All Things Gardening forum: How can I start a small scale gardening business?

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Mar 13, 2017 1:53 PM CST
I'm not satisfied working for other garden shops, and the pay isn't enough for what I need not to mention I'm not doing what I enjoy.

I like growing plants, especially odd and rare ones, not large scale plants most garden centers sell in bulk although if I need to can sell them.

My issues are I don't have room for a large greenhouse to grow what I need. Without that I'd be out of job come the cold weather.
My other problem is through many seeds and plants I gave away and advertised locally, only one person was willing to pay me anything, nobody was interested in buying from someone without an official business, I was told this to my face. They wanted things for free, and I've asked dozens of people to put a word in to friends and family if they are interested in having me grow some plants they want and sell to them, nobody ever contacts me. Yet they praised my work and were eager to take plants for free. I don't think they take me seriously enough to get me far enough to call it a job.

I'd like to work solo if that's possible unless I could hire an assistant, and I don't know if I need a license to sell for money, like if I advertised on Facebook does that make it something off the books?

I don't know much about starting a small buisness but I know what I want to do, it's getting there I find a challenge.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 13, 2017 2:25 PM CST
Check out Etsy.com. Put "live plants" in the search line.
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Phenolic
Mar 13, 2017 5:40 PM CST
keithp2012 said:nobody was interested in buying from someone without an official business, I was told this to my face. They wanted things for free, and I've asked dozens of people to put a word in to friends and family if they are interested in having me grow some plants they want and sell to them, nobody ever contacts me. Yet they praised my work and were eager to take plants for free. I don't think they take me seriously enough to get me far enough to call it a job.


You should stop giving away plants for free! You're conditioning people to expect freebies. And no offence, but they sound like the kind of people who would exploit new artists and young professionals by trying to convince them to work for free "for the exposure".

DaisyI said:Check out Etsy.com. Put "live plants" in the search line.


I agree with Daisyl. The internet might be a good place to start, since you won't need to invest money into a physical storefront. There's quite a few hobbyists in my city who earn money by selling plants and seeds online. Edit: You would also be able to reach a larger market by selling online.

A stand at farmer's market, seasonal market or outdoor market might also work, and would negate the whole "no official business" thing.
[Last edited by Phenolic - Mar 13, 2017 5:44 PM (+)]
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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Mar 13, 2017 5:58 PM CST
Agreed on the online business. I haven't tried Etsy ( may have to look into it ) but have bought and sold on ebay with no problems. The low overhead is great but I do think it would take a while to get established to make enough to actually live off of... Good luck at following your dreams.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Mar 19, 2017 12:20 AM CST

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You would have to check the state to state shipping rules if you have an online business. Some states have very strict rules about what they allow, licensed nurseries need inspection certificates to cross some state lines.
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
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Calif_Sue
Mar 19, 2017 12:23 AM CST

Plants Admin

As mentioned, a farmer's market is good, maybe a local flea market, set up groupings of plants, print out nice signs with photo, descriptions and care info.
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 19, 2017 4:12 PM CST
I have a plant friend. He grows tons of plants in his backyard. When he has enough plants he puts a very small sign at the corner of his street..."plants for sale"...similar to what people put for yard sales. Folks stop by, chat for a while, and give him money for plants. He never has to leave the yard. You could try that for a start so you can get an idea of what people like to buy. Thumbs up
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Mar 20, 2017 3:51 PM CST
greene said:I have a plant friend. He grows tons of plants in his backyard. When he has enough plants he puts a very small sign at the corner of his street..."plants for sale"...similar to what people put for yard sales. Folks stop by, chat for a while, and give him money for plants. He never has to leave the yard. You could try that for a start so you can get an idea of what people like to buy. Thumbs up


I've tried that and nobody stopped by, I need to expand further.
Name: Carol Roberts
Huntington Beach, CA (Zone 10b)
Sunset 24
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CarolHB
Mar 20, 2017 4:03 PM CST
If you sell at a farmer's market or other public location you'll need a business license, and maybe insurance. Your local city council may have a department that could help you with that. Also, the Small Business Administration has that advice agency for new businesses, but I can't remember the name of it right now. They get you a personal counsellor for your type of business. You need to make it clear that there are no more freebies - growing and selling is a business, not a charity. So you will also probably have to sell in locations away from the places you've been giving it away, which makes trying one of the public markets, or on-line locations a good idea.
Can't complain too loud about how the ball bounces when I'm the one who dropped it.
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Mar 20, 2017 4:16 PM CST
Keith, you've gotten some very good suggestions here. Selling plants on Etsy and Ebay does work. I've bought a lot of them! Farmer's Markets in my area always have a lot of plants. You'll have to check the business laws for your state to see what you'd need to do. I think you could be very successful if you end up doing this. Great idea! That's what I'd do if I were your age now.
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 20, 2017 4:21 PM CST
keithp2012 said:

I've tried that and nobody stopped by....

For how many months did you try? Keep trying. It takes a while for folks to figure out that you have plants to sell. Then it has to be a time when people have money; usually the first two weeks of the month are the best time to catch people with spare money.



Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Sempervivums
Salvias Garden Art Plumerias Bookworm Hibiscus Houseplants
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plantmanager
Mar 20, 2017 5:37 PM CST
Good thought, Greene. Once they stop by, the plant lovers will remember you and stop by often.
Are you in a city environment, or rural? If you're in a city, all of your packages could be picked up by the postman if you print your postage online and leave your packages out for them. Taking packages daily to the post office might be hard unless your parents are willing to help out.
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Mar 21, 2017 1:19 AM CST
Keithp2012 I think you will need a legal advisor, a business advisor. land, and some employees you can pay. Starting a business is lots of trouble and fraught with legal problems.

The first thing you need is a detailed business plan. And even THAT takes some research. I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but most businesses fail in the 1st year from lack of planning. A few years of careful planning with help might help you more than one year of hard personal work.
[Last edited by Yardenman - Mar 21, 2017 11:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Jai or Jack
Pennsylvania (Zone 6a)
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Jai_Ganesha
Mar 21, 2017 2:00 AM CST
Yes, you definitely need a lawyer's input. There are lots of things that would never enter your mind that you want to know about beforehand--such as liability. If you sell somebody a plant and their dog chokes on it, you could be held liable and lose everything. That is an extreme example but I have seen it happen before to people who decide to start selling things and don't consider the insurance/legal/liability issues beforehand.
Keep going.
[Last edited by Jai_Ganesha - Mar 21, 2017 2:15 AM (+)]
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Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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SunnyBorders
Mar 21, 2017 10:16 AM CST
I'd say that the most important thing needed is customers. Hence, is there enough of a demand?

I certainly agree that non-gardeners who want expert gardening services often want them on the cheap. Re my personal main interest/involvement, in installing and maintaining perennial gardens, many potential customers really do seem to expect that any herbaceous perennial, once planted, will last for years with no subsequent care. Still the same people may also expect that a tree or shrub will never need any attention once planted.

In my case, what I've done is very labour intensive and that gave me a small opening to do what garden/property maintenance companies could not afford to do. Still the business, started later in life, was never intended to be a main source of income.

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