Can Houseplants Be Transported Between States?

Moving is a stressful affair as is, but when you add houseplants to the equation, the process becomes that much more challenging to navigate. If figuring out the logistics of how to safely transport your meticulously grown plants wasn’t enough, you’ll also have to account for any laws and regulations that might prohibit you from taking your greenery along.

Most houseplants can be transported between states with few issues. However, some exotic varieties might be subject to laws and regulations that prohibit them from being moved across state lines. The same goes for some outdoor species that might pose a health hazard upon moving. 

Given that specific requirements and restrictions can vary from one state to another, it’s impossible to give a precise answer about which plants you’ll be able to take along with you and which ones you’ll have to leave behind. In the following sections, I’ll be expanding on the details of transporting houseplants between states, which varieties are most often subject to restrictions, and how to safely transport your greenery across state lines.

Transporting Houseplants Between States

In most instances, transporting your houseplants between states shouldn’t cause much of an issue. Most homegrown species are portable and widely spread enough to not become subject to health safety-related laws.

However, as we’ve established by now, this isn’t always the case. 

Some States Place Restrictions on Plant Transportation

Restrictions on greenery might seem absurd to the average citizen. However, these laws are there to protect delicately-balanced ecosystems. If these ecosystems were to be ruined, much more severe issues would be presented.

Furthermore, considerations such as disease outbreaks and pest infestation should also be taken into account whenever a new plant variety crosses state lines. For this reason, you’ll find that states whose economy relies heavily on agriculture have much stricter laws regarding the species that can come inside their parameters.

Plant Inspections May Be Required

Even when a species is allowed by local policies, your plant might still be subject to requirements and inspections to ensure that it’s not bringing along any illnesses. 

For example, you might be obligated to pot all your greenery in sterile soil. Moreover, you might have to take your plants through a few inspections to receive a certificate confirming their safe status. In some instances, a state might even subject a species to a quarantine period before you can freely plant or pot it in your new home.

It’s best to go through all the available sources to determine whether your plant meets local laws and policies beforehand (more on this in a moment). Otherwise, you might have it confiscated at state borders.

If your plant is currently suffering from a disease or pest infestation, you might want to treat the issue before attempting to move across borders. 

Generally speaking, these restrictions only apply to outdoor plants. The species that are exclusively grown indoors usually aren’t subject to these laws, as they’ll be isolated and contained anyway.

Sources To Consult Before Moving a Houseplant Between States

Ultimately, the best way to determine whether a specific houseplant can be transported between states or not is to consult with the available sources that inform you regarding the specific jurisdiction’s stance on the matter. 

Here are some sources you’ll want to consult before moving a houseplant between states:

  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). By visiting their website, you’ll be able to learn more about the plant transporting rules that apply on a federal level. You’ll want to check these before moving on to specific regulations that vary state by state.
  • The Department of Agriculture of the state you’re moving to. Now that you’re better informed about the federal-level laws, you can consult with the Department of Agriculture of the state you’re planning to move to. If their website doesn’t outline any information about the issue at hand, don’t hesitate to contact them directly. They’ll be more than happy to instruct you on how to proceed.
  • The National Plant Board. This is a non-profit organization created by pest regulatory bodies in all 50 states. By visiting their website, you’ll be able to learn about current pest infestations (as suggested below) and more. Be sure to give it a read, especially if you’re planning to take an outdoor plant across state borders.

Research the State’s Ecosystem Ahead of Time

Suppose you want to learn more about the reasoning behind some of the policies you’ll be subjected to. In that case, you can also research a state’s ecosystem and how it can be affected when introduced to plants of specific species. Moreover, you can learn a bit more about its current pest infestation issues, which often explain most of the laws and regulations you might find odd at first.

Before moving on to the following section, I feel it’s important to mention that even if you can take a houseplant along with you to a new location, it doesn’t always mean you should. The laws and restrictions are in place to protect the local flora and fauna; however, they’re not meant to dictate a specie’s chance of survival in a new environment.

Therefore, if you’re moving somewhere with a distinctly different climate to your origin state, I can’t urge you enough to do your research before bringing a plant along. All plants will be affected by a long moving process (outdoor varieties even more so than their indoor counterparts). However, after settling in, all greenery should return to its vibrant, thriving self.

Going through all the trouble of taking a plant along a cross-state move just to have it die is inefficient at best, which is why you’ll want to be sure there’s no risk of this happening. 

To get a better understanding of how a species will fare in a specific climate, you can check this plant hardiness zone map.

U.S. Hardiness Zones (stylized map)

Which Houseplants Can’t Be Transported Between States

As mentioned, as long as a plant has been potted in the right type of soil and has passed the necessary inspections, there’s usually no reason it shouldn’t be allowed to cross state borders. However, there are still some exceptions to this rule. 

In the following paragraphs, I’ll be mentioning some of the species that are usually not allowed to cross state borders. However, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I want to reiterate that restrictions can still vary from one jurisdiction to another, so make sure to check the previously mentioned sources to confirm whether your specific houseplants can make the move or not.

  • Citrus trees. According to the USDA, moving citrus trees is the fastest way to spread citrus-related diseases. For this reason, in many instances, you’re not even allowed to take your citrus tree with you when moving within the same city, let alone across state borders. The same goes for the plants’ seeds, cuttings, and fruits.
  • Palm trees. States like Hawaii prohibit the transport of palm trees, as they carry a high risk of disease outbreaks and soil contamination. The same goes for pineapples and passion fruits. In fact, you’ll notice that similar restrictions are placed upon most exotic fruits for a similar reason.

If you’re growing any of the previously mentioned species, you can either leave them behind or give them to a loved one currently living in the same location as you (again, if possible).

How To Safely Transport Houseplants Between States

Here are some tips on how to safely transport houseplants between states:

  • Always check for pests and diseases before packing.
  • Water your plant a few days before moving (roots should stay damp all throughout shipment).
  • Secure a plastic bag around the pot to contain the soil.
  • If using a box, make a few openings on its surface to allow air circulation.
  • If using a box, label it as “Fragile” to avoid any rough handling.
  • Use packing peanuts or paper to fill the empty space between the plant and the box.
  • Use a plastic stem holder to preserve structural integrity.
  • If traveling for extended periods, make sure to schedule enough sunlight intake.
  • Use only plastic containers, as they’re lightweight and don’t risk breaking halfway through the way.


Most houseplants can be transported between states, especially if they’re exclusively grown indoors. However, some outdoor varieties might be subject to state or federal laws that don’t allow them to pass state borders. Therefore, you’ll want to check USDA instructions beforehand to make sure your greenery can come along with you.

Related article: 8 Things To Do With Indoor Plants When on Vacation

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

Recent Posts