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Thread: I'm thinking of starting my own carnivorous plant nursery

  1. #9
    rattler's Avatar
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    ive worked for a regular nursery that is prolly about the size of the average CP sellers......its alot of work and push comes to shove is a good way for the average person to kill their real love for growing plants....lots of work, lots of headaches......there are plants now that i refuse to let in my yard cause of the hell i was put through with them in a greenhouse setting......as is with my home collection i can disappear for a week pretty easy and not have to worry bout my plants or worry bout someone watering them.....scale that up to a greenhouse full of plants and something has to be watered nearly every day and when your house payment or student loans need to be paid it becomes hard to hand over the work to someone else while you skip town and relax for awhile cause should something happen and they forget to water, throw the wrong switch or anything like that, plants die and your house payment may go with them....

    i have a great deal of respect for those that make it work, i have seen and know the amount of blood sweat and tears that go into keeping a greenhouse business going.....for awhile the family that has the local greenhouse was after me to go through the work of taking them over and buying them out cause none of their kids are interested in taking it over but plants are something i want to do as a hobby, not a career......
    cervid serial killer
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    I didn't get stimulated but he kept his promise on change, that's about all I got left!
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  2. #10
    swords's Avatar
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    Jerry who owns Orchids Limited (the local orchid and Nepenthes greenhouse) told me once why he was closed on Sundays: "I just gotta get away from those F'in plants!" lol!

    I don't wanna pop anyone's dream balloon but (here we go) it's a lot easier to run a "nursery" as a hobby than as a dedicated business. Setting up a website and selling on Ebay will make you essentially just as much $ as having a retail CP outlet that also does mailorder (which can of course come later if you really do make it). Lets face it, we like obscure, hard to grow plants which many walk-in customers will kill and are not generally willing to pay big bucks for like we would. But if plant sales is not your only income, the worries will be far less and you can still enjoy what you're doing. I did that while I was in the depths of my Nep madness from 2002-2006. I made nice hauls every spring/summer/early fall during shipping season but winter is dead, dead, dead. It's a time for propagation, which is necessary, but propagation doesn't make you any money until you're able to unload those new plants months from now.

    I would suggest having as many rare / exciting plants as possible in your inventory to make your catalog stand out. Send off to Germany, Sri Lanka and Australia to get some interesting starting propagation stock and grow the heck out of it with intense artificial lights on at least 18 hours a day, temp/humidity control, air movement (optimum conditions) and 1/2 strength urea free orchid fertilizer flushes every other week. Pitchers will stay smallish doing this but the vine / leaf will grow faster which = more cuttings to work with sooner. It's still apx 1-2 years from a 4" diameter seedling to a cuttable Nep vine doing this, and some still won't play ball and go on growing slow as molasses. Have few of the generic dews, VFTs and so on for the beginners but if you concentrate on rare stuff it will make your nursery the one CP people all want to get "the cool stuff" from.

  3. #11

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    Ahmad Rattler is right. I'm starting up a CP nursery myself. Initially I thought I wouldn't tell anyone about my plans because I was afraid someone would copy my specific strategies. But now that I've been heavily working at it for about 3 months I realize that most people would go nuts doing this. It takes a special kind of person and liking growing CPs just isn't enough.

    I can assure you that it does indeed take a lot of work and it is a very, very monotonous type of work. You have to water seeds/seedlings every day. If you miss a day here or there, some may die. So forget about taking a break for a few days here and there. It's a 7 day a week job. You also have to pot/repot plants a heck of a lot. I've found that this and all the work involved in sowing seeds is really a lot of fun, for about 10 minutes once every few days. But the rest of the several to dozen hours or so a week you do this is boring. I also have found that feeding VFTs, Neps, and Cephs is the best way to make them grow. And yes I feed hundreds of them every week. It is very boring too. Oh and setting up the grow racks for them is a lot of work too. It seems that with several hundred plants and a couple of 1000 seedlings plus a few thousand more seeds that I never run out of work to do. I work 3 days a week as a security guard and I feel like I am constantly working.

    So if this is as boring and time consuming as I say it is then why am I doing this you ask? Well I have a few unique circumstances and advantages that most folks don't have whether they like CPs or not. For one thing my brain seems to not mind doing what I fully realize would drive most people crazy. When I was a kid I used to shuffle and reorganize Safari cards for fun and I'm not talking a few hundred of them. I had the whole collection. In other words I have retarded type attention span for monotonous things that most nonretarded folks don't have.

