Have you ever wished there could be some way for you to make money growing the plants you love in your own home?
Do you live in a small space or in a city where having a large garden or even a farm are out of the question?
Are you looking for a way to combine your love of gardening with a desire to make a small profit at the same time?
If so, growing herbs for profit may be the perfect opportunity for you!
While some of the most successful herb gardeners have a lot of space to devote to the task, it’s still very possible for a home grower to see a good return when growing herbs to sell. There are a lot of things to keep in mind if you’re going to try this, however, and in this article, we’ll introduce you to all the best beginner information you need to learn how and get started on the path to growing herbs as a crop.
If you only have indoor space to devote to growing your herb plant options, don’t worry! We’ve got plenty of information here to help you learn all about this fun and exciting journey, no matter what amount of space you might have to work with.
Now, let’s get started!
Is it Possible to Grow Herbs for Profit?
The short answer to this question is yes! However, there’s a lot you need to keep in mind when you’re thinking about growing herbs for profit. In this section, you’ll learn about the general idea of selling the herbs you grow yourself, and you’ll find out about some of the issues you may encounter when you try to do this on a larger scale. Read through our tips and you’re sure to see how easy this can really be as long as you’re willing to put forth some effort!
- Growing healthy herbs that have a good flavor and high production rates should be your number one concern. It’s important to learn all the individual requirements of the types of herbs you plan to grow and to adapt those requirements to your own yard, home, or garden.
- If you have space, you may want to consider growing herb plants to sell as well to harvest from. Many local home gardeners and growers are likely to want to purchase their own started plants to grow, and if your plants are high-quality, they’ll be likely to buy them from you.
- Marketing is important and should always go hand-in-hand with education. You can sell your plants in a lot of different places (which we will discuss further on in this article), but no matter where you plan to sell, make sure you have all the information your customers might want ready to give to them. Make cards with growing tips or give out free recipes that can showcase the tastes of your herbs. These are both great ways to keep customers coming back again and again.
- Combining good growing practices with a varied product list, informative help for your customers, and solid marketing is the best strategy for selling your herbs at a profit.
10 Best Herbs for a Growing Business
While you can certainly try your hand at growing and selling just about any type of herb, there are a few that are sure to do even better when it comes time to find a market for them. In this section, we’ll list the top 10 best herbs for an herb-growing business, especially for a beginner. You’ll be able to choose the ones you want to focus on and decide which options might be best for your target audience.
This is a popular herb that smells amazing. People like to use it in cooking, in making their own tea blends, and even just in decorating. Consider making small sachets of lavender for use as a potpourri.
This is a very popular fresh herb as well, especially when it gets closer to the holidays. Peppermint is great when crushed in tea or water, but it also tastes nice when used fresh in a lot of desserts. You can also include it in any fragrant sachets you might make as well.
This herb may not grow well in every climate, but if you live somewhere that lemongrass can thrive, it’s becoming a very good option for selling at farmer’s markets. It’s considered a more exotic herb, so many people are excited to try cooking with it for the first time, while others who are used to cooking with it enjoy finding it freshly grown.
Rosemary remains widely used in a lot of different recipes. It smells very fragrant and can be a great addition to sachets, too. This is a popular herb to sell as a started plant for other home growers.
Those who make their own tea blends are quite fond of chamomile, but there’s also a good market for this herb for those who may be looking for home stomachache remedies. Chamomile is very calming and soothing, so selling it as an herbal remedy is a good option.
Pet lovers are usually very happy to buy small treats for their furry friends at the farmer’s market. Growing your own catnip is very easy and can be a surprisingly profitable part of selling herbs you’ve grown yourself. Make sure to market it in bags that appeal to pet lovers, too—and never sell it along with other herbs in the same bag (to prevent potential toxicity for pets).
Lots of home cooks and restaurant chefs alike cook often with parsley. Offering both dried and fresh parsley is a great way to reach out to a large market very quickly.
Basil is largely considered the most popular herb for cooking with. It remains the best-selling herb at farmer’s markets, and many restaurant chefs are interested in buying this herb in bulk as well. You can sell it both dried and fresh for the best possible results.
If you grow your own chives, you’ll probably want to use them in your own cooking, too! Chives have a lovely smell and taste great in a lot of culinary situations. They are very easy to grow, hardy, and popular among potential customers around the country. They are also good options to sell as started plants, too.
Last but not least, the very fragrant and tasty cilantro is another good herb to try selling. While dried cilantro isn’t really a good culinary ingredient, fresh cilantro tastes great in all sorts of recipes as well as on top of garden salads. Make sure to let your customers know this when they’re interested in buying!
Materials Needed to Get Started
You’ll need to make sure you’ve got all the right materials to get started growing your herbs before you ever begin the process. If you try to start without everything ready to go, you may feel like the challenge is impossible to overcome—and it might very well be! Ensuring that you have all the possible items you might need on hand before you begin is a great way to set yourself on the path to success with growing your herbs.
