Tips on packing your donation for shipment
You should have already recieved this exact document via Email. The printable page by page format might be more useful. If you lost it or need access via the web...here it is.
Thanks so much for your donation! We realize a lot of folks have never shipped a plant or have very minimal experience with shipping a plant. The following is a step by step look at our shipping process at CliviaUSA. Note: Barry and I pack slightly differently. Both are 90% this though.
The auctions have been put up on Ebay, so you have 1 week to get any supplies you may need to ship your plants.
Our biggest rule is simple. Would we like it if we received this package? That’s our driving force when packing all our plants and seeds.
This is long. Really really long. That is because I have chosen to explain the why of shipping as well as the how. You can pretty much go through it step by step on packing day as long as you go over the “items you will need for packing” section on the top and maybe the section on boxing (Step 7) before hand. As long as you have your supplies ready you are golden. This takes a lot longer to read than to do. Once you pack your first plant or 2 you won’t need this at all :)
If you’re shipping seeds or books skip allllll the way to the end.
We have shipped a LOT of plants, probably thousands at this point.
There are 2 important factors when packing a plant
1: Make sure you don’t bend the leaves, and that they won’t bend in transit.
2: Make sure the plant will not get to hot or cold in transit.
Items you will need for packing
1: Tape. Wide tape is best. (figure on using about 3 feet per package)
2: A Roll of Paper Towels
3: Some Newspaper (3 sheets per plant)
4: Some Plant Stakes (2 or 3 per shipment)
5: A Box: you can get free boxes from the USPS.
For larger plants the small and medium sized shipping tubes often work. USPS tubes get thinner and weaker as they get longer, so try to use the smaller sizes. It all depends on whether you can fit the finished wrapping into them. If the root ball wont fit in the box, you need something else. We often use the shoebox size for small plants. The shirt boxes that the post office gives away have no structural strength.
If USPS Tubes aren’t going to work, then it gets a bit harder. UPS also provides free boxes but they are the exact same size tubes.
A couple other options are places such as Mailboxes etc (buy a box) or behind grocery stores and large box stores. Most throw out boxes all the time. Be aware of the size of your plants largest leaf and the size of the root ball when buying or picking out boxes.
If you chose to buy a box, that’s part of your donation, we are not collecting funds for boxes peanuts and tape. However it may be the best present you can buy yourself if a free USPS tube won’t work.
6: Packing Material such as Peanuts. You may use reused materials here. Anything light works. You will need some packing material even if it’s crumpled newspaper. Remember that we are pricing the shipping based on weight so using heavy materials such as large amounts of wadded newspaper will end up costing extra funds. You can get a small bag of peanuts in most shipping stores and most office supply stores. Bubble wrap also works. So does shredded paper but its a giant mess for the end user. Fiberglass insulation, styrofoam pieces, those air bags, foam, anything soft and light is good.
A Plastic Bag
The packing process:
Remember the golden rule here, Do unto others. If it would annoy you opening the package, try to avoid doing it.
Unpot your plant
Step 2: Cleaning your Plant
Bring your plant to the sink or outside to a hose and wash out the roots. Get as much dirt out of the root ball as possible. Remove all or most of the dead roots from the root ball as you go. If using a sink you may want to do something to stop the dirt from going down the drain as it will clog the drain. Outside/Hose is probably best.
Leave the roots damp, (not dripping, just a little wet) this is actually helpful in shipment as long as the weather is not going to be freezing
Step 3: Using Paper Towels:
Lay your plant out on a table or other flat surface. You want to wrap the root ball in Paper towels. This along with the root wash provides a nice moisture seal for the roots and keeps them nice and fresh. You should be able to hold the paper towels closed with just a couple small pieces of tape. If they get totally soaked your tape wont hold unless you wrap all the way around and go tape to tape. Try to avoid this as it means that your buyer has to probably open the wrapping with a knife, and may therefore damage the plant unpacking it. Do unto others :)
If your plant is small, you can go ahead and just wrap the whole plant in the paper towels. Make sure to put the plant tag inside the paper towels. We use this to stiffen the package. Make sure you get the plant tag down low enough in the package to protect the root/leaf connection. Rolling on the diagonal will let you fold the top and bottom corners into the paper towel into the wrap as you go, and then you just need to tape the final corner closed.
