The Real Poop
No—the real poop in this scenario does not relate to fertilizer.
We all know who a retail nurseryman is: he's the guy who works in that sunroom at Orchard Supply Hardware and gets to spend all day sniffing flowers and watching trees grow. Right?
Working in a retail nursery is nowhere near as easy or cut-and-dried (or trim-and-water) as many people might think. For one thing, the plants don't come with instructions.
Nursery managers have to devise growth plans for each plant, which include positioning them to receive optimal sunlight and knowing the proper amount of watering to be done for each. In return for taking care of these and other responsibilities, plant nursery managers receive a median annual salary of $43,500 (source).
The work requires a strong knowledge base, but it's certainly less stressful than other jobs—in fact, it can actually relieve stress. But working in a retail nursery is like no other type of work, and it involves variables that those who have never done it may not realize. Let's take a look at what it means to be a retail nurseryman, and why it isn't just a shear walk in the park.
Sure, working at a high-stress job isn't a good thing. But the opposite extreme can waver on tedium. Deadheading (removing faded flowers from) flowering annuals is relaxing for a while, but it becomes tedious pretty quickly.
The same goes for dragging hoses around to keep the nursery properly watered during hot summer weather—especially after four, eight, or even ten hours. And that "dragging" is no joke; to work in a plant nursery you'll need to lift heavy things, sometimes as much as fifty pounds, and rearrange heavy potted plants throughout your day.
Fortunately, retail nursery work is more exciting than that most of the time. There's always variety in the weather to keep things interesting (unless you work in certain parts of Southern California, where it's warm and sunny all day, every day). High heat levels mean more watering for the plants and a pretty uncomfortable work environment for you. When it gets too cold, sensitive plants need to be protected from frost damage.
The most interesting variable is the customers. Most want some kind of plant they read about in a magazine or saw on television, even if it's not at all appropriate to their particular climate or soil type. No one seems to understand that what Martha Stewart does in New England may not work in California, Florida, Texas, or any place outside of New England. They just read about it in a magazine and want it now.
In the end, though, if you're interested in this career, it's probably because you love plants. Everyone's familiar with the whole "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" thing, and this career is definitely one where that maxim might ring true.
If you're the type who thinks petunias, roses, and chrysanthemums are the most beautiful creations on the planet (or some other combination of flowers—we're not the experts here), read on to find out how to make your plant-loving dreams into a career reality.