First Steps to Start a Plant Nursery

Hi again it's Jason from Fraser Valley Rose Farm

and today i want to answer the question of what are the first steps you should

take if you're setting up a nursery a plant

nursery all of your own should you start by

buying a piece of land and setting up a couple of greenhouses

should you then fill them with a bunch of plants or maybe you should start with

a retail end and set up a little shop or store of your own

or you could start with the branding set up a great

nursery name and set up a website and get business cards

and in my view the first steps you should take are much smaller

and much more mundane than those and i'll put up a list on the screen right

now of those that i would recommend you

start with to set up your own plant nursery

and i'll also put time stamps on these so you know where in the video to skip

to if one of these topics appeal to you more than the others

the first step in my opinion is to get your hands on some plants

or plant related product and begin selling them at a smaller scale

now you'll notice when i said that i didn't say that you had to grow the

plants and you certainly don't have to have

a greenhouse full of them what are your other options well you don't if you

don't have to grow them you can look at things like wholesale

growers other wholesale growers in your area or

brokers or you can buy in some bulbs and start them that way

so you don't have to grow these things from beginning to end

and it's important that you begin to test the market now

if you do happen to have some plants of your own if you have a house full of

house plants that you've taken divisions of

if you have some garden plants that you can divide that's a valid way to start

too but the point here is not to wait until you have a giant assortment of

plants and try to grow and fill a whole assortment and

selection of plants you really do need a way to test that

market first so even if it's just a matter

of getting some cuttings and listing them on craigslist or facebook and start

selling them that way or getting some bulbs from a supplier

putting them in some pots in early spring

growing them into color and showing up at your farmer's market in a backyard

gardener table it's as easy as that i mean my first

foray into into growing really was a tray of alpine strawberries that i

grew and i put them on craigslist humble

beginnings but i have it on good authority that one of the biggest

flower growers in ontario started with a crate of bulbs

from holland and one of the biggest growers in california

started with a mom and pop operation growing plants in their backyard and

taking them out and selling them from the back of a truck

so humble beginnings but the first thing is

that you have to get used to trying to sell plants

before you invest a whole lot more into trying to grow them

step number two that i'm going to talk about can sound a little intimidating i

get some questions around this and so i want to talk about it in a

little bit of depth sorry it's going to make the video go long

but it's about regulations now i don't make the rules i just have to follow

them and all i'm encouraging you to do with

this step is to assess your local state and federal laws as they apply to

our trade so that you don't trip over them later

as you grow your business it's true that at early stages as you're

doing it in a small scale there's not that much that applies to

you so if you start a whole bunch of seedlings in your backyard

you end up selling them at a plant sale or farmer's market

you know there's really not that much in terms of regulations that apply to you

if you took some divisions of house plants and you end up selling those

through again facebook facebook or craigslist and

selling them locally to to buyers again there's not that much that applies to

you but again as soon as you start shipping

your plants across state lines now you have some restrictions that are

related to phytosanitary matter so the the risk that you could move a pest

from one jurisdiction to another and in that case you may be dealing with

usda regulations or state regulations around the movements of plants

so those are the kinds of things you have to keep in mind do you need a

business license okay in my case i have a small to medium

sized nursery i don't require a business license

in my area where i live in an unincorporated area

and in canada in under our laws if you do farm gate sales if you sell

off of your own farm you don't require permission of your

municipality to go ahead and do that if you're on agricultural land

but if you're in a city your situation may be different if you

tried to set up a booth or a stand or a front yard nursery

in a city you may have to get a business license for that or there may be zoning

requirements that you have to attend to so that's one area that you may have to

think about a little bit certainly you should expect that any

time that you earn some money through a business like this that you

have reporting requirements related to taxes that would be the same

for any small business so you just have to think about that

part as well in addition to that and the only other group of regulations that i

want to talk about just briefly here is around your right to propagate plants

so just in a nutshell if you grow something from seed you have

the right to propagate that no problem that's called sexual

propagation taking it from a seed if you try to do asexual propagation of

plants so you find something in a garden center

you'd like to sell it you want to divide it or take cuttings

in that case if you're running as a nursery you probably should familiarize

yourself with the laws around asexual propagation patents on

plants and so on again i don't make the rules i'm just

trying hard to follow them and not ruin my reputation in the industry

so in that case i do have a video that talks about the use of patents

in implants and i'll link that one up above so you can have a slightly more

detailed discussion on that but as i say as you move your your business along

just start to keep in mind those things that could apply to you

either at the local state or federal level

about the growing and selling of plants and i'll leave it at that

step number three or at least as i have them is to learn to grow and propagate

plants and a lot of people would have this down

as step number one and that's okay if you want to start here and work

backwards a little bit but ultimately the point is that

