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Is it a good idea to chill plants before shipping them? I would think the cold would preserve them better. If so, how long in the fridge?
 

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It's a good idea from what I understand but I don't know any specifics. The last plants I received were from CA, had been chilled and arrived in pristine condition. Of course they were shipped overnight also.
 

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Chilling the plants isn't as necessary as making sure they are only moist, not wet. Shipping plants too wet is the biggest reason for plants arriving as plant soup on a hot day.

Plants should always be trimmed the day of shipment or the night before with the exception of very hardy plants such as ferns, Anubias and mosses.

Place the plants on an old cotton towel and gently pat them somewhat dry.
Run a paper towel (don't go cheap or you'll spend all day trying to unravel them without tearing them) under water or dip it in the tank and wring it out as hard as you can.
Unfold the paper towel and gently wrap the plants in the paper towel.
Put the wrapped plants in a fish bag and tightly tie the end of the bag.
Place it in the shipping box and send it on its way.

You can use filter floss or pillow stuffing to wrap more delicate plants in in place of the paper towel. It is not necessary to wet the floss.

I've mailed literally hundreds of shipments this way with maybe one DOA and only when the shipment has been delayed for weeks.
 

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I've received plants before that were chilled a day or so prior to shipping, and they arrived pretty messy, but useable. They were shipped overnight too.

As mentioned, tank to bag to post office is the best way. Aaron's got the right idea. I've gotten plants from him before in the heat of summer and they looked like he just pruned them. For anyone reading, please don't add extra water or soaked paper towels to your bags of plants. And no wet newspapers.
 

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Chilling the plants isn't as necessary as making sure they are only moist, not wet. Shipping plants too wet is the biggest reason for plants arriving as plant soup on a hot day.

Plants should always be trimmed the day of shipment or the night before with the exception of very hardy plants such as ferns, Anubias and mosses.

Place the plants on an old cotton towel and gently pat them somewhat dry.
Run a paper towel (don't go cheap or you'll spend all day trying to unravel them without tearing them) under water or dip it in the tank and wring it out as hard as you can.
Unfold the paper towel and gently wrap the plants in the paper towel.
Put the wrapped plants in a fish bag and tightly tie the end of the bag.
Place it in the shipping box and send it on its way.

You can use filter floss or pillow stuffing to wrap more delicate plants in in place of the paper towel. It is not necessary to wet the floss.

I've mailed literally hundreds of shipments this way with maybe one DOA and only when the shipment has been delayed for weeks.
Hi Aaron,
Does this method apply only to the summer season when everything's really hot? Less water with the plants by "wringing" the paper towel decreases the chance that the plants might boil right?
 

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I use that method year around, I use newspaper though. Its more critical in the hot months, but also important when its freezing as well. Plants need humidity, they dont need to be soaking wet with water in the bag, that will turn them to mush.

The plants also need to be very healthy when shipping, especially in the summer. If they are limp or not looking so great when you ship them, they are going to be in much worse shape 2-3 days in the mail.
 

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Hi Aaron,
Does this method apply only to the summer season when everything's really hot? Less water with the plants by "wringing" the paper towel decreases the chance that the plants might boil right?
Like bigstick120 I use this method year round. It seems to help keep plants from turning to plantcicles in the winter time as well. They just don't need a lot of water in the bag to survive. It only serves to hinder their chance of survival. I hope to conduct an experiment sometime soon to prove my theory.
 

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I place the plant in a bag with a few drops of water - no paper. Blow some air into the bag and tie it up tight. This goes into the fridge overnight prior to shipping the next AM.

Years ago, I did an experiment where I sent out some plants to folks as freebies to see how they did. I sent one set as described above, another with the damp paper towel method, and both fared the same, according to the responses I received. So I have discontinued the paper towel route because occasionally when I have received plants wrapped in paper, the paper towels are difficult to unwind, especially if its a tender plant.
 

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I don't see how chillling them before hand would make any difference, because within 30 minutes they would be hot. Only if you ship them in styrofoam, or as what I am now using, a thermal insulated bag, does it help. Keeping the plants cool makes a huge difference during shipping, but only while they are cool. as soon as they warm up they are more vulnerable.