    Another advantage I have that most early 20's folks don't is excellent credit. I have a 0% APR for a year with 3% rebate in 5 categories business credit card that Chase gave me in October because they didn't see the Credit crisis coming and they love making me money in general. I have 5,500 in debt that I not only don't and almost certainly will never pay interest on but actually make a little off of as well. If you have to take out a loan that it will take you a long time to repay I'd say you will probably fail at this endeavor for that reason alone. You're gonna have to sell a lot of plants and that means a lot more work than just Ebay. You won't make enough off Ebay alone. And it will take a long time to have enough sellable plants to pay off that debt. You have to feed and cloth yourself somehow in the meantime.

    And lastly, the other big advantage I have is low overhead expenses. My wife and I rent 2 rooms from my parents for a mere 350 a month. My Dad is in the process of declaring bankruptcy for reasons I won't go into but nonetheless I help him out a lot with little things like food etc. so he feels duty bound to allow me to fill his house and backyard with racks full of plants. My wife also collects disability so we are heavily subsidized by the government. Since I work part time as a security guard and don't make a lot of money from it I can see how a decent amount of CP plant selling could actually make more money than I do already and though I shouldn't have the funds to start up this business I actually do.

    Most people don't have all these advantages. If the never ending startup debt doesn't ruin your business the boredom can. You'll also need a salesman streak in you. I used to sell a lot of things as a kid so it appeals to me. If you can overcome these obstacles great. I enjoy this overall myself and don't doubt that I will 10 years from now. But I fully realize that most people aren't cut out for this kind of work.

  4. #12
    Halt's Avatar
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    Wow, those are really big words.. that i dont understand T_T
    Ahmad, as everyone says, make selling CP's a Part Time job, just like andy. I don't know how people who have full time nurserys make money, they must have a part time job.

  5. #13
    rattler's Avatar
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    first thing i would do if i was looking to start a greenhouse based business, especially if your still in school, is actually go and work for a local nursery, full time for awhile if yah can.....though course if your working part time you will likely get stuck with the dirty, undesirable jobs which will give yah a good taste of some of the worst of the labor.......and i dont mean actual physical work, i mean things like cleaning plants to keep them looking good for sale, i would rather haul 10 tons of dirt, loaded and unloaded by hand in the course of a day than clean petunias for a couple hours.....***** hate petunias, refuse to allow them to be grown in my yard, just because of the horrors of dealing with them in a greenhouse......filling hundreds and hundreds of pots with dry peat, getting it up your nose, in your lungs, in your eyes......would do that all day everyday for 2 weeks straight......hacked up brown junk out of my lungs and blew it out of my sinuses for another week.....near impossible to fill thousands of pots in a timely manner by wetting it down first to keep the dust down.....

    also i highly doubt you could do it right out of college unless you have someone bank rolling you....prolly need to work for a good while first, stashing money away to build up start up capital......a bank isnt going to give yah a loan to do it, especially if your already in debt from student loans......

    not trying to be a jerk, just pointing out realities........best thing yah can do is put yourself through college, get a decent paying job in the real world and start saving to make your dream come true.....start off small and part time and eventually you may be able to do it full time.....one way to work towards that goal now is to acquire some nice nepenthes and be growing them out, this could give yah a nice core group of plants for breeding stock and you can start making and selling your own hybrids like EP and the Hawaii guy........as well as giving you cutting stock to sell......ive paid a good chunk of change for a unrooted cutting of a desirable plant and im sure more than a few others here have done the same......
    cervid serial killer
    Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety
    I didn't get stimulated but he kept his promise on change, that's about all I got left!
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  6. #14
    herenorthere's Avatar
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    That's a seductive idea that has cost a lot of people a lot of money. It doesn't matter whether it's CPs, orchids, cacti, fruit trees, ... you name it, more than a few people have tried to turn a plant hobby into a plant business and the vast majority lose money at it. If they're lucky, the attempt doesn't destroy their interest in their hobby.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

  7. #15
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Bruce is right. Not to rain on anyones parade, but just because you like growing CPs, does not a business make.

    Turning your hobby into a business is a BIG undertaking. It's not like hobby growing which is just fun. It can be work too but you don't have a "bottom line" to worry about. And...there is a lot more competition these days than there was, say, 10 years ago when a CP was hard to find. Even your average garden center might have a few CPs.

    You have to work hard, spend a lot of money and strive to keep your head above the others. Offering quality plants, like Andrew does, helps of course. It's always an advantage if you have specialized experience like he did prior to starting his business.

    If you decide to do that, keep in mind it is a business and look at it that way. And of course, it always helps if you love what you do for a living.

    Good luck!
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

  8. #16
    Californian in DC DrWurm's Avatar
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    It'd probably be easier to find a niche and ebay the heck out of it if you just want to make a little money on the side. I believe mark.ca does this with pygmy sundew gemmae. Others do it with cephalotus.

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