How to Set Up a Plant Nursery

Wholesale nurseries sell a large quantity of similar products, such as marigolds, to landscaping companies or retail establishments like Lowe's, Home Depot or Wal-Mart. Retail nurseries sell their own plants within their own locations and do not mass produce. Although the type of business you plan to operate determines the kind of nursery you construct, both have one element in common: plants. All plants need light, heat and water to survive. These needs and other aspects of a nursery should be considered prior to setting up shop.

Choose a crop. Investigate potential competitors and find what niches need to be filled. Choose plants that are appropriate for your region.

Determine the best location for your nursery. Wholesale nurseries should locate near major roads to cut down on transit costs. Retail nurseries may also want to consider easy access for the benefit of customers. Small-scale nurseries can be set up in your own back yard. Take into consideration the proximity of a dependable water source, necessary windbreaks and sunlight.

Construct a greenhouse. Whether the structure chosen is a hoop greenhouse, a small hotbed or an A-frame, make certain that access to sunlight is unrestricted. Strong eastern light is beneficial to plant growth, so orient the structure with light exposure in mind.

Calculate the heating system capacity for your greenhouse. This is a calculation based on the square footage and insulating qualities of the structure. Different plants have different desirable temperatures, but all plants run the risk of perishing when temperatures dip below 60 degrees F.

Choose your heating and cooling system. Solar panels are a popular way to heat greenhouses, although space heaters and other traditional heating methods can also be used. In midsummer, ventilation alone may not be adequate cooling; the air temperature may need to be lowered with evaporative cooling or shade cloths.

Investigate the best irrigation options for the crops and the size of your nursery. Plants thrive when they are watered consistently. Irrigation options include misting systems, drip irrigation, soaker hoses, fog machines and even controlled flooding.

Consider ventilation options. Thermostats and humidistats monitor the heat and humidity of a greenhouse and are vital parts of automated systems, which include exhaust fans. Most greenhouses have ventilation ducts near the roof line of the structure that can be manually controlled as needed.

Photosynthesis and plant health are dependent upon light. Some plants require up to 20 hours of light to germinate. Other plants need less during certain times of year and at varying points in their growth cycles. A system that allows for easy adjustment of light is important. Fluorescent lighting systems are the most popular and most effective.


  • Most municipalities chlorinate water and this is detrimental to plants. Invest in appropriate filters.

    Greenhouses are meant to keep in moisture and heat, but too much of both can damage root systems. Mold and fungus are constant threats. Inspect plants and monitor temperature and humidity levels regularly.