You may want to ship plants because they’re a gift, because you’re plant sharing (a pastime beloved of gardeners), or because your recipient is collecting certain species.
Careful preparation is required to ensure the plant’s safety.
Preparing the plant
First, remove the plant from the soil and shake off the excess. Familiar microbes will ease the transition, so don’t wash the roots. Wrap them with some moist paper towels and enclose everything in a plastic bag. If the trip will be lengthy, first make a slurry out of polymer moisture crystals and add to the roots.
Prevent breakage with plant ties, twist ties or rubber bands. You can also encase the plant in newspaper to protect the stem and top. Bubble wrap will take care of the pot and the roots.
Packing the plant
Choose a box strong enough to be bashed about, and make sure the plant won’t shift around during handling. For cushioning use shredded paper, newspaper or foam to fill any gaps, and you could reinforce the corners with strapping tape. Lastly, remember to place a label inside with the plant’s name.
The UK law on plants through the post is set out here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/personal-food-plant-and-animal-product-imports.
A shipped plant should have a label on stating ‘Live Plant’ or ‘Perishable’, so the postal service or courier knows to treat your box carefully. If possible, mark ‘This End Up’ on the box’s surface.
Shipping guidelines require that you add a return address on the outside of your box.
Shipping your plant
It is important to research which company will ship your plant the fastest and safest way. Priority mail will probably suit you best. In the north, for example, there is a same day courier service in Manchester. If you frequently send plants through the mail, find a service to pick them up, so you can keep them cool up to that point. You may like to investigate a Same Day Courier service in Manchester.
Some shipping services may not deliver at weekends. To avoid your plant wilting in its box, ship on Monday or Tuesday. In addition, if you or your recipient are likely to face adverse weather, it’s best to hold off sending.
Follow this advice, and your plants should arrive in tip top condition, to the delight of you and your recipient.