How To Transport Your Orchid In A Car: What To Do And What To Avoid

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If you are wondering about the best way to transport your orchid by car, you’re in luck. I’ll go over what to do and what to avoid when transporting your orchids in your car.

There are a lot of reasons why you might find yourself needing to travel with orchids in a car. For example, maybe you are bringing home an orchid from an orchid show or garden center. You might be bringing one to a friend or a housewarming party. Maybe you are moving. Regardless of the reason, you’ll need to transport the orchid(s) somehow.

To prepare an orchid for transport, place it in a box with a wide base of support on the floor of the car. Add crumpled newspaper or blankets around the pot so that it is wedged in place. You can also use orchid pot tray or coffee carrier trays to keep your orchids from tipping over during the drive. Try to avoid leaving your orchid in the car for long periods of time. Pay attention to the temperature in the car and take steps to minimize heat damage to your orchid.

Car with orchids

Next I’ll give you some suggestions for how you can safely transport your orchid. With these tips, you’ll be able to avoid breaking any leaves or flowers. I’ll answer some top questions about leaving your orchid in the car. You’ll also learn about transporting orchids across state lines and how you need to prepare before you start driving. Keep reading to learn more.

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How To Prepare Your Orchid For Transport

Orchids in glass jars in a box

No matter what the reason, we can all agree that it is essential your orchid arrives at its destination intact. One of the worst things that can happen is that the flower spike snaps while in transit or the orchid leaves split or break, leaving you scrambling and likely very upset.

When getting ready to transport an orchid, you’ll need to do some prep work ahead of time. Fortunately, traveling with an orchid in the car is much easier than transporting an orchid on a plane. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Tips For Securing Your Orchid In The Car

  • Prepare a clear area on the floor of the car.
  • You’ll need a wide, stable box to hold your orchid. Use a shipping box or a lightweight Styrofoam cooler box.
    • Most car seats are curved and will cause the orchid to tip over during the drive. You will be able to stabilize the orchid and prevent tipping more easily if it is on the floor in a box.
  • Use a box that is large enough to house the orchid. A short box is better than a tall box that might tip over.
  • Pad the space between the orchid pot and the insides of the box with rags, towels, or crumpled newspaper. This will help wedge the pot in place and keep it from moving around during the drive.
  • Place a couple of heavy items on either side of the box.
    • This will keep it from sliding around the floor during turns.
  • If there is an orchid spike or two in bloom, turn these away from the car dashboard.
    • Sudden braking of the car may cause the orchid to shift towards the dashboard, breaking the flower spikes. I usually turn the flower spikes so that they are cascading over the passenger seat.
  • If you really want to place your orchid on the seat next to you, put it in a box first. Make sure the orchid pot is securely positioned into the box. You don’t want it to move or slide around during turns. Buckle the box in before you start driving.

What If You Don’t Have A Box To Transport Your Orchid?

  • If you don’t have a box handy, you can always wrap a spare blanket or sweater around the orchid pot. Put everything on the seat and use a seat belt to secure the blanket-wrapped orchid pot.
  • On occasion, I have put the orchid in my car’s trash can. Not ideal, but hey, it works! The orchid is secure and doesn’t tip over during the drive.
Orchid pot carrying tray
Starbucks coffee carrier tray doubling as an orchid carrier tray
  • Use an orchid tray or a coffee carrier tray to hold your orchids. Put the orchid pots in this to stabilize your orchid(s) for the ride home.
    • An orchid tray is a plastic pot tray used to hold and stabilize your orchid.
    • Orchid centers or flower shops may be able to supply you with an orchid tray. This is especially true if you are buying multiple orchids. You might have to ask for this if they don’t offer it.
    • Smaller orchids, such as those in 3- or 4-inch plastic pots, can fit into a cardboard coffee carry tray.

If you are planning on moving and transporting your orchids in the car, try some of the suggestions listed above. I will have another article dedicated to moving and orchids coming soon, so stay tuned.

Can I Leave My Orchid In The Car?

Pink orchids in a car with sun shining on them

It really depends on the situation, but in general, it is better not to leave your orchid in the car. As you probably are aware, a car with all the windows rolled up can get very hot, very quickly. Even if outside temperatures are cool and comfortable, temperatures inside the car will likely be much higher.

The number one problem to watch out for when leaving your orchid in the car is exposure to sunlight. Direct sunlight can quickly cause sun damage and leaf burn on your orchid. This damage can happen very quickly, especially if your orchid is left in a parked car with no shade or protection.

In addition, high temperatures in an enclosed space will cause your orchid’s flowers to fall off early, the leaves to wilt, and pseudobulbs to shrivel. The orchid roots may start to dry up. Any moisture remaining in the potting media will rapidly evaporate in the hot car.

All of this damage can occur faster than you might think is possible. If the weather is warm, heat damage can happen in just a few short hours, while you are out running errands or having lunch. So, do your best to try avoid leaving your orchid in the car.

