Plant Nursery Set Up – Tips For Starting A Plant Nursery

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

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?

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How To Start Your Own Nursery

A nursery business often begins as a passing comment or a joke with friends and family about wanting to start your own nursery. This was the case for Peter Clay, who went out for a curry with Crocus co-director Mark Fane, and mapped out a business plan on a table cloth. ‘I was desperate for a change of career,’ says the former advertising executive. ‘It was Mark’s idea to use the internet as a way of tailoring information and choice, and I wanted to make decorating an outside room easy.’ Their aim was, and still is, to provide amateur gardeners with the same palette of plants as top designers (

Luckily, Mark was sitting on a goldmine. He used to work at Waterers Landscape in Surrey, where unused glasshouses and nursery space were available to takeover. The location was close to major motorways, making it ideal for distribution. Peter and Mark put their plan into action, and hoped for the best. ‘It took a total of nine months from fork to forklift,’ says Peter, ‘as well as launching the website.’ Then, in a stroke of either madness or genius, the duo decided to promote their new business by building a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show only seven weeks after they launched.

It was a different story for John Massey from Ashwood Nurseries in Staffordshire, who specialises in hellebores and hepaticas, among others ( He never planned to start a nursery it was a question of fate. ‘My father bought Ashwood more than 47 years ago, to keep his gardener in a job when my parents moved to a smaller house and garden.’ The gardener soon decided that nursery life wasn’t for him. It was agreed that John would work at the nursery for a year to improve it and sell on at a profit. ‘I left school on the Friday and started work on Saturday. Forty-six years later, I’m still at Ashwood, having fun.’ The nursery was originally just over two acres, but has expanded to 17 acres with a tearoom and gift shop, and employs 80 staff.

If you want to start your own nursery, it’s sensible to have an understanding of your industry. Viola specialists Laura Crowe and her partner Jack Willgoss from Wildgoose Nursery in Shropshire ( met as horticultural students at RHS Wisley. ‘We visited nurseries, listing what we liked and how we might try things differently,’ says Laura. They decided to specialise in violas, and took over the Bouts Violas collection established by Mark and Stephanie Roberts in the 1970s.

It’s not unheard of to have a second-job at the beginning of a venture. Rosy Hardy from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants in Hampshire ( is also trained in horticulture. ‘When we started out, we were doing contract-landscaping work as our main income,’ she says. She began by growing plants in her back garden to sell at car-boot sales. ‘I had a small greenhouse, which we used for seedlings, and the top of the freezer in the garage was used as a potting bench.’ Rosy has to date won 18 gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

One of the main issues faced by prospective nursery owners is financing. ‘If you can’t afford to pay for something, you can’t afford to borrow,’ advises John Massey. Whatever your capital and resources, a business course will be helpful before jumping in feet first. And there are set requirements to consider before you can start your own nursery. You need access to land where you are legally allowed to grow and sell plants. Many plants are covered by Plant Breeders’ Rights (a sort of copyright for plants) and some are considered a threat to UK habitats, as they are invasive. Take time to grow the plants to the quality you would be happy to purchase yourself. Will you open the nursery to the public? If so, you may need permission from the local council, as well as planning permission for any structures like polytunnels.

Promotion is another challenge. Crocus may have jumped in at the deep end at Chelsea, but you can think lower key. John Massey advertised in local newspapers and created displays at horticultural shows. Rosy Hardy preferred to personally charm visiting customers and hand out leaflets.

All of these successful nursery owners stress that to make it work you must love plants, and not expect to make lots of money. You’ll also need to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this? Offer something people can’t get elsewhere.

Plant Nursery Business Plan Sample Template

The plant nursery business is a very profitable one. It is one business that can offer you the exciting prospects of enjoying your agricultural works while making good returns in investments at the same time.

According to the Northwest Farm Credit Services’ website, the plant nurseries and greenhouse industry realised more than estimated sales revenue of $140 billion in the United States alone, in 2006.

If you have made up your mind on starting the plant nursery business, and are looking forward to writing a business plan, then it is important you pay attention to this plant nursery business plan sample so as to have an idea on how to write a good business plan for your plant nursery business.

Here is a sample business plan for starting a wholesale plant nursery.

