The Secret to Start Your Own Plant Nursery

Hey, it's Jason from Fraser Valley Rose Farm

Well, I think anytime you put "secret" in the title of one of your videos you owe it to your audience to right away

Explain what you mean - lest you be accused of clickbait. So here goes the secret to running your own nursery:

You don't make any money

Propagating plants and you don't make any money growing plants. You only make money

Selling plants and now that may sound really obvious to you

But if so, how do we lose the plot so often? It's the number one reason why small nurseries fail

It's the number one reason that large nurseries fail. We get lots of plants on the ground

we propagate lots of stuff and

Then we don't have the customer base to support it and I can see how it happens

You can see a video with a guy like me

Promoting how to propagate roses and I could talk about growing a thousand or two thousand roses

You could see somebody walking around his garden and saying I could put 50 of those in the ground

I could put 50 of those in the ground and each one of those I could sell for $5 and

You don't finish the sentence you're doing the math in your head going well that's $250 over there. That's $250 over there

You have to finish the sentence finish that sentence is: "if and when you sell the plants", right?

so that's the thing you have to keep in mind is that the tough part of the nursery business is

Selling. You could become the best propagator in the world

You could become the best at making divisions and cuttings

And if you focus only on that, it's probably the easiest way for you to go out of business

So I'm going to talk today a little bit about four different methods that I've explored in how to sell nursery production

From my own backyard nursery from my own small-scale backyard nursery and I'll take you through those now

one of the very first things I tried when trying to market my plants was to take them to the farmers market and this goes

way back to the days when I was just propagating a few trays of plants in my backyard garden in a suburban neighborhood

It's really an adoptable way and quite scalable for the small grower now

It doesn't have to be the farmers market since then. I've expanded my horizons a little bit

I go to flea markets I go to plant sales

dedicated regional plant sales

I sometimes go to garden clubs and they invite me over to speak and I set up my plants to sell

so picking up your plants and taking them someplace to sell them is a great way to get into the business in a way that

Doesn't require a lot of upfront investment. You really have to have a tent

Table some table cloths maybe a cash box and it does help to have some good signage. I made a whole video on

Presenting at the farmers market. I'll link that on the top right hand side of your screen

But honestly the most valuable thing about it and I won't go into every detail

but the most valuable thing is

That you get that direct customer feedback when you're first starting out and if you're a gardener

You probably have some good idea of what customers will want

But there's nothing like that direct customer feedback when you produce

Plants you get them to a certain stage you put them on the table and as people walk by

What catches their eye what they want to talk about what they actually buy will guide your production decisions

Ongoing and I've found that even now that I sell some plants wholesale or sell some plants online

That those initial conversations I had with customers really gave me an idea of what's hot what's sexy with customers. And so

Fantastic for customer feedback easy way to get into the business can't recommend it enough

the second method of marketing my plants that I want to talk about is

selling them wholesale that is taking a large amount of plants and

selling them on to another grower or to a garden center or somebody else who's going to take on the task of potting them up and

Individually trying to sell them which can take a lot of your time

So the disadvantages you typically have to accept a lower margin on things that you grow in bulk for somebody else

They want to be able to make some money - and that's fine. The upside

Is that in one order you can cover off three or four hundred dollars

And in this case if I have five or six wholesale customers that's you know, two thousand three thousand dollars

I don't have to make up someplace else. So wholesale growing is fantastic

And really the only thing is it's awkward like you have to go to garden centers

You have to go to other growers and you say: where do you get your plants? Can I grow something for you?

So it takes a sales task that sometimes can be a little uncomfortable

But long-term you can get those contracts to roll over a year after year

You can get great benefit in your business the third option

I want to talk about today is setting up a plant sale at your location

Which you might at first think is great because people will be coming directly to you

You don't have to pack up or go anywhere

But I assure you that the amount of work involved in setting up your place for business

Equals or exceeds that of going to a plant sale staffing it sitting around for that period of time

Can be a problem as well

So if you're going to do it, I'd suggest start small try just a few open hours on a Saturday or a Sunday

Or just one plant sale a year and see how it goes for you. I did set up a video on

Running a plant sale from your own property. So I'll link that to the upper right-hand corner of the of the screen and

Yeah, I mean it go it can go really well. It can be a very lucrative day

But there's a lot of work involved in doing it that way and trying to set up full-scale retail

Full-time is an undertaking of itself, which I haven't tried myself. So

Maybe if you do you can let me know how it goes for you

The last tool I'd like you to consider is selling your plants online and it could look very different depending on how you do

It so one way that I've tried is by selling as a mail-order. I put them onto my website

I have specialty roses and to get access to a larger market of customers who want to buy those specialty roses

I've been selling them across Canada through mail order. I did that this spring and it turned out ok

I have a feeling that if you're watching this from the states that you have an advantage in this regard because you have a postal

Service and some competing postal services that will make your shipping rates much much more attractive in Canada here

It is brutal. But in any case it proved to be an interesting way to bring in some extra revenue

I could sell small plants at a good price and

I could reach the demand of all the customers across a

Nation rather than just reaching the people who happen to show up at the farmers market that day another way

You can go about selling online and I want to talk about a friend of mine named Mark who does a great job

Selling his plants through Craigslist and Facebook marketplaces and all he does

Is: a couple times a week three times a week he puts up a really attractive

Ad in one of these forums and from there

He books appointments and he doesn't have to sit around as a retail location

Open the gates and let people wander in as they as they will and therefore waste a lot of time waiting around

He makes appointments. He gives them a cellphone number and when they're there they give him a call

He opens the gate that come in they buy their plants and that way he is very efficient for his time

Which is important for you, if you're running backyard nursery. I hope that this has been interesting to you

I want to you know pound into your head that before you

Get swept away on the promise of fast profits from you know, throw a few sticks in the ground

You'll get lots of money from those that you spend at least equal amount of time thinking about how you're gonna sell those

What your market looks like and get that market feedback before you proceed too far into the business

It might tell you that you're growing something differently than you should be