New tree growers who need to turn a profit right away should take a look at container growing, a system used by many commercial nurseries. Growing trees
for sale in pots, whether they are heirloom fruit trees or tiny trees for bonsai collectors, is easier, faster, more profitable and produces high quality trees. Here are seven reasons why:
- Trees that have been grown in containers are ready to sell and need no expensive machine or labor to dig up.
- Tree density can be much higher, so a grower can often produce two or three times as many trees in the same space as in-ground growing.
- Container growing uses less water, as containers can each have their own drip line, with no wasted water.
- Weeding is reduced, which lowers labor costs.
- Potted plants can be sold any time of year.
- Potting soil can be custom blended to produce the best growing medium for each tree species, so the trees grow faster.
- Transplant shock is reduced, resulting in a higher survival rate for sensitive trees like magnolias.
For these reasons, it’s not uncommon for a tree grower to net $40 to $50 thousand per acre every year producing high quality trees that are healthy and bring premium prices in the marketplace.
Some growers prefer to stick to a favorite species, like Japanese maple, while others grow a mix of tree species to have a more diverse selection to sell. Both methods work well, as the demand for quality trees has been strong in recent years, despite a slowdown during the recession. Plus, with hundreds of species to choose from, finding a “niche” that’s just right for you should be easy. New growers who are using containers can actually make money in the first year with careful planning. To do that, buy seedlings from wholesale nurseries in the spring, pot them in one-gallon pots, grow them out until the following spring and sell them. Some fast growing trees, such as willows, can even be planted in the spring and sold in the fall.
For the highest profits, set aside a portion of the young trees for re-potting into larger containers. A tree in a five or ten gallon pot can be worth 20 times the price of a younger tree of the same species in a one gallon pot, and the main requirement is patience. There are quite a few growers who have a selection of larger “specimen” trees that are sold to homeowners and landscapers who need an “instant” tree for a yard or commercial landscaping project.
Three of the top fifteen landscaping trees that are always popular as well as easy to grow are:
Flowering cherry. These colorful trees are a favorite of homeowners, with white or pink blooms to mark the arrival of spring. The Sakura cherry is the national flower of Japan, while the Kwanzan cherry is prized for it’s lovely double blooms.
Maple is a traditional landscaping favorite, with varieties ranging from giants like Autumn Blaze or Crimson King to petite japanese maples. The larger varieties are fast growing for almost instant shade and provide spectacular fall color.
Willow is a large family of varieties, from the familiar weeping willow to the twisted corkscrew willow. Many growers specialize in growing willow shoots just for basket weavers.
Potted trees can bring substantial profits in just a small space. Best of all, any unsold trees can be saved for next year, when they are larger and bring a higher price. To learn more about container growing, and the most popular and profitable trees to grow, read Growing Trees For Profit, available here.