Decide on the types of plants you want to specialize in and if you want it to be a year round business or just a part time business to bring in extra money during the spring. This will determine the types of plants you should grow. The area of the country you live in is a determining factor of how profitable your plant choice will be. If you live in Alaska, for example, growing large ultra tropical trees will not likely be profitable while growing them in southern Florida may be. Choosing to grow apple trees in Florida would not be as profitable as it would be in the northern states.
Some plants such as house plants and orchids would do well almost anywhere. There are orchid growers / collectors even in the very northern countries of the world.
You will need a business license and a nursery license for the state you live in. In the State of Washington all you need to do is to fill out the nursery and business license applications and pay your fees. You will need special forms if you plan on selling by mail. Other regulations you need to be aware of is the noxious weed list of your state. Some plants are legal in one state while illegal to sell in others because they are a noxious weed. Some plants it is illegal to sell, trade, or even transport – that includes purple loosestrife and kudzu. Many of these plants are not toxic but they take over the waterways or land.
You also need to determine if you can legally propagate the plants you want to grow. Anything legal plant from seed there is no problem. Some hybrids / cultivators are patented and it is illegal to proagate them without permission / license. Patended roses is one well known example.
Decide how you will sell these plants – mail order? wholesale to nurseries? Craigslist? or at farmers markets. If you are selling mail order you will need to get the authority through your state agriculture / nursery licensing. There is quite a bit of paperwork involved since they will need to know the list of plants you intend on selling and you will need to find out which states you cannot ship to. If you grow citrus, you cannot ship to CA, AZ, FL, TX. Many plants cannot be shipped to Hawaii.
You will also need to find an inexpensive source for nursery containers / flats and potting soil. A good way is to go to one of the grower nurseries in your area and ask them where you could buy them. With your business license, you will be able to get the items tax free if your state has a sales tax. The same goes with potting soil. Plus you will need a place to store all of it.
You will need to determine where you will grow your plants. The requirements will be determined by what type of plant you are growing and where you live. Some people in southern states may just need a shade house while those in northern states growing tender plants will need a warm greenhouse / room with supplemental lighting and heat.
If you choose to build a greenhouse or have a garage, you could earn income from overwintering plants for people.
- Determine what types of plants you want to grow and their requirements before starting
- Check to see what plants are in demand in your area
- Find out about custom growing for stores or businesses that may pay in advance
- Post flyers for your business and pass out business cards
- Work hard and only sell quality / healthy plants
- First determine if the plants you intend on growing are legal in your area
- Tell your neighbors what you are doing especially if you have tons of grow lights. A police raid in the middle of the night would not be a good thing
- ALWAYS tag your plants and starts. You will NOT remember what is in that flat in three weeks – Learn from my mistake