- Space to grow: Whether your space is indoors, outside, or on a patio or lanai, you’ll need room to grow your herbs. Make sure you have a dedicated spot for them where they can get a good amount of light and are safe from pets or children who might want to bother them inside.
- The right containers: Growing herbs in containers requires containers that can drain efficiently. If you put your plants in a non-draining container, the roots will rot quickly.
- A note about organics: If you want to sell your crop as an organic product, in some states, it must be grown on certified organic farmland only. It may be better for a home gardener to refrain from using the word “organic” in marketing.
- Growing medium: Herbs do better in a growing medium blend instead of in plain soil. Choose one that has peat moss in the mix for best results.
- pH testing your soil: If you’re growing in the ground, pick up a soil testing kit and check the pH of your dirt. You’re looking for a pH of around 7.0, give or take a bit. If your soil isn’t close to this, consider building a raised garden bed instead.
- Watering can or garden hose: A must-have for any plant growing!
- Shade: Your plants need about 6 hours of direct sunlight but require much more indirect light to thrive. Purchasing a shade for outdoor growing plants can be a great way to help them get just what they need.
- Seeds: Of course you’ll need seeds! Purchase several of your favorite herbs to get started.
- Previously started plants: For selling purposes, it’s always best to start with seeds and grow plants yourself rather than beginning from a cutting.
- Spade and shovel: More must-haves for plant growing!
- Organic liquid fertilizer: Take care not to over-fertilize your herbs. However, a small amount of liquid fertilizer can work wonders for them.
- Mulch: In the winter, if you’re growing herbs outside, you’ll want to spread a few inches of mulch to protect the roots from frost.
- Herb scissors: You’ll need these to cut from your herb plants.
- Twine: If you want to tie your herbs together for drying, you’ll need twine.
- Space to dry: Herbs must be tied together and hung upside-down in the midmorning to dry in the sun. They need to be in a partially shaded place that won’t reach temperatures of over 70 degrees.
- Airtight containers for dried herbs: Once herbs have dried, they must be stored until they are used or sold.
How to Plant and Harvest Herbs
Learning how to plant and harvest your herbs is one of the most important steps in the herb selling process. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide for how to plant and harvest your herbs for maximum success.
- Choose your containers before you get started. Even if you’ll be growing your herbs outside, you need to start your seeds in containers indoors to be sure they’re growing healthy and strong before you transplant them.
- Seed trays and peat moss pots are the best options for starting herbs indoors. You can move them to different containers when they get a little bigger.
- Fill each container with a quality growing mix and moisten with water.
- Place seeds on top of the growing mix and move just a small amount of potting mix over the top. Do not push the seeds down into the soil. They don’t need to be deeply buried.
- Put your containers in a window that gets a good amount of sunlight and stays around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a few degrees.
- In one to two months, you can transplant seeds outside or to larger pots. For larger pots, simply fill with potting mix and move the plant into the new container.
- To transplant outside, first be sure to wait until the frost has finished for the year. Water plants 2 hours before you will be moving them.
- Wait until evening to transplant herbs so they will not be burned by the sunlight. Spend the day preparing your garden beds for their new residents.
- Gently loosen the herbs from their growing containers and place them in small holes dug in the growing beds with a spade.
- Use the spade to lightly pack down the soil around the plants. Water them again.
- Keep your plants fertilized and watered until time to harvest.
- Different types of plants have different harvesting requirements.
- If you are harvesting herb leaves, snip them with scissors in the morning and cut them off before the plant has a chance to flower.
- If you are harvesting herb flowers, snip them with scissors before the flower opens.
- If you are harvesting herb seed pods, wait for the seed pods to change color, then remove them with scissors.
- Dig up root herbs at the beginning of fall.
- Stop harvesting your herbs by mid-autumn so they will be able to prepare for winter.
It’s impossible to give one hard and fast rule for pricing herbs (or any crop) to sell because there are a lot of different factors that may make a difference in your asking price. However, here are a few tips to keep in mind when thinking about the price you’ll ask for your herbs.
- Don’t sell yourself short. Always keep a good record of how much money you’ve spent on supplies, seeds, packaging, and even your water bill increase for watering your crops. Also, if you’re really trying to make a profit, don’t forget to factor in the cost of your own labor plus a little extra.
- Don’t be afraid to look around and see what herbs are selling for in your area. Check out the local grocery stores and plan to sell for a little less than those if possible. If there are competitor small herb farmers in your area, try to keep your prices around theirs—otherwise, you’ll risk making enemies unnecessarily!
- Sell by the ounce or by two-ounce bundles or bags to get started. If you have customers who are willing to buy in bulk, don’t be afraid to cut them a deal. However, most individual buyers will want to buy in smaller bundles so they can use their herbs before they go bad, so always try to cater to these customers.
