This is a method that I have been using with good success for small plants/small trades. It typically costs me between $1.50 - $2.00 in postage. The key is to get the weight below 13 oz. A package can then be shipped with first class postage which is far less expensive than priority mail and typically is just as fast (especially when the trade is only a few states away). I would be careful with this method for cross-country trades which can take a day longer than Priority mail. The plant leaves sometimes have to be carefully flattened and folded...so don't use this method if you want a show-quality speciment right out the box. But the plants don't seem to mind much and quickly readjust their leaves after they've been replanted.
I've set this up in four steps. I hope they are easy to follow:
First I cut a 4" to 6" wide x 16" long (or longer) strip of rigid cardboard out of box. I fold a two inch tab at the top. An then proceed to create folds as shown in this image. Two of the folds must be 3/4" or less apart. The post office charges more if the package is thicker than 3/4".
Next I prep the plant in the typical fashion by rinsing all the dirt from the root and wrapping them in a moist paper towel and then plastic wrap. I should note that the root ball/crown/stem needs to be less than 3/4" in one direction or it will not fit in the envelope box, however I've found very few perennials that are this bulky. If it seems that the plant may move around in the box tape the root ball to one side of the cardboard. If the leaves are large and flexible, they can be carefully bent over to fit. Several plants can be fit into the box with root balls being placed in alternate directions. You may need to cut the cardboard larger depending on how many plants you are planning to send with this method. I've sent as many as five plants and still kept my weight under 13 oz.
Finish folding the box with the tab on the underside as shown in the diagram (this holds the cardboard away from the plant and protects it from being crushed). Use a piece of strong tape to close the box.
Finally use wide tape (1-1/2" or wider) to close/seal off edges. Label box and send...I prefer to use the post office's automated postal machine at crazy hours of the night when I finally get my plants dug up, however midnight hours are not required for this method to work. I just sent two packages today...one for $1.50 and the other for $1.80. They each had a couple of plants in them. I should note that I haven't had any plants shipped to me this way. I've only shipped to others. Luckily, I haven't received any hate-mail (DG'ers are so polite). Most people have said that the plants have arrived in good condition.
I got a plant shipped this way some time ago, maybe from you Will.
It worked very well. I was lazy making the boxes, but with Priority shipping
so costly now I am rethinking :) It's a great method for small trades.
Excellent Idea!!! I know I sent cuttings in a folded over piece of poster board then inserted into a bigger bubble envelope and they arrived just fine. Your idea, though, avoids the charge of the bubble envelopes.
Honestly the PO seems confused still, about their own rates. I have to correct them each time when I'm mail a small bubble envelope explaining that it's only an additional .20 on a regular 1st class stamp. Numerous times one of them will attempt to charge me a $1 something for these when it is not needed.
And remember to recycle those bubble envelopes - I've had one used 3x and was perfectly fine.
Yes, the trick is to use First Class instead of Priority. I've used pasta boxes and it works fine. I've also received plants in gift boxes box before, but sometime they tends to get squish, although plants were fine.
The other thing I do is if I use a cardboard box, I would cut off some of the flaps on the side of the box, this will reduce the weight on the thicker boxes.
Bubble envelopes seem to allow more damage to the plant (i.e. Aunt Therba's 15 lb. fruit cakes at the top of the mail bin). The rigid cardboard adds some measure of protection from being crushed and some air space so the plant can breathe.
willmetge - thanks for the easy to follow instructions and illustrations!!! I love it!
Re: bubble envelopes... I would never send anything this way unless it is a plant that is really hard to kill and can withstand a lot of abuse - being bent and/or broken, etc. I have received 3 "bubble envelopes" now and they have all arrived with nearly dead plants/cuttings, or in pieces! Beware the bubble envelope! willmetge's method is a great way to mail safely while keeping costs very low! :)
Calif_Sue Northern California United States (Zone 9a)
i cushion plants with layers of newspaper. i have sent clematis and many other perennials this way. we are talking about getting plants sent cheaply and not arriving in pristine condition. i would send a rooted plumeria if it would fit the envelope. it's the roots that need protecting. lol.
