Most of us don’t think of growing plants and vegetables as a way to make money.
We traditionally think the veggies that we grow in our gardens could be useful to add to the dining table. But you’d be surprised how much potential there really is in growing and selling plants for a profit.
The nice thing is that if you are already engaged in this hobby or habit, you can turn it into a legit small home business.
It is extremely easy to exploit this money making possibility, provided you can dedicate a small plot of land for your gardening venture for profit.
You would expect naturally for an article of this sort to deal with the profit yield corresponding to the individual plant. But I divert a bit with this article as I would want to talk about the variety of plants as your options so that you can be clear what would be ideal given your available space, and the weather conditions in your area (as different plants adapt very differently to diverse conditions).
Subject to these factors, vegetables could be your only option, or that you could have really a rich choice to pick from, e.g. a shrub, tree, or ornamental type of grass.
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Having said that, I will try as much as possible to equate a dollar value for each plant type, based on per square foot value.
You can’t really go wrong with all sorts of ground covers. Going by its increasing popularity, you can almost be assured of amazing returns year after year. They represent a fuss-free choice for your garden, as there is minimum maintenance and water required.
The time taken for them to grow to sufficient size before you can sell then is about a year but since they are really cheap to get started, not more than $1 per gallon pot (bulk purchase smaller immature version to get even more discount), they would be well worth the wait.
Doing the math, four one-gallon pots works out to be one square foot, and you can easily fetch $3 per square foot on the wholesale market when they mature. If you are more enterprising, try retail sales as they go around $5. No matter which way you go, it is a worthwhile venture.
Comparatively, ornamental grasses (like Pampas grass) seem like a costlier venture, but because they are so in demand, they usually command a higher premium in the market. It is no brainer you get to harvest the highest profits when you get started from seeds.
I feel a better option is to get started with smaller immature plants. No doubt, you will have to forgo some profits, but the shorter time required for them to get big enough for sale will more than offset the extra profit, assuming you start from scratch (which means a long wait).
Another reason to go for ornamental grass is that there is really a rich choice. The huge variety of options means that you would have no problem planting them no matter what your climate is. And all come with decent profit expectations.
Shrubs & Trees
Other than ground covers and ornamental grass, you can also consider shrubs and trees for landscaping.
For cottonwoods and maples, it will take quite a fair bit of space if you intend to grow them from young, not to mention plenty of tender loving care.
Not all saplings would make it to the adult stage, so be prepared for the potential (significant) loss. But those that survive can usually fetch you more than a decent price, so the profit would hopefully compensate for those that suffered an early demise.
One problematic area is to find buyers at appropriate times, but there are nurseries in your neighborhood and beyond, there should be ready buyers. For risk-averse growers, the Japanese maple could be ideal as it enjoys healthy demand throughout the year.
Short of Japanese maple, other hot items to consider are rhododendrons, junipers, azaleas, and firs.
Of course, a good point about in demand stuff is that you can accumulate small profits with quick turnarounds (as you don’t have to wait for full bloom). If you are the patient sort, you may want to hold off any sale and go for the kill only when they reach greater maturity.
If vegetables are your thing, there are amazing choices to fill your backyard and line up your pockets. The factors that could influence your choice are the local climate as well as how much space you have. For example, root plants tend to spread wide across the garden and you have less space to capitalize on as a result.
For more profit dollars per square foot, consider leafy greens and vine plants, as they don’t occupy as much space. There is always a consistent demand whether you supply these in loose or bulk.
The following numbers illustrates how these plants measure up in term of square foot value:
- Chives and Dill -$16.40 per sq/ft
- Lettuce -$16.40 per sq/ft
- Arugula-Roquette – $20.82 per sq/ft
- Cherry tomato (Small and medium) – $15.57 per sq/ft
- Cilantro -$21.50 per sq/ft
- Green Salad Mix -$17.55 per sq/ft
Granted, the profit numbers above look impressive, there are also varieties for your consideration even though at less price. If you can settle somewhere between $7.75 -$10.00 per sq/ft, turnips, winter squash, large tomatoes, tomatillo, cucumbers, and sometimes basil, seems like decent choices.
Even at a supposedly depressed $4.50 region, you can still make a profit (but that is about the lowest threshold). Some examples in this category are jalapeno peppers, choi, summer squash, celery, Swiss chard, pumpkins, and red radishes.
- For the business to remain sustainable, don’t clear off all your harvest. You need to leave some behind for the next planting cycle. In your first year in business, it is natural to expect a lower profit, as you need to invest from your initial purchases.
- Plan the sort of variations you want in your garden and schedule a timetable to gradually sell them off, and
- Plant only stuff you would eat as this is what you likely do in case of oversupply or whatever reason.
But Can You Really Make Money Selling Plants, Vegetables & Flowers?
Yes, you can. Where do you think your local garden center gets its plants? Where do you think the vegetables in your local farmer’s market come from?…
There is money to be made in growing all kinds of greens and that’s why people are doing it.
The reason it works is the old adage of buy low and sell high. You can buy a hundred dollars worth of seed and with a little hard work and time turn that hundred into a few thousand dollars or more. And I think that’s the best thing about – you don’t have to invest too much cash – you just have to be willing to do some work.
If you are looking for low-cost business ideas, this is one of the best ones.
Where to Sell Your Greens?
You can sell in many different places. You can sell on a roadside, or even out of your own driveway (if the law permits). Farmer’s market is also a great place to sell vegetables and small plants. I have even seen people selling them on Craigslist.
But if you are a beginner, I would try to get the word out first by letting your friends, family and neighbors know about it. These people can be your best customers in the beginning, and they help to get the word out.
Of course, if your business really grows, you can rent a lot or a storefront and sell from there. There is a guy who rents a lot right next to our local Sears store every year around the holiday selling his Christmas trees along with small plants and even flowers.
But whatever you are going to grow, and regardless of how meticulous your planning going to be, you are going to encounter problems.
It’s the norm with every business.
So, be sure to observe the seasonal effects on your plantations, and pay attention to the market for whatever trend or warning the market is showing up, so you can adjust.
And perhaps most important of all, learn to enjoy the experience of growing plants and vegetables no matter how much money you end up making.