Cost to Ship Live Plants Per Mile

Cost To Ship Live Plants Per Mile

Everyone’s been asking how much it costs to ship live plants. So, let’s make it simple by giving you an example shipment. For this example, we will be working with 15 drops across the country. Picking up in San Francisco CA and dropping at Houston TX (1 Pallet), Rogers AR (1 Pallet), Jackson MS (1 Pallet), Birmingham AL (1 Pallet), Montgomery Al (1 Pallet), Columbus GA (1 Pallet), Atlanta GA (1 Pallet), Savannah GA (2 Pallet), Charleston SC (1 Pallet), Charlotte NC (1 Pallet), Greensboro NC (4 Pallet), Raleigh NC (1 Pallet), Emporia VA (1 Pallet), Petersburg VA (2 Pallet), and Richmond VA (2 Pallet). All pallets are standard size, single stacked. We will use a pair of drivers and a 53′ Reefer to transport live plants.

Live Plant Shipping Route
Live Plant Shipping Route

For the example, let’s assume the weight is 25,000 lbs., it is fully palletized and wrapped, 50 degrees constant temperature, and we can only use a team reefer. A normal reefer team transit (as of December 23, 2020) from San Francisco to Richmond VA is $8500. It is important to note, the loaded miles are 2,899 on that direct transport which brings our rate-per-mile to $2.93. If we were to add all these additional stops and optimize the route, we end up with 4,417 miles That is an additional 1518 miles. Not to mention, the time spent trying to make a successful delivery at each location. For simplicity, lets use $100 per stop and add $2.93 per mile to the additional miles. That adds up to $1500 for 15 drops and $4,447.74 for the extra miles. Our total cost comes out to be $8500 plus $5947.74 (Stops + Extra Miles) which gives us a grand total of $14,447.74. Easy math concludes that we are spending $3.27 per mile to ship live plants or $687.99 per pallet of plants.

Now, we cannot say if that math will be the same for all carriers or every situation. Every pair of drivers is different and each will put a value on their time and the risk of making so many drops. Those are things we cannot calculate.

Other Things To Consider

The standard for 53′ Reefers $2.50 to $3.00 a mile doesn’t apply to all shipments. There are a few constraints to consider.

  1. Distance.
  2. Location
  3. Capacity

Distance is a very important factor in price. Coast-to-coast shipments are cheaper per mile than local runs. It is important to remember, whether you are going a long ways or running 50 miles down the road, you will still be paying for the drivers time.

Location is another factor that impacts the price. We get a lot of shipments that pick up in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and other states that do not have a very dense population. This can cause the rate to come up because drivers tend to be situated around bigger cities where loads are most likely to appear. We would essentially have to pay them to drive out and get the shipment (deadhead). This rule also applies to deliveries in remote areas. If you are 200+ miles away from a major city, be  prepared to pay a little more than the usual rate.

Capacity is the final constraint to consider/understand. Driver’s are constantly moving all over the country. When you have a surplus in one city, then the price goes down. The drivers will compete for loads. If you have a shortage of drivers in a city, then the price goes up because the driver will have their pick of the lot. The highest paying freight will be moved first.


We hope that this article sheds some light on shipping partial loads, live plants, reefer LTL, or any other type of equipment. We are always fighting to get you the best price with the best service. We are a family-owned and operated company with strong values on the relationships we create. Give us a call and see how we can help you.

(313) 651 7080

Fide Freight Team

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