With a small plant (below 10” Tall) you can skip down to step 5 and also skip step 6.
Step 4: Using Newspaper:
Now that you have your roots wrapped up its time to take care of the rest of the plant.
Put your plant diagonally on 2 sheets of newspaper. Take the plant and put it in the center of the paper. Move the plant until the leaf tips are about an inch below the tip of the paper. Now move the plant down the page until its a few inches from the bottom tip and start wrapping. As with the paper towel you should wrap the corners back into the paper as you go so that you wont need to tape them. Sometimes the end pops out anyhow, just use a small piece of tape to close it, making sure to cover the leaves. If the paper is not long enough to cover the root ball, that is OK.
Now take a 2nd piece of newspaper (can be 1 sheet now) and if the root ball was not covered go ahead and wrap that in this sheet. Again try to use minimal tape if possible. There is no need to wrap tape around the whole plant yet.
Step 5: Bagging the plant
If you have a plastic bag, this is the time to use it. You will either in the case of a small bag put the whole plant inside and in the case of a large plant you will put the root ball inside the bag. Tape the bag closed around the root ball. This helps hold moisture in. If you have put the whole plant in the bag I like to leave the bags open but Barry closes them, it doesn’t matter over a few days.
We also usually bag the top of the plant. This is mostly so that the customer doesn’t hurt the plant taking it out of the box. Plastic is a little tougher than paper.
Step 6: Using Plant Stakes
Some people like to tape the plant directly into the box. This does work to prevent damage due to “Accordion Leaf” but it doesn’t help against the box taking a hit to the side, snapping the plant in 2.
A couple of plant stakes does. Plus it’s just easier to deal with for everyone involved.
This step is simple, just take all the plants in the order, and put them together in a way that best fits. I like to put for instance a 2 plant order with roots and leaves opposite one another so that there isn’t a giant clump on one and a skinny end on the other. A giant clump will make it hard to box the plants later.
Now, just take 2 sticks, put them on either side of the package, and tape around the whole group of plants. The sticks need to be slightly longer than the plants so as to take any damage that might happen in transit before the plants do.
Make sure the sticks are long enough to cover both ends, even the roots. This stops a side impact from breaking the root ball off from the stem of the plant as well as it stops over-bending.
For small plants Remember you put that plant tag inside the package? That did the same thing as this.
Step 7: Boxing the plant
There are a couple of simple things to think about when picking a box for your plant shipment:
1: Is the box large enough to pack the plants without folding the leaves?
2: Is this box going to need so much packing material to pack that it’s going to cost extra money to ship?
3: Is this cardboard going to be strong enough to ship this plant? Put your fingers on it, if it feels like your fingers will go through the cardboard, it’s too soft a box to ship with.
Hopefully you were able to get a box from the post office that works. If not try the back of grocery stores, try the back of places like Wal-Mart and Target, etc. There’s no reason not to re-use a box. If all else fails you can usually find a decent box at Mailboxes or someplace like that.
If worse comes to worse you can send us 10 bucks and we will ship you a 40” X 6” X 6” box with a couple plant stakes inside to keep it from folding in the mail. We will just be putting a label right on the box and shipping it flat. These should take just about any plant you may be donating. Wish we didn’t have to ship these or the cost wouldn’t be so high.
The ideal box is going to have a couple of inches of space on each end for your plant and only an inch or 2 around the diameter of the plant. Now that we have described the box you probably can’t get lets talk about acceptable compromises:
1: Any box that fits your plant on the diagonal or that fits but is way bigger is ok. We can make them work.
2: A box that fits the plant exactly is also ok but you REALLY want those end gaps. Those are important.
3: No box, super bubble wrap time: Skip to the bottom to the bolded super bubble wrap time section.
If the box was the right size in the first place...Awesome! Just add some sort of padding to the bottom of the box, slide your plant in, add some filler around the sides (anything works as long as it’s soft and light. Bags with air in them even work) Pad the top of the package, tape it closed and we are done. When taping make sure to add enough tape that the box will not open under pressure. I usually tape all seams. Barry runs 3 pieces of tape across the top of the box, either way is fine.
