Receiving Houseplants By Mail: Avoid These 6 Newbie Mistakes!

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Indoor plants are stressed enough when they’re shipped that it’s important to know exactly how to handle them once you receive them in the mail. there are numerous rookie mistakes many people make when they receive their plants.

Be sure to read this post in its entirety as it will give your mail order houseplants the best chance at living! I’ve seen people make all of these mistakes and it’s important to get it right the first time so you can achieve the best results!

do’s and don’ts when receiving houseplants in the mail

There are many dos and don’ts when you first unpack your plants.


Before we get to the don’ts, here are a few things you should do when you receive your houseplants in the mail.

Online houseplant orders are skyrocketing and many growers can’t keep up with demand, so it’s important to know how to manage your plants.

Some plants are more sensitive than others, but it’s best to follow these best practices.

1. unpack immediately

Be very careful if you place your order during the colder months. Please note where the nursery is and also note your weather during the shipping period. it may not always be a good idea to order during the cooler months of the year.

Good nurseries will stop shipping cold-sensitive plants during particularly cold months, and will sometimes also include insulated bags for added security.

make sure you track your package and if you won’t be home for a while, especially if the weather is very cold or even very hot, have someone pick up your box and bring it inside to avoid further surprises, or even death to your plants.

You certainly don’t want your plants to freeze or cook in the box before you get home.

Carefully unpack all your plants as soon as you can. remove any plastic, tape, shredded paper, and any other packing material that may have been used to protect the plant during shipping.

2. water if dry

Next, check the soil on your plant with your finger. is the surface dry? if so, give it a good watering and discard excess water. if the surface feels wet, do not water.

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3. remove dead or broken leaves

if something was broken during shipping, go ahead and remove it (you can even use it for propagation in some cases!). remove dry or dead leaves.

4. increase humidity

This is not absolutely necessary, but it can help your new plant transition into your home environment. especially if you have a plant that needs a lot of moisture to thrive.

Sometimes plants come with a clear plastic tent or humidity dome. cover the plant with the plastic bag, perhaps using a couple of bamboo sticks inserted into the pot to support the bag. you may want to leave it on for a week or so before taking it off.

Be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight during this time.

You can even place your plant in an empty aquarium and place a clear cover over the aquarium to keep the humidity up.

You can also use other methods to increase humidity for your plants if you don’t want to use the plastic tent method.

Now let’s talk about some very important prohibitions.

do not

not #1: transplant too early

This is a big mistake I see a lot of people make. they are quick to transplant your plant as soon as they receive it.

When you receive a houseplant in the mail, you need to give your plant a break and not be the “active” plant parent you want to be. sometimes it’s better to let things be.

Your plant has been shipped in a completely dark box, possibly for days, so be careful when you receive it.

Wait at least 2 weeks before repotting your houseplant. it will give your plant some time to adjust “out of the box” and regain some strength. repotting can also be stressful for a plant, so don’t make the situation worse!

And when repotting, be sure to follow the proper repotting procedures as this is critical to the health of your houseplant.

After 2 weeks, if your plant is pot bound and needs a larger size pot, move up just one pot. no bigger, otherwise your soil may stay too wet and cause you some major problems (especially if you don’t give your plant enough light).

Of course, if your plant was shipped bare root, pot it up.

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don’t #2: fertilize too early

For the same reason as above, allow your plant to acclimate to your home for about 2 weeks before you begin fertilizing. let your plant adjust.

don’t #3: place in bright light too soon

This is also very important and is a mistake that many people make. place any plants you receive right in front of a window out of direct sunlight for about 2 weeks as well.

Even if your plant is a sun lover, you need to harden it off a bit. allow it to adjust to “indirect bright” light for a couple of weeks before moving it into direct sun.

Remember, it’s been in a dark box for a while, so you want to gradually increase your light, so it shouldn’t get direct sun for 2 weeks. a window that has no direct sun but appears bright is perfect.

If you don’t do this, you may risk burning your houseplant. Of course, if you plan to have your plant in an area without direct sun, you don’t have to worry. I’m talking about getting sun-loving plants to harden off.

I compare this to people who get sunburned. if you are pale white and have been indoors all winter, but suddenly go on vacation to the beach and sit in the sun all day, you will burn quickly. unless you develop a base tan, you’ll roast quickly!

Give your plant its “base tan” before placing it in a sunny window! Gradually introduce higher light if your plant needs direct sun.

no #4: water if the soil is already wet

If you feel the top of the soil and it’s wet, don’t water it again. some people want to be too active as plant parents and think the more they do the better.

how to water potted plants

Resist the temptation! Sometimes less is more. With very few exceptions, you want to wait until at least the surface of your soil is dry before you water again.

no #5: place in a drafty area

You should always try to implement this next tip, but especially with a new plant you received in the mail.

Avoid placing your plant near areas that experience hot or cold drafts, such as heating or cooling ducts in your home, or even drafty windows and doors.

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many houseplants, like the calathea and many others, hate the cold and are quick to protest. air conditioning vents can be very bad if your plant is too close.

Also, having plants right next to a heating duct can burn the leaves very quickly. avoid these places.

not #6: place your plant immediately with the rest of your collection

When you bring a new plant into your home, it’s safer to quarantine it from other plants for a couple of weeks so you can control pests. The last thing you want to do is bring pests home and then have them spread to the rest of your plant collection.

While in quarantine, keep an eye out for common pests such as mites, scale, thrips, fungus gnats, mealybugs, etc., and treat accordingly if found.

things to look forward to

There are two things you should be aware of and even expect after receiving houseplants in the mail.

don’t be scared by a yellow leaf

no, you’re not killing your plant if you see one or two yellow leaves at first (as long as you follow all my advice above, that is…)

It’s not uncommon for many houseplants to lose a leaf or two until they adjust to their new surroundings. your plant is not dying. just be sure to follow all of my best practices above to give yourself the best chance of success!

expect slower growth at first

Some plants are sturdier and less delicate than others, but don’t expect your plant to start growing immediately and take over your room as soon as you receive it. some plants can start growing right away, but many won’t.

Patience! I hope these tips for receiving houseplants in the mail help you acclimate your plants.

If you follow all of these tips, your plant will adapt faster and start to become the thriving houseplant you’ve always wanted.

please do me a favor and share this post on social media because it will help me spread ohio tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my store on Amazon for all your indoor plant care needs: ohio tropics plant care storet

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