Mailing plant cuttings requires careful planning and strategy. Climate, timing and species all play a vital part in ensuring your plant cuttings survive their journey, from point A to B. Here is a guided tutorial to help your cuttings thrive during the shipping process.
Identify your Plants
All plants fall into one of two categories; tender or hardy. Plants that fall under the hardy category are more likely to survive non-ideal conditions such as packaging and shipping. Examples of hardy houseplants are Snake Plant, Aspidistra, Spider Plant and Bamboo. Tender plants, like orchids or african violets, require more favourable conditions, thus making the shipping process a more tedious endeavour. Prior to harvesting your houseplant cuttings you need to identify your plant so you can make the appropriate arrangements beforehand. There are many resources available to help accurately identify your plants, such asPlantin’s Plant Identifier.
Preparing to Harvest
To give your cuttings their best shot at surviving the shipping process you need to ensure that they are set up for success. In the days leading up to shipping your cuttings, you need to ensure that the mother plant is hydrated and thriving. Check for pests and disease. Healthy, hydrated plants will produce healthy cuttings that are strong enough to endure the stress and trauma of being shipped. As plants require leaves for the photosynthesis process, you need to ensure that the mother plant has an abundance of leaves to aid in the regrowth process after harvest.
Harvest the cuttings
Harvesting should be done in the morning when the plants are at their peak of hydration. Morning harvest will help the cuttings naturally retain water. You do not want to harvest a flowering plant as a plant in the flowering stage of its life is more vulnerable due to all the energy being used for reproduction. A flowering mother plant will likely suffer from being harvested at this stage. Sharpen and clean your shears to ensure a crisp and clean cut to your houseplant. Taking a cutting from a plant will leave the mother plant with an open wound. Cleaning your cutting tool will help to keep the site clear of bacteria and prevent diseases. Using your sharpened and sanitised cutting tool, you can find a healthy, non flowering steam towards the base of the plant. On a 45 degree angle you will want to make a sharp cut near the base of the stem you are harvesting. Avoid touching the open end of the cutting with your fingers to help reduce the introduction of bacteria.
Packaging Your Houseplants
Once you have harvested your houseplant cuttings it is time to package them. There is no need to be fancy with your packaging. We suggest loosely covering your cuttings with a paper towel to help maintain hydration. To discourage mold, do not wet the paper towel. External packaging can vary based on the quantity of cuttings you are shipping. You can use anything from a paper mailer envelope to a large box. Regardless of your packaging choice, protect your plants by filling any empty space with a newsprint. This will help eliminate damage and bruising to the cuttings from bouncing around. Lastly, label your package as “Live Plants'' on all sides.
Select your shipping
Plan to ship your plants early in the week on Monday or Tuesday. Be mindful of holidays and other interruptions that might impact the shipping times of your package. Shipping early in the week will help ensure that your plants arrive in the quickest time possible. A delay in shipping could affect the integrity of the cuttings and quality of the rooting process. If you are shipping cuttings from a tender plant you want to select the quickest shipping option. This often costs a little bit more money, however the plants are more likely to survive if they arrive in a shorter amount of time.
After Shipping Your Plants
Consider asking the recipient to send you photographs and a report on the quality of the cuttings immediately upon arrival. This can help you learn from your mistakes and alter your shipping process for more success in the future. It is also recommended to send 10% extra cuttings than are required by your recipient. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things can just go awry. A few cuttings might not survive regardless of the effort you put forth. By sending an extra 10% of cuttings you are helping to guarantee that your recipient is receiving the required amount of cuttings.