If you love plants and you’re looking for a side hustle, learning how to sell plants online from home could give you just what you’re looking for
Houseplants add a touch of nature to any home and have been gaining popularity in recent years. However, the cost of collecting and maintaining these plants can quickly add up. Some plants can even be viewed as status symbols. These are often hard to find and incredibly expensive!
There is a way to offset these costs while making plants more available: propagating and selling pieces of your private houseplant collection. That’s exactly what I did!
About Me 👩🌾
Hi, I’m Kristina (28)
My houseplant journey began in 2018 when I moved into my first apartment.
What started as simple decoration quickly turned into a passion for plants. Uncommon species, in particular, won over my heart. At the same time, I discovered the active online houseplant community on YouTube and Instagram. That furthered my houseplant addiction and helped me to learn much more about proper plant care.
Over time I became a better plant mom and grew my collection to over 153 plants.
The Houseplant community is extremely passionate about the topic. You can find and connect with plant lovers in almost every city all over the world.
Multiplying plants is a big part of the hobby and can become a business opportunity. Let’s explore how houseplants can easily be propagated and sold, the business side of this practice, and how much profit can be made.
How to Sell Plants Online: Where to Start 🌿
The entry barrier to making money selling houseplants is extremely low. It requires only a small investment in equipment and supplies. I found it to be a low-risk business with very little overhead.
✂️ What you’ll need to start your own plant business:
- Jars or vases
You can start with any plant you own, whether it’s rare or common. In fact, common plants such as Golden Pothos or Monstera Deliciosa are in high demand and sell like hotcakes. These universally liked plants appeal to plant enthusiasts as well as a more broad and casual audience.
Is It Scalable?
This business model is scalable through two distinct avenues. From my own experience, space is the most limiting factor. If you have a spare room, cellar, or outdoor space, your prospects for scaling up improve dramatically. Investing in a greenhouse or setting up a grow tent, along with multiple shelves and plant lights, will boost the growth of your plants, seeds, or cuttings.
Renting out space is the alternative for really committed business owners.
Since my setup is pretty small, living in a 60m2 apartment with my fiancé, I have to deal with the limited space.
My tip for high profit with little space is to go for quality instead of quantity. Selling high-value plants can increase your earnings even with severe space constraints.
Good Investment Plants
The first rule of how to sell plants online: choose the right plants! 🌺
Looking to grow your plant collection and make a smart investment at the same time? Before you can start to make money selling houseplants, you’ll need to decide which ones to keep in stock. While rare and exotic plants can be tempting, they’re also more difficult to care for and might be in less demand.
Instead, consider starting with some easy-to-care-for houseplants that are popular among a broad range of buyers.
📚 Learn more: If you’re looking to master smart investing strategies, this post listing the top 10 investment books for beginners could be worth your time
For maximum returns, you’ll want to choose plants that 👇:
- are easy to propagate
- grow quickly
- ship well
- are in high demand
- hold their value over time
These are some of my all-time best sellers 💰:
- Monstera adansonii
- Pothos/ Epipremnum
- Scindapsus pictus
- Monstera standleyana
- Syngonium podophyllum ‘Albo Variegata’
- Philodendron verrucosum
- Monstera deliciosa variegata
- Philodendron splendid
- Anthurium pallidiflorum
- Anthurium warocqueanum
- Alocasia frydek
🌺 Note: Your choice will depend on your skill at nurturing plants and on what you want to spend. The sky’s the limit when it comes to expensive plants, but you have to be careful if you want to make those the core of your path to learning how to sell plants online.
🏡 Learn more: Are you interested in enhancing your home’s property value? This post outlining the best trees for this purpose could be helpful.
How to Propagate Houseplants
Most plants can be easily propagated using cuttings, seeds, or rhizomes. Propagation involves taking a portion of a plant, such as a stem or a leaf, and regrowing it into a new plant. My personal favorite is water propagation. It is the cheapest and easiest propagation method.
