Garden Centre/Retail Nurseryperson

These are people who sell plants to the public. They sometimes propagate and grow some of the plants they sell, but selling is their focus, not production. They may also sell associated products, such as potting media, pots, fertilisers and pest control chemicals; any of which can become “add on sales,” increasing the amount of income that can be generated when they sell a plant to a customer.

What They Do

Daily work priorities must always be to care for the plants first. If plants begin to look poorly, dry out, become infected - or worse - die, reputation will slide and the viability of the nursery is threatened.
Staff need to inspect plants, eliminate any signs of dead or diseased tissue, remove weeds, prune off unsightly growth, water plants, or remove plants that are no longer worthy of floor space, ensure paths are not slippery (remove algae), make sure aisles or paths are not obstructed, ensure non-living stock is topped up and presentable on shelves, etc. Beyond this, they need to be observant of any clientele who enter the nursery, and proactive in applying subtle sales techniques to servicing the customers.

Where They Work

Retail nurseries can be small or large, and can be departments within larger retailers. Large hardware stores often have a garden centre attached, and sometimes a production nursery may also have a retail section.

What is Needed

Garden centre staff need:
  • Good plant knowledge. An ability to identify a minimum of 500 different plants and talk about how and where to grow each of those plants.
  • Broad foundation knowledge of horticulture including soils, nutrition, water management, weed control, pest and disease management etc.
  • Knowledge of all non-living products and services that can be sold through the nursery, and an appreciation of the potential for ‘add on sales’ (eg. Selling a fertiliser to go with a plant being purchased, or potting media and pot to be used with an indoor plant being purchased).
  • Skills to operate machinery and equipment, and apply safe and productive work practices. 
  • If you are to be self-employed you need business and marketing skills


Retail nurseries will traditionally generate most of their income from plant sales. Product knowledge is crucial. If you can talk about the plants you have a greater ability to sell them. Retail nurseries employ staff to maintain and sell the plants they stock.

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