Shipping plant cuttings can seem daunting, but sharing with fellow gardeners nationwide. With advantageous planning and care, you can successfully ship plant cuttings to arrive safely at their destination. This beginner’s guide covers everything you need to know how to ship plant cuttings like a pro.
Why Ship Plant Cuttings?
Shipping cuttings is an excellent way to:
- Share rare or hard-to-find plants with others.
- Swap cuttings with fellow plant enthusiasts.
- Send plants to friends and family as gifts.
- Propagate your plants without having space for cuttings at home.
- Trade plants you have for ones you want for your collection.
- Make a little money selling famous plant cuttings.
Plants can be cloned repeatedly with just a cutting containing a node or nodes. It’s an easy way to spread plant love!
What You’ll Need to Ship Cuttings
Shipping plant cuttings requires just a few supplies:
- Cuttings – Select healthy cuttings from vigorously growing plants. Take 3-6 inch tip cuttings.
- Sharp, Clean Shears – Use bypass pruners or scissors to make clean cuts. Sterilize tools before each use.
- Plastic Bags – Small sealable bags to protect each cutting.
- Packing Tape
- Cardboard Box – Sturdy box for shipping.
- Packing Material – To protect the cuttings, bubble wrap, tissue paper, etc..
- Rubber Bands – To group bundled cuttings.
- Shipping Label – To and from addresses for transport.
- Optional: Propagation Medium – Soil, perlite, sphagnum moss.
How to Take Cuttings for Shipping
Taking proper plant cuttings is crucial to ensure they survive shipping:
- Use healthy mother plants – Select vigorous plants, not weak or diseased ones.
- Take tip cuttings – Cut just below a node where new growth can emerge. Include 2-4 nodes.
- Make clean cuts – Use sharp, sterile pruners for neat slices that won’t crush stems.
- Take extra cuttings – Ship a few extras if some don’t root properly.
- Time it right – Take cuttings during active growth periods like spring or summer. Avoid going dormant.
- Match sizes – Group cuttings of similar diameter and node count for uniform rooting.
- Label carefully – Identify each plant type with detailed, accurate labels.
How to Package Cuttings for Shipping
Packing the cuttings properly keeps them protected on their journey:
- Group similar cuttings – Bundle together cuttings of the same plant variety.
- Wrap first in plastic – Seal each cutting individually in small plastic bags. Tie ends closed.
- Wrap in paper – Further wrap cuttings in tissue paper to cushion and contain moisture.
- Pack in a box with insulation – Place wrapped cuttings in a sturdy box filled with packing material like crumpled newspaper or bubble wrap.
- Include labels – Be sure labels for each variety are enclosed so recipients can identify plants.
- Fill gaps – Use added insulation to fill air pockets and prevent jostling.
- Seal securely – Tape the box closed and reinforce all edges with packing tape.
Shipping Plant Cuttings Through the Mail
Most plant cuttings can be sent using regular mail services:
- USPS First Class Mail – Best for small, lightweight packages under 1 pound. It’s inexpensive but slower.
- USPS Priority Mail – Faster shipping for medium packages under 70 pounds. Provides tracking.
- FedEx/UPS Ground – Reliable ground shipping that’s more affordable for heavier boxes.
- FedEx/UPS 2-Day or Overnight – Fast but more expensive express options. Best for urgent packages.
- Avoid delays – Ship early in the week to avoid plants sitting over weekends.
- Get tracking – Pay extra for tracking to monitor packages in transit if shipping valuable plants.
- Insure package – Consider adding insurance if the plants are lost or damaged.
- Label correctly – Follow mailing service guidelines and label it “Perishable.”
Tips for Shipping Healthy, Viable Cuttings
Follow these tips and tricks for ensuring your plant cuttings arrive safely:
- Ship early spring or fall – Avoid peak summer heat or winter cold, which can damage plants.
- Include fresh cuts – Recut stem ends right before shipping to maximize viability.
- Mist before shipping – Gently mist cuttings to hydrate, but avoid soaking.
- Insulate well – Use ample packing materials to protect from crushing and temperature swings.
- Write planting/care instructions – Include special notes to aid recipients with propagating and caring for new plants.
- Communicate on both ends – Discuss shipping dates with recipients so plants don’t sit unplanted for long.
- Tell recipients to unpack immediately – Advise opening box and unpacking promptly to check cutting condition.
- Hold some back – Keep a couple of cuttings of each variety in case replacements need to be resent.
Rooting and Growing On Plant Cuttings
Once they arrive safely, recipients will need to root and grow on the new plant babies:
- Recut stems – Trim 1⁄4-1⁄2 inch off ends to expose fresh tissue for better water uptake.
- Dip in rooting hormone – Coat stem ends in powder or gel to stimulate root growth.
- Plant in propagation mix – Use a loose, quick-draining mix like perlite, vermiculite, peat, or sand.
- Provide high humidity – Place in plastic bags or use a propagation dome to prevent moisture loss.
- Give bright, indirect light – Avoid direct sun, which can scorch tender new growth.
- Keep evenly moist – Mist until roots establish, then begin regular watering.
- Transplant after rooting – Pot up individually once new roots emerge from drainage holes.
- Gradually acclimate – Slowly introduce to higher light levels and lower humidity.
With proper care, shipped cuttings will flourish into full-sized, healthy plants!
Shipping plant cuttings allows you to expand your plant collection, share with fellow enthusiasts, and spread your favorites far and wide. By taking healthy cuttings, packaging them properly, choosing the correct shipping method, and communicating with your recipients, you can have excellent success mailing plant cuttings across the country. Follow the tips above, and you’ll swap cuttings like a pro in no time. Happy propagating and shipping!
1. Which plants are best for taking cuttings to ship?
The best plants for cuttings are those that root quickly and easily from stem clones. Great choices include pothos, philodendrons, coleus, synonyms, jade plants, zebra plants, impatiens, geraniums, and wax plants. Avoid slow-rooting or fragile plants.
2. Should I include soil or propagation medium when mailing cuttings?
It’s best to ship cuttings without soil or medium attached. This prevents a messy box and reduces weight. Recipients can stick directly into the preferred rooting mix. However, some senders add damp sphagnum moss or perlite to help retain moisture in transit.
3. How long can plant cuttings survive shipping?
Cuttings properly packaged with insulation and padding can survive shipping for 7-10 days before needing to be rooted. Aim for shorter 5-7 day transit times in hot summer weather to avoid rotting. Take extra cuttings in case some don’t make it.
4. Do I need special labeling or packaging for mailing plant cuttings?
Be sure to label plant types clearly and mark the box as “Perishable.” Follow postal service guidelines – most prohibit soil shipments, so don’t include any—package with ample padding to prevent crushing delicate stems and leaves.
5. What’s the best way to ship plant cuttings in winter?
Take cuttings in late summer/fall and hold until early spring before shipping. Or, use faster priority 2-3 day shipping and extra insulation when temps drop. Pack in paper, then with crumpled newspaper surrounding plants to prevent freezing. Avoid ground shipping that may get delayed.