What To Do If You Must Leave The Orchid In The Car

If you do need to leave your orchid in the car, take these preventative measures first:

  • Leave the car windows slightly open for some air flow and to help keep temperatures down.
  • Park in a shaded location.
  • Place the orchid in an area of the car where it will not be under direct sunlight. Examples of this would be behind the driver’s or passenger’s seats. If this is not possible, place a sun shade or cover over the orchid itself. Make sure that the shade cover doesn’t actually rest on the orchid.
  • Minimize the time that the orchid is left in the car.
  • Make sure the orchid has been watered adequately the day before. This will help minimize water loss and wilting while it is in the car.
  • For keeping your orchids in the car for extended periods of time, such as when you are moving, do one or more of the following:
    • Wrap the orchids lightly in newspaper. The newspaper will keep the orchids protected from the sun during the drive. For shorter trips, this might not be necessary.
    • Keep them in an open box with adequate air circulation. Air movement will help reduce hot temperatures.

Doing some or all of these things will help minimize damage to the orchid.

Can I Leave My Orchid In The Car Overnight?

Car parked in parking lot overnight

Most of the time, there won’t be a need for you to leave your orchid in the car overnight. In fact, the only scenario that I can think of at the moment is if you are driving a long distance. Perhaps you need to stay overnight somewhere and leave your belongings in the car. In this case, its not practical to transfer your orchid collection to your temporary lodgings each night. So, can you leave your orchid(s) in the car overnight?

In general, you can safely leave your orchid in your car overnight, but limit it to just one or two nights if possible. Multiple days and nights in the car would likely cause stress and the orchid to wilt. It will also start to show other signs of stress such as dehydration.

Before you leave your orchid or orchids in the car overnight, do some or all of the preventative measures listed in the previous section above. This will help minimize the stress on your orchid and keep it alive until you reach your destination.

In addition, before you leave your car for the night, open the windows for a bit and let in some fresh air. This will help bring the temperature inside of the car down. You can, of course, close the windows back up before you leave your car.

I do not recommend leaving your orchid in the trunk of the car.

If you have fresh fruits in the car, be aware that ethylene gas emitted by ripe produce can cause early flower loss and bud blast. Try to remove these from the car, or don’t even have them in the car to begin with. Car exhaust from idling engines can also cause flower loss and bud blast.

Park the car in a shaded location. I would recommend leaving your orchid(s) on the floor behind the driver’s or passenger’s seats. That way, it is out of sight and will be partially shaded from the next day’s sunlight.

Traveling Across State Lines With An Orchid In The United States

Map of United States

If you are loading your orchids up in the car and traveling across state lines, you may be wondering if there are any restrictions regarding plants and state lines. Here are some things you will need to know before you start driving with your orchids.

Check State Guidelines For Importing Plants

Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding what agricultural products (plants, fruit, livestock) can enter their state.

Some states, such as California, Arizona and Florida, have strict regulations about transporting houseplants across state lines. If you plan to fly to Alaska or Hawaii, be aware that these states also have fairly strict regulations regarding plant imports.

Before you start driving, check guidelines for your destination state as well as the guidelines for each state you will be driving through.

To find these guidelines, check with the USDA and that particular state’s Department of Agriculture or Natural Resources. The National Plant Board is another good resource if you are wondering which plants you can import in each of the 50 states.

The Inspection Process

If you have time before your trip, make a list of all your plants you are bringing across state lines. Make sure all of these plants are approved for import in the states you are traveling to or through.

Depending on where you cross state lines, you might have to meet with a state official with the Department of Agriculture. They will inspect the plants in your car for pests and disease. Having this list ready can help expedite or streamline the Department of Agriculture inspection, as they will likely have some questions.

Some states may require inspection or a certificate of inspection to show that the plants you’re bringing in are free of pests and disease. Other states may also require a quarantine period.

The main concern about crossing state lines with any live plant is that the plant may be harboring pests and diseases that are not native to that state, such as nematodes or fire ants. Foreign pests and disease can hugely impact the agriculture and environment of that state.

Generally, to pass inspection, the houseplants must be for your personal use, as in not for resale. The plants must have been grown solely inside your home.

Potted plants will likely be required to have been repotted with sterile potting soil. Non-native soil can harbor harmful microorganisms that can disrupt the local ecosystem. Orchids should be fine, but double check with the destination state. They may require you to bare-root the orchids.

Last but not least, houseplants, including orchids, must be free of pests and disease.

Make Sure Your Orchids Can Tolerate The Journey

If you are transporting orchids in your car over a period of multiple days, make sure they can tolerate the journey. Pay attention to the temperature so that the orchids don’t overheat. Water them thoroughly the day before you start your trip.

Follow the suggestions outlined in the first section to minimize exposure to heat and sunlight. If you must leave them in the car overnight, try to minimize the amount of days and nights they spend in the car.

Final Thoughts

Once you get to your final destination, no matter what you do, your orchids will likely be somewhat stressed and need some TLC to get back into top shape. Don’t be surprised if you have early flower loss or wilted leaves, despite your best efforts.

Some orchids make not survive the journey, as unfortunately, the heat and stress of the move may be too much for them. Orchids aren’t made to stay in the car for extended periods, and some stress response is expected.

However, with the right set-up and preparation done ahead of time, you will provide your orchid with the best chance for making it through the journey relatively unscathed. Good luck!

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Orchid close up
Orchids by a window
Lady slipper orchid

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Wondering what the best way is to transport your orchid in the car? Here are some suggestions and ideas on how to safely transport your orchid, including what to avoid and what to watch out for. If you are transporting your orchid across state lines, read this to find out about inspections and more. #Orchid #OrchidCare #Moving #Houseplant