is appropriate for the cutting.

    You'll need to fill it with packing material to keep the plant safe, so don't go with an overly large box if not necessary. Don't use bubble mailers as these sometimes get processed through machines and will crush the plant. Also, since the sides aren't hard, they're more likely to get tossed around and have things fall on them.
     

  4. Place padding in the box

    Fill the box halfway with crumpled newspaper or other lightweight packaging material (tissue paper, Poly-fil, brown paper, scrap paper). Don't use aluminum foil or any plastic products as they might negatively affect the microclimate inside the box.

     

  5. Place the plant in the box

    Place the plant cutting in the center, then fill around it with more lightweight packaging material. You want to create a cocoon for the cutting, so it can't move around too much. But, it still needs access to air, so don't add so much that the cutting is smothered.
     

  6. Check your work

    Gently shake the box when you're done to ensure the cutting is secure. There should only be a slight shuffling noise; the cutting should not move very much at all.
     

  7. Tape the box really well and ship!