How to Sell Plants From a Home Nursery Business

by Fraser Sherman; Updated September 26, 2017
Woman holding plant in garden centre, mid section

For a gifted gardener, the challenge of a home nursery business may lie in selling the plants rather than growing them. If you're starting small, "Mother Earth News" says, you don't have to sell a lot to cover expenses. And no matter what plants you enjoy working with, there's probably a market for them. There may be both wholesale and retail opportunities in your community.

Choose a Strategy

You can build the gardening strategy for your nursery to fit with your marketing strategy. For example, you can sell plants year-round, perhaps changing your stock as the seasons turn. You can also concentrate on selling seedlings and small plants right before the growing season begins, putting all your energy into a few weeks of sales. You can sell some of the most popular, common plants in your community or market something nobody else sells.

Plan Your Garden

When you're choosing your sales strategy, think about the financial side of planting and growing your product. If you sell trees, for instance, it'll usually be a year to five years before a cutting or seedling has matured enough to sell. You might prefer flowers or ground covers that are faster to grow and so give you a quicker return. Also consider the profit you can make on a given plant. Ground covers, for instance, are cheap to grow and can sell for a considerable markup.

Become a Wholesaler

If you grow plants that are popular in your region, the Profitable Plants website suggests you market yourself as a wholesaler. Nurseries that sell to the public don't always grow their own plants. Contact nurseries in the area and offer to supply them with plants they can sell to individual gardeners. Talk to landscapers as well. Major landscaping projects require lots of plants, and local contractors may be happy to buy quality plants off you.

Selling Retail

Selling individual plants at retail doesn't require a store. An ad in the newspaper or online may turn up plenty of customers. Because growing plants usually involves minimal overhead, you can price your plants well below local stores. Other possibilities include renting space at a flea market or a farmers market. You'll have to pay for a booth, but hundreds of potential customers will see what you have to offer.

Raising Funds

One possibility, depending on the types of plants you sell, is to set up fundraisers. the Profitable Plants website suggests, for example, that if you grow trees, you can arrange with a local group such as the Boy Scouts or Kiwanis to sell the plants for you. You give up a portion of your profits, 25 percent say, to the group. If the group is determined, this approach can generate lots of sales with minimum marketing on your part.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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