BUSINESS NAME: Vivacious Nursery Ltd.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Our Products and Services
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Business Structure
  • Market Analysis
  • Sales Forecast
  • Sales and Marketing Strategy
  • Financial Plan
  • Conclusion


Vivacious Nursery is a plant nursery business that has fully fulfilled all the necessary legal obligations that are required to start the plant nursery business. The plant nursery will be located in Florida, United States, and it will be solely concerned with providing its products and services to its customers in the United States, and at the international level.

Vivacious Nursery will be owned by Mr. and Mrs. Coleman, whose experience in the industry will be beneficial to the success of the plant nursery business. In order to start up our plant nursery business, we have been able to determine our startup capital and the source of obtaining it.

Our startup capital will be obtained from three sources: from the owners’ contribution, from the owners’ friends and families, and from their banks.


Vivacious Nursery is a plant nursery business that will be concerned with offering a number of products and services to all its customers in the United States and around the world. We will particularly operate our plant nursery business from Florida, United States, and will fill the United States market with our products.

Also, we will make sure we expand into the global market and take our place. Aside providing our products and services in the United States, we will also provide our products and services to countries such as Mexico, and Canada and other countries.

The following are the products we will be offering to our customers.

  • Bedding Plants
  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Vegetable Plants
  • Garden Accessories such as stepping stones, fertilizers, garden tools, potting soil, fountains, etc.


At Vivacious Nursery, we are very optimistic and fixated on offering the very best products and services in the industry to our customers. We relish the prospect of offering the very best of our products and services to creating a visually pleasing setting. Our customers are very dear to us this is why we want to ensure we provide optimum customer satisfaction.


We have made our business vision very clear. Our vision in the plant nursery industry is to become the number one plant nursery all over the world. This may seem too huge because we are just a new plant nursery startup.

However, we have planned on starting gradually first from the United States, before taking the number one position in the world. We hope to achieve this business vision before our 10th anniversary.


We have been making efforts for more than two years now towards making the establishment of our plant nursery a success. The owners of Vivacious plant nursery are very keen to seeing this business manifest.

Considerable efforts have made towards ensuring that we set up our plant nursery business properly hence we will be concerned with recruiting only capable hands into the business. The following are the various positions that would be occupied in our business organization:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Accountant
  • Human Resource and Administrative Executive
  • Forest Nursery Workers
  • Marketing and Sales Manager
  • Greenhouse Worker
  • Security Personnel

Market Trend

A growing trend in the plant nursery industry is that most players in the industry are no longer contented with being concerned with just non-organic farming. A lot of them have started being involved in organic crop cultivation.

Also, the advancement in technology has started enabling farmers to be able to grow crops in increasing numbers where it was not possible before now.

Target Market

Our target market will be constituted by the following:

  • Landscape architects
  • Individuals and households (male and female)
  • Institutions


First Fiscal Year $700,000
Second Fiscal Year $1,200,000
Third Fiscal Year $3,500,000

The above sales projection has been generated having paid due attention to several factors in the industry. The sales projection clearly represents Vivacious Nursery’s sales forecast for the first three years into the business.


We have the vision of becoming the number one plant nursery business in the whole world. We will not be able to achieve this vision if we are unable to fully promote our brand and products and create more awareness. This is why we have consulted sales experts and come up with the following sales and marketing strategies:

  • The number one thing we will do after establishing our plant nursery business is to ensure we introduce our brand to the various groups that constitute our target market, and ensure we form good relationship with them.
  • We will not hesitate to place adverts on radio, TV, agriculture and business related magazines, etc.
  • We will take a step further by making sure we utilize the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc to the fullest.
  • We will ensure we station billboards in strategic locations in every city in the United States.

Source of startup Expenditure

We have been able to carry out a detailed study on the amount we will need to startup our plant nursery business. A total of $1,200,000 is what we will need to fully set up our plant nursery business in Florida, United States.

A third of the startup capital will be raised by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Warren Coleman. Another third will be secured by obtaining loans from the owners’ banks, while the final third will be sourced from both friends and families of the owners’.

Vivacious Nursery Plant is a plant nursery that will be owned by Mr and Mrs Coleman, and it will be situated in Florida, United States. The business will be providing its product and services to customers all over the United States and at the international market.

Starting a Plant Nursery Business

Are you looking for the best ways on how to start a plant nursery business with less worry about its operation and legality?

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For this reason we have gathered some useful information in starting a plant nursery base from the experts in the industry as well as more tips in managing this beneficial business venture.

