As we (unsurprisingly) regularly find ourselves shipping cuttings out to our many customers, friends and correspondents, we thought we’d share some advice on how to mail plant cuttings.
This technique was first taught to us by our good friend GoodEarth, who also kindly provided us with the initial version of this tutorial, including the photos. This is our favourite (and most successful) method for sending cuttings, so we hope it encourages you to share any rare plants you might be growing with as many other cultivators as you can!
We’ve demonstrated this technique using some common Sage from GoodEarth’s garden, but it should work well for many other species of plants too. For example, so far we’ve found it to be useful when sending Catha edulis, Ephedra species, Nepenthes alata, Salvia apiana and Salvia divinorum cuttings, among others. If you’re looking for a solid method of packaging and posting plants, here’s how to send plant cuttings through the mail!
How to Mail Plant Cuttings – Materials
- Box (not pictured)
- Box padding (not pictured)
- Cling film (plastic wrap)
- Paper kitchen roll
- Plant cutting(s)
- Polyfil (found in many pillows – we don’t recommend using an anti-allergy pillow in case its chemical treatment proves harmful to the plants)
- Tape (not pictured)
- Ziploc freezer bag(s)
How to Mail Plant Cuttings – Method
Step 1: Preparing the cutting(s)
If you have not already done so, remove all the leaves except for the top two. A cutting with all its leaves left on will find it harder to support itself and is therefore more likely to die.
We’ve found that a rooted cutting does better than an unrooted one using this technique, so consider rooting the latter in some water before posting. When posting an unrooted cutting, it’s best to water the mother plant the day before, so that the cutting is hydrated to help sustain itself.
Dependent on their destination, if posting cuttings (or plants) with soil on then you may need to wash this off to meet Customs requirements (as soil can carry diseases, pests and other nasties).
Step 2: Wrap the roots / lower half
Carefully wrap the roots / lower half of the cutting in kitchen roll and then dampen it. It needs to be quite damp, but not dripping wet. Note that in the photo above we have folded the kitchen roll as if the cutting had roots laid flat on the paper.
Now, wrap the cutting well using several layers of cling film – be sure to cover the stem a few centimetres with it as well, as this helps to prevent any water loss from the kitchen roll. We usually also use a separate, thin strip of cling film here, just to be extra sure!
Step 3: Polyfil time
Polyfil is highly suitable for our purposes because it doesn’t absorb water and so won’t dry out the cutting(s). It also acts as a bit of padding and will hold some moisture in too.
Wet the Polyfil and then squeeze out the excess water into a sink or other container. The majority of the water should run out of the bottom of the Polyfil when squeezed. Gently wrap the Polyfil around the cutting(s).
Step 4: Roll it up and box it
Carefully place the Polyfil-wrapped cutting into the bottom of the Ziploc bag. Roll up the bag so that as much excess air as possible is pushed out, seal it and then tape it into place.
Place the resultant protected package into a box with some kind of padding inside – bubble wrap, scrunched up newspaper, more Polyfil, etc. – use whatever you have to hand, as long as it helps to minimise the risk of damage to the cutting!
Step 5: Post it as soon as possible
Your plant cutting is now ready for courier/the Post Office, so send it as soon as possible (if not immediately). Don’t forget that the longer the cutting sits around subsequent to being packaged, the less chance of surviving the postal system it will have! Accordingly, cuttings packaged using this method are best prepared and posted first thing on Monday morning, to decrease the chances of sitting around for too long (for example, a weekend) with whichever carrier service you choose to use.
So, there you have it: how to mail a plant cutting! We hope you’ve found this tutorial informative – let us know via the Contact page if you can contribute any tips to improve this guide.