Succulents can safely be sent through the mail. Still, if you are mailing plants from one country to another, you should contact the Plant Protection Division of the Department of Agriculture for their country to find out what the guidelines are about what plants you are allowed to mail and where you can send them. The purpose of this article is only to tell you how to mail them.
People who have been growers of non-succulent plants may not be aware that succulents, including cacti, can be successfully mailed from one person to another. An entire collection can be packed and moved along with household belongings if you move your home from one place to another.
The unique thing about succulents is their ability to survive without any moisture for reasonable periods. They are, therefore, ideally suited to mailing or transporting either with or without their roots.
Here is how to proceed:
1. Shake all soil off the roots being careful to break as few roots as possible. Do not worry if a few roots are broken. That will not kill the plant. It is much easier to remove the soil if it is dried out. Do not try to remove the soil after you water the plants!
2. Any plants that are in full growth and seem rather too juicy or turgid are safer allowed to dry out for a few days without water, which will harden the growth, and then they will be less likely to bruise or rot.
3. You can trim back excessive roots if you like, again with no damage to the plant.
4. Make sure the plant and roots are dry. Succulents travel more safely if the roots are dry. And most important, there will be less weight to pay postage on!
5. Prepare a label for each plant with the name of the plant on it.
6. Wrap each plant in soft paper with the label with the plant's name on it. If it is a delicate plant, use soft kitchen toweling. If it is a stronger plant, you can use a newspaper. If it is a plant with lots of spines, use two or three layers of newspaper.
7. A little different procedure is needed for a few plants, such as Orchid Cactus or Christmas Cactus. If they have roots, they do not do as well if left dry for too long. Use a small plastic bag containing a pinch of damp peat moss, wrap it around the roots, and secure it with a rubber band. It is better to send dry cuttings of these than to send cuttings with roots. If there are no roots, you do not need to worry about moisture-just wrap them dry.
8. An important safeguard for succulents sent through the mail is a strong, lightweight box. The best type of box is one made of corrugated cardboard. Try your hardware store, garage, drugstore, or grocery store, where you will often find these, and they are usually free. If the box is too big, it is not difficult to make a smaller box out of a larger corrugated one. Just crease the folds with the back of a knife or ruler, cutting off excess where necessary.
Do not use cereal boxes, shoe boxes, and the like, and expect your package and plants to arrive uncrushed. Remember, your parcel can go hurtling along with conveyor belts and down long chutes landing in huge piles with heavier packages on top of yours. Parcels have to withstand much battering as it goes through the post office. If you do not wrap it right, it will fall apart. However, you could use those flimsy types of boxes inside the box you are mailing to contain and separate some plants from others if you are packing quite a few. I find them handy for plants with really vicious spines that insist on piercing all sorts of paper but which are quite protected in a box within the box.
9. Pack sufficient extra paper (shredded paper or crumpled newspaper is good) around the individually wrapped plants in your box so they would not shake around. Fill in also any empty spaces when all plants are put in the box. It is very important that the plants or cuttings do not move around in the box, or they will damage each other.
10. Seal the box tightly with proper tape made for wrapping parcels. Ordinary scotch tape will not hold. Do not use string or twine, or cord. They are not allowed by the post office. There is no need to wrap the box again in the paper. If the box has been in the mail before and there are addresses or other notations on it, strike these out boldly with a marking pen.
11. Prepare three labels. Two for the outside of the box, top, and bottom, and one to go inside, just in case anything happens to damage the outside of the box badly. Either print out a label on your printer or print by hand your address in the upper left-hand corner and the address of the person you are sending it to in the middle further down. Make sure postal codes are shown for both addresses.
12. Write on all three labels in large letters at the bottom PERISHABLE.
13. One final tip. If you send your plant parcels by regular parcel post, which is the cheapest parcel rate available, spend extra 50 cents or a dollar to insure the parcel with the post office, you will find that it goes through the post office very fast. They do not want insured mail to get lost, so priority is given to getting it there. There is no point paying for what is now very expensive first-class mail if you do it the insurance way and save many dollars in the process. And please note parcels sent by parcel services will often take much longer to arrive than those sent through the post office, especially if they are going outside your country.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus