Shipping plants methods?
We've started trading. So what's the best way to pack plants in order to make sure they make it to the recipient?
I usually wrap the plants in a moist (wet, but not dripping) paper towel. Then put them into a ziplock freezer bag. I'll then wrap this into a plastic grocery bag (need to get rid of those surplus bags ;)). For normal weather, I'll just ship in priority mail boxes (all priority supplies are free and orderable on the internet). In cold weather, I also insulate the box with a layer of foam. So far this has worked out just fine.
I wrap them in wet paper towles and place them in zip lock bags with plenty of air to avoid them getting squashed. Seems to work well and keeps shipping weight to a minimum.
Do heater bags really work? And when people refer to the heater bags, do they mean the ones that you use for camping? How long do they last? I thought they only last for hours. If that's the case, then by the time the plants board the airplane, the heat packs dead, and by the time it reaches somewhere like in chicago...the plants popsicle. What's the deal?
I never tried a heat pack so I wouldn't know but I can say that the cold has never damaged any of my plants. One of my recent shipments was to Canada and it got held up at customs for more than a week. Eventually the box was sent to the person and more than half the plants survived the 2 week journey (obviously not in the best of shape). I think the fact that I used bubble wrap and newspaper around the inside of the box and "inflated" ziploc bags there was sufficient insulation to survive the cold. I've had far worse experiences with the heat of summer than the cold of winter. Not sure what temperatures this box was subject to but being in Canada I'm sure it was quite cold.
There are two ways which have worked for me:
1) Take the plant, wrap it in a paper towel lightly sprinkled with tank water, place in ziplock bag, place in box with newspaper to cushion the bag.
2) Take the plant, place it in an aquarium bag with no additional water in it, fill it with air, tie it up tightly with a rubber band, and place it in a box with newspaper to act as a cushion.
I find that heat is more troublesome for shipping than cold.
In my experience, I think plants have shipped best when I removed most of the air from the bag. I [sometimes] wrap the plants in a damp paper towel, place these in an old fish bag, keep the excess part of the bag collapsed, and close with a rubber band. I then bubble wrap it and use one of those Priority Mail boxes (free from the P.O.), filling the extra space with plastic grocery bags or sometimes I happen to have packing peanuts handy.
I think that when there's too much air left in the bag, the plants tend to get banged around too much (against the sides of the bag and each other). They end up arriving all bruised up and stuff. The less mobility they have in transit, the better.
Oh yeah - and I also make sure to look up and include that 4-digit postal code. I don't know if that actually helps, but it certainly doesn't hurt (unless you put down the wrong one). If you go to the USPS site, they can give you the entire zip + 4-digit code as long as you have the address, city and state. With exception of the Holiday Season, the plants I ship will usually arrive in two days instead of three, even if it's clear across to the other coast.
i think newspaper is better then paper towels stronger and gives better protection for plants and nothing sticks :lol:
Unless it is moss I put the plants in an old fish bag with no extra water and either rubber band the top or knot it. I usually put enough air that the bag can't be completely pushed down. I don't use any extra water or wet paper towels because it remains pretty humid in the bag. I use newspaper or a grocery bag to take up the extra space in the box. If it is moss I put it in a small ziplock bag with some water then I suck all the air out so it is a flat little package and water covers all the moss.
Ever wonder how plants are shipped from Asia to the USA? Oriental aquarium ships their plants in almost vacum sealed bags with little or no water. They are not completely vacum sealed as there is some air in the bags but not much. Extreme heat still causes them to melt though when shipped this way in the summer.
I really do not think it makes any difference if you use wet newspaper or wet paper towels. You simply want to provide enough moisture to keep them from drying out and to help keep them cool. Besides, what do you do with plants that are too big to go in a baggie? Wet paper towels are a mess to deal with. Some of you guys have sent ME plants this way and I can tell you it ain't fun to pick out little globs of paper from the plants. I find it annoying.
If you can use UPS instead of the post office, do it if you want it to arrive guaranteed on a specific day. Priority mail takes 3 to 4 days now in many parts of the country. Even Express mail can take up to 3 days in some areas. Use cold packs, even if you don't use foam. Seal all the edges of the box with tape to prevent air from getting inside the box. Filling any empty space in a box with foam peanuts will help prevent damage to plants from shifting and help insulate the plants.
From 1999 to 2002 I kept changing the way I packaged plants at other peoples suggestions because different people all had their own perfect way of shipping. I've shipped them in sealed bags with water, without water, wrapped in wet newspaper, loose between sheets of wet newspaper, in foam boxes... and basicaly got the same results in each case. The biggest most noticeable difference is in the length of time they spend in shipping, regardless of how you package them. When I recieve literally large boxes packed full of plants from Florida every week, they are not wrapped in wet newspaper, or individually bagged, they are inside one large plastic bag with wet newspaper on the bottom and on the top, and sometimes in additional layers. Sometimes there is some damage but if there is any at all it is minimal. But they are sent to me next day air, or two day air.
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