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Protect your newly purchased petunias with these top tips on how to transport plants safely in your car

According to popular site Love The Garden, around 27 million people in the UK love pottering around in their garden. From planting and cultivating plants to growing fruit and veg, gardening remains one of the UK’s top hobbies, costing Britons an average of £30,000 over their lifetimes. 

Here at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts we know that many of our customers love a spot of gardening, with a trip to their local garden centre or plant nursery planned at least once this year, particularly during the summer months.

But with Britons spending an average of £23.50 per month on their beloved hobby, how can you ensure your newly purchased petunias aren’t damaged during the drive home?

To help protect your plants, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has put together some top tips on how to transport plants safely in your car.

Use cardboard boxes

There is a reason why cardboard boxes are often stacked up near at the tills at your local garden centre – it’s because they are the ideal way to transport plants in a car. Not only are cardboard boxes supportive and sturdy but they also help to contain dirt and soil, preventing spillage in your car, potentially staining and spoiling your car’s interior.

Small plants can be boxed together. Consider bringing cardboard boxes with wine separators to transport small plants and keep them from moving. Don’t forget to leave sufficient space between the plants and punch air holes in the sides of the box so plants can breathe.

Medium and larger plants should be boxed alone. Wrap towels, dampened newspaper or packing paper around the bases to hold the plants in place within the boxes and to reduce shifting. Don’t forget to keep the top of the box open for air circulation.

Contain dirt with grocery bags

If you’ve bought your plant from a reputable garden centre or nursery, chances are the base of the plant pot will be wet, dirty and covered in loose soil from regular watering. If this is the case, place the base in garbage bags to contain dirt and moisture and avoid spillage, but make sure to keep the bag slightly open at the top to let the soil breathe.

Reusable grocery bags with handles are also handy to keep in the boot of your car for impromptu garden centre tips as they help to contain dirt well and make plants easily portable.

Wrap leaves and pots to prevent breakages

Consider wrapping large plants with an old bed sheet or tissue paper to prevent branches from breaking during transit. For smaller plants, you can protect the leaves by making protective sleeve out of paper, funnelling it gently around the plant and taping it well. Don’t forget to cut air holes in the paper if you plan to keep the plants covered during the journey.

For longer car journeys, you may also want to wrap the pots to ensure they don’t chip or break during transit. Wrap clay pot with layers of packing or newspaper paper to protect the exterior and pack the plant pots as closely as possible, using plenty of crushed paper to fill in the holes around the pots to prevent any undesirable contact during transportation.

Avoid putting plants in the boot

Place plants in the car alongside you in the car, never in the boot of the vehicle. Where possible, transport your plants on the back seat of the car or on the floor of the vehicle, such as in the footwells so that they are as stable as possible.

Don’t forget to ensure the plants have access to some sunlight and plenty of air and keep plants out of direct sunlight where possible.

Buckle up your plants

For plants placed on the back seat, consider using the seat belt for extra protection. You can buckle larger plants in by wrapping the seat belt around the plant pot, tightening up the belt to secure it in place, but be careful not to damage the leaves or foliage.

A bird cage, dog crate or cat carrier can be also helpful for delicate or prized specimens that you’re particularly worried about damaging.

Control the temperature

Cold and hot temperatures can harm your plants so wherever possible try to keep the temperature in your vehicle at a comfortable level.

In warmer weather, be sure to stop periodically in shaded areas and crack open a window to let in some fresh air. If it’s a particularly hot day, you can also use lightly dampened newspaper to pack the pots in order to keep plants cool and humid in your car’s warm, dry interior.

In colder conditions, try loading plants under cover or in a garage to minimise their exposure to cold. Once inside the car, maintain a comfortable temperature by keeping the interior warm, wrapping plants and pots in towels and keeping windows closed to avoid exposing plants to harsh winds.

Drive carefully

Transporting your favourite plants takes patience, planning and a bit of careful driving. Much like when transporting your loved ones, ensure you drive carefully and safely when transporting plants in the car, sticking strictly to the speed limit and avoiding any sudden movements like sharp turns or quick breaking which can cause the plants to tip or fall over. Make your plants the last items you load into the car, that they are upright and that nothing is stacked on top of them. 

Unload plants without delay

As soon as you reach your destination, unload your plants without any delay. Take them out of the box as soon as you can, ensuring you handle the heaviest end of the plant to avoid damaging the stem.

For longer car journeys, ensure you bring plants inside with you at night. Extreme temperature changes can kill certain plants so it is essential that you don’t leave plants in the car overnight. If it’s a very long trip, ensure the plants are kept covered during the day and brought in at night. You can leave them in a hotel bath tub with the bathroom light (or a grow light brought from home) left on overnight to help make up the difference.

Have any tips of your own on how to transport plants safely in your car? Leave a comment below to share your own hints and tips with other gardening fanatics.