Picturing how we have all seen examples of a hollowed out book to hide valuables, a gun, whatever...well, why not trace the pattern of the roots that need protecting and then cut that size "hollow" out of a thick layer of newspaper (just enough to pad that end of the small pkg). It seems like the newspaper form with the plant in it could then be taped (over the newspaper) to a piece of paper or thin cardboard and slipped easily into the envelope / pkg .
this plant shipping thread should deffinately be made into a "sticky"...how is that done?
Ahh yes, a thin peice of styrofoam would be gr8! even help insulate the seedling from the heat, i would think. bluestone Perenials packs w/ styrofoam peanuts & they're a very good co. ...styrofoam = much lighter than news paper also !!
Calif_Sue Northern California United States (Zone 9a)
I think that keeping the thickness under 3/4 inch can make it qualify as a "large envelope" rather than as a "small package"... however, when you use a rigid material such as cardboard, I think it then becomes a "package" regardless of its dimensions (there is a maximum for the combined length+width+height of first class mail, though).
Still, if you keep the rate under 13 oz, it can travel by first class postage (cheaper) rather than priority mail rates.
I'm on the east coast, and if I'm not sending a package further west than the Mississippi River, it generally gets there equally fast by first class or priority mail.
Here's a link to the post office rate charts for first class mail. Note the different rates for envelopes and packages. :-)
Thanks for that great link. It clarify the sizes of the packages.
9 out of 10 times, my first class will arrive in 3 days (same as priority mail). I also use Shipping Assistance, a free software, downloaded from USPS site, so it's easy to track your packages. Everything can be printed onto plain white 8.5 X 11 paper. Cut in half and one-half is the shipping label and the other half is for your record keeping. So all you have to do is make sure your box is wide enough to handle the half of the paper. If you use the online (I think it's called click-n-ship, you can specify for your carrier to pick up at your house - you can even specify the location of your house).
I didn't know they could only be 3/4 inch thick. I send stuff all the time that are thicker than 3/4 inches, but both width and length are shorter than 12 inches and under 13 oz. Actually, I think after 10 oz, the prices are pretty close to priority.
Im afraid to rinse all of the dirt off of my rooted cuttings. I just dont want to take a chance that the plant doesnt make it to its destination alive. is it that much more expensive to ship them in their 3 inch peat pots? Not to mention, some dont have an extensive root system on them yet and the roots are fragile, being a newbie, it makes me nervous to tamper with them just yet.
They'll weigh more, of course, but you can wrap the pot up to the stem in plastic wrap (I love press 'n seal) or in a baggie, then wrap the whole thing in newspaper. You do have to be more careful packing, because if the heavy rootballs in pots roll around at all, plants will get damaged.
I have shipped roots or a couple of rhizomes in the manila envelopes, plus a little bubble wrap. You an use paper towel or tissure paper rolls around plants too for support. Always write on the outside DO NOT CRUSH.
I did get some plants that way and they were fine. A little sad looking but made the trip OK. I don't like shipping plants in the summertime if I can help it but sometime a few holes in the box will help the plant travel better.
I received a package from mamajack using this shipping method. It was mailed on 6/29 and arrived 7/01. It cost a grand total of $2.07 to send and my plants arrived in excellent condition with no signs of stress or damage. The package contained 3 large Iris and 2 (approx 4") rooted dicliptera suberecta.
I think this is a very cost effective way to send small trades and I will definitely be trying it out. I for one do not mind receiving plants this way.
Just my two cents . . .
P.S. I did take pics of the package and the unwrap process. If anyone is interested I can post them...
