How to Grow Starter Plants for a Profit

Written by brad chacos
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How to Grow Starter Plants for a Profit
Sprout starter plants in indoor containers. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Many people enjoy fresh flowers, vegetables and herbs, but don't have the time or inclination to raise plants from seed. People in colder climates might want a viable, sprouted plant to transplant after the threat of frost passes, but have no space in their house to start the plant indoors. Casual gardeners who want the benefits of watching a plant grow without the difficulties of nursing it from seed often buy young, already-sprouted starter plants. Gardeners who enjoy growing plants from seed can grow large amounts of starter plants cheaply, and then sell them for a profit.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Seeds
  • Potting soil or compost
  • Seed trays
  • Pots

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  1. 1

    Identify the type of plant you want to grow. Vegetables and flowers are popular starter plants, but growing speciality plants such as herbs, hot peppers or exotic flowers potentially allows you to sell the plants for more money.

  2. 2

    Purchase packets of seeds and potting soil suitable for the plants you're growing. Buy seed trays and pots to hold the plants as they grow. Minimise costs to avoid risk and increase profits in the future, but do not buy low-quality materials. Look for sales or ask for discounts if you plan on buying in bulk.

  3. 3

    Sow the plants early in the season, so that they will be mature enough to sell when spring blooms and people are in the market for transplants. Study the growth rates for the plant to know the appropriate planting time.

  4. 4

    Nurse the plants to germination. Water and fertilise according to the needs of the plants -- check the seed packet's label for specific directions. Use organic soil and fertiliser if you want to attempt to sell the plants as organically grown.

  5. 5

    Transfer the plants to larger, individual pots once they begin to outgrow the seed trays. Purchase cheap pots, but make sure they're presentable enough that they don't drive away potential customers. Consider buying a more ornate, expensive pot if growing expensive novelty plants such as orchids or birds-of-paradise.

  6. 6

    Sell the plants once they've reached an approximate starter plant size. Set up a stall at farmer's markets, open a roadside stand or place an advertising sign in front of your house. Contact stores and nurseries if you have large amounts of product to sell and want to do so wholesale. Establish a price in line with similar starter plants in the area -- or slightly cheaper if selling them wholesale -- but make sure to sell them at price high enough to make more than you spent. Promote the special features of the plant, especially if the plant is rare or organically grown.

Tips and warnings

  • Some plants propagate via cuttings from mature plants. You can use these cuttings to grow starter plants without needing to incur the costs of seeds, further increasing profits.
  • Grow the plant according to its specific needs. For example, you may need to plant trees directly into pots rather than in seed trays to avoid transplanting it too many times.
  • Look for speciality niches. You may be able to charge more, and generate more interest, by filling a larger pot with a "herb garden" consisting of several plants than you would be able to get for the plants individually.
  • Keep careful eye on the plants and maintain their health. Ignoring the fertilisation, environmental and watering needs of new plants can kill them, leaving you with all the costs of set-up with none of the profits. Unhealthy-looking plants are more difficult, if not impossible, to sell at the market.

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