Starting a Plant Nursery Business, a Productive Business in the Making

Starting a plant nursery business requires not only your business skills, you’re great passion about different varieties of plants is highly required. Most of the plant nursery entrepreneurs have finished a botanical course or have a degree in horticultural education. To explain further, this doesn’t mean that you have to enroll in a two-year program or a four-year course to be able to start a plant nursery business because there are other ways to gain knowledge in the same field. For example, your father is a good gardener and has shared some information in growing different plants then you can make use of his knowledge to adapt it into a productive business by starting your own plant nursery business even at your own garden. Other way is checking at your local community college for a short-time horticultural course that gives hands-on training to the said field of interest. There are also available books and hand-outs that can be useful in the business, and there are online forums in the internet that provides enough information about managing plant nurseries. All of the learning you can be gathered will be your great tool in starting a fruitful plant nursery business.

How to Start Your Own Plant Nursery Business

Every business starts with a business plan, therefore it should be on the top of your list to do. State in your business plan your objectives, the requirements, source of funding, and your marketing plans. With a well-prepared business plan it would be easy for you to manage your plant nursery business.

Since there are wide varieties of plants, your next concern will be the type of plants you will intend to grow and sell. Make a deep study about this matter and choose for the best varieties that are in-demand in the market. Then decide if you want to sell as a retailer or a wholesaler, which concerns a lot on the quantity of plants you need to facilitate to your customers so be careful on your decision. Another thing to consider is the site of your nursery plus the equipments you need in maintaining it. Please be reminded that every state has separate regulations about property zoning and issuing licenses for plant nurseries, so be prepared in meeting the requirements. Make it sure also that the place has sufficient source of water which is highly essential in growing your plants. Your plant nursery should also be outfitted with the necessary tools and equipments particularly your seedlings and their containers. If everything’s operational then it is now time to market your products and advertise your business to draw your potential buyers.

Rose Petal Nursery is dedicated to providing a quality choice for people looking for plant and garden supplies, as well as serving contractors who need a reliable source of products. Our start-up expenses come to $41,500 which includes the cost of the greenhouses ($38,000) and the cost of rent for the land ($1,000). The start-up costs will be financed entirely by Jim and Dan Forester.

We will offer a wide variety of plants, trees, vegetable plants, along with a selection of garden supplies. Most of the plants we sell will be grown in our greenhouses. With a convenient location Rose Petal Nursery intends to successfully market to the residential customer, as well as contractors and renters.

We would like to see a five to ten percent increase in our customer base each year. Our marketing strategy includes providing a knowledgeable staff, affordable prices, a great location, and top notch customer service.

Rose Petal Nursery has been the dream of owners Jim and Dan Forester for many years, and has been a project in the making for the last five years. Jim and Dan will manage all aspects of operations at Rose Petal Nursery. Dan will oversee the staff and be involved with the ordering of merchandise, while Jim will be responsible for the ordering of the garden supplies and tree stock, as well as the maintenance of the greenhouses.

Rose Petal aims to experience a growth rate of 20% in sales for the second year of operation and build upon that as the company grows. With creative marketing, and a quality choice of plants and garden supplies for our customers Rose Petal Nursery intends to make its presence known in the nursery community.

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1.1 Objectives

  1. Maintain an average gross margin at or above 50%.
  2. Generate an average of $1,000 of sales each business day of each month.
  3. Realize an annual growth rate of 10% in Year 2.

1.2 Mission

Rose Petal Nursery is dedicated to providing a wide variety of plants and trees in an aesthetic setting. Customer service is extremely important. We want each customer to have a pleasant shopping experience, and it is the intention of our staff to answer questions with expertise and to offer advice when we feel it is needed.

1.3 Keys to Success

The primary keys to success for the company will be based on the following factors:

  • Sell products of the highest quality with excellent customer service and support.
  • Retain customers to generate repeat purchases and make referrals.
  • Continue to expand daily sales by adding to the variety of plants we sell.
  • Communicate with our customers through creative advertising.

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For any business to succeed it is necessary that sufficient efforts are put into the business. There are many advantages of this business while there are many cons as well.

If your business is set well then your returns will be sufficient to your expectations. Businesses fail when you don’t get the market for supply and your product is not up to the mark. Sufficient knowledge for this business is essential for success.

Hire an expert on plant nursery to carry out the real job. There are many types of soil, various method of nursing that should be done for appropriate results. In the initial stage it would be advisable to go in retail small market and later grow with time. Lots of investment when fails to deliver result leads to loss.

Watch the video: Setting up a plant shop

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