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Home Study Wholesale Nursery Management Course - A comprehensive introduction to the management of wholesale nurseries.
  • Learn about production nursery management.
  • Understand the marketing and production of plants.
  • Learn from leading experts in the field – our tutors!
  • Study at your own pace in your own time





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Train in Wholesale Nursery Management from your own home by Distance Learning.

  • This ACS Course offers a thorough introduction to the management of wholesale nurseries.



Managing a production nursery involves more than just propagating and potting up plants. Even the small nursery must be able to not only produce plants, but do it at a pre determined cost, and then sustain those plants before and during marketing and selling.

The nursery industry currently has a real need for people with skills and knowledge in managing production plant nurseries! This course provides a solid grounding for developing those skills.

  • This course has been developed by a team of horticultural experts from the UK and Australia led by international author and horticultural expert, John Mason FCIH, FAIH.


This subject involves eight lessons as follows:

1. Nursery Site Organisation

  • Selecting the site (e.g. Buying an established nursery or establishing a new site).
  • Determining facilities needed.
  • Site planning.
  • Estimating space requirements.

2. Management

  • Public and Commercial nurseries.
  • Management Options; Partnerships, companies, sole proprietorships.
  • Developing a management structure.
  • Labour relations and seasonal staff.
  • Work programs and production timing.

3. Nutrition and Pest Management

  • Field crops.
  • Container plants.
  • Principles of fertiliser use.
  • Plant nutrition.

4. Growing Media

  • Soils and soil-free mixes.
  • Rockwool.
  • Sterilisation techniques.

5. Irrigation Management for Production Nurseries

  • Methods and equipment.
  • Estimation of water requirements.
  • Use of liquid fertilisers through irrigation.

6. Modifying Plant Growth

  • Growth modification techniques.
  • Flower forcing.
  • Quality control.

7. Nursery Marketing Strategies

  • Exploiting existing markets.
  • Developing new markets.
  • Advertising.
  • Product presentation.
  • Pricing.
  • Plant recycling.

8. Selection of Nursery Crops

  • Developing a stock list.
  • Operational flow charts.
  • Market surveys.


  • Describe how site characteristics influence the establishment and management of wholesale nurseries.
  • Explain management structures and work scheduling in wholesale nurseries.
  • Describe the management of pests and diseases and plant nutrition in production nurseries.
  • Explain the physical and chemical properties of growing media used in production nurseries
  • Describe the techniques and equipment used to irrigate plants in nurseries.
  • Explain techniques used to modify and influence the growth of plants in production nurseries.
  • Describe strategies used by production nurseries to increase sales.


In the past, nurseries were involved in almost all aspects of the production and culture of plants. They grew a wide variety of plants, and they sold them both wholesale and retail, as well as supplying a wide range of allied products and services. Today all but the largest nurseries tend to specialise.

Nurseries can be public (for example, run by government, community or conservation groups) or private enterprises. Private nurseries may be individually owned partnerships (perhaps owned by a husband and wife or two friends), or corporate, such as a company, where they have a legal identity of their own.

Some nurseries are focused on producing plants, and others retailing. Some do both, but most do not.

This course is relevant to any type of production nursery, whether public or private, whether propagation or growing on

Nurseries which try to do everything rarely succeed. New nurseries should consider the following options carefully and define the scope of their operation to fit their resources, skills and knowledge.

Production Nurseries
Production nurseries, also known as propagation or wholesale nurseries, propagate plants and either sell them direct to retail outlets, landscapers and council parks departments, or wholesale them to growing-on nurseries. Success of production nurseries is affected by:

  • Innovation – supplying new varieties to the market or developing new ways of growing and presenting existing varieties allows the grower to develop new markets.
  • Specialisation – growing fewer lines in larger quantities allows the grower to improve efficiencies in the nursery.
  • Forecasting trends and meeting market demands – knowing what plants customers want, or are likely to want, and growing them in sufficient quantities allows the grower to meet consumers’ requirements, and through doing this, maintaining customer loyalty.

Growing-on Nurseries
Growing-on nurseries buy bulk quantities of seedlings or small plants from propagators. At the time of purchase, the plants are growing in plugs, trays or tubes; the plants are then potted into larger containers and grown on for a period of time, adding value to the nursery’s original purchase.

In addition to increasing the plants’ size, specialised growing techniques, such as topiary, may be used to add value to the plant during the growing-on phase.

In addition to increasing the plants’ size, specialised growing techniques, such as topiary, may be used to add value to the plant during the growing-on phase.