✂️ How to: Cut a vine off your plant using clean scissors. Make sure to include a node on your cutting. A node is an area on a stem where leaves, branches, or buds emerge. Stick it in a jar with clean water until it develops new roots. Once rooted, the new plant can be potted back into the soil.
👉 For additional info on propagations, check out my YouTube playlist.
To ensure constant production of “inventory,” aka. plants, you will need to have a collection or stock you can take cuttings from regularly. Different types of cuttings can be sold.
- unrooted, fresh cuttings,
- rooted cuttings, bare roots,
- potted cuttings, and established plants.
I prefer to sell established and potted plants. This way, I make sure my customers get a healthy & actively growing plant. The nursery pots can be bought in bulk to lower the cost. I use small square pots that can be neatly stored on a grow shelf for more space efficiency.
Optimize the space you have available. If you can’t provide the necessary environment, look into grow lights & grow tents. For starters, a simple plastic box or take-out container will do the trick.
🌞 Tip: Good lighting + high humidity + warmth = fast growth.
Where to Sell Plants Online
Once you have propagated enough plants, you have two options to sell them, locally or online.
The most popular online platforms for plant sales are Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Instagram. Any virtual marketplace where you can post pictures of your plants and interact with potential buyers directly will do. There’s no need to set up your own website.
The Importance of Pictures 📸
You won’t be lucky in figuring out how to sell plants online if you don’t have good photos of your plants! High-quality photos help attract buyers. Let them fall in love with your plants immediately. Take the time to clean up your plants. Remove any dead leaves or debris and give them a gentle wipe-down. Next, take several pictures of each plant, including:
- Full plant
Consider including a little ruler in your photos for size reference. Include as much information as possible about the plant’s condition. Especially with expensive, rare, or variegated plants, it’s crucial to build trust with the customer.
Let them know that they will truly get what they pay for.
Unfortunately, there are a few scammers in the plant community. By providing more details, customers will choose you over other listings. In my opinion, selling healthy plants and being transparent is the best way to build a loyal customer base.
If you plan to make money selling houseplants regularly, it is important to be aware of any regulations or rules regarding small business registration and tax. When shipping plants, you will have to abide by laws on plant protection act and possible phytosanitary laws.
The process of business registration can be overwhelming. I knew nothing about the process. Which business form do I need? How do I fill out the forms? Where do I even call to ask about possible phytosanitary laws? You don’t learn those things at school. All of the mystery and obstacles made me consider quitting my plant sales altogether.
Instead, I did a lot of research online and got in touch with other small business owners over social media. Taking the first step is often the most challenging part, but once you send off your registration papers, you’ll figure the rest out little by little.
Don’t let the hassle of bureaucracy stop you from following your passion!
✍️ Learn more: In the conversation of plans and finances, knowing how to write a business plan for a small business loan can be crucial – this post dives into all the details.
Listing & Marketing Tricks
Marketing is essential for any business, and selling houseplants is no exception. Use established platforms such as eBay or Etsy, which already have a large user base. Buyers actively search for plants there and can even filter for local sellers only. I love that it’s very low commitment, as you don’t need to make & host your own website.
If you own an online shop, you’ll always need to run some sort of advertising and marketing.
Tips for Your Listings
Decide beforehand what your selling experience should look like.
Are you willing to ship plants? Are you selling fresh cuttings or established plants? Is the price negotiable? Who do you sell to, collectors or casual plant parents? These factors decide how your listing should look and how many potential buyers you’ll have.
Once you figured that out, write down a description template with all the crucial information. This text file will save you time every time you put up a new listing.
To make your listings searchable:
- Use easy-to-find titles.
- Use keywords such as “houseplants” or “indoor plants”.
- Use both the botanical & common names of the plant.
👉 Example: Epipremnum Aureum | Golden Pothos | Houseplant
How to Set a Price
For many sellers, pricing is a mix of 3 things:
- Personal investment
- Time investment
- Market value
The personal investment includes the cost of the plant and any materials, such as soil, fertilizer, and pots. Time investment includes how long you’ve cared for the plant and whether it’s in good condition. Finally, the market value can be determined by researching similar listings and reviews to find an average price.
