Nursery Firms


Economic Impacts of the Green Industry in the United States. A new national impact study shows the green industry supplies the nation with $147.8 billion in output, nearly 2 million jobs, $64.3 billion in labor income and $6.9 billion in business taxes. In 2004, the nursery/greenhouse sector accounted for $26 billion in sales, 261,408 jobs and $18.1 billion in value added impacts. The region with the largest impact was the Midwest ($19.2 billion) followed by the Pacific region ($18.4 billion), Northeast ($17.9 billion) and Southeast ($13.5 billion). The study was conducted by Univ. of Tenn. and Univ. of Fla. Click here to view a recent presentation at the 2007 OSU Nursery Shortcourse (569 kb).

Positioning for the Future of the Nursery Industry by Dr. Charlie Hall of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville discusses the driving forces affecting the greenhouse and nursery industries. The narrative identifies five driving forces categories with impacts and proposed solutions. In addition, there is a brief discussion on how one can benefit from using this information.

Establishing a Wholesale Nursery Business – One of the first questions asked by a budding (pardon the pun) horticultural entrepreneur is “What is the best way to start a nursery business and how much will it cost?” The following publications specifically address this question by providing information regarding site establishment, determining product mix, cultural practices, and economic considerations of wholesale nursery production. Click on the links provided below to peruse the latest research-based guides to entering the nursery business.

Pot-in-pot Nursery Production Systems – An alternative to traditional containerized production is the use of pot-in-pot systems where a container is placed permanently in the ground (socket pot) and a second container, with the desired plant, is placed into the socket pot. This system offers many advantages including root ball temperature reduction, in-place overwintering, reduced water usage, etc. The following publications specifically address this relatively new production system and its associated advantages and disadvantages culturally and economically.

Determining Costs of Production – The most important factor affecting the success of wholesale nursery businesses is the associated costs of producing and marketing landscape plants. The economic tool for determining costs of production is referred to as enterprise budgeting. The following publications specifically address typical costs faced by nursery operators today.

Risk Management for Specialty Crops – Risk is an inherent factor in the production and marketing of specialty crops. The following resources provide excellent information regarding the proper management of production, marketing, financial, legal, environmental, and human resource risks.

Software for Nursery Growers – One of the questions most often asked is “What software alternatives are out there for the nursery industry?” While the list below is not meant to be all-inclusive, it is a good point from which to start in analyzing which software may be best suited for your firm:

E-commerce applications in the green industry. Although e-commerce performance in the green industry has been mixed to date, opportunities do exist to apply information technologies to the marketing of green industry products and services. While appropriate B2C models are still being evaluated, B2B models/portals have been highly touted as useful tools for e-procurement and online exchange. A few of the most popular B2B green industry sites (provided only as examples of this latest trend – not an endorsement) include Plant and Supply Locator, LMI Trees, and’s marketplace type website has information for locating Tennessee-grown nursery products and supplies specifically.

Spectrum Net Designs offers services to the Green Industry including internet access, website registration, website hosting, website design, and website marketing.

Focal Point Communications has been producing creative brochures, newsletters and sales aids for the green industry since 1987. Landscape companies, lawn care companies, trade associations and suppliers use Focal Point for solutions to their marketing challenges.

Horticultural Management & Marketing is a website developed by Drs. Alan Hodges and John Haydu at the University of Florida. This site is an excellent source of horticultural business-related information for Florida and the entire Southeastern region. Pay particular attention to the publications stemming from the Business Analysis Program in Florida. These series of reports provide financial benchmarks on which to conduct cross-sectional financial analyses compared to other industry participants.

Horticultural Business Management & Marketing is a website developed by Wen-fei Uva at Cornell University. Information includes selection of products and quality control measures needed to meet large volume, graded and temporal needs of large buyers, assisting in developing innovative management mechanisms applicable to horticultural businesses, and identifying marketing opportunities suitable for different size horticultural operations. Integrating finance, marketing and human resource management into producers’ decisions regarding adoption of technology is an important element of the program.

The Landscape/Horticulture Page at Auburn University is a compilation of publications that address specific topics that range from issues that concern commercial growers, urban foresters, landscape professionals and home gardeners. New cultivars and old standards are also discussed along with the issues that confront anyone who works with plants such as irrigation, fertilization, insect control and many others. Best Management Practices for horticultural firms are also addressed.

Turfgrass Production, Marketing, and Management. The following list of publications are vital to those competing in the turfgrass industry:

US National Arboretum “Web Version” of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a useful resource in determining the suitability of plant materials for other regions. Click on any area within the United States to go to a close-up of that region.

The U.S. Lawn and Garden Market – Featuring numerous sales tables and definitive marketer lists, and containing profiles of industry leaders such as Deere, Toro, MTD, Echo, Ames, Fiskars, Scotts, Pursell-Bayer, and TruGreen-ChemLawn, this study thoroughly examines competitive and new product trends, evolving regulatory issues, the shifting retail environment, the emergence of e-commerce, advertising/promotion expenditures and positioning, and consumer attitudes and purchasing patterns.

Industry Profile – Nurseries – First Research’s Industry Profiles are designed to provide subscribers quick, easy-to-use, up-to-date information. Each Industry Profile relates how companies in the industry operate, the major challenges they face, and on the opportunities they have.These market reports are provided on a fee basis.

Nursery associations are a vital part of the development and growth of businesses and the nursery industry as a whole. The following are links to national, state, and regional associations.

Tax Information for Businesses. This website, provided by the IRS, is a good source of information for tax rules and regulations.

The Small Business/Self-Employed webpage, also provided by the IRS, offers information and links for starting a business, employee records, employer id numbers, and many other aspects of owning and operating a small business.
Greenhouse and Nursery Industry Trade Magazines(and other commercial publications):
Many of the industry trade magazines are available free of charge to commercial operations. They provide a wealth of applied information.

  • Greenhouse Grower, Meister Publishing Company, 37733 Euclid Ave., Willoughby, OH 44094-5992; Tel: 440-942-2000
  • Greenhouse Business, McCormick Communications Group Ltd., PO Box 698, Part Ridge, IL 60068-0698;1951 Rohlwing Rd, Suite B, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008; Tel: 847-870-1576.
  • Grower Talks, Subscription Dept., PO Box 9, 335 North River St. Batavia, IL 60510-0099; Tel: 888-888-0013
  • Green Profit, Ball Publishing, 335 N. River Street, Post Office Box 9, Batavia, IL 60510-0009 USA; tel (630) 208-9080; fax (630) 208-9350; email
  • American Nurseryman magazine, also a source for many books, videos and software, American Nurseryman Publishing Co., 223 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60606-6904, Phone: 312.427.7339; 800.621.5727; Fax: 312.427.7346; Web:
  • Something to Grow On, Auburn University Nursery Newsletter, Contact: Bernice R. Fischman,
  • Nursery Retailer – a trade magazine dedicated to providing content that will enhance the business practices of retail garden centers.
  • Digger, published by Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 2780 SE Harrison St. Suite 102, Milwaukie, OR 97222; Tel: 503-653-8733; 800-342-6401
  • Journal of Environmental Horticulture, published by Horticultural Research Institute, 1250 I Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005

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