Over the last decade, increasingly homeowners and hobbyists horticulturists have launched their own plant nurseries. A plant nursery can be as unique as its manager, and plant nurseries vary greatly in terms of size, varietals selected, purpose (for fun, business, or a mixture of each), layout, and more. While starting a plant nursery can look daunting at first, experts line out certain fundamental decisions that must be researched prior to embarking on a plant nursery project.
Devoting adequate time to thoroughly researching and resolving each factor in its turn can lead to a fun and successful experience when starting a plant nursery for any purpose.
Deciding on the Purpose for Starting a Plant Nursery
If the purpose for starting a plant nursery is to make a profit, the plants selected may look quite different than those selected simply for the fun and enjoyment of running and maintaining a home plant nursery. Understanding the ultimate goal for starting a plant nursery can pave the way for a successful, enjoyable experience.
Selecting the Type of Plant Nursery
There are many different types of plant nurseries, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. While available land can determine in small or large part what type of plant nursery is ultimately selected, an analysis of what types of plant varietals are most interesting and enjoyable to cultivate should be at the root of any decision to start a plant nursery. Three popular types of plant nurseries are commonly seen and are examined here.
Ground Cover Plant Nursery: A ground cover plant nursery is extremely space efficient and easy on the land. Ground cover nurseries feature low growing plants with a high retail value and low maintenance cost, requiring no mowing and acting as a natural anti erosion and protective soil agent as they grow.
Ornamental Grasses Plant Nursery: An ornamental grasses plant nursery features popular ornamental grasses such as Pampas grass that have a high resale value and consistent commercial demand. A plus is that ornamental grasses are very low maintenance and tend to be pest and disease resistant. Best of all, ornamental grasses are easy to propagate, keeping costs low for replacement seeds or starter plants.
Landscaping Trees and Shrubs Nursery: A nursery that features landscaping trees and shrubs for resale will often feature perennial favorites such as azalea and rhododendron bushes, juniper and maple trees. Many times shrubs and trees are grown in pots and containers and shipped or sold commercially for a high resale cost.
Evaluating Budget and Costs
The initial and ongoing costs for starting a plant nursery can vary greatly regarding the types of plants to be cultivated, the space required, the maintenance costs for water, fertilization, and pest control, labor costs, and any business or marketing costs associated with running a plant nursery for profit rather than for enjoyment. Embarking upon the project of starting a new plant nursery with an accurate understanding of how much money is reasonable to invest into the project, what will be done if plants fail to thrive or are unexpectedly impacted by disease or pests, how start up costs will be recovered, what cost savings can be obtained by buying plants and supplies in wholesale or bulk format, and other cost factors should be mapped out prior to launching a plant nursery.
Selecting the Land for the Plant Nursery
Depending on the scope and the type of plants featured in the nursery, it may be possible to start the nursery at home or on an existing piece of land, or it may be necessary to rent or purchase appropriate property upon which to start the plant nursery. When renting or purchasing land for a plant nursery, it is imperative to obtain a comprehensive history of the site usage prior to purchase or rental. Understanding how the land was used, what if any nutrient depletion has occurred from prior agricultural use, any impact from toxins, pesticides, pests, or diseases, hidden underlying obstacles such as utility lines, overhead or adjacent obstacles or interferences, and soil pH, drainage, and quality will all play a major role in the failure or success of the new plant nursery. Doing a thorough site assessment can save time and protect the valuable investment being made into starting a new plant nursery. Taking time to identify the ideal site will be well worth any additional time or costs that it may require.
Planning the Timeline
It is wise to chart out the planting, growth, and cultivation cycles of the nursery plants in order to create a timeline by which to work to achieve optimal success.