If you have a green thumb, you probably have extra plants to sell during warmer months. Some types of plants may prove more popular and profitable in your area than others. It is a seasonal business for everyone who doesn't live in a warm climate, but it may be just what you need to earn a bit of money for your pocketbook.
How to have a plant sale -- online or in person
Learn about where and how you can sell plants to earn extra money.
Choosing which plants to sell
One thing to keep in mind is that plant sales are generally a seasonal event. In a warm climate, pond plants don't sell well after midsummer. Neither do home-grown vegetables. Rare tropicals cannot be shipped safely when the temperature outdoors drops below freezing.
If you are making this a full-time job, have a plan in place to earn money in the off-season.
Where to sell plants
- eBay: eBay offers a set amount of free listings each month, with extra listings available through special promotions. A Final Value Fee is then charged when each listing is sold. This might be a good option for an occasional plant seller, or someone who is just cleaning out some extra cuttings.
- Craiglist: No listing fees, no closing fees. List your plants with a price per quantity, and don't forget good photos of the plants you are selling. This is a good option when your listing budget is an issue.
- Your local fish shop: While not online, many fish shops like to support local plant sellers. Ask at the counter about whether they buy water plants.
- Your local nursery: By the same token, many larger nurseries get their stock from small home nurseries. Ask at the counter about it.
Pricing your plants
The important thing to remember with plant sales is the bottom line. Price to sell, especially if the market is tight. It is hard to compete with pricing of annuals from a big-box store, for example. Focus on rarer plants whenever possible since it is better to get some money from a lot of plant-buying customers than a lot of money from one customer. Try to make your plants look like a bargain compared to others in the area.
Grow your plant sales
Start your own web site
Once you are doing a brisk business, set up your own website so local retailers can find your plants easily. Your own site can be a big investment. You will need to hire someone to build it for you if you don't know how to design and code a website.
Tip: Someone may contact you, so include at least
an email address or phone number on your site.
If you aren't doing a reasonable volume of plant sales just yet, wait a bit before setting it up.
Restrictions on selling plants
As expected, not every plant can be sold in every location. Plants such as water hyacinth are practically weeds in the southern United States, so they cannot be legally imported from other parts of the country. You should be able to check restrictions on each state's or country's agricultural websites.
If a particular plant cannot be shipped to a location, note that in in the listing.
You may need a special license to ship plants over state lines. Check with the local agricultural facilities about getting a permit if it proves necessary.
Safe shipment of plants is to most critical issue when selling plants online. If the plant is particularly fragile, it won't survive until delivery. Pack carefully.
How to ship plants
Always choose the fastest method so the poor plant doesn't have to spend any more time in transit than necessarily. USPS Priority is a good, fast choice for live plants. Make use of the Post Office's free Priority Mailers whenever possible.
Soil or bareroot?
- Is the plant in bloom? Keep it in the potting mix for shipment, but be aware that this adds a lot of weight.
- If the plant isn't blooming, prune it back hard before shipping (note in the listing that it will be pruned). This reduces bulk. Most plants can then be safely shipped bareroot.
- Choose a shipping box that is just big enough for the plant being shipped. You may have to build a box to fit.
Note: tv dinner boxes, pizza delivery boxes, and packaged
food boxes (crackers, etc) are not shipping-grade boxes.
Do not reuse them.
- Wrap the roots in a damp (not wet) paper towel, then tape a plastic bag over the root area so the box won't be damaged by leaks in shipment.
- Wrap the entire plant in packing paper and secure into to box. Remember that the buyer will need to be able to remove the plant from the box with minimal damage to the plant.
- Mark the top of the box to minimize movement of the plant.
When to ship live plants
Plants should only be shipped on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to ensure that your plants aren't sitting at the post office over the weekend. This should be noted in the listing.
Special care for shipment of water plants
- Water plants should be wrapped entirely in damp paper towel. Tiny water plants such as duckweed can be placed on a square of damp paper towel before being bagged. No actual water should be loose in the bag.
- Water plants should be double-bagged for shipment in case of leaks. Use enough shipping tape to seal the bag.