An Overview of How Nurseries Operate
A nursery is a place that grows young plants and trees until they have reached their mature size. Some nurseries sell to the general public, whereas others may only sell to businesses or provide plants and trees to private homes and estates. Some nurseries even sell plants and trees via mail.
Many people may think that a nursery only sells garden plants – such as tulips, pansies, and roses – to homeowners who want to plant gardens in their yards. Although this is one aspect of the industry, most companies actually grow and sell an extremely diverse variety of different plants, including trees, rare breeds, and foreign plants. These facilities are thus extremely important to the agriculture, forestry, and conservation biology communities because of the wide range of functions they perform.
Nurseries can perform a wide variety of different tasks with regards to planting, growing, and caring for plants, trees, and shrubs. Some specialize in a single phase of the process of raising plants. For example, some facilities focus only on propagation (i.e. growing new plants from seeds, bulbs, or cuttings), whereas other facilities receive seedlings and grow the plants to their mature size. Still, others focus on the retail sale of fully-grown plants, trees, and shrubs. A facility may also specialize in a single type of plants, such as groundcovers, trees, or popular garden plants. In contrast, others may sell bulk stock to forestry companies or orchards. Nurseries can also produce seasonal stock and export it to areas where the plants are not available or cannot be propagated because of the weather or seasonal pests that hinder propagation.
Nurseries can operate in many different ways because there are many different ways to grow and care for plants. For example, ornamental trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials need to be grown in open fields. However, small trees and shrubs that are meant for sale in garden centers must be grown in container fields. Still, other plants need to be grown in plastic tunnels or greenhouses to protect them from frost and harsh weather while still allowing them access to the sun. The greenhouses can be quite advanced, with features such as automated temperature control, ventilation, and irrigation systems. Some even have roofs that fold back to allow plants to be gradually exposed to the outdoors without having to manually move them to outdoor flower beds.
Because caring for plants requires a great deal of observation, skill, and manual dexterity, working at a nursery can be quite a labor intensive. Plants must be carefully observed to ensure that they are flourishing. This way quick adjustments can be made if they are faring poorly. For this reason, some tasks cannot be automated because they require actual human labor. However, machines can perform other parts of the process, such as watering or temperature control, where there is no need for a human workforce.