Guide to Acclimating & Reviving Shipped Plants

Nothing beats the excitement and joy of receiving home-delivered plants. The anticipation of opening the box, to hold that plant that has always been on your wishlist. But before you plant it – there is a process that you must follow in order to avoid shock – and that process is called acclimatization.

To acclimate your plants after shipping, you need to remove your plant(s) from the packaging as soon as possible. If they appear dry, give them a drink with distilled water at room temperature. Remove any parts of the plant that appear sickly, dead or injured. If your plant has bare roots, place it in water. Or if it came with soil, place it in some moist soil to recover. Finally, place it in a low light area over a humidity tray to ease the transition into its new home.

How to Acclimate Plants After Shipping

We’ve applied the above process to successfully acclimatize most of our shipped plants. Unfortunately, we’ve learned the hard way, through experience and making our own mistakes – we’ll discuss those later in the article.

Easy Steps for How to Revive a Plant After Shipping

Below are the easy-to-follow steps we use to acclimatize our

Step 1 – The Unboxing

NO, we’re not going to teach you how to film yourself unboxing your new plants! When we say unboxing, we mean unpacking shipped plants ASAP – carefully.

Depending on the efficiency of the shop/supplier you purchased your plant and the speed of the courier, your plant could have been sitting in a dark, moist box for anywhere between 1-5 days (maybe even more!).

Another factor to consider is the weather and the time of the year that you are ordering your plants. During the colder months of the year, packages can be exposed to long periods of extreme cold – which can essentially freeze the contents and your poor plants. As a general rule, we don’t order any plants during months that can experience sub-zero temperatures.

So the key takeaway message here is: Get your plant out into some fresh air quick and smart.

Step 2 – Inspect Your Plant

This step involves a thorough inspection of your plant. You will want to carefully examine the condition of your plant.

Inspect your new plant

For instance:

  • Look at the condition of the stems and leaves.
  • Check for any broken leaves or rotten roots of the plant.
  • Examine the water supply in the packaging. If you suspect your plant is dehydrated from the journey, top it up with some room temperature distilled water (or tap water that has been left out for at least 24 hours). On the other hand, if there was excess water in the packaging, allow it to dry out for a small period.

We also recommend taking some photographs of the plant for your own records. Should you want to dispute the condition of your plant with the supplier, they will request photos of how you received the goods (not a few days after!).

Step 3 – Clean Your Plant

Once you have fully examined your plant, it’s now time to clean it up, ready to be acclimated into its new home.

Cut off any dead or discolored leaves (such as yellow or brown leaves). This will help your plant focus its energy on growing the rooting structure and surviving through the transition period.

Step 4 – Acclimatize Your Plant (The Important Part!)

The final step is to set up your plant for success.

This involves transitioning your plant through the final stages of its journey through little steps, so it can adjust to its new environment without experiencing plant shipping shock.

We recommend positioning your plant in a location that is sheltered from bright light, preferably indirect light. Definitely do not expose your plant to direct sunlight (even if your plant’s care instructions call for direct sunlight). The reason why we suggest baby steps for your plants’ transition is because they have been in complete darkness while in transit. It will take a minimum of a few days to recover and get back into its usual processes. As each day passes, you can gradually move your plant into brighter positions, until it reaches the final position that accounts for the specified lighting requirements from the supplier’s instructions.

We also like to keep our plants in humidity chambers during this phase. We find it helps our plants recover quicker and eases the transition. We usually make our own DIY humidity chambers, so we don’t have to install loud and cumbersome humidifiers in our house. For some innovative ideas, check out some of our creations HERE.

Check out this ingenious IKEA humidity chamber Jrys22 made for his plants (image below)

DIY Humidity Chamber
credit: reddit

If your delivery came as a bare-rooted plant, we usually place them in a container of distilled water to develop the roots and get them ready for repotting. However, if you feel the plant already has some strong roots, and it is clear it was planted in soil prior to being shipped. Feel free to pot it into a transition planter container filled with moist soil with plenty of organic materials like sphagnum moss.

Tips for Care and a Success Acclimation Process

So that’s the complete process for how to acclimate your plants after shipping.

There are a few more care tips we’d like to share that we’ve picked up along the way, including some mistakes to avoid and things NOT TO DO.

Don’t Feed Your Plants Straight Away

It’s easy to get overzealous and want to do right by your new babies by giving them plenty of food. However, this can have the opposite effect. Your plant will be adjusting to its new home, and will concentrate its energy on establishing the root system. It won’t be interested in food yet, and the fertilizer will end up sitting in the soil for a period of time. If you don’t be careful, too much fertilizer can become toxic to a plant, and your new plant may receive fertilizer burn as a result.

Don’t Overwater Your Plants

If you just repotted your plant, chances are you gave it a good watering to help it settle into its new home. Try to resist the temptation to dote on your new baby and give it more water – especially if you are keeping it in a humidity dome.

You may end up overwatering your new plant, opening up the door to diseases like root rot, and pests like fungus gnats.

Don’t Over-Expose Your Plant to Bright Light

We’ve touched on this point earlier in our instructions for acclimating your plant. However, it is worth emphasizing here because it can be really detrimental to your plant.

Too much light too early will cause your plant to wither and become weak. Keep your plant in low-lighting conditions to allow it to naturally adjust to the new environment.

Use a Heat Pad

A great tip is to use a heat pad under your new plants to keep them warm and a humid environment in the chamber. This is particularly relevant to those of you in colder climates, where the internal temperatures of the house can drop significantly.

Avoid Drafts, Heaters and Air Conditioners

Like most potted plants, avoid putting your new plants in areas that are susceptible to drafts and sudden changes in temperature. Houseplants (including your new plant) don’t take kindly to drafty locations. It can shock them, weakened their constitution and opening them up to diseases and pests. This also includes being too close to heaters and in the direct path of air conditioners or split systems.

How to Acclimate Plants After Shipping – Common Questions

What is Acclimation?

Acclimation is the process of getting a plant used to its new surroundings. The idea behind acclimation is to make sure your plant gets all the nutrients it needs to thrive, while avoiding any stressors that could harm it. Plants need to acclimate themselves to their new environments. They need to establish their roots before they begin to grow. In order to do this, they must first be able to settle into their new environment, and adjust their growth patterns to suit.

How Long Does it Take for Plants to Acclimate?

It takes about 1-2 weeks for plants to acclimate to new conditions. During this period, they adjust to the temperature, humidity, light, and soil composition. The first week is spent getting used to the new environment, while the second week is spent growing and establishing a supportive root structure that is appropriate for its new environment.