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How to Start Your Own Backyard Nursery

Jana is a frugal DIY addict who is always testing fitness and work-from-home ideas as well as natural health tips for both humans and pets.


Anyone Can Do It

There is an army of gardening enthusiasts in every neighbourhood. However, not everyone takes their foilage-and-flowers passion to the next level. Some are content to nurture their gardens and play the role of buyer. Others would love to sell something, but don't know if they have the time, finances or knowledge to run a nursery.

Here's the happy news - you don't need seven diplomas in agriculture to run a successful plant business. Everything you need to learn can be had from gardening articles (the Internet is an inexhaustible source) and, of course, experience.

Tough Competition

A backyard nursery can be started from scratch without any major equipment or training. That makes the idea attractive to many entrepreneurs.

But to keep your feet (and hopes) firmly on the ground, there are two things to stay mindful of. Selling plants brings tough competition. It's a saturated market. Secondly, most commercial plant nurseries already have their own suppliers. Sometimes, they buy from private individuals but most businesses prefer sources like farms and other mass-production sites.

So, how do you beat the big players? Read on!

The Iceberg rose remains a top seller.

The Iceberg rose remains a top seller.

Don't Grow Everything

A common mistake many startup nurseries make is to grow anything and everything. Remember, quantity does not equal sales. What drives sales is customer need.

Ask yourself - what do plant lovers want? This might require some research on your side and a small investment to get the initial plants (which might not be cheap, otherwise they won't be so sought after!). You must also take the "unpaid" time to learn how to take care of them and how to propagate your plants.

Success Grows as a Side Dish

Too often, new business owners get discouraged because they want plenty of sales on the first day. That's not going to happen. It takes time to mature plants to the point where customers love what they see. More sales will follow if you offer bigger and older specimens as opposed to seedlings and sprouting cuttings!

Allow your nursery to bloom on the side. In other words, make it a side hustle and see where it takes you. One day, it might just become a major source of income for you.

Where Do I Start?

Do your research and do it well. Keep searching until you identify the true sellers. These can vary from state or country. For example, that candy-stripe rose may be popular in Guatemala but in Texas, nobody really cares for it. You get the idea!

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Once you know which species will open a stranger's wallet, learn everything you can about the care these plants require to thrive and multiply.


  1. Identify the sellers.
  2. Study these plants.
  3. Focus on propagation, care, and disease control.
  4. Find a suitable place to keep your plants.

The Financial Side

Don't forget to keep records of spending and earnings. Also, at the beginning of your new venture, you can also expect to fold most earnings back into the business. Eventually, the profit will be enough to supplement your main income.

Think Beyond Plants

These coconut rabbits are a great example of unique garden decorations.

These coconut rabbits are a great example of unique garden decorations.

Brown Thumbs Are Good Too

Do you love everything about gardening or the idea of owning a nursery, yet every plant you touch shrivels? Never fear! One of the most lucrative niches in this business is...? Gardening accessories.

The list is endless - birdbaths and feeders, those creepy gnomes, decorations, pots, tools, fencing, seeds, and more. Selling items instead of plants have additional benefits. They don't need to be watered, checked for pests and can be mailed.

How to Sell

Commercial Nurseries

Approach commercial nurseries with realistic expectations. But if you believe that you have a good product, why not give them a try? The reason why an email could better your chances is the fact that you get to present your business well. You can explain who you are, what you offer and even include photos.

The Public

If you decide to sell directly to the public, there are many options available to draw attention to your nursery. Depending on your budget, you can advertise in gardening magazines, online sites or the local farmers market. You can also sell directly from home but if you decide to hand out your address - stay safe. Never be alone when you invite a stranger over to your house.

Forget The Naysayers

In the end, the biggest obstacle might not be financial or getting customers, but negativity from people you don't even know. Sure, if the month's grocery money is used to buy stock plants, one can understand why your significant other might get crabby!

But you will face commercial nurseries that shoot you down a supplier. Every home nursery experiences this at least once. More importantly, many online articles about starting a nursery will include terrific negativity and explain many people fail at this business. Ignore it and do your best.

A home nursery will ripen when the time is ready, even if it takes a year. Patience. Persistence. That's all you need.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit

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