A wholesale nursery is one that grows plants to a salable size in the field or in containers. What a salable size is cannot be defined precisely except to say that the plant is not at full maturity but is ready to install in the landscape (Figure 16-3).
The wholesaler may propagate the seedlings or cuttings, but large operations usually buy stock from a propagating nursery. Rooted cuttings ready for transplanting into containers or the field are called liners or lining out stock.
A plant may spend from one to five years or more in the wholesale nursery depending on its rate of growth and the sale size desired. While
figure 16-3. Using a pot-in-pot system, the wholesale nursery can produce containerized materials that are grown in the field, then lifted out, ready for sale with no disturbance to the root system. (Delmar/ Cengage Learning. Photo by Jack Ingels.)
figure 16-4. Trees with root balls attached are kept moist (heeled-in) with a cover of mulch chips while awaiting shipment. (Delmar/Cengage Learning. Photo by Jack Ingels.)
in the nursery, each plant is provided with space, fertilizer, weed control, shearing, shaping, and pest control to bring it to market as soon as possible. The longer it remains in the nursery, the more it costs the grower, a cost that is passed on to the buyer and eventually to the retail customer.
To hold down production costs, many wholesale nurseries limit the number of different species they grow to those requiring similar production techniques. In so doing, the nurseries are able to maximize the use of expensive equipment while minimizing the number of different fertilizers, chemical sprays, and growing environments necessary to produce high-quality plants. Unfortunately, this economic good sense leads to a limited number of species available for use in landscapes.
Wholesale nurseries sell their plants to other businesses that resell them at a higher price to the final consumer (Figure 16-4). Since the customers of a wholesale nursery are widespread and distant (perhaps as much as several states away), it is critical that the nursery be near transportation routes. Nearby truck or rail lines keep down the costs of handling and shipping. For the convenience of retail operators and landscapers who come directly to the wholesale nursery to pick up their plants, it must be near a major highway system.
One type of nursery wholesaler may grow no plants. The rewholesaler is a classic example of middleman operations. They take advantage of situations in which there is a limited selection of plant species available to landscapers operating in areas having a few or only small wholesale
growers to select from. The rewholesalers purchase plants in quantity from growers across the country and make available to the local practitioners a wider selection of species and sizes than would otherwise be possible.