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How to Make Money from Selling Plants
Flowers can fund your bank balance.
Plants Can Make You Money!
If you are an avid gardener you soon realize that every spring you spend a pile of money on vegetables and flowers for your yard. Think of all of the things to buy. Your trip to the nursery could include fertilizer, flowers, vegetables, hanging baskets, stands, stakes, markers etc. It can add up to a few hundred dollars. I have been toying with selling plants from the driveway and have the following comments for those people who may be in the same situation as I find myself.
Think about your marketing
I live in the city and the big box stores have recently dominated plant sales. But what are they good at and where are their weaknesses? Big box retail outlets can offer discounts on common goods but are less likely to on expensive goods. For instance the garden center is really good at selling annuals. Walmart may have a 4 pack of annuals for 77 cents. There is no way I can happily compete with that. There is some huge nursery just pushing out the plants at about a million plant per week and have every time saving, labour saving and energy saving device known to man. If you were able to put the same plants out in the driveway for fifty cents you would still not make much. The flats, soilless mix, seed, and electricity would probably eat up twenty five cents per 4-pack. So you then will make a quarter a 4 pack. Hmmm…to make 1000 dollars you will need to sell 4000 plants. When you take into consideration all of the labour you input to the product you are working for around minimum wage.
Why not sell a plant that retails for a higher amount? There are many garden plant, that because of their difficulty to grow or length of time to grow can be profitable both wholesale and retail. Here are a few where there is still some profit to be had.
Hostas are a shade loving plant that is easy to grow but takes more than one season to get high value plants. Single stem hostas can go for $4.00 and really large plants are sold for about $30.00. Hostas are grown strictly from cuttings with root attached. Hostas will not grow from leaf cuttings without roots. This makes them a slow to propagate plants but you can speed things up. Get as many hostas for free from friends and family as possible. Work deals with garden centres for wholesale prices. Go directly to wholesalers and get plants and get mail order plants that are often sold for as low as a dollar each when buying 100 plants. Start dividing hostas in the spring for the following year’s sales. Just one stem with roots and some rooting hormone powder will assure you of 80% to 90% success rates provided you shade the plants adequately in hot growing areas and provide adequate water and nutrition. Plant them in beds to be dug up in the following year prior to the Memorial Day weekend (Victoria Day in Canada) and put them in 4 inch pots that you have picked up used online from a garden centre. (be sure to wash them out in a 9-1 bleach solution or weak hydrogen peroxide solution in case of disease)
One thousand plant will cost you about 60 cents to a dollar each or six hundred dollars but will sell for at least 3 dollars and as much as 8 dollars. Say for an average of five dollars each or five thousand dollars in total.
Geraniums will cost about 12 cents a seed at an 80% germination rate. Overall the cost should be about 50 cents a pot and they can sell for more than 4 dollars per healthy plant. Producing 1200 geraniums will take about the same space as 2 sheets of plywood. By using lights you can make plywood platforms and grow as much as 2500 plants in a 4X8 area. The key to making money here is to offer more for the money than the garden stores. Most will start geraniums in January or February. Look at your growing season locally and get a 3 week head start on the nurseries and give bigger plants for the same money. If you grew 2500 plants you could make between five thousand and eight thousand dollars.
Echinacea (purple coneflower)
Purple cone flowers area very popular perennial and second year plants in my area sell from 12 dollars to 16 dollars. They are easy to germinate and grow but like hostas, purple coneflowers will require a year in the garden to be truly profitable. First year plants can sell from four to six dollars but the key is second year plants. In northern climates purple coneflowers are considered a tender perennial which means that you may lose a few in the winter months but you can minimize losses by using hardy proven plants and plenty of winter mulch.
Marketing your plants
You don’t have to be the cheapest, just look like it. Have you ever bought something from a department store you believe had the best price but fond it cheaper the next day? It happens all the time. What you want to do is provide value for the money spent. Things that add value are your price vs the regular retail price, species of plants, directions for planting and possibly a warranty.
Comparative shopping will assist buyers in making a decision. Words like sold elsewhere for $14.95 Our price only $9.99 will demonstrate value. Getting s specific variety of plant that grows bushier and have better flowers help with value, a sheet saying why plant can fail or planting directions help with value as well.
And finally one of the reasons that plant sales works is the old adage of buy low and sell high. It’s your own work going in to making profits and not a high investment. Plants can be sold out of your driveway, your friend’s driveway or yard, a roadside stand or farmer’s market. Seed may cost you one hundred to two hundred dollars and sell for thousands. Just remember not to compete with the giants of the industry head on.