Pricing can vary depending on your goals. If you want to sell your plants quickly, price them lower to attract buyers. For rare or exclusive plants, you can price them higher to reflect their value. Ultimately, the goal is to find a fair price for both parties.
👉 Tip: Buyers often compare prices, especially in local marketplaces, to stay competitive, consider offering discounts or promotions for customers. You could also offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount.
How to Ship Plants Correctly 📦
Great, you got a sale! Now what?
Shipping a plant in a cardboard box is surprisingly easy as long as you take the proper precautions.
- Use a sturdy box to protect the plants with plenty of padding. I use whatever I have at hand: polyfill, old newspapers, packing peanuts, or bubble wrap.
- Wrap your plant tightly and tape it to the box. Prevent it from moving around during transit, squishing all the beautiful foliage.
- Choose a shipping method that is both reliable and affordable.
- I recommend shipping Monday to Wednesday so the plants won’t get stuck in transit over the weekend.
In cold weather, either stop shipping or include a heat pack in the box!
Before shipping plants, it is important to look up any regulations in your country. A plant passport or a phytosanitary certificate might be necessary.
How to Sell Plants Online: Profit & Expenses
Let’s talk about the financial aspect of selling houseplants. How much can you expect to make, and what are the expenses involved?
The answer to that question depends on a few factors, like the types of plants you’re selling, the demand for those plants, and the prices you’re charging. You can expect to make a decent profit selling healthy, in-demand plants at competitive prices.
Here’s a breakdown of the expenses involved in selling plants, provided you already own a few plants:
- Supplies: Pots, soil, fertilizer, and other supplies to care for your plants.
- Electricity & water.
- Shipping materials: Save money by reusing old packing material.
- Fees: Some marketplaces, such as Etsy, charge fees for each sale you make.
- Tax: No tax evasion! You’ll need to pay taxes on your profits.
You’ll need to break these down to decide how much to add to each plant for these costs.
Revenue varies depending on the type & value of the plants you sell.
- Low end: 1-10€
- Mid-tier: 10-50€
- High end: 50-1000€
In just three years of sales, I was able to increase my profit despite having a small setup, casually selling mostly low-end plants for 10€ or less.
|2020||~ €200||with shipping|
|2021||~ €700||with shipping|
|2022||~ €1,200||local sales only|
Imagine what you can earn by selling high-value plants on a regular basis. With a large collection of healthy plants & a little effort, it can be a fun & profitable side hustle. If you want to get more serious with the business, consider buying plants from wholesale retailers or importing plants from South America and Asia. Venture into tissue culture or grow your plants from seed to increase your turnover.
📚 Learn more: When we talk about business and goal setting, the S.M.A.R.T. framework can be incredibly effective, as detailed in this insightful post.
Understanding Your Customers
Tracking your sales, expenses & profits can help you identify trends and predict your future sales. You may notice a dip in sales during certain months or pick up after holidays. By understanding these patterns, you can adjust your strategies accordingly. With a simple Google Excel sheet, you can record sales, the type of plants you sold & your monthly expenses.
I always make sure to provide advice on growing conditions and answer any questions my customers may have about substrates or pest treatment. By doing so, I’ve noticed that many of my customers become repeat buyers who are loyal to my business. This not only has financial benefits but also allows me to connect directly with the plant community in my area. Sometimes we end up chatting for hours & might even end up heading for a plant-shopping trip together. It doesn’t get more rewarding than that!
How to Sell Plants Online: Why You Should Try
Making money selling houseplants can be a rewarding & profitable experience! Start small and test the waters to see if it’s something you enjoy. For me, there is no better feeling than to share my passion with others while also making some extra money on the side.
There is a huge market for houseplants. It might be collectors who just want to catch ’em all, students moving into their first apartment, or someone who just killed their last plant and wants a replacement. There will always be someone appreciating a new green friend.
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