Photo credit by Ennor
Ah, gardening – is there any hobby that is more satisfying? Watching seeds grow under your nurturing care is one of the most pleasant experiences a person can have, bringing us back in touch with our agricultural roots. But what would you say if I told you that gardening can also provide you a nice side income in your spare time? Yes, common houseplants can yield financial dividends if you play your cards right – and I’m not talking about the illegal kind. In this article, I’ll give some tips for the at-home gardener looking to parlay their hobby into a small business.
First off, houseplant cultivation requires a large outlay of work at the beginning of the process. You will need to invest in a large number of small pots, as well as potting soil and fertilizer. Instead of growing plants from seeds, you will be using propagation techniques to extend existing plants into new individuals. These techniques vary from species to species, but there are a few basic methods that you will need to learn. A home gardening book from your local library can give you more detailed information on a plant-by-plant basis, but these are the basics.
Taking a cutting is the simplest way to propagate a plant. This method is as easy as removing a section of leaf or stem from the parent plant with sharp pruning shears and planting it in rich, moist soil. This technique is usually best for hardy plants like cacti and succulents which store their seeds inside their flesh. Be sure to not over-cut your parent plant – it may take several generations of this method before you can build up a large enough crop to think about selling some.
Another slightly more difficult propagation method is division of the root structure. This entails completely digging up the living plant and bisecting the root structure, then replanting them. Depending on the type of plant, there are different ways to separate the structure, but most of them are fairly intuitive – ensure that both specimens have solid root structures with an appropriate number of budding rhizomes, and then replant them in rich, fertile soil. Again, don’t overdo this process. You need to give the plants time to recover and thrive before re-dividing.
By the end of the summer, you should have enough large, retail-ready plants to start selling them. There are a number of ways to sell your wares. The old-fashioned method is to have a plant sale in your neighborhood. Post signs and take out a classified ad in the local paper, and set your beauties out on tables in front of your home for passers-by to browse. With your newfound knowledge of plant life, you should be able to craft a pretty impressive sales pitch. You can also post ads for your plants on Craigslist and other free online classified services as well. Visit nurseries to see how they price similar plants and charge accordingly, making sure you are compensated for your materials and time.