Let me put it another way. Aquatic plants are no different than any other plants. If you chilled a head of lettuce for 24 hours, and then left the lettuce out at room temp for 24 hours, what do you think would happen to the lettuce? And its 92 degrees? It would turn to mush of course! Keep it in the fridge for 48 hours and its fine.

Go to home depot, buy some foam sheets. Cut them to line the inside of your box. Or buy some thermal bags. Since I started using these bags this summer, I have not had ONE single case of reported plant loss. Not even one. Thats the first time in the nine years I have been in business this has happened. It is the best investment I have ever made. It has saved me hundreds of dollars. I can't understand why everyone isn't jumping on these bags. Its the smartest thing I have ever done.
 

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Only if you ship them in styrofoam, or as what I am now using, a thermal insulated bag, does it help. Keeping the plants cool makes a huge difference during shipping, but only while they are cool. as soon as they warm up they are more vulnerable.

Or buy some thermal bags. Since I started using these bags this summer, I have not had ONE single case of reported plant loss. Not even one. Thats the first time in the nine years I have been in business this has happened. It is the best investment I have ever made. It has saved me hundreds of dollars. I can't understand why everyone isn't jumping on these bags. Its the smartest thing I have ever done.
Do you have a link to a source of those bags, just to see what they are like?
 

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I haven't had a single DOA either all summer and I haven't had to buy any thermal bags, just a few rolls of paper towels. :D
 

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Those pouches seem only to be able to keep something inside cool for 5 hours. It takes up to 72 hours for Priority Mail to get here. I can see how they could be effective in protecting plants from hot mailboxes and trucks up until they finally are loaded in aircraft for transit across the country. But, what if it is even hotter at the destination? I'm obviously missing something here.
 

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Those pouches seem only to be able to keep something inside cool for 5 hours. It takes up to 72 hours for Priority Mail to get here. I can see how they could be effective in protecting plants from hot mailboxes and trucks up until they finally are loaded in aircraft for transit across the country. But, what if it is even hotter at the destination? I'm obviously missing something here.
Hoppy I think the 5 hour timetable is only for the bags with the Gel inserts, not the "plain" thermal bags. BTW - I found hugh thermal bags at my $1 store and was able to cut it into two pieces. I sent Riccia to Las Vegas, NV it was about 106 and they got there in good condition. I also sent shrimp to Arizona and there were no DOAs.
 

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Yes, that is the pouches, you need to scroll down a little more to the thermal bags. But even the pouches keeps something frozen in 90 degrees for five hours. We are not shipping frozen plants. They are talking about keeping things frozen, not just chilled or cold. You don't want frozen plants, you just want cold plants. :)

You want more data?

Here is testing comparing the bags to styro

Testing results

If you poke around that site more, you can find information on how they are made and their many applications including medical and food. The bags I have will keep things "cool" with a cold pack for at least 48 hours. Cold packs come with different life spans.. 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours. I have gotten emails from customers saying the cold pack was still half frozen after taking three days to arrive via the post office. The bags work extremely well.

Put it this way Hoppy, they work in the same principal as a foam box, or foam lined box, but in addition to being even more effective, they are lighter weight, easier to work with, and much less time consuming that cutting styrofoam sheets.
 

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I need to get some of those magic paper towels! HEAT kills, cool preserves.
It's not magic, just a little trial and error to get the proper technique down. Moisture is the real enemy. If there's too much in the package the plants won't last as long.

I've been shipping to Arizona,Texas, California, Florida...all summer long without any issues. :D
 

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I find the fridge to be a useful tool, but only in certain conditions. Delicate, fine-leaved stem plants should always be shipped as quickly as possible.

Thick, durable stemmies like Bacopas or L. repens can be cut several days before shipping if they're kept in the fridge. Anubias, ferns, and several rosette plants are ok with this sort of treatment too. As a general rule though, I'd do this as little as possible. I've tried this trick with Blyxa japonica and Rotala 'Vietnam' with poor results.

The ideal way to ship would probably be to carefully wrap the plants in paper towel with very little moisture at 45-50 degrees F.
 

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Thank you Robert! That is very interesting, to say the least. I can see why you are having so much better results with those bags - they are effective for about as long or longer than a typical shipping time. Now, I just need to store this information somewhere where I can easily retrieve it. Maybe a Post It note?
 
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