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Re: Mail Order Nurseries

I think you're right about most nurseries buying stuff to re-sell. Maybe all of them do to a certain extent, if you include contract growers among the suppliers. The nursery I work for probably buys at least 75 percent of what it sells in landscapes and retail sales.

There are a couple of reasons for this--one, even with 140+ acres, we don't have enough room to grow everything we need, and two, not everyone is good at growing everything. So we concentrate on growing the things we're good at [a dozen kinds of palms, live oaks, ligustrum trees, and a very few other things]. We also do a brisk wholesale business in the stuff we grow.

The business philosophy here has always been one of "growing for the future," so we don't grow a lot of tomorrow's sales [small container plants]. As a rule, we grow the big-bucks stuff and the high-demand stuff.

The counties in this area all require a certain number of 30-gallon water-thrifty trees in every new landscape. The number required depends on the size of the property. One of the more popular "permitted" trees is the live oak [Q. virginiana], so we grow lots of them. At any given time, we've got close to a thousand of them ready to go into the ground.

We also have business relationships with others where we tend to the growing of, say, coconut palms on their "plantation." They get a tax write-off and we get an inexpensive source of somewhat expensive plants. At some point, a successful nursery--mail order or not--has got to face the expansion issue. I would guess that contract growers is the best option for most.

On Sunday, November 30, 2003, at 11:57 PM, Marge Talt wrote:

Well, Jim, as others have said; depends a lot on where you are and
what plants you're interested in.  I've ordered plants via mail for
30 years because I wanted something I couldn't otherwise get.  Yes,
if you can find what you want locally in a nice large pot, you're
ahead of the game, but even around here, where more and more is
becoming available, the really choice and rare stuff is only going to
be found via mail.

IMO we need to support our mail-order nurseries.  Many of them are the
last remnants of true nurseries where they propagate and grow the
plants they sell.  Most garden centers and large local nurseries
around here buy in their plants; don't grow a thing; never propagate
at all.  The people selling don't know much about plants, even the
ones they're selling.  The knowledge and years of hands on experience
in growing and propagating rare and difficult or unusual plants rest
with our *good* mailorder nurseries.
Island Jim
Southwest Florida
Zone 10

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