Horticultural Crops Nursery Establishemnt and Management
Authors: A.K. Goswami, R.R. Sharma, Manish Srivastav, A. Nagaraja and Kanhaiya Singh

India, in the recent years, has emerged as a leading producer of horticultural produce at the global level. The productivity of papaya, grapes, banana and several vegetables in India is higher than rest of the world. In order to maintain the leadership role, regular supply of quality planting material is important for the horticulture growth in the country. Massive area expansion programmes under National Horticultural Mission and Technology Mission for Development of Horticulture in North Eastern States and Himalayan States require improved varieties for replanting, planting in marginal and arid areas, etc. At present, hardly 30 to 40% of the demand for quality planting material in different horticultural crops is being met by the existing infrastructure in public domain. Hence, all farmers do not have access to elite certified planting material that leads to low productivity and quality of the produce. The horticulture sector is being looked at as a harbinger of ensuring nutritional security, providing sustainable income to the farmers, generating employment, empowering the farm women and earning the valuable foreign exchange through exports. To meet the requirement, production of plants through establishment of nurseries both in public and private sectors is the prime need in the current scenario.


Definition of nursery

Nursery is a place, where seedling, sapling, trees, shrubs and other plant materials are grown and maintained until they are placed in a permanent place. In other words, nursery is a place where plants are grown, nurtured and sold out. Generally, growers require a good quality saplings or grafts of genuine type. Nursery is therefore a place where one can produce true-to-type plants by gaining technical skill, maintaining plants properly and by careful planning.

Pre-requisites for establishment of a nursery

Following points should be kept in mind while establishing a nursery:

a. It should be located in the important production areas where demand of quality planning material existing.

b. The ideal soil is deep, fertile, well drained loam which is free from pests and pathogens.

c. The locality should have adequate supply of quality water.

d. The site should be well connected with all means of transportation.

e. It should be in the vicinity of market to get all time supply of fertilizers, pesticide, growth regulators other necessary inputs required for nursery.

f. Most importantly, year round availability of labourers and other experts in propagation techniques like budder/grafter should be given due consideration.


Nurseries are categorized in different ways:

  1. Classification based on size
  1. Home Nursery : It is in a small area in the garden in which the plants are grown to meet the demands of growers own garden. The main objective is to get good quality and true to type planting material for own garden.
  2. Commercial Nursery: This type of nursery is established to earn money on the investment. Such establishment require large area as well as investment. This can again further categorised as Urban Nursery (located in cities/town) and Rural Nursery (villages) .
  1. Based on the Business
  1. Wholesale Nursery: In this type of nursery the plants are produced in large number for sale to retail outlets and mostly located in a place where land and labour cost is cheaper.
  2. Retail Nursery: This type of nursery located in the town and largely dependent on house owners for its trade. These nurseries also keep goods which is necessary for raising the garden plants.
  3. Landscape Nursery: This type of nursery is located in the populous towns or cities and caters the need of landscape plants of urban people for beautifying their homes and locality.
  4. Mail Order Nursery : It is a specialized wholesale nursery where customer order through the catalogue and receive the plants through mail or parcel services.
C. Based on Time Duration

1. Temporary Nursery: This type of nursery is developed only to fulfil the requirement of the season or a targeted project. The nurseries dedicated to production of seedlings of transplantable vegetables and flower crops are of temporary nature.

2. Permanent Nursery: This type of nursery is placed permanently so as to produce plants continuously. These nurseries have all the permanent features. The permanent nursery has permanent mother plants block. The work goes on continuously all the year round in this nursery.

D. Based on type of plants produced

1) Fruit Plant Nursery : In this nursery, seedlings and grafts of fruit crops are produced.

2) Vegetable Nursery : In this type of nursery, seedlings of transplantable vegetable such as cauliflower, cabbage, brinjal, tomato etc. are produced.

3) Flowers Plants Nursery: The seedlings of flowering plants like gerbera, carnation, petunia, salvia, rose, chrysanthemum, coleus, aster, dianthus and grafted or budded plants of vegetatively propagated ornamental plants are produced in this type of nursery.

4) Forest Nursery: The seedlings of plants useful for forestation like pine, oak, teak, eucalyptus, casuarinas are prepared and sold.

5) Miscellaneous Nursery: In such type of nurseries plants with great economic value, rare and medicinal, herbal plants are propagated. Plants like geranium, rose, calendula and marigold are propagated and sold.


One has to decide which type of nursery is to be started. At the same time the durations and type of plants propagated should be finalized. Some of the important points which have effect on success of nursery business are as follows:

  1. Selection of site
Site is the basic requirement of a nursery.

Qualities of a good site are :

  • Suitable climate
  • Good soil condition
  • Good irrigation facilities
  • Neither shady nor exposed area
  • Sufficient sunlight
  • Near a habitat
  • Good transport facility
  1. Care and management
Nursery plants require due care and attention after having either emerged from the seeds or have been raised from other sources like rootstock or through tissue culture technique. Generally they are grown in the open field under the protection of Mother Nature where, they should be able to face the local environment. The commercial nursery grower should ensure suitable conditions necessary for development and growth of the nursery plants. Following necessary practices should be followed in ideal nurseries:

Potting of the Seedling: Before planting of sapling in the pots, the pots should be filled up with proper potting mixture. Now-a-days different size of earthen pots or plastic containers are used for propagation. For filling of pots loamy soil, sand and compost can be used in 1:1:1 proportion. Sprouted cuttings, bulbs, corms or polythene bag grown plants can be transferred in earthen pots for further growth. All the necessary precautions are taken before filling the pots and planting of sapling in it.

