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How to Price and Market Your Greenhouse Plants

Nov 27, 2007
The price you charge for your plants will depend on whether you sell finished or unfinished stock, and whether your greenhouse enterprise is a full-time business or just a profitable sideline or self-supporting hobby. "Finished stock" means plants that have reached a size or state plants, such as African violets, begonias, and gloxinias when they are in bloom-and-bud or in full bloom or foliage plants potted and of large enough size to be attractive.

"Unfinished stock" refers to young, undeveloped plants. This can mean seedlings like annuals sold from flats or pots; started or dormant begonia, gloxinia, and other tubers or bulbs in pots; cuttings, either rooted or un-rooted; and small foliage or other fibrous-rooted plants. Since it requires time and expense to bring a plant to maturity, finished stock should sell at a considerably higher price than unfinished plants in the seedling or dormant stage.

Price your plants realistically. Before setting a price, total your upkeep, such as the original cost of seed, cuttings, plants, tubers, or bulbs; your pots and potting material; and an approximately proportional share of heat, light, and water, fertilizer, insecticides, and greenhouse deterioration.

Take into consideration, too, the customers you will serve. If you are offering a general, popular selection of plants and you aim to capture the trade of the home town folks, you may have to meet local competitive prices. Also, because your venture is new (as is your reputation), your merchandise will have to be as good as and preferably better than plant items available elsewhere in town. What's more, you'll have to maintain high standards to keep your customers coming back for more.

Markets for Your Plants

Dime, chain, variety, grocery, drug, and department stores and even pet stores and cafes - all these can become your customers. These outlets usually have to purchase the plant material they sell and generally have the plants shipped in from out-of-town wholesale growers. Look over the plants and seeds at these retail counters. If you feel you could make money by being a wholesaler and selling a store similar plant items at about the same to 1/2 the price that you see they are charging the public, seek out the manager and have a talk with him.

Once you have established yourself, the buyer is likely to go on from his first cautious dealings to purchasing some of the unusual (and more profitable) plants you grow - cacti, new philodendrons, pilea, peperomias, and such flowering gesneriads as columnea, kohleria, and species gloxinias. You may find yourself growing specialties just for one outlet, which will want even more than you can grow (a pleasant and profitable experience).

When you arrange sales to a large chain store, you may be asked to ship sample plants direct to their central buying station. If you get the O.K. there, you will be placed on the preferred list, and from then on you should be able to count on this store as a regular outlet.

Roadside Markets

In a roadside market you have another really excellent prospect. Here is sold everything from dairy products to plants and vegetables. Usually on the outskirts of a city, the roadside stands attract the Sunday drivers, people returning from vacations, and those who feel they obtain fresher produce in such places.

Make your contact with your potential customers by carrying with you a box or two of the type of plants you sell. These people have to buy from someone; and if your plants are well grown, nicely potted, and priced so that the market can resell them at profit - why, you're elected.

If local zoning rules allow you to have a stand on your property, and you are near enough to a highway, you may be able to dispose of your plants yourself. Friends of ours have a very attractive redwood roadside stand where plants and garden supplies are sold exclusively. Their greenhouse, 20 by 18 feet, is attached to the stand, and on the land adjacent they grow roses, shrubs, and some perennials to sell.

Now sit back and enjoy the profits you make from the plants you have grown in your greenhouse.
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