Keep Plants Safe During Winter Transport

On a thirty-below-zero day last winter I recall buying a plant at a local home improvement store. After I paid for my purchase, the nice checkout person asked me “Would you like me to put that in a bag or something?” “Yes,” I replied, “That would be nice.” Especially since the plant would probably die of frostbite by the time I reached my car across the parking lot.

Transporting plants in winter can be tricky. Most houseplants and holiday plants, including poinsettias, are easily injured or killed if exposed to temperatures much below 50 degrees. That means the journey across a frigid parking lot to a cold vehicle can spell doom for most plants.

Not everyone realizes that live plants should be carefully wrapped before journeying outdoors. But plants can be killed or injured within minutes of exposure to cold. It’s best to protect them as you would an unclothed baby.

Sometimes putting the plant in a plastic bag is not enough, especially if the bag is too small to close securely. Florists do a nice job of protecting plants and flowers from winter chill. First they wrap the plants in tissue paper, then enclose the package in a plastic bag large enough to seal the top.

Here’s a great way to transport plants in winter: Select a bag large enough to enclose the plant with extra left for securing the top. Before closing the top, blow into the bag, creating a warm bubble of insulating air around the plant. Fasten the top, keeping the bag inflated.

The air-bubble method is much safer than a cold plastic bag touching foliage or flowers. If the store has tissue, wrap the plant first. Or put the plant in a paper bag (if it fits), then plastic. Most grocery stores handle your bananas similarly in winter to prevent chilling.

Remember that potted Norfolk Island Pines sold during the holiday season must be wrapped before taking outdoors. They might look like Christmas trees that tolerate outdoor cold, but they are tropical pines grown as houseplants and will be injured if carried outside without protective covering.

So next time the checkout person asks about wrapping your plant in frigid weather, you can respond “Yes please, and let me help!”

Norfolk Island Pines are tropical evergreens that must be covered when transporting in cold weather.
Norfolk Island Pines are tropical evergreens that must be covered when transporting in cold weather.