The most critical aspect of production in growing-on nurseries is developing a quality product for the retail market. At the time of resale, every plant must be at its peak, displaying healthy, vigorous and sturdy growth. The plant is commonly presented appropriately, in a clean, attractive pot, with fresh potting mix (no weeds or residues on the surface) and appropriate support (small stake or trellis) if necessary. Labels may also be supplied.

Area of the Nursery Site
The amount of land required for successful operation can vary from 0.1 hectare (1/4 acre) up to hundreds of hectares. The amount of land you acquire may depend on the following:

Cost of land – You may have to compromise your ideals for what you can afford;

  • Availability of land – You may be unable to get the exact size you want. For example, if you need a 1 hectare (2.5 acre) lot, land might only be selling in 2 hectare (5 acre) lots in your preferred locality;
  • Spacing and size of plants – Consider the final pot size prior to sale and the space required between plants;
  • The proposed output of plants – You will need to estimate the maximum numbers of plants in the nursery at any one time;
  • Space required for buildings, storage areas, roads, paths, car parks, dams, waste management facilities.

There are viable commercial nurseries operating out of backyards with as little as 400 square metres of space devoted to plants. Some of these backyard businesses generate enough income to support a family, but good management is particularly critical for businesses where space is at a premium. Many of the largest nurseries started out as small backyard operations.

Propagation nurseries and tissue culture operations generally require less space because the plants don't take up much room and they don't need to be kept and grown on for long before they are sold. There are a large number of plants produced with respect to space used in these nurseries, and a high income per unit area. Nurseries which deal with very valuable collectors plants (such as rare plants, bonsai, carnivorous plants and orchids) may also require less space than other nurseries because they are able to generate more money per plant.

Retail nurseries can vary in size from a small shop in a suburban shopping centre up to a large regional garden centre that may be five or more hectares in size. Retail nurseries with a fast turnover of plants need less space because they don't need room to hold or store plants for lengthy periods between sales.

Advanced plant nurseries generally require considerable space as plants can be grown for years either in containers or in-ground before being sold. Nurseries that grow grafted plants or advanced trees in field rows will require at least one hectare of land as a minimum to be a viable operation.

Benefits of Studying This Course Those who study this course will come away with all they need to know about setting up and running a nursery to make it financially viable. Lots of people can grow plants, but they won't all make it at a business level. That's where this course comes into its own. Study it by itself or as part of a higher level qualification. This course is most relevant to people working in the following areas:
  • Nursery and propagation
  • Market gardening
  • Crop production
  • Hydroponics
  • General horticulture


Enrolling is easy - just go to the box at the top right-hand side of this page.

If you have any questions, or need help in choosing the right course for you please do get in touch with us - connect with our expert tutors, use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.




Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Towergate Insurance welcomes Professional Liability insurance applications from ACS graduates across all disciplines. Click here for more details.

Meet some of our academics

Dr Lynette Morgan (Horticulture)Lyn worked with Rivendell Mushroom Farm between 1986 and 88; and then as a research assistant and technician for a few years while undertaking university studies. In 1991 she graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Horticultural Science (Hons) which covered broad horticultural sciences, as well as nursery vegetable and fruit production. Throughout the 90's she worked in both the nursery industry and horticultural crop production, before establishing her own business "Suntec" which has built an exceptional international reputation providing consulting services; particularly in hydroponic crop production. Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
John Mason (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Nurseryman, Landscaper, Garden Writer, Parks Manager and Consultant. Over 45 years experience; working in Australia and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 100 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

Growing & Knowing AnnualsIdentifying and knowing all about Annuals is made easy with the Growing and Knowing Annuals ebook. Ideal for students, professional horticulturalist, hobby gardeners and nurserymen, this ebook has 141 pages with beautiful colour photographs.
Growing & Knowing Flowering BulbsContaining 187 pages of great facts on growing bulbs and stunning colour pictures, the Growing and Knowing Flowering Bulbs ebook is an essential read for students, professional horticulturalists, hobby gardeners and anyone who is interested in knowing more about flowering bulbs.
Getting Work in HorticultureExplore what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse this industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
Commercial HydroponicsThe Commercial Hydroponics ebook is ideal for students, professional horticulturalists and those who want to build a strong foundation knowledge in hydroponics. The commercial hydroponics ebook explains how to set up a commercial hydroponics system, including growing techniques and equipment that you will need. The topics covered in this book include an introduction to hydroponics, site considerations, alternatives, plant nutrition, nutrient film technique culture, rockwool culture, aggregate culture, other techniques, hydroponics equipment, greenhouse operation, plant culture in hydroponics, Vegetable crops, berry and other fruit crops, flower crops, other crops, managing a commercial hydroponic farm and a troubleshooting guide.