A propagation nursery initiates plant production. (Propagation techniques are defined and described in Chapter 14.) Nurseries that engage totally or partially in propagation may buy or collect seeds from all parts of the world. These seeds are then germinated and grown to a size that allows the plants to be passed on to other nurseries. A propagation nursery may also reproduce plants from cuttings or similar methods of vegetative propagation.
Propagation nurseries are responsible for the introduction of new species and cultivars to the nursery industry as a whole. They are also key sources of disease – and pest-free stock material. These nurseries depend on the sale of large quantities of plants, since the per-plant value of a young seedling or rooted cutting is very low. A propagation nursery may specialize in only a few crops or grow a wide range of material.