Does anyone here grow water plants to sell?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by debra in ks, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. debra in ks

    debra in ks Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone here grow water plants to sell? What advice might you have for me? What has worked well for you and what mistakes did you make? How do you market your plants? Wholesale, retail or both?

    Here’s where I’m at right now.
    I have had a 6x9 backyard fish pond for about 5 years now. I’ve become quite good at propagating hardy water lilies and water iris. So far every single plant I’ve divided has lived and done very well. Water Hyacinth and water lettuce are like rabbits in that they multiply extremely fast on their own. I’m going to have to add more ponds this year just to have enough space to keep them all.

    I’ve decided on raised ponds because they are easier to work in and a whole lot less trouble to clean. I’m looking at hard plastic stock tanks as a good alternative. Any stock I want to keep for “mothers” the next spring can be kept in my basement under grow lights in the winter

    Hardy lilies sell for $35.00 apiece retail in my area, so I’m thinking there could be a tidy little seasonal income from them. In addition, the old gentleman who used to grow water plants for the garden centers and local folks around here has passed away, so there are currently no local wholesale suppliers. I’ve talked to 2 garden centers here who are very interested in a local supply. I live about a mile from the richest county in Kansas (Johnson) and many folks there have a small fortune in disposable income to spend on their backyard ponds.

    I already have a small art business, so I’m familiar with a sole proprietorship and paying sales tax.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The lady I buy water plants from has some raised ponds (I'm guessing you are talking about above ground concrete pools that are only a foot or two deep), but also uses plastic kiddie ponds. The plastic pools give her a lot of room to put baby plants in to grow out, and once the plastic pool plants get sold out, she can empty the water and easily store them. This helps to keep her place looking tidy.

    You could also buy feeder goldfish in the spring for your little pools and sell them throughout the summer. They will eat larvae and fertilize the plants, as well as look real pretty.
     

  3. fishhead

    fishhead Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You might be able to build shallow ponds with 2"x12" frames with pond liners inside cheaper than buying tanks.

    I just built a special fish spawning pond with a 30'x100' liner. It cost $0.40 per foot but you could probably get a cheaper liner. I built this pond into the ground so that would also be an option. Mine is 3' deep but you could probably get by with 6"-12" and in that case dig it with a shovel and skip the wooden frame. The liner is like heavy truck tire inner tube. Mine weighed 900 pounds. It has a 20 year warranty.
     
  4. blue gecko

    blue gecko Well-Known Member

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    Debra, in my state they've just outlawed the sale of water hyacinths commercially. It has to do with them being a nuisance, a non-native invasive plant. I don't think they survive Kansas winters but you might check to make sure.

    The feeder goldfish are a great idea. It's amazing how many varieties of goldfish you can get for feeder prices. Mine have done very well and have been quite prolific. This spring some will go to the watergarden nursery for resale. Be picky and choose the ones with some unusual colors.
     
  5. roughingit

    roughingit knitwit

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    I have in the past on a small scale (just three ponds and 18 tanks...and some buckets, but they don't count) and my Grandparents do on an actual nursery-sized scale. At least half their sales come from water plants.

    Best sellers are nice healthy water lilies and those also bring the best profit since, as you've found out, they grow fast and you can divide them! For hyacinth and water lettuce, one of the most profitable things thay have found is to keep them in a greenhouse all year round. They haul some out for summer, but that keeps it from dying back so much in the winter. Then come spring, they have the nicest and best supply of the stuff! People know they are first in season locally. That greenhouse is mostly devoted to water plants. They keep many of the flashy lilys that don't reliably come back over the winter so they don't need to buy new ones every year and some of the more popular grasses and rushes too in there too.

    They use all aboveground ponds and liners with box frames around them as well. They only have a few inground ponds and those are mostly for show.
     
  6. roughingit

    roughingit knitwit

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    Oh yes, as someone else mentioned, do look into your state's nuisance laws, there's some pretty stiff fines if they catch you with the wrong things!
     
  7. debra in ks

    debra in ks Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for ideas.

    My first idea for the raised ponds was to use 6x6's two rows high with a liner, but the cost was going to be around $400.00 a pond! Hence the stock tank idea. (I have a farm tax number and won't have to pay sales tax.) I do have 4 hard plastic kiddie pools I bought last summer for the overflow of plants, but they aren't very satisfactory except as a temporary measure.

    Water hyacinths are illegal in many southern states, but not in Kansas. They don't usually last past Thankgiving outside. I do plan to overwinter as much of next years crop as possible to have a very early supply. The garden centers here don't usually have them until sometime in June.

    By the way, they are building a 3.5 million dollar public library across the road from me beginning this spring. Should be open in spring 2008. Thinking about all those potential customers sure makes me smile!
     
  8. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I know our libraries appreciate a gift of a magazine subscription. It would be nice of you to give your library a gift of "Koi" magazine, and perhaps some other outdoor gardening magazines that focus on water plants. :angel:

    If they have any kind of wish list, wish for some pond books, and water garden books.
     
  9. debra in ks

    debra in ks Well-Known Member

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  10. COSunflower

    COSunflower Country Girl Supporter

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    I've used a 250 gal. Rubbermaid stock tank for a small pond for several years. I have it sitting above ground with rocks piled around it to hide the black tank. It is 2 1/2 ft. tall and I have mini water lilies, cat tails, and another arrow shaped leaf plant (can't remember the name) in it that come back every year no matter HOW cold it gets (got -11 last winter). I keep 3 feeder goldfish in with the plants and don't feed them at all as they eat the bugs, algae etc. The seem to hibernate in the bottom over winter. They were 3 years old this past summer and were so big that the cats were trying to catch them when they came to the top. One summer I had something catch and throw them all out into the yard!!! I brought them in this fall and put them in my big indoors aquarium till I make a bigger pond this coming summer. I have already bought a big uniquely shaped sturdy pond liner. Isn't it funny how addicting ponds become? :) I have another stock tank that I'm not using now since my last old goat passed away last spring so may make it into a pond also :) Oh! I also have a hardy carnivorous pitcher plant that I put out in the summer and bring inside to keep in a bucket in the winter. My neice that grows and sells carnivorous plants assures me that it will be OK outside all winter but I don't want to take any chances....