The fortunes of the nursery industry are closely associated with those of the landscape industry as well as the health of the retail economy. If housing construction is strong, landscaping is in demand and nurs­ery products are needed. If homeowners have discretionary money to spend, there is a good chance that some of it will be spent at the nurser­ies and garden centers. When the economy weakens and people reduce their spending, nursery sales decline as well. Fuel prices have fluctuated greatly in recent years, but in general have climbed to levels that have increased productions costs for nurseries everywhere.

Many people who have no understanding of the industry perceive it as very low-paying. Even though average nursery worker income is nearly four times the national average, many people fail to consider entering the industry because of misconceptions about earning poten­tial. The result is a shortage of workers during peak seasons when they are most needed.

While the growers of floral crops have faced heavy competition from foreign suppliers, it has not been a problem for American nurser­ies due to the strict U. S. federal quarantine regulations that have been successful in preventing damaging foreign pathogens from entering the country. In so doing, the import of foreign nursery stock has also been restricted and limited. However, that may change. The federal government has repealed the Plant Quarantine Act of1912 and replaced it with the Plant Protection Act of 2000 in an effort to display a greater commitment to international trade and appear less discriminatory
against foreign suppliers and their products. The new act is much less restrictive and opens the door for the importation of nursery products and propagative materials from many sources outside the country. That has the potential to reduce the demand for domestic nursery stock. An even greater danger is the opportunity it provides for the entry of new pathogens and other injurious agents into the country. The foreign newcomers may not even be considered injurious in their country of origin, where the environment or natural predators keep them controlled; but upon entry into this country, where the predators may not be, they can become serious problems. If the federal govern­ment is to sustain the current level of protection against pathogen invasion under the Plant Protection Act of 2000, it will be necessary to develop new levels of regulation to target the foreign plant products once they arrive here.


Two features distinguish the nursery industry from floriculture: the size of the operation and the type of crop produced. Like floriculture, the nursery industry deals with high-value crops under intensive pro­duction, but its complexity makes it more difficult to categorize the distinctly different branches. There are propagation nurseries, where plant production is initiated and new species and cultivars are intro­duced.

Wholesale nurseries grow plants to salable sizes in the field or in containers and sell them to retailers and to landscapers. It is important that they carry an inventory of popular species in a range of sizes.

Rewholesale operations offer a wide assortment of plants, acquired from many different wholesale growers. A need exists for more nurser­ies willing to carry large plants and uncommon species. Retail nurs­eries and garden centers are the major consumer outlets for nursery products. They market the products through sales yards and green­houses. Landscape nurseries may grow and/or purchase plants for retailing or their own use. They also provide installation services for homeowners.



Answer each of the following questions as briefly as possible.

1. Indicate which of the following are

characteristics of florists (F), nurseries (N), or both (B).

a. Their crops are most likely to be used outdoors.

b. Their crops are usually herbaceous.

c. Their crops usually reach maturity in a shorter time.

d. There are both wholesale and retail operations.

e. More land is usually required for the business.

f. They deal with high-value, intensively cultivated crops.

g. They supply the landscape industry.

2. Match the characteristics on the left with the type of function on the right.

a. supplies the








with plants


b. may operate



only seasonally


c. major customer


of a wholesale


retail nurseries

nursery, along


privately owned

with garden

garden centers

centers and


chain store




d. sells rooted


cuttings in

large quantities

e. differs from

chain store

operations in

the quality of

customer service

f. may be hundreds

of acres in size

g. provides

installation services to homeowners

3. Arrange the following groups of three in the chronological order of their involvement with plant materials.

a. retail nursery propagation nursery wholesale nursery

b. propagation nursery landscape nursery wholesale nursery

c. homeowner wholesale nursery retail nursery

d. wholesale nursery homeowner landscaper


Write a brief essay that characterizes the nursery industry of the United States Include informa­tion about its size, types, economic value to the national economy, and challenges being faced.

Updated: October 6, 2015 — 6:47 pm