Potted plants make beautiful gifts, especially if the person receiving the plant is acquiring one that is very difficult to find in her own home state. But sending potted plants can be tricky, especially if you want to send the pot and the dirt along with the plant. Unfortunately, you cannot send the plant through the mail while it is still in the pot. A plant sent through the mail has to be carefully prepared, so that it does not sustain physical damage during the shipping process.
Water the potted plant well before you plan to send it. Allow the water to run through the soil and out the bottom of the pot, ensuring that the roots receive adequate water. Watering four to six hours before shipping should suffice.
Gently remove the plant from its pot making sure that you leave the roots fully intact. If you want to ship the pot and the dirt, pour the dirt into a plastic baggie, secured with a twist tie or zipper.
Shake the dirt from the roots and remove as much of the loose dirt as you can by hand. Pour some water in a bucket and swish the roots around in the water to remove any remaining dirt.
Soak five sheets of newspaper in a bucket of water. Remove the newspaper and allow it to drip over the sink, removing excess water. When the newspaper is damp, not soaking wet, lay it on the counter and loosely wrap the roots of the plant up in the paper. Simply rest the roots on the newspaper and roll the paper up, leaving the leaves exposed.
Write the name of the plant species on a Popsicle stick with a waterproof marker and stick the label in between the newspaper and plant. This way, the person who is receiving the potted plant will know what type of plant he has received.
Wrap the newspaper, loosely in cling film or a plastic bag. Cover only the rolled newspaper with the plastic, not the leaves of the plant. The idea is to cover the newspaper with the plastic so that it remains moist during shipping.
Place the entire potted plant on a sheet of newspaper and gently roll the entire potted plant up in the newspaper. Place the newspaper covered plant on a second piece of newspaper, and roll that up too.
Place the newspaper that holds the potted plant into the pot. Stand the plant straight up in the pot. Place the pot in the shipping box and fill the box with bubble wrap, popcorn or shredded paper. Lay the bag of dirt on top and tape the box closed with a strong packing tape.
Try to send your potted plant on a Monday or a Tuesday to avoid the possibility that your plant may need to spend the weekend at the post office. Send the potted plant the quickest way possible, so that the roots do not dry out.
Do not send live plants through the mail without checking with your post office first. Some states have restrictions on sending and receiving live plants through the mail. Don't forget to write "live plants" on the shipping label.