How to Start a Nursery Plant Business

Updated February 21, 2017

There are many aspects to be considered before starting a nursery plant business. What types of plants will you sell and to whom? Where will the business be located? How many employees will you need? To be successful, the business needs to be strategically thought out and developed. You will need to have a marketing and business plan, financial projections, site location and employee management skills. This business can be personally rewarding and fulfilling; financially, however, you can expect to make a modest income.

Become knowledgeable. You need to have horticultural education and training to be successful working with a wide variety of plant life. This can be obtained through a two-year certificate program or four-year bachelor degree program. Go to trade shows, talk to buyers and growers, or attend seminars and conferences held at botanical centers or arboretums. You can also get valuable hands-on experience through gardening volunteer programs or by working at a nursery.

Create a business plan. This document will define the nature of the business, your sales and marketing strategy, and projected profit and loss. You will need to have a comprehensive business plan to attain any financing you may need from a bank, government program, or private investors.

Determine your market base. The nursery plant business sells to both landscapers and homeowners. These types of businesses can be broken down into three categories: landscaping, retail, and wholesale. You should determine what your customer base is going to be. All three markets need different types and quantities of plants, seeds, accessories, and equipment. Trying to market to more than one customer base may spread your company too thin.

Know your inventory. Who is your customer base and what types of plants will they buy? How many plants of each variety should you stock? If you produce more plants than you can sell, you may have to absorb the cost of the investment. Not having enough product is not as financially troublesome; however, you can lose customers if you are not able to meet their needs.

Select your business location. If you do not own your own property, you may have to lease or purchase a site for your business. It should be easily accessible by your customers, zoned appropriately, and allow for future growth. Also take into consideration its proximity to major cities, other nurseries, and how easily your employees can get to work.

Establish your labor force. Working in a plant nursery is very labor intensive. It is a seasonable business usually requiring extended work hours during the spring and fall. You may need to hire part-time or seasonal employees during these busy times. You must provide a safe and healthy working environment for your employees and comply with all Social Security, insurance, wage and taxation requirements.

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