Where to Sell Herbs
Learning how to market your herbs is important, but understanding where you can and should try to sell them is equally so. Different herb gardeners have better results in some places than others, and it pays to try several different options to figure out which area is best for you and your herbs. Below is a list of some of the most popular routes herb growers tend to try when figuring out where to sell their products.
This is probably one of the best places for most growers to sell their herbs. Farmer’s markets are available in many places, and even smaller towns have started having them as well as larger cities. If you’ll be selling herbs at a farmer’s market, consider the cost of setting up a booth and don’t forget to think about the amount of time it will take to sell once a week.
- Sell herbs for cooking as well as for natural remedies for colds, sore throats and more. This way, you’ll be able to reach a wider market with the same types of products.
- Don’t forget to set up an attractive booth! Don’t set up at a farmer’s market until you have enough product to keep your table from looking empty.
Talk to local restaurant owners and see if they’re interested in purchasing fresh herbs in bulk for cooking. Depending on where you live, they might never have been approached by an herb gardener in the area before. If you live in a large city with a lot of home growers, however, it may be a little more competitive to go this route, so be ready with attractive marketing and with good prices, too.
- Some chefs may be interested in growing herbs themselves, so don’t forget to offer to sell started plants in this situation.
Catnip is very easy to grow, and many pet owners will be happy to purchase it from you. Talk to locally-owned pet stores about selling sachets of your highest-quality catnip to their loyal customers. And don’t forget about this at your farmer’s market booth, too!
While selling online is certainly an option, when it comes to herb growing, it should not be the first one you try. This type of selling and marketing can bring its own set of challenges and costs, and you may want to have an established local clientele before you ever try selling online.
- If you will be selling online, you might want to look for forums or other sites dedicated to selling home-grown produce before you make your own website.
- If you want to sell from your own website, you’ll need to research marketing to ensure that it goes well.
7 Tips for Herb Care
Learning what works well for your own herbs can be a lot of trial and error, but there are a few good tips to keep in mind no matter what. Whether you’re growing outdoors in the ground, in raised garden beds, on a patio or inside the house, these tips are a great way to be sure your herbs are getting all the right care to keep them thriving and growing well for many years to come.
1. Watering depends on a lot of factors.
You’ll need to think about the type of plant you’re growing, the type of soil you’re using, and even the material of the container you may be growing your plants in to determine the right amount of water. Herbs do best when their soil is saturated with water, but be sure not to water them until they’re soggy or sitting for too long in pooling water, either.
2. Don’t use manure without first composting it.
Manure is a great fertilizer, but should always be composted first. Otherwise, you run the risk of spreading disease and bacteria to your herbs, which could then spread to the food they are used to cook. This could be very bad for you and your customers both.
3. Prune your herb plants frequently.
Herbs will grow more fully if they are pruned regularly. Make sure to cut off any pieces that look as though they’ve gotten too out of hand, and cut off any flowers that have opened as well. Try to prune about once a week.
4. Pinch off flowers if you want more leaves.
Herbs will grow leaves before they grow flowers, so if you’re interested in the leaves, pinch off flowers as soon as they start to form. This will encourage more leaf growth overall.
5. Dig up and divide herbs in the early part of spring.
This is a great way to propagate your plants and grow more herbs in the coming years, and it’s also a good way to get plant starts to sell to your potential customers, too. Herbs are very easy to divide as long as you take care not to break the roots and stems.
6. Mulch herbs grown outdoors about 4 inches deep to prepare for winter.
Herb roots are very susceptible to frost, so making sure they’re well buried under a lot of mulch is a good way to keep them from freezing.
7. If it gets below freezing for a long time, plan to bring herbs indoors for the winter.
Even a lot of mulch and covering your plants won’t keep them from freezing eventually if you live in a very cold climate. If this is the case, you’ll need to bring your plants indoors or at least onto a covered patio during the coldest part of the year. If you do this, take care to carefully dig up and pot your herbs for indoor growth.
As you’ve probably figured out, there’s a lot of information to keep in mind when you want to start growing herbs for profit. This is a task that might not be for everyone, and if you don’t have the right setting for your herb growing venture or don’t have the time it might take to devote to improving your crop, there’s always a chance this won’t work out for you. However, many home gardeners have seen a lot of great results from growing and selling their own crops for profit, and with the right amount of work, you’ll be able to as well!
Keep in mind that your individual setup and space will affect the amount of return you’ll be able to see from your herb growing venture. Obviously, if you have a large yard to devote to your herb crops, you’ll be able to see a larger return. However, if you’re willing to do the marketing it takes to get your name out there, you’ll be able to make a profit no matter how big or small your herb garden might be.
When you feel like you’ve got a well-established local clientele, you might want to think about expanding the reach of your herb crops, as well. However, if you prefer to keep things to local sales only, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a good amount of success from selling to your general area.
While a lot of the herb gardening process has to do with your own personal preferences and abilities, the information above should be more than enough to help you get started. Good luck, and happy herb growing!