There are many questions to answer when deciding whether or not to start a plant nursery. The most pertinent of these questions is: Are plant nurseries profitable?

If you’re considering starting your own plant nursery, this question is no doubt at the top of your mind.

The truth is that the profitability of a plant nursery depends on many factors like the type of plants you grow, the climate in your area, your ability to reach your target market, the marketing strategies you choose to pursue, etc.

In this article, we will review the top factors that affect the profitability (and therefore the viability) of a plant nursery business.

We hope that these can help you decide if starting a plant nursery is the right decision for you.

Read on!

When Are Plant Nurseries Profitable? (Top Factors Discussed)

The top factors that will affect a nursery’s ability to generate profits are:

  1. The Plants Grown and Sold
  2. The Climate in the Area
  3. Average time from Seed to Sale
  4. Ability to Reach the Target Market
  5. Marketing Strategies Pursued
  6. Pricing Strategies
  7. Operating Costs
  8. Sales of Ancillary Products

1. The Plants Grown and Sold

The type of plants you grow will have a significant impact on your profitability. Some types of plants are more popular than others and can therefore command higher prices.

More rare or unusual plants may be less in demand but could sell for a higher price per plant due to their rarity.

Also, plants that can be grown all year round, and therefore can be sold all year round, will obviously generate more revenue than those which can only be grown seasonally.

In general, native plants are a good choice as they are low maintenance and often in high demand. They are also plants that the local population will know how to grow and maintain.

Whatever plants you choose to grow, make sure you have a steady supply of them so that you can meet customer demand.

2. The Climate in the Area

The climate in your area will dictate what types of plants you can grow. If you live in an area with a temperate climate, you’ll have a wider variety of plants to choose from than if you live in a desert climate.

You’ll need to research the types of plants that do well in your area and choose ones that will be in demand by your target market.

Plants that are not typical for your region may still do well if you can provide the right growing conditions for them.

For example, if you live in an arid region but have access to water, you could grow plants that require more moisture than what is typically available in your area.

Of, course if you live in very cold weather, you can still grow tropical plants, you will just need to have a greenhouse. But your customers may not.

And so to maximize sales and profitability you are best served growing plants in your nursery that your customers will be able to grow in their own homes as well.

3. Average time from Seed to Sale

Your investment in a plant doesn’t bear fruit (pun intended!) until you’ve sold the plant to a customer.

So from the time you plant the seed or bulb or acquire a seedling, the plant is a part of your “inventory” and there is danger in holding inventory for too long because your money is tied up in it. This is money that you could otherwise use to invest in more plants, expand your nursery, or invest in marketing and advertising.

So the time it takes a plan to go from “seed to sale” has a critical impact on cash flow management and therefore on profitability.

4. Ability to Reach the Target Market

If you want to sell your plants, you need to be able to reach your target market. Alternatively, the target market needs to be able to reach you.

So, ask yourself – Are there many potential customers in your area? Do they have easy access to your nursery? Are you able to reach them through your marketing efforts?

Your ability to reach your target market will directly impact your revenue and therefore your profitability.

5. Marketing Strategies Pursued

Your marketing strategies will decide how many customers will walk into your nursery and how many will go elsewhere.

There are many ways you could market your plant nursery. You could have a website, distribute flyers in the local area, or even have a presence at local farmer’s markets.

You could also offer gardening classes or other events at your nursery to attract customers and get them interested in your plants.

You could run email marketing campaigns during the main planting seasons of spring and fall. You could offer discounts in the fall for those who order tulip bulbs in advance to plant them before the first frost. Similarly, you could offer discounts on Dahlia bulbs if ordered well in advance of the planting season in the spring.

With such marketing strategies, you could lock in customers early in the season before they go shopping around and you can bring in the much-needed cash flow earlier rather than later.

Such strategies will not just improve revenue because you will attract more customers but will also improve profitability as you will improve your business’s cash flows.

6. Pricing Strategies

Pricing matters because it will directly impact how much revenue you generate and therefore how profitable your business is. It also matters in the nursery business because many customers will simply buy the least expensive option.

So, you will need to find the right balance between pricing too high and pricing too low. If you price too high, you will miss out on potential customers who may go to a competing nursery that offers lower prices.

So scope out your competitors’ pricing and make sure that you have is competitive.

7. Operating Costs

Operating Costs have a direct impact on the profitability of all businesses.

So, make sure you carefully track all of your expenses so you know where your money is going. And, most of all, why!

Cut back on expenses you do not need. Always look for ways to run your nursery more efficiently.

And don’t forget to negotiate better prices with your suppliers. Sometimes this is the easiest way to get your operating costs under control.

8. Sales of Ancillary Products

When a customer walks into your nursery to buy a plant, remember they are in “buying mode” and are often very open to buying other products that aren’t plants but which can complement their plant purchase.

These ancillary products can include potting soil, fertilizer, gardening tools, pots, and more. They can also include garden decorations like birdhouses, birdbaths, wind chimes, and even garden furniture like sofas, benches, and tables.

The great thing about selling these ancillary products is that many of them have a high margin so they can really boost your profitability.

So, if you have a well-stocked nursery with these complementary products, you can make a substantial amount of additional revenue – and profit – from each customer who walks in through your door.


In conclusion, a nursery can definitely be a profitable business if it is managed well. The key factors that will impact your profitability include the cost of goods sold, operating costs, pricing strategies, marketing efforts, and sales of ancillary products.

If you can keep these factors under control and run your business efficiently, then there is no reason why your nursery should not become a success.

Just remember, that it takes time for a nursery to start from zero and reach any point of success. You need time to acquire the land, construct the stores, acquire plants, grow plants, build a name, build a brand, etc.

So, a plant nursery business is not a get-rich-quick scheme but with patience and diligence, it can be a very rewarding business.