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How to Run a Successful Plant Rental Business

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The neutral tones of the office building atrium provide a cold reception to tenants and visitors. Since you visit friends there, you’ve visualized how some lush green plantings would soften the atrium’s atmosphere. In a flash of inspiration, you see the benefits plants could provide to building interiors citywide. You hatch a scheme to start a plant rental business, which would provide beauty to the buildings while providing income to you. Although you’d like to stuff your car with plants and open for business, you realize that careful planning will give you a better chance for success.

Choose your products and service area. Because there are many beautiful plants from which to choose, select the environments you want to create. Do you like palm groves? Do cactus gardens intrigue you? How about a container garden for small spaces? Does a multi-level garden fascinate you? Each environment will be populated by different plant species, and you’ll need to choose plants that will thrive in those gardens.

If you’re not a garden expert, gardening books and online resources can help you select your plants. provides clearly presented information on designing and maintaining different types of indoor gardens.

Select a service area. Because plants need to be regularly maintained, don’t choose a service area too large for your staffing resources. The worst advertisement for your business will be dead and drooping plants you haven’t had time to water.

Target your markets. Within your service area, identify categories of prospects to whom you will market the plants. Besides office buildings, consider car dealerships, retirement communities (lobbies and dining rooms), malls and colleges. Finally, don’t forget real estate agents who stage listed homes for open houses.

Select a super staff. Although you currently operate the business alone, you will need to add staff as you acquire more accounts. Recruit people who are passionate (and knowledgeable) about plants, and who will be good ambassadors for your business. College horticulture and landscaping students may be good choices. Also consider retirees who love to garden.

Purchase top quality plants. Although you are running a service business, you need to purchase the plants before you can acquire plant rental income. Plant wholesalers can help you purchase quality plants in your local area. In fact, helps to match wholesale buyers with commercial growers who have the plants you need. You can also submit a “Request for Bid” to ask for quotes on hard-to-find plants.

Although it’s tempting to purchase lower-priced plants to minimize cash outlay, remember that your plants are the advertisements for your business. Spend a little more to get the best plants, and you will present a higher quality image to those who view your gardens.

Offer Grand Opening specials. Get your business off to a good start with Grand Opening prices and sign-up incentives. Because this first client group can provide a referral source for future business, ensure that their plant rental experience will be a positive one.

Participate in business and service groups. As an active member of the business community, you will meet other business owners who may become clients. You can also participate in civic and charity projects, which illustrates your commitment to your community. Business and service groups include the Civitans, Ruritans, Jaycees, Lions, and your local Chamber of Commerce.

Keep your gardens and staff growing. Change your displays and add new plants periodically. Explore the concept of “add-ons” to provide additional income and enhance the gardens. Examples include: (1) Adding wildly colorful flowers to a fern garden; (2) Adding a koi pond to a lush tropical display; and (3) Adding flowering hibiscus and other tropical flowers to a palm grove. Finally, initiate special holiday displays such as a poinsettia tree for Christmas and a lily tree for Easter.

Encourage and fund staff education. When your staff is more knowledgeable, they will provide better plant care and present a more credible image to clients and the community. Your business will have a favorable climate for growth as well.


Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

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