Advice needed for shipping bonsai...

Wm Tom Davis

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I'm hoping to get some ideas and advice about shipping or flying with my bonsai collection. I'm temporarily moving to Chicago for a year of theological studies and I'd like to take 6 of my bonsai with me, either by shipping them, next day, or as luggage on my flight. The rest of my collection will be donated to my bonsai club, Conejo Valley Bonsai Assoc.

Realizing that many receive trees via the postal system, and not ship, I'm looking for any and all ideas and advice regarding shipping or flying with trees.

Many thanks in advance...
 

greerhw

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I go buy 2 sheets of 1" styrofoam, one for the the bottom of the box, the second sheet I cut for the pot to set in really tight and put it on top of the first sheet. Be sure the tree has been watered, but not leaking out of the pot. Add damp sphagnum moss on top of the soil and wrap cling wrap around all of the pot and the styrofoam until everything is covered and secure. You can buy clear wrap that shippers use at a box store if you prefer. Slide the tree into the box and fill with styrofoam peanuts being sure they get to the bottom branches. Try to leave a couple of inches clearance around the tree and the top. I've never had a problem shipping this way.I prefer FedEx because they deliver on Saturday.


keep it green,
Harry
 
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ianb

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I have travelled with them in both checked and carry on luggage. In either case you should prepare them as described by Harry. If they are small I have used a small plastic tote in with the clothes and the tote has a layer of peanuts, the tree and more peanuts, again have at least an inch around the tree and pot and make sure it is secure in there. They will be checked by the TSA but you shouldn't have any problems.

I also bought a wheeled tote with a hinged lid with clasps to close it with for the larger trees, only about $15 from walmart, worked a treat.


The only real danger is if they get too close to the dirty underwear:eek:

Also try not to get connections in Pheonix/Vegas unless its cooled down a little.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I should add that if you are traveling light, consider a wheeled cooler. Again, be careful to fill up all void space in the cooler so the trees cannot shift. Likewise it is best to wrap the pots and secure the soil. However a cooler is very easy to move, is waterproof and air tight, can put up with more abuse than a cardboard box, is better insulated, and is extremely easy to seal closed with a roll of duct tape.

[EDIT] Oh, and I forgot the most important point - it's reusable :) Versus having piles of cardboard leftover.
 

rockm

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The biggest part of the equation here isn't stated. How big are the trees?

The things posted here are great, terrific, but not if you've got trees over 12 inches tall and the accompanying larger containers....
 

Wm Tom Davis

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Great point, rockm.
My trees are less than 16 " in height, with the majority being about 10".
I'm only taking 6 trees.

I like Bonsainut's recommendation of using a cooler, peanuts and duct tape. I'll also use Harry's advice of getting the styrofoam sheets to place them in, inside the cooler. The max time for the flight will be about 8 hrs.

Thanks for the great help!!!
 
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Have you thought about driving? By the time you pack 6 trees and pay the cost to ship them you may be real close to the cost of the gas.
 

Wm Tom Davis

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Yes Mac, I thought about driving, and I figured at the cost of gas, driving from Ojai California to Chicago, about three days, (6 tanks of gas @ about $35.00 a tank, and add the cost of hotels and meals, equals to about $400.00) is a bit more expensive than the $75.00 per extra bag on the airlines.

I must be honest and say I didn't spend a whole lotta time thinking about driving.

Thanks for the consideration though.
 

ghues

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Missing the sunshine

Tom, wont the trees really miss the California sunshine ???? as I'm sure the winters will be a lot different too.
Cheers G
 

Wm Tom Davis

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Hey G,

Actually, not only the trees will miss the sunshine, but myself as well. I need all the vitamin D I can get at my age.

For the majority of the year, Chicago has nice weather for trees, with plenty of rain and sun. Its the winters that can take their toll if one is not paying attention.

Thanks...
 

capnk

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Tom,
If I may ask, what species of trees are you taking? You may find that you can't bring them back into California when you ready to return.
Just an FYI,
Chris
 

rockm

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Chris makes an excellent point...Best investigate if you plan on returning to Cali...
 

Wm Tom Davis

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Chris,
I'm taking a couple of pines, a juniper, a cedar, a Trident maple, and a Schefflera.

Last week I called and spoke to the Calif Dept of Agriculture at one of their entry check points, and I was told that I would have no problem bringing them back into the state, as they are my own collection (6 bonsai trees) and not for sale. I also checked with the airlines about any restrictions they may have, and the only thing they were concerned with was that they were not leaking any fluids and that they were packed and labeled as "live plants."

I don't see any problems with bringing them back into the state.

Thanks for the concern... I appreciate your thoughts.
 
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Bonsai Nut

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Yes Mac, I thought about driving, and I figured at the cost of gas, driving from Ojai California to Chicago, about three days, (6 tanks of gas @ about $35.00 a tank, and add the cost of hotels and meals, equals to about $400.00) is a bit more expensive than the $75.00 per extra bag on the airlines.

I must be honest and say I didn't spend a whole lotta time thinking about driving.

Thanks for the consideration though.

Don't forget the cost of the car :) People always forget to count the depreciation on the miles. If you assume your car is going to last 100,000 miles, and it cost you $30,000, you are burning $.30 per mile on your car's value. 2,000 miles from California to Chicago and you just burnt up $600 of your car - NOT including gas.

Cars cost a lot more money than people think. For example my car, fully loaded with depreciation, gas, insurance, etc, costs me about $.60 per mile to drive. I take this into consideration when deciding whether to drive to the store that's "only" 20 miles away. That's $24 down the tubes.
 

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