If the box is too big, you have a couple of choices.
The first choice is just fill the rest of the box with padding. This is fine but you need LIGHT PADDING such as Styrofoam peanuts in this case. Heavy padding like newspaper is going to throw off the calculated shipping we used in the auctions and end up costing the shipper money. We don’t want that. We will have a pound or so of wiggle room in the auctions for larger plants for the weight of the box and the weight of the packing materials. Bigger plant donations will have at least a couple of pounds.
The 2nd choice is not for the klutzy of finger. It’s far harder than just buying some packing peanuts for option #1.
You can simply take a razor blade and cut the box down. All you need to do is put the plant in the box, and then take a razor blade and run it down each corner of the box until you are about an inch or 2 above the plant.
Now just fold the excess cardboard into the box like its just a larger flap, taking care to make sure that the fold creases in the right place. You can take the inner edge of your open palm and place it inside the box where you want to fold the box, and then take your other hand and fold over that to help guide the crease.
This cuts down on the amount of needed packing material by quite a lot. You still will probably need to fill a pretty large amount of side to side area but not the whole height of the box.
This also leaves you with a box that is not easy to tape up. It is very important in this case to use a lot of tape to close the box. You may even want to go all the way around the box a couple of times with tape. Since the box edges will no longer close correctly you need to tape all the seams. Your providing strength via tape now. As I said before get a couple of wraps around the whole box. Make sure you stick tape to tape as that holds best.
Super Bubble Wrap Time
So, you couldn’t find a box. OK that happens. What we can do instead is go absolutely crazy with bubble wrap and craft paper.
You want to buy:
1: small bubble wrap
2: Big Bubble Wrap
3: Brown wrapping paper
4: An extra 3-4 plant stakes.
OK! You’re going to wrap your plant first in small bubble wrap. You will need to wrap first around the plants diameter. Then, once that is done (1 wrap around, small bit of tape to hold it closed) you’re going to wrap the plant lengthwise as well. Go all the way around the plant, and fold the edges down off the top and bottom of the plant, taping them down. You will then take the excess bubble wrap on both sides and fold that against the plant. Now tape that down. Don’t go all the way around with tape if you can help it, this is interior wrapping so again, guy with knife + plant = bad.
Now, take your plant stakes and put 3-4 of them around the plant. Tape all the way around the stakes. The reason this is ok by the way is because its easy to cut plant stakes off without cutting into the wrapping.
Now take your large bubble wrap and do the exact same thing.
In the end you should have 2 layers of small and 2 layers of large bubble wrap around your plant.
Now wrap the bubble wrap in brown wrapping paper. This protects the bubble wrap from bursting.
Congratulations you just created a 5” thick or so protective layer around the plant. Also the customer hates you because he has to cut through 4 layers of bubble wrap, a layer of newspaper, 6 sticks, some brown wrapping paper and some paper towels just to find his plants.
But, they got there safely and we tried to find a box. we have had this done to us but have never used it on a customer, it breaks the do unto others rule.
Step 8 Shipment
We are pricing the auctions based on shipment via the post office, but you may chose any method of shipment you wish so long as its traceable. You want to slip those plants into your office and fedex them...im like Sgt Shultz on Hogan’s Heroes.... I know Nothiiink!
Seed shipping will also be by Priority mail. You just need to go to the Post office, get some free small flat rate boxes, bag each seed order with the name of the seeds in the box, add a little bit of packing material so the seeds dont shift, and send it on its way.
IF YOUR ORDER WENT TO AN INTERNATIONAL BUYER:
You will be shipping your seeds to us at CliviaUSAand we will be trans-shipping for you.
Send the seeds to:
C/O Barry Gilman
8 Ocean View Road
Swampscott, Ma 01907
We will be giving you a name of the buyer, please put it in the box.
If you don’t put that NACS Auction line on the box we might end up planting the seeds. Barry and I are as Clivia crazy as everyone else and we get seeds and plants here for ourselves or the business on nearly a daily basis.
Malcolm....ship your book :)
We are taking care of the other book shipments already.