OK - here are the pics. Hope they give you a better idea what this thread is talking about. Remember this particular package cost $2.07 to mail, first class, and contained 3 Iris and 2 rooted cuttings...
well just looky at them little diclipteras. fresh as rain. yep. i did good. lol
cue i wrap the roots of newly rooted plants in a little damp potting soil. wrap that with plastic. then i wrap newspaper around the tops to help cushion. and in your case with just rooted cuttings i would then wrap newspaper around the entire plants. and ball up some newspaper in strategic locations in the package if you need to for cushioning. remember do not make the plants very wet but the newspaper will take up some of that. i put that plastic tape just about over the entire outside of the brown wrapper to keep THEM from tearing it but also in case it does get a little wet it will hold it together as well.
NOW THAT WE KNOW WE CAN DO IT CHEAPLY let's get them trades on. seems to me that trading is way down this year. do yall think so too?
Maybe we can each send this link to some of our friends who trade and get this method out.
If it's postage that has people shy about trading this year, lets bypass that problem. (nip it in the bud..so to say!!)
Spread the word!!
I agree, Sheri. I have not traded much as of yet - worried how to safely and cheaply ship and all. After receiving the package from mamajack and seeing how easy it was, no worries now. The plants looked so good you'd have sworn she walked over and handed them to me instead of shipping them from TX to AZ in July!
sheri that's right. it is expensive to ship so i try to trade large or just the amt. i can ship first class. as long as the packages are UNDER 13 oz. they go first class and that has the same delivery schedule as priority. some people just won't believe that though. the worst thing that happened to someone i traded with this year was that they sent me ONE iris in that middle FLAT RATE BOX!!!! cost her over 10.00 to ship one iris. she was new and she just wanted to do it right. lol
you could use paper sacks if you can get them. but i had bought a roll of brown wrap to use on my floor while i painted a room.
and you know if i had sent that thing to somewhere in texas it prob. would have taken longer. and maybe an extra day to calif. or new york. several people have done mail experiments and what they found if i remember correctly is that there is no rhyme or reason to postal delivery schedules. lol.
Just a quick question. I'm assuming since it's a package, it won't go through "the crusher" that scan the address?
I always sends first class if it's 10oz and under. If over 10, it's pretty close to priority price, so I ship priority anyway. I always specify that I will send first class and if they don't like, we don't trade. I've had people said no that they only want priority so we don't trade. Easy as that. Need to keep more money in my pocket in this time and day.
Oh, and I used muffin or cereal boxes because the paper box is lighter. Even use spaghetti or macaroni boxes.
the only thing that goes thru the crusher is flat envelopes or bubble ones i think. and i have used those light boxes as well. i did this strictly as an experiment. sent one to dmac as well. hers arrived fine too for around 2.00.
I think priority is supposed to be faster than first class if you're shipping across the country, but of course the postal service doesn't guarantee the delivery times anyway. So there's no point in my sending a 12 oz package by priority to anybody who lives east of the Mississippi.
40.00!!!! for one box? did you consider using several flat rate boxes instead of one large box? you might could have gotten them all in 2 of the 10.00 boxes or 2 of the 15.00 boxes. still cheaper than 40.00. tallulah you have to ask yourself...did you trade for at least 40.00 worth of plants? if not then you need to figure out how to make it worth it next time.
I sent a Stuffed Envie AND a Fairy Swap to the same person, cuz I got the same buddy for Both Threads lol
My DH wanted to be sure it went quickest and safest, so he sent it the Most Expensive, plus it was insured, and cross-border, so I expect it was more for all that...
The fairy was a large part of the size, I'm sure...he bubble-wrapped it.
No matter what you use...paper, bubble, cardboard...the stiffer the package the better protected it is. delivery confirmation will help tell you when you package arrived...what day and what time. priority is faster depending on where. 2 day priority is to take 2 days or shorter. First class can take longer. If it ends up on a plane for cross country priority will be loaded on before first class will. Yes we will come right to your door to pick up the package...I am a rural carrier not sure how city ones do it. If it says LIVE PLANTS on the package would help as we do not have xray vision to know they should not be left in a hot or freezing cold mail box.
Ask what both prices are first and priority as sometimes there may be only a few cents apart in the 2 prices. I mail both ways depending on where to and how long it may be in the box. Common sense is the rule. Express only if it has to be overnight. And to a larger city.
