Man Standing In A Plant Nursery Under Hanging Plant Baskets
plant nursery
(Image credit: XiXinXing)

Starting a plant nursery is a huge challenge that requires dedication, long hours, and hard work, day in and day out. It’s not enough to know about growing plants; owners of successful nurseries must also have a working knowledge of plumbing, electricity, equipment, soil types, labor management, packing, shipping, and much more.

Let’s learn more about basic nursery business requirements.

How to Start a Plant Nursery

Nursery owners face substantial challenges and risks including, but not limited to, floods, freezes, snow, drought, plant diseases, insects, soil types, increasing expenses, and an unpredictable economy. Needless to say, there is much to consider when starting a plant nursery business. Here are just a few major points:

  • Types of plant nurseries: Consider the various types of plant nursery businesses. For instance, retail nurseries tend to be smaller operations that sell primarily to homeowners. Wholesale nurseries are usually larger operations that sell to landscape contractors, retail outlets, growers, distributors, and municipalities. Some plant nursery businesses might specialize in certain types of plants, such as ornamentals, native plants, or shrubs and trees, while others might be strictly mail order. 
  • Do your research: Study up before you spend a lot of money. Invest in books and magazines. Visit other places to look at their plant nursery setup. Join professional groups or organizations. Work with the Small Business Center in your area to learn about hiring practices and other specifics of running a small business. Attend seminars, take classes, and learn all you can about the art and science of plant production.
  • Basics of starting a plant nursery: Where will your nursery be located? Successful nurseries are usually located in convenient areas where people can stop on their way home from work, often near urban areas. Be sure there is adequate space, a dependable source of water, an available labor source, and access to transportation. Consider possible competition from nearby nurseries.
  • Nursery business requirements: Investigate the requirements of plant nursery set up, such as state or local permits, licenses, or certificates. Talk to an attorney and a tax accountant. Consider zoning, labor relations, environmental issues, inspections, and taxes. Think through your goals, mission, and objectives. A business plan is nearly always required by lenders.
  • Money: Starting a nursery typically requires a substantial capital investment. Do you have money to start a business, or will you need loans? Are you buying an existing business, or are you starting from scratch? Will you need to construct buildings, greenhouses, or irrigation systems? Will you have cash flow to tide you over until the business begins to turn a profit?
Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.