eventually you have to get good at growing and propagating plants

and it helps in this case that if you're a bit of a plant geek like

here i'm doing a bit of an experiment on propagating

under lights using water as a way to root or

using soil as a way to root i also obviously do my main propagation out in

the greenhouse but i'm using these humidity domes

as kind of a cool way to experiment like i say it benefits you a little bit if

you like to play with plants so learning how to propagate plants grow

plants well it's a process it's going to take you

some time but it's an important stage to master if you

want to run your own backyard nursery the fourth step i'm going to recommend

here has a lot to do with marketing or more specifically

social media marketing because it is one of those rare areas

in the industry where you are going to have an upper hand versus larger

competitors the reason for that is because in social

media instagram youtube on facebook people connect with others

who have similar interests to theirs and who show off as genuine about that

interest that's kind of hard to do and hard to

display as a larger competitor a big corporate face

now they may have the upper hand when it comes to newspaper advertising

tv advertising radio glossy magazine ads and so on

okay that's fine but i don't think that marketing is really going anywhere

as an individual you can go out on instagram put out some pictures of your

of your of your business and connect with others who share that

passion and that's where it really is at now in my

example i went ahead and i did instagram and i had some success there i found

that the best place for me to connect in a more meaningful way was on youtube

now obviously part of why i'm doing that is because i

love talking about roses i love connecting

with other gardeners about roses but the other part is because i wanted to

promote my business and it's been working you in in recent

days it's been easier for people to get people to show up to my plant

selling events it's been easier to sell online

so this year particularly with with a lot of what was happening with covet and

having to sell curbside at my farm i honestly think it

was my youtube presence that helped me to survive through that

as a business so it the sooner you can establish some kind of

meaningful social media presence the better i

did make a video on time talking about connecting with garden

clubs connecting with social media i will link that above as well if you

want a more in-depth talk on the topic but the main thing is to just get

started in one way or another the fifth thing you should do and it's

not a sexy topic so i won't spend a lot of time on it

but it's keeping records you should have a spreadsheet with your production

numbers what you've put into pots and you should keep some records of how

you've sold this here would represent an early

version of my production records these are just the plant tags that i

used to sell them at the farmer's market and on the back i've made some notes

about how it turned out in this case of course i had my sales by

week and then i also recorded when i had it sold out

same for this one here which was sold a bit earlier in the season and were

ready early but i have noted down here that by week

20 they were in poor condition i'm using botanical

weeks here or just calendar weeks to record it because then

i compare it from year to year so i can plan when i'm

going to have these ready for the next time

so i won't spend too much time on that but i think it's important

that at least at some basic level that you're keeping records

of how much you're producing and how much you're selling

final topic for the video today is securing supplies for your business and

there's no getting around it no matter what size you're trying to run

your business you're going to have to find a place where you're going to get

your soil where you're going to pick up your plastic

where you grab your fertilizer and some of that unfortunately i can't help you

with very specifically i can tell you where

i got it but i can't tell you where to get it locally in your area except

beyond general advice and tips so the soil that i'm using that you see in the

pile back here is based on wood products it's a

composted bark mix mixed with some shredded wood fibers

it's mixed by a local potting soil producer so it's somebody

who custom mixes this based on our local horticulture industry

the problem with that answer is that of course i can't tell you who's

going to be offering a wood-based product in

surrey england it's not something that i can tell you or even whether it's such a

product is available there i can tell you that pete and perlite

based mixes are widely available in north america so

something like sunshine mix pro-mix i think berger

makes a mix so there are suppliers that will offer

those in the compressed bales and deliver them even in

in tall compressed bales to remote locations so that's something that's

possible but wherever you can it's always going

to work out to be more advantageous to get a local supplier

of potting soil you may want to go and check your other local nurseries and see

what they're doing for that while you're there

ask about plastic because some people use smaller sizes

some people use larger sizes i know that my local

blueberry producers they get their plants in and this size and they end up

with a giant stack of them so i'm able to pick these up from blueberry guys

from between 5 and 10 cents a pot which is

a great savings over what i would spend if i got those from

the horticulture supply store speaking of the horticulture supply store

you may have a dedicated horticulture supplier in your area or you may have to

go through something more general like a feed store

agriculture store so unfortunately in these cases i'm not going to be much use

to you in terms of giving you specific

recommendations only that very likely the best piece of advice i

can give you is to talk to other local growers

and try to share some information that way they'll know where they're getting

their soil where they're getting their plastic

where they pick up their fertilizer and they may be able to help you out with

that okay those are that's it for my six

steps to starting your own nursery business i hope you

found it helpful if you have questions i've been through this at least in my

specific area so i may be able to help you out with that

leave those in the comments below the video