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Ceramic pots are heavy and hard to transport

When you’re moving into new digs every few months, it’s important to make the place feel like home. Few things bring a generic apartment to life more than houseplants: ferns, cacti, blooms, and greenery breathe freshness into your surroundings — literally.

But carting plants from location to location can take a toll on them. Even the most hardy species fall victim to travel overload.

Before you ditch the real thing for silk or plastic impersonators, check out these simple packing and transportation tips to keep your plants alive and well from one assignment to the next.

• Use plastic pots

You may prefer the rustic look of ceramic pots over the more nondescript plastic ones, but they’re heavy and hard to heft in and out of your car. What plastic pots lack in artistic value, they make up for in portability.

Lighten your load with plastic pots

• Examine for bugs & mildew

A few days before you depart, assess your houseplants for bugs, mildew, and diseases. There are several reliable websites out there to help you return your plants to health (try Guide to Houseplants).

This is important because some states have strict regulations about what you can and cannot bring across their borders. California and Florida, for example, both have restrictions. For specifics, check out the state’s department of agriculture website.

• Prune, but don’t overwater

Trimming actually promotes growth in most plants, but it also prepares them for transport. Not only are they more compact, taking up less room, but you can remove fragile pieces.

Be sure to give your plants a good watering a day or so before the trip, too, but easy does it. If you overwater, they could grow fungus in warm weather or freeze in frigid temps.

• Take extra precautions

If you want to protect flowers or branches from breakage en route, cover your plants with a large bag. Prevent them from sliding around in the car by placing nonskid material on pots, or contain them in open boxes. Never pack live plants in the trunk because carbon monoxide can build up in it, which can be fatal to the greenery.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to keep the feeling of “home” alive wherever you go.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Photo: Jim Twardowski

Each year, as soon as spring has sprung, I head to the local garden center. This year, I find a flower bed filled with bright red impatiens, a manicured front lawn, and a backyard filled with blooming azaleas, gardenias, agapanthas, and hydrangeas.

When I travel, I enjoy spending time in lushly landscaped gardens. Walking amongst the blooming plants provides inspiration for my own yard.

You, too, can find public gardens by visiting the American Public Gardens Association website. Featuring information on public gardens in all 50 states, track down and learn about gardens ranging from sculpture and topiary to aviary and Japanese. Use the “Garden Search” tool to locate one in your state, and here is a sample of what you might find:

Pennsylvania

The Brandywine Conservancy preserves art and the environment in Pennsylvania. American art is exhibited in the Brandywine River Museum — a 19th-century grist mill. Surrounded by wildflower and native plant gardens, providing a variety of blooms from early spring until the first frost, the museum houses a collection of works by Andrew, Jamie and N.C. Wyeth, as well as American illustrations, still life, and landscape paintings.

Idaho

Hundreds of gardens are located on college and university campuses across the country, but the 63-acre University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden sits in a valley with the rolling Palouse hills as a backdrop. Geographically arranged, visitors will see Asian, European, Eastern, and Western North American plant groupings.

Georgia

The American Camellia Society is based at Massee Lane Gardens and hosts the Festival of Camellia’s every February. The 100-acre botanical garden is located in the middle of Georgia, and a nine-acre section contains over 1,000 varieties of camellias.

National Public Gardens Day is on May 11 and Better Homes and Gardens is providing free admission to participating gardens. Simply visit the BHG website and download the voucher.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, visiting a public garden is a relaxing way to enjoy nature. And, you might just gain a greater appreciation for your own backyard!

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & Away, Global Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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