Manuring and Irrigation: Generally sufficient quantity of nutrients is not available in the soil used for seedbed. Hence, well rotten F.Y.M / compost and leaf mould is added to soil. Rooted cuttings, layers or grafted plants till they are transferred to the permanent location, require fertilizers. Addition of fertilizers will give healthy & vigorous plants with good root & shoot system. It is recommended that each nursery bed of 10 X 10m area should be given 300 gm of ammonium sulphate, 500 gm of Single super phosphate and 100 gm of Muriate of potash. Irrigation either in the nursery beds or watering the pots is an important operation. For potted plants hand watering is done & for beds low pressure irrigation by hose pipe is usually given. Heavy irrigation should be avoided.

Plant Protection Measures: Adoption of plant protection measures, well in advance and in a planned manner is necessary for the efficient raising of nursery plants. For better protection from pest and diseases regular observation is essential.

Disease control in seedbed: The major disease of nursery stage plant is “damping off”. For its control good sanitation conditions are necessary. Preventive measures like treatment with 50% ethyl alcohol, 0.2% calcium hypo chloride and 0.01% mercury chloride is done. These treatments are given for 5 to 30 minutes. Some of the seed treatments are as follows:

Disinfection: The infection within the seed is eliminated by use of formaldehyde, hot water or mercuric chloride.

Hot water treatment: Dry seeds are placed in hot water having a temperature of 480C – 550C for 10-30 minutes.

Protection : In dry seed treatment organo mercuric and non-mercuric compounds like agallal, aretan-6, and tafasan-6. For this the seeds are shaken within the seed container. While in wet method, the seeds are immersed for certain period in liquid suspension.

Soil treatment: Soil contains harmful fungi, bacteria, nematodes and even weeds seeds, which affect the growth and further development of plant. These can be eliminated by heat, chemical treatment. Drenching of soil with formalin is also practised.

Chemical treatment: The chemicals like formaldehyde, methyl bromide, chloropicrin, vapam are used. If diseases like rust, powdery mildew, leaf spot, bacterial blight, yellow vein mosaic are observed, use of Bordeaux mixture, Carbendazime, Redomil can be used. Tricoderma viridi a bio-fungicide can also be tried out.

Weed Control: Weeds compete with plants for food, space and other essentials. So, timely control of weeds is necessary. For weed control weeding, use of cover crops, mulching, use of chemicals (weedicides) are practiced.

Measures against Heat and Cold: The younger seedling is susceptible to strong sun and low temperature. For protection from strong sun, shading with the help of timber framework of 1 meter height may be used. Net house and green house structures can also be used.

Packing of Nursery Plants: Packing is the method or way in which the young plants are tied or kept together till they are transplanted. So they have to be packed in such a way that they do not lose their turgidity and are able to establish themselves on the new site. At the same time, good packing ensures their success on transplanting. For packing baskets, wooden boxes, plastic bags are used. In some parts of the country banana leaves are also used for packing the plants with their earth ball. This is useful for local transportation.

Sale Management: In general the main demand for nursery plants is during rainy season. A proper strategy should be followed for sale of nursery plants. For that advertisement in local daily newspapers, posters, hand bills, catalogue and appointment of commission agents can be followed.

Management of Mother Plants: Care of mother plants in case of fruit & forest plants is necessary so as to get good quality propagules and scion. Mother plants should be properly labelled and recorded. Cultural practices such as irrigation, fertilization, pruning and protection from pests and diseases should be taken care.

Seed Germination/Propagation Media: Propagation medium is a substance in which plant parts are placed for propagation. Propagation medium provides initial support and favourable conditions for generating seedlings. For successful results of propagation by seed or by asexual means, quality media should be used.

Qualities of Good Medium

Good quality medium should have following characteristics:

  • The medium should be firm enough to hold propagating material.
  • It should not shrink excessively when dry.
  • It should be sufficiently porous, having ability to retain and supply sufficient moisture.
  • It should be well drained and free from weed seed.
  • The medium should have neutral pH or suitable pH (6 to 8) for plant propagation.
  • It should be free from diseases and high concentration of salts.
  • Propagation medium should supply nutrition to the propagules.

Different medium commonly used in nurseries are:

1. Soil

2. Sand

3. Leaf Mould

4. Sphagnum moss

5. Vermiculite

6. Perlite

7. Coco peat

8. FYM

9. Saw dust

10. Soil mixture

About Author / Additional Info:
I am a Scientist working in the field of horticulture