Moving Perennials To A New Home: Legal Considerations, Moving Company Policies, And More

If you are a gardener at heart, the thought of moving and leaving your perennial bed behind may fill you with panic. You've probably spent years building the bed with a variety of flowering plants that provide you with hours of enjoyment and that have come to feel like part of your home. While you typically can't take them all with you, you can move many of your perennials to your new home.

Legal Considerations

You may be surprised to learn that in the real estate world, your shrubs and perennials are considered part of the property unless you specifically tell the buyer otherwise. That means your beautiful flower beds and flowering shrubs don't belong to you any more if you forget to add a clause that you intend to take some of them with you. If you own your property and are selling it to move to new location, be sure to notify the real estate agent of your intentions.

Likewise, if you plant shrubs and perennials on rented property, your landlord may be able to claim they no longer belong to you. He can claim that although the plants were originally your personal property, they became real property that now belongs to him when they became a fixture of the land. A fixture refers to movable personal property that becomes attached to the land. Most landlords will allow you to take your flowers and shrubs with you, but you should ask first.

Moving the Perennials

Moving perennials is best done in either the spring or the fall to avoid interrupting their natural blooming cycle. As a rule, perennials that bloom in early spring should be moved in the fall, while those that bloom in late summer and fall do best if moved in the spring. However, nearly any perennial can be moved any time during the growing season. It may inhibit blooming, but they will resume their normal blooming cycle the following year. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Cut the perennial back to within several inches of the ground. This prevents stress to the plant when you move it.
  2. Water the plants thoroughly to saturate the soil to the root level the day before moving them.
  3. Dig around the roots with a garden shovel and lift the section free from the ground.
  4. Divide the roots by gently pulling them apart or by cutting them with a sharp knife, leaving at least two leafy shoots to each section.
  5. Shake the roots gently to remove the old soil. Some prefer to wash the roots with a hose at this point.
  6. Check that the roots are free of disease. Roots should be white or tan with no areas of discoloration and no soft spots.
  7. Repot the perennials in florist pots if you must hold them for several days before replanting them at your new home. If possible, take them directly to the new home and plant them in prepared soil in similar growing conditions as the original. Otherwise, potting them in florist pots and keeping them in a shaded area will keep the root moist until you ready for the big move.

Long Distance Moving

If you are hiring a moving company to move more than a few hours away, you may have assumed you can move your plants via the moving van. Most moving companies will not accept plants, and if they do they will not guarantee they will survive. Moving vans are typically hot and stuffy and are not the ideal location for your plants anyway. Plan to move your plants in your personal vehicle where you can control the temperature and provide them with plenty of fresh air. Place the florist pot in the bottom of a box and surround it with crumpled newspaper to secure the pot in place. Punch holes in the box for air circulation and close the box. Place the box in the passenger area of your vehicle. Place your plants in a shaded area and open the boxes when you reach your new location. Replant them in prepared soil at your new home and water them thoroughly.

Moving your perennials to a new home takes a little work and preparation, but you will likely be rewarded by bold new flowers the following season.