When it comes time to start planting flowers, a trip to the nursery or garden center is essential to pick out the best plants for your garden. Both nurseries and garden centers offer a wide variety of plants, seeds and accessories for the growing season. One key difference to keep in mind about these sellers is that nurseries grow plants while garden centers purchase their plants from nurseries. The business for both nurseries and garden centers is seasonal, with most business taking place during the spring and fall.
A nursery can be a retail location that sells directly to the public or a wholesale venue that sells their plants to other nurseries or garden centers. Many nurseries specialize in one type of plant, whether it is shade plants, ground covers or rock garden plants. In addition, some sell bulk stock such as seedlings for various purposes including fruit trees for orchards. In other cases, nurseries export their products to colder areas of the country where the growing season is more limited.
Nurseries can produce their plants in a variety of areas, including greenhouses, open fields and container fields. Greenhouses are very popular because they are ventilated, temperature can be automatically regulated, and portions of the watering function are automated. The greenhouse buildings are constructed from glass or plastic and are specifically designed to protect plants from frost and other harsh weather while allowing plenty of access to air and light. Open fields at nurseries are also popular because they are best for growing shrubs and ornamental trees. The container fields grow the small trees and shrubs that are often sold to garden centers.
A garden center is a retail operator that sells plants and associated items as their main business. However, there may also be large department stores that have a garden center department as part of their operations. Garden centers obtain their stock from nurseries to sell to the public, and include items such as annual and perennial flowers, hanging baskets, seeds and bulbs, fertilizers, garden tools and garden decor. Since garden centers sell direct to the public in a retail setting, the areas of the center are usually well organized and identified as home decor, landscape design, floral, etc. Greenhouses are usually a part the center to protect the plants from colder weather as they await sale. This also helps to keep customers dry on days of inclement weather.
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