If you’re even remotely green-fingered, you undoubtedly make trips to your local garden center when it’s time to pick up some plants.
However, you may not know that garden centers grow a relatively small percentage of their stock on site.
That’s right; most garden centers buy their plants from external sources, and those sources are usually planted nurseries.
What is a plant nursery and how does it work? It’s a pretty fascinating topic for anyone interested in horticulture.
Here, you’ll discover how a plant nursery could be helpful to the development of your garden projects.
By the end, you might actually consider the potential of your own plant nursery. Trust me, it could make for an excellent side business!
Table of Contents
What is a Plant Nursery?
A plant nursery is a place dedicated to the propagation and growth of all different kinds of plants. It’s a space reserved for the cultivation of plants which can then be sold on when they reach the right size.
Essentially, plants are grown here to be transported and transplanted elsewhere. Of course, some cuttings are kept by the nursery.
These are used to grow more plants in the future. This is how a plant nursery becomes a sustainable business.
Plant nurseries can be incredibly helpful for gardeners. Having a reliable source of healthy plants nearby is a brilliant start for a gardening project, after all.
Plant nurseries come in all shapes and sizes too. Some are small — run out of people’s back gardens — and others are huge, supplying retail chains on a national basis.
There are also different kinds of plant nurseries: retail, wholesale, and private.
What are the Different Types of Plant Nursery?
Retail nurseries sell to the general public. If you’re looking to visit a nursery and buy plants for your garden, this is the kind of nursery you need.
Wholesale nurseries, on the other hand, sell to other businesses directly. These are the nurseries that your local garden center is likely to buy from.
The smallest scale of the nursery is a private one. Private nurseries supply plants exclusively to institutions or private estates.
Like businesses in other industries, plant nurseries can have specializations. This marked focus gives them a unique selling point.
When they do have a specialization, it tends to be in one particular part of the process or in one kind of plant.
A wholesale nursery may have a relationship with commercial forestry, for example, so they’d focus on growing timber trees.
The plant nursery industry is so diverse because there are different types designed for specific kinds of clients, addressing their distinct needs.
Whether you’re a casual gardener or the owner of a multinational corporation that’s looking to stock its garden section, you could benefit from the services of a plant nursery.
What Does a Plant Nursery Do?
At a plant nursery, you can expect to find trees, shrubs, and bulb crops for sale. A variety of ornamental plants are sold there, so you’ll have plenty of garden inspiration.
You may end up buying more than you’d planned for! Maybe you’re hoping to live off your land a little by growing food at home.
At a plant nursery, you should be able to find fruit plants and even some home garden vegetables to start you off.
Imagine how impressed your friends will be when you show them your homegrown ingredients!
Gardening is one hobby that’s subject to weather conditions. If you’re currently going through a very cold season, you may consider importing plants from plant nurseries in locations that are enjoying a warmer climate.
This brings you more plant options than would be available through natural means.
At a plant nursery, you may see plants being grown in a greenhouse. Greenhouses help plants grow throughout the year, regardless of the weather conditions outside.
However, it’s more common for a plant nursery to contain both shaded and exposed external areas designed to support plant growth.
In areas where native plant life has struggled to survive, plant nurseries play an important role.
They can help to restore the natural ecology of the area by propagating different plant species. To start the growth of a plant, seeds or cuttings may be used.
Plants are often grown in transportable containers that make it easy for them to be moved to a new location — like your back garden!
That’s when you replant them and give them their forever home.
How Does a Plant Nursery Work?
Plant nurseries are designed to facilitate the healthy growth of a wide range of plant types.
How the plant nursery looks depends on the type of plant grown. A plant nursery might look like an open field, a container field, a greenhouse, or even a tunnel!
What matters is that the environment should be ideal in terms of ventilation, sunlight, and ground conditions.
Plant cuttings and seeds are used to stimulate growth, and the results are sold on to clients of all kinds — domestic and commercial.
At a nursery, plants are often exposed to specific treatments that help them last longer.
These treatments could include root pruning or fertilization with potassium, and they make plants more likely to survive the relocation and replanting process.
Workers at a plant nursery have an in-depth understanding of the optimum conditions required to grow healthy and resilient plants successfully.
If you go to a plant nursery, they are the people who can provide expert gardening advice.
What’s it Like to Work in a Plant Nursery?
Are you considering a career as a plant nursery worker? It’s definitely a job for an outdoorsy person since you’ll spend most of your time outside or in a greenhouse.
A plant nursery worker has a very physical job — typical duties include planting, growing, watering, transplanting, pruning, and nurturing different kinds of greenery.
Naturally, this requires a lot of expert knowledge. They are the ones that monitor the growth process of the plants, observing small changes and making recommendations for improvement.
For that reason, attention to detail and patience are necessary personal qualities.
If you’re struggling to find work as a plant nursery worker, why not try tree farms?
They frequently recruit new workers, so you may find a great opportunity.
On a tree farm, the workers are responsible for following schedules with regard to the planting and cultivating of trees and shrubs. In practical terms, that means they must first prepare the ground and plant the seeds. Then it’s a waiting game!
Once the trees start to grow, it’s time to prune, weed, and water them. It’s exhausting but rewarding work for someone who feels at home in nature.
Just like in your garden, plants in a nursery face a range of natural threats: insects, rodents, birds, weeds, diseases…. all of the above!
At a nursery, the workers are the ones responsible for implementing measures that will protect the plants.
Bear that in mind if you’re pursuing a plant nursery position: it’s likely that you’ll have to handle pesticides, which might put you off.
However, for someone that loves plants, supporting them to thrive is bound to bring a great deal of work satisfaction.
Remember, though, you can’t get too attached to the plants! Why?
Because they’ll soon be dug up, tied, wrapped, and packaged for their new owner.
That’s the whole point of a plant nursery, and plant nursery workers handle that part of the process too. They have an important job.
How Can I Find a Great Plant Nursery Near Me?
When you’re trying to choose the best plant nursery to visit, consider the following factors:
- Do they have a list of their products online? If so, do they specialize in the type of plants I’m looking for?
- Are there any reviews online that comment on the quality of their customer service?
- Could I call them up first and ask some questions to gauge the level of their knowledge?
If they have an attractive range of plants available, genuine customer testimonials that suggest they’re dependable, and they are willing to discuss the plants with you in detail, that suggests that the plant nursery is high quality.
It could be worth a visit when you’re planning your next gardening project!
Could I Start My Own Plant Nursery?
Keen gardeners might not just be planning to visit a plant nursery — they may even be planning to start their own! It’s not a bad business idea.
Some of the big corporate plant nurseries that supply to huge chains today began with at-home operations. There are serious advantages to being a plant nursery owner.
For a start, you’ll get access to attractive wholesale prices.
Although you’ll have to make an investment in the first plants of your nursery to get your business going, you’ll soon be able to grow more independently using cuttings or root division.
At that stage, the profit margin for a plant nursery is pretty impressive. It’s a lot of hard work, of course, but maybe you could eventually make money grow on trees!