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How to Create Your Own Home Nursery Business

Many of us have turned to our gardens in these times for peace but a few have also found prosperity out amongst the green leaves and petals as a booming botanical industry opens new opportunities.
Ninh of Umina Little SunshineNinh of Umina Little Sunshine

If you venture online, you can find plants and plant related merchandise increasingly sold by home businesses. Go to any weekend market and you are bound to find someone selling plants and more and more are creating thriving online garden centres. The most successful of these home-based plant people are discovering what the marketplace of any field already knows, specialising is the key to attracting customers. This week we meet two Central Coast locals who have used their green thumbs and plant passion to create income streams, but first, let’s explore what you need to consider if you wish to create a successful home nursery at your place.

How to Begin
It starts with you. What do you currently have in time and resources? Begin with this and then build up. I’ve met many home gardening-related business people and all of the successful ones began with either nothing or a very small foundation that they built upon. They gave themselves the opportunity to pace and meet the market. Going in hard and big, spending up on infrastructure and resources before you even know if you are on the right track is usually a big gamble that unfortunately leads many to disaster. What you can see is popular now, most likely will not be by the time you have established yourself in the marketplace. By starting small and building your business, you can find your niche without losing vast sums of money and time in the process. 

What Will You Grow
Most successful ventures start with a defined passion, and I believe this is because you are much more likely to give your all to something you truly believe in and want to be around every day. Even Bill Gates was just a guy who saw an opportunity in his love for computers. Which plant or group of plants do you really have the most interest in? If you can’t answer that question, then start researching and with your feet. Go and look at other gardens, find out all you can about plants that take your eye. Look at the current market and while acknowledging what is currently trending, look for similar plants or ones that could be a part of the current story that you feel drawn to but have the potential for longevity. Most importantly, what do you have the resources for? Let’s explore that.
How much space do you have available and more importantly how much sun/shade and growing capacity do you have? Will you be planting seeds and selling seedlings or creating cuttings or will you be growing larger plants? Do you need racks, shelves, a greenhouse, shade house or garden beds?
You might be growing your plants in beds, the ground or in pots but either way, there needs to be consideration about what soil you have and from where you will get more. If you are going to be selling seedlings or potted plants, storage of soil will also need to be factored into your plant plans. Buying anything in bulk is cheaper, including soil but you need to know where you will keep it.
I volunteer at my local community garden and one of the other gardeners, Graeme, has a wonderful saying, “Most people don’t have problems with their plants, they have problems with their water” and he is right. Water is seldom factored into gardening plans, and it’s not just how much water you need but where is it coming from? Taps that are inaccessible to areas of the garden make it hard to be consistent with your watering so you may need to invest in additional plumbing or at least heavy-duty longer hoses. A water tank is one outlay that you should be undertaking early in your nursery at home business plan.
Additional considerations
The legalities are rather simple. As long you are not employing anyone, you can have a home nursery, but you must not be blocking access to other houses or the street when you sell. Signage will need to be discussed with the council as well. I would suggest business and public liability insurance as a must. Selling will involve you finding ways to collect money and give receipts to your customers, and both can be handled by using services like Apple Pay, PayPal etc. It is also relatively easy to obtain apps and card readers to accept payments. If you decide to accept cash, be mindful that you will need to have a float for change.

Ninh of Umina Little Sunshine 2
Ninh of Umina Little Sunshine

What began as a gardening hobby in her childhood has developed into an amazing business for Umina resident Ninh after she discovered her talent for breeding rare houseplants. A few years ago, she made the move from Sydney to the Central Coast as her home nursery outgrew her available space. Ninh started collecting rare houseplants as she loved their beauty and after two years, decided that by propagating cuttings from her plants she could sell them then have funds to purchase more rare plants for her collection. She finds the process of creating a new plant from cuttings incredibly interesting and is passionate about crossbreeding and the chance of coming up with a new plant. Ninh sells her plants and cuttings to her established rare plant fanbase via Ebay: and you can follow her on Instagram as well as see more of her stunning plants: I’m sure many houseplant enthusiasts will be swooning over the breathtaking and incredibly beautiful rare plants that Ninh has procured and breeds.

The Kariong Succulents
The Kariong Succulents

Alét and Rowena of The Kariong Succulents
This is another story of a passion gone wild. Rowena loves plants. She loves succulents. She loves them too much. In fact, her adoration of these juicy little gems outgrew their garden and home and so her husband Alét created a home nursery to claim back his living areas. Open most weekends and with a thriving Facebook page: The Kariong Succulents attracts buyers from all over the state at times. Alét is responsible for the physical infrastructure of their nursery. He has built and maintains shelving and gardening hardware while Rowena busies herself with propagation and general gardening. I’m amazed at how well this business has grown in such a relatively small space. Nurses by weekday, plant nursery people in their spare time, they have the most delightful and sometimes rare plants.

Book review
RHS Gardening School, Everything You Need to Know to Garden Like a Professional

By: Simon Akeroyd and Ross Bayton
Octopus Publishing February 2022 ISBN: 9781784728106

I am a Royal Horticultural Society book addict. Though they are written in the Northern Hemisphere, the knowledge shared does translate well for the most part. This book is a revised and updated edition and one I recommend to new gardeners particularly. From developing a complete understanding of plants and basic botany through to everyday garden care and problem solving, this book also contains inspiration for garden design. Gorgeous photography along with helpful and plentiful illustrations and an explanation of techniques in an easy to comprehend manner. A must for all gardeners from new to advanced but I would particularly recommend RHS Gardening School to those who want a gardening core education in a handy book.

You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnip, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, silverbeet, swede, sweetcorn, turnips, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, begonia, calendula, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, nasturtium, pansy, poppy (Iceland), stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Next Week: Growing in a Hanging Basket

Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us.
We are particularly looking for: Home Nursery Businesses, Hanging Basket Gardens, Water Feature Gardens, School/Children Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners but all gardens and gardeners are welcome to have a chat with Cheralyn: 0408105864 

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White.

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]

Article first published in Central Coast Newspapers - The Coast News and The Chronicle