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I was umming and ahhing about writing this because I didn’t think I had enough experience, and then I realised that…I do. I’ve sold plant cuttings.
Look, if you’re concocting some kind of get-rich-quick scheme involving your plants, then maybe hold your horses. Plant selling isn’t particularly lucrative unless you can get a lot of starting capital and/or access to super rare or popular plants.
BUT you can make a bit of extra cash whenever you need to cut your plants back.
I don’t have any aspirations to start a plant shop. I’d definitely have a bricks and mortar plant shop – book shop – coffee shop type thingy, but online? Nah.
(I’m not saying bricks and mortar is easier at ALL – far from it – but I have experience in running cafes and enjoy it)
My boyfriend and I simply fell into selling plant cuttings when he bought a rare but cheap begonia and it went wild in our terrarium. We had to cut it back and people wanted cuttings. It was no-brainer.
Selling cuttings is VASTLY different from selling whole plants for a variety of reasons, all to do with shipping. When you ship a cutting, you can pop it in a small, thin box and it’ll reach its destination with few issues. It can also fit through a letterbox, so no risk of it getting sent to post office purgatory.
Plants have soil, and can dry out, and be knocked around and it’s a whole big thing. You’ll also need to work out who the best courier is, weighing up things like cost vs how much the driver’s gonna whack it around etc etc.
Where to sell plant cuttings online
- if you already have a following, you already have a market
- private messaging is easy
- you can run in-app ads
- Not much use if you don’t have a following unless you run a successful ad campaign
- international buyers, so either specify you’re [your country] only or pay higher shipping fees
- you can do free collection
- more receptive to common plants
- choosing beggars all day long
- established site for selling plants
- you can run ads
- people can be reticent to buy plants due to previous scams – expect people to ask for pictures of ‘their’ cutting, and be prepared to provide them
Pretty much the same as eBay.
Your own website
If you already have a large audience to your website, then it makes sense to sell on your own website. However, I wouldn’t recommend setting up a website to sell plants unless you already know how to set up websites and/or sell plants.
There are TONNES of people out there convincing people that their own website is the only way to go because it’s the only platform you ‘own’.
They’re usually just affiliate grifters.
Your own website is great BUT you need to get it up and running (which is expensive in either money or time if you don’t know what you’re doing) and then get people to it.
If you already have a dedicated social media following (think Kaylee Ellen setting up the Rare Plant Shop) then your own website is the way forward but otherwise, stick to a third party.
Use established selling sites first. If your own website is the goal, build up your sales first, and you can direct people to your own website once you have an established market. My mum went all on Etsy during lockdown (she sells cards my dad designs), built up her sales using their SEO recommendations and then directed all her customers to her website.
How to package your cuttings
There are loads of different ways to do this, but this way worked well for our begonia cuttings.
We tended to sell the cuttings as three-inch-ish sections, which had about 3/4 nodes on.
- Take the cutting
- Wrap in damp kitchen towel
- Wrap in bubble wrap (we just kept used bubble wrap from my boyfriend’s work, but Amazon paper packing works fine)
- Pack in a cardboard box. We bought a pack of small flat boxes from Amazon similar to these.
Try not to worry about them too much. They last longer in the post than you might think BUT I would highly recommend sending them first class.
Which plants are easiest to sell?
There are a few ways to go here. it’s unlikely any of these will make you a millionaire BUT there is definitely chances to take advantage of the current market if you keep on top of houseplant social media.
Take advantage of trends
- Plants that go viral on TikTok
- Plants shown in celebrities’ homes
Watch plant tours of popular YouTubers – you never know when they might start a new trend.
Plants that command a high price
Occasionally, you might come across a plant on Facebook marketplace or somewhere that you can resell for a high price. This is usually plants that are too big or annoying to move. Think massive ferns, cacti or Monstera. Hoya and Christmas cactus also crop up from time to time. If you can pick them up and get them home in one piece, you can either sell them for what they’re worth or chop and prop.
This seems unethical to some people, but it’s no different to buying cheap clothes from thrift shops, fixing them up and reselling them.
Plants that grow quickly
This is the category we fell into. The begonia is a freaking MENACE.
If you have an old aquarium or terrarium you can set it up with lights and a humidifier, fill it with quick-growing plants and you’ll have tonnes of cuttings pretty frequently for no effort and little expense.
- small-leaved begonia
- Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
- Tradescantia – Nanouk are always popular because it’s pink
I have a marble queen Pothos in my terrarium that is HUGE (she’ll fenestrate any day now) that I have no plans to sell but that command a slightly higher price than regular cutting for a couple of reasons:
- She big. People love big pothos leaves
- Her aerial roots are rooted into the substrate, and people will pay more for rooted cuttings
How much to charge for your cuttings
I usually go to eBay and look at similar specimens. If you have no following at all, pricing yourself on the lower side is good, but don’t be ridiculous about it.
The bigger the cutting, the more you can charge. You can also charge more for rooted cuttings. We have a separate terrarium set up that contains loads of little pots of rooted begonia cuttings, so they’re always ready to go. We post in the same way, but the root ball is wrapped in plastic wrap.
One of the reasons we stick to cuttings over plants is that p&p stays reasonable (I think around $1.50). We usually incorporate it into the price of the listing and then say free p&p BUT the begonia we sell is rare (literally the only one on eBay in the UK) so there’s no competition*.
*No, it’s not gonna make us rich. It’s only rare because no one really wants it so there’s no point in big plant sellers stocking it, BUT there’s a niche group of vivarium owners that like live plants and this one (small-leaved, loves humidity, blooms frequently) is popular with them. We sell a handful a month.
Will you need a phytosanitary certificate?
Only if you’re exporting your plant out of the country. For this reason, I’d recommend staying within the confines of your own country, unless there are trade agreements set up that allow plants to cross with phytosanitary certificates. Sometimes, for example if you’re moving plants within the EU, you might only need a plant passport.
Selling plants can be a really great side-hustle for people that love buying plants but don’t really have the room to grow them massive. I wouldn’t, however, recommend you drop your day job until you’ve got yourself established as a seller.