I pick up packages and affix the postage for the customers...unless your sure of the weight. I havae even called some of mine to make sure they are home
del. confirmation is a worthless product to me. the only thing it can do is tell you if the person you sent it to did in fact receive it. if the post office loses your box while enroute they can't find it with that number. so the way i look at it del. confirmation is only good if you are trading with someone who you don't trust. just my take.
all those things may be true about how they load packages but in actuality i have really good luck getting first class packages to their destination in 2-3 days. at the same time i have had priority take over 2 weeks. lost a box with del. confirmation. the box sat in the wrong post office for weeks. the post office couldn't find the box. finally it was put back in circulation. plants arrived after 3 weeks. most plants were...yep, dead. lol
so the way i look at it is this...at any given time on any given package it is subject to being lost...whether it's first class or priority with all the bells...so why wouldn't i buy the cheapest?
That's a really good point, mama - It's really moot How it's sent... but the fact we send things to each other is a friendly gesture that sometimes gets stymied by our wonderful postal system (in both countries, it's the same story).
Ah well, we just have to "take it on the chin" sometimes
i really think the postal service does a good job. think about the gazillion pieces of mail they handle every day. yall we get most of that crap and you know it. we need to let up on the quality of the postal service IN MOST CASES i think. i'm just sayin'. haha
well, y'd think that with all the email, and the lessening of snail-mail, that they'd have cheaper mail just to draw us back to using their services again...
btw - I used to work for the Post Office in Canada, and a friend of mine still does.
I'm not picking on them... it's just natural, with all that gazillion pieces of mail, that mistakes will happen - we'll all human, after all LOL
hmmmmmmm wouldn't that be wonderful for cross-border mailing? I mailed a box for a swap, and it cost me $40 Cdn - about the same amount as the contents! My DH did the shipping from work, and he sent it the most expensive to get there the fastest LOL He's in Shipping/Receiving so he knows the cheapest, but he wanted my swap buddy to have it the fastest...
My very 1st packabe waas send with DC which was posted as delivered...well. not to me, and not because i'm dishonest either...A sub carried that day and "didn't remember were he left it, " but it got delivered." Not to me! So please don't be to harsh on those who say they did not receive the package even if the UsPS says it Was delivered
LOL never said del con was the best...And alot of times the cheapest is the fastest. I work with 2 that are getting things wrong and I don't blame anyone for being upset with the carrier that did it, but don't lump the entire postal service as one person. There are alot of us that do go the extra mile to make sure that package is there on time and in good condition. I serve 541 customers on a daily basis. I deliver over 2000 peices of mail a day. And more than 50 packages a day. And we still are the cheapest worldwide. I myself have lost items in the mailstream and have had late delivery on express mail...Express mail is a guarentee...if not on time by 3 pm it is free and you get your money back...Like I said write ' LIVE PLANTS' on it. As in any job you will always have your idiots that do the minimal...I have seen UPS and FEDEX both leave wrong packages at the wrong houses...1 was a $8000 check stuck between 2 doors at the wrong house (fedex) and one was a computer left at the wrong house (ups).
Just for fun ask ups or fedex what it would cost for them to deliver that same package...
Hey, Postal_blonde can only speak for herself. And I know a lot of very good, responsible USPS delivery personnel. However, as with any occupation, there are morons around us! It is, unfortunately, part of living in this world as a human being. People mess up & we pay for it.
I used to work customer service for a major mail-order company, and we used all 3 of the major delivery companies. There were idiots working at all of them, but the VAST majority of the packages got there in time. I think Postal is just giving recommendations for how to *BEST* ensure safe delivery. Unfortunately, there's no way to absolutely guarantee anything.
my older sister has a real good opinion of herself. snicker.
i am wondering if we need to leave this thread because if i get started telling postal jokes i would go on for awhile. they like my nonsense (at least they take my money every year) on daves but they ask me kindly not to chatter on a "how to" thread like this one. so i ain't stayin here. bye now. ha