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Wholesale Nurseries: What Are They & Why You Should Use Them

Whether you’re giving your backyard a full demo or just a mild facelift, chances are your outdoor upgrade will require plants at some point. Expensive structures, pools, and hardscaping aside, nothing elevates your space faster than some great landscaping. But when it’s time to plant a new row of box shrubs, where are you heading to buy them? Wholesale nurseries? Or your local retail nursery? And do you even know the difference?

No worries. If you don’t have much experience in the industry, it’s easy to remain oblivious to the nitty gritty. But if you’re looking to access the widest selection of plants, save some money, and find access to expert advice, knowing more about where you’re buying your greenery matters. Here’s why wholesale nurseries beat out retail nurseries nearly all of the time.

Wholesale Nurseries vs Retail Nurseries

At its core, the difference between wholesale nurseries and retail nurseries is pretty simple. If you’ve ever shopped wholesale for anything, you’re already familiar with the structure. In fact, you may already be shopping wholesale in other areas of your life without even noticing it.

What is shopping wholesale?

In the last few decades, wholesale shopping has become a regular occurrence thanks to businesses like Costco or Sam’s Club. Both of these companies allow customers to skip other retail grocers and buy in bulk. It’s the difference between walking out of the store with 50 cans of chickpeas that all cost 10 cents per can, or walking out of Target with three cans of chickpeas that cost you a dollar each. Wholesale pricing simply means that there is typically a lower price per unit, with the added benefit of fewer return trips to repurchase.

This same concept can be applied to the difference between wholesale nurseries and retail nurseries. You can walk out of a retail nursery with three tomato plants at more than ten dollars each. Or, you can visit a wholesale nursery and find the same plantings at a much lower price, and buy seedlings for your entire vegetable garden while you’re at it. 

Customer Demographic

The differences don’t stop there. Unlike those familiar wholesale grocery chains, the distinction between wholesale nurseries and retail nurseries runs a bit deeper. One of the biggest differences between retail and wholesale nurseries not seen in some other wholesale models is the customer base. Wholesale grocery stores of today draw significant traffic from everyday retail customers- wholesale nurseries do not.

For the most part, wholesale nurseries service and sell to professional landscapers and landscaping companies. In other words, your local wholesale nursery is where the experts go to buy what they need for their next project. Still, this doesn’t mean that only professionals are welcome.

Rather, it means that wholesale nurseries often fly under the radar as an untapped resource to the general public. But it doesn’t have to stay this way. There are plenty of very good reasons why your next plant purchase should be from your local wholesale shop.

Advantages of Wholesale Nurseries

The benefits to visiting a wholesale nursery near you are numerous. Whether you’re on a DIY landscaping mission, or well-versed in the field, there’s a good reason to skip retail and go straight to the source.


As mentioned, buying wholesale in any walk of life is likely to save you money in some capacity. Say you’re planting a privacy wall and you’re looking to purchase box shrubs. You’ve got a fairly large perimeter to plant, and you’re going to need a lot of plants. A trip to your local retail nursery may send you home with the plants you’re looking for, but your wallet will be screaming. This experience is avoidable.

A wholesale nursery will have the same plants you’re looking for, at a much more reasonable price. Planting will never be cheap, but it shouldn’t cost more than it has to. Shopping your local wholesale nursery is a smart way to be kind to your backyard and your bank account.

Employee Expertise

The second reason to skip retail and go wholesale has nothing to do with money at all. Instead, it has to do with the knowledge and experience of the staff who manage them. When you walk into a retail nursery, chances are you will be greeted by hobbyist, amateurs, or even high schoolers working a 9-5. While they may be able to direct you around the store, it’s less likely that they’ll be able to answer any specific questions.

Asks such as “Will this do well in direct sunlight? Is this invasive? How cold-weather tolerant is this variety over another?” could easily go unanswered at a retail nursery. This is not the case when shopping wholesale.

Wholesale nurseries are staffed by expert horticulturists whose passion in life is growing plants and knowing the details. Not only will employees at a wholesale nursery have the knowledge base to answer your question, but they’ll be comfortable giving advice as well. Get recommendations on how to fill that one corner of your lot. Get advice on how to bring back your lackluster rose bushes. Find out what plantings are likely to provide curb appeal long past the summer months.

Unless you’re in the landscaping business yourself, chances are you’re not without questions. So go where the experts go, and get them answered by staff who really know their stuff.


Beyond staff and price points, there’s one more major reason to go wholesale- stock. If you were to compare the stock of your local wholesale nursery to that of your local retail provider, you’d quickly see the difference. Retail nurseries may stock some best sellers in quantities of a few dozen. Buying what you need can require multiple trips around town.

On the other hand, wholesale nurseries have an incredibly wide stock. Choose from a long list of varieties and species to find the best fit for your yard. Need a whole lot of just one thing? Maybe you’re still working on that aforementioned privacy wall. Or perhaps you’re just aiming to fill a retaining wall with a shock of flowering color. No matter what the end goal is, a wholesale nursery will nearly always have you covered. 

When To Shop Retail Nurseries Instead

All this is not to say that retail nurseries don’t have their place. In fact, there are a few times when shopping a retail nursery could be an advantage to shopping wholesale. Say you know exactly what you need, and you only need a few. You’re not looking for advice, and you’re confident in how to plant and take care of what you’re buying. In this case, it could be more convenient and effective to go retail.

Retail nurseries are also useful when your needs begin to extend beyond plants. Birdbaths, yard spray, fountains, and yard accessories are all staples in retail nurseries across the US. These are all items you’re unlikely to find at a wholesale supplier. From gardening supplies, to decorative items, you’re likely going to need to pay a visit to a retail nursery to find what you’re looking for.

Beyond that, retail nurseries can be a good place to browse and get an idea of what is out there. Find out what you like and what you’re interested in purchasing, and then head to the source to buy.

Shop a Wholesale Nursery Near You

At the end of the day, everybody wants to have the best shopping experience possible. THis means finding what you need, getting the help you’re looking for, and walking away feeling confident in your purchase. This is what wholesale nurseries specialize in. While the prospect of “going where the pros go” could be intimidating, employees of wholesale nurseries are there to help. Get your questions answered and get the best deal possible.

And if after all is said and done, you think your yard could benefit from a final touch by way of decorative birdbath, or hanging flower pot, a retail nursery is always available to help.

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