A few weeks ago I happened upon a negative review of another seller on Facebook involving a Sansevieria that Express shipping was encouraged for. The seller charged for Express, but shipped Priority mail and the Snake plant arrived something around a week after shipping. I chimed in with “I don’t think you even need a box to ship a Snake plant, let alone Express shipping – they’re so tough!” and that spawned a thought cascade – What would happen if you shipped a plant without a box?

So I found a modestly sized Whale Fin Sansevieria (something wide and flat enough to house a label, she was about 18″ total length) and touched base with another plant aficionado in Michigan, Sarah Doyle.

She enthusiastically agreed to be the receiving end of my mad scientist experiment of willingly sacrificing an innocent being into the treacherous bowels of the United States Postal Service. Lil Snakey was stripped of dirt, roots bundled in paper towel, and the ball wrapped in saran. I pushed a ball of paper towel in the taco and secured it, just to keep dirt from flinging out during transit. Pictures were taken to document any existing damage or blemishes before shipment.

I generously measured and weighed and printed out postage, which came to under $8. The label went on the fin and fingers were crossed. The label was surprisingly secure, as I sometimes have trouble getting them to stick on boxes, let alone living, breathing things.

So Lil Snakey was dropped off at the USPS in Waterford Lakes plaza in Orlando, Florida. I handed it straight to an associate who took it, turned to another and asked “We can take this leaf, right?” and associate #2 confirmed, as she had apparently seen all kinds of things shipped, including an entire tree. #justorlandothings

Lil Snakey was plopped into the outgoing bin and we waved our tearful goodbyes. Such a big, scary trip it was about to go on without any safety. I felt a jolt of guilt as if I was sending my own child into the ether which is USPS, but the reaffirming “it’s for science” kept chanting in my head.

At that point, control was out of my hands and tracking said expected delivery Thursday. Nothing to do now but wait and hit refresh on the tracking page, hoping nothing pops up like “Parcel damaged”, “Package lost”, or “Seriously, you shipped a friggen leaf and expected it to go smoothly?”

But alas, Thursday came and Lil Snakey was out for delivery. The adrenaline rush of something so comically silly can’t be described other than maybe akin to a harmless practical joke like “Ding Dong Ditch.” Sarah immediately updated me when it was delivered, and I have to say, I was surprised.

Lil Snakey made it! With a few expected scratches and bruises, she’s going to recover just fine. Lil Snakey traveled a thousand miles through whatever lurks behind the scenes of the enigmatic postal system and was handed directly to Sarah, wrappings intact.

Moral of the story is: Yes, it’s possible to ship a plant without a box and Express is certainly not necessary for a Sansevieria. However, I don’t suggest incorporating this practice into your regular business. While this was a cute and interesting experiment, there’s been incidents where well-packaged plants are damaged, boxes flattened, and packages completely lost. This could have gone way differently and would have been much less satisfying to write about.

So the next time you’re either boxing up plants or unpacking on the receiving end, just appreciate the craft – because theoretically it’s unnecessary!

Can a plant be shipped without packaging?