Turning this hobby into a small business?

Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

Hello everyone!

My orchid collection has quadrupled this year alone (and we're only half way through it)! So i've decided to start dividing and selling plants on eBay.

I realize I won't strike it rich, but it's nice to be able to raise a plant, divide it, sell the divisions, and then buy a new plant. Thataway the hobby supports itself.

I've got upwards of 200 orchids in my collection and will be forced to size down the collection once winter gets closer ... because they all have to squeeze into my bedroom.

Has anyone else thought of doing this? I've sold 5 plants on eBay and shipped them out already and my paypal account balance is slowly rising. It's an overall good feeling. Anyone else here do this?

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

You can't legally sell plant materials of any type without a nursery license. Even with one you can only sell species orchids that are CITES approved and you are responsible for having the proof of approved certificates. As for hybrids; propagation and commercial sale is illegal without a license. Research this carefully. You risk getting busted big time. Even dividing and selling plants at a local non-prof orchid club auction or sale is a gray area.

Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

Wow. I was unaware of this. I'm pretty sure there are plenty of people selling plants on ebay and locally without a license. I said the term "business" loosely. I'm just looking for a way to sell off some plants and help make my hobby support it self.

I'll have to do further research and look into getting licensed or stop and give away what i don't have room for. I don't know what else to do. I can't afford a greenhouse. My hobby is getting out of hand and I though this was an easy and safe way to size down.

This message was edited Jun 13, 2012 10:36 PM

Miami, FL(Zone 10b)

If this is the case all or most hobby growers are breaking the law all the time. I devide plants to share with friends. Or do exchanges or put them in the silent auction. I have been a member of 6 different orchid societies for about 5 years now and they all have either raffle tables, silent auctions or both. Don't see how this is a problem.

Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

Through a few minutes of google research ... It looks like I only need a license if I were to be bringing in and selling large quantities of orchids. Which is generally only the case with large commercial growers.

I'm just a hobbyist growing out of home and back yard dividing some of my plants to sell. I'm not importing and exporting hundreds of orchids at a time. I'll be extremely lucky if I realistically sell 100 plants in a year.

I'm going to continue to do research and make a few phonecalls tomorrow ...

This message was edited Jun 13, 2012 10:48 PM

This message was edited Jun 13, 2012 11:00 PM

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Note that I said commercial sale, Roly. Growers do break the law daily. A nursery license is not difficult to obtain. Even here people mail plants that are not legally shipped between states. You will see some traders say they will not ship to certain states because they are aware of regulations.

Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

Just as I disclaimer: I did not intend for this to turn into a heated debate. I am just looking for someone with the proven facts as to if I can legally do this.

My understanding was that as a hobbyist growing and selling orchids out of my home and backyard - I do not need any sort of license as long as I only ship within the 48 contiguous United States. I am in no way shape or form a "commercial" business. I'm just a hobbyist growing out of home and back yard dividing some of my plants to sell.

This message was edited Jun 13, 2012 10:59 PM

Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

I take back that last post. In further research, I realized that I do indeed need proper permits and licenses.
I have since ended all eBay listings and refunded all unshipped purchases.

I plan to call my NJ department of agriculture sometime tomorrow and look into getting these legal documents.
Thanks for pointing this out to me before I sold anything more (and thank gosh I only sold 5 plants and shipped one of them).

This really stinks since I now have 50+ orchid divisions laying around that I realistically have no space for ...

Odessa, FL(Zone 9b)

My hobby is a little different. I buy nice orchids and give them to Laurel who blooms them beautifully and wins blue ribbons. Do I need a license for that? :>)


Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

So, Franco, Go for it! Get a nursery license, and sell orchids online. Sounds like the beginnings of a career, not a hobby to me. At the very least you can support your orchid habit, and probably some to spare through college doing this. Well worth jumping through a few bureaucratic hoops, imho.

The 50 divisions should be fine through summer, with just the same terrific care you're giving your other orchids, I would think. Lay them out on lattice made of tree branches or zip-tie them to a piece of wire mesh with some sphag or coco fiber for a temporary home? Go take a look at the Re-store or some other second hand places for cheap lattice material?


Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

Alrighty! Good news everyone!

I have a USDA supervisor coming to my house on wednesday to inspect my orchids and growing conditions. And as long as everything clears standards (which i'm sure they all will) I'll be eligible to get my nursery license that day.

Just to clarify to everyone it is INDEED "illegal" to ship plants out of your own state (I was fine shipping bareroot within my own state of New Jersey without any licensing) . And if shipping anywhere plants must be shipped bareroot with all medium removed. This eliminates the possibilities of any pest traveling in the plants medium. There is additional certification and inspections needed if my plants were to be shipped with medium.

He said I shouldn't have a problem because most orchids aren't hardy here in the US. But I may run into issues shipping west of the Mississippi where some orchids can be grown outside year round.

I opted to just get the license to have piece of mind that im doing everything legally.

I save money on shipping stuff bareroot anyway. So the guy said all I need is my nursery license. I got the all clear to start listing as long as nothing is shipped until the following week. And that in each box i place a copy of my nursery license.

This message was edited Jun 14, 2012 12:03 PM

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I agree, you should go for it. Just wanted you to go for it in a safe way. Kudos to you for educating yourself. If things don't work out you could move to plan B...Jim's method. LOL Make sure, beyond the Ag licensing that you understand regulations regarding the propagation and sale of named or patented hybrids and the documentation you need for proving your species plants have not been wild collected. You must have sales receipts on the original purchases. I would photograph and record every time you do a divide just to be extra careful.

Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

The guy i talked to was very knowledgeable about orchids. He said he will walk me through the works of what I can and can't sell orchid wise, how to label the packages and everything.

So i should be good to go after his visit.

This message was edited Jun 14, 2012 8:44 PM

Hammonton, NJ(Zone 6b)

Sooooo .... The inspector came on Wednesday (the same guy who inspects Waldor's orchid nursery) and long story short - I am now a certified nursery to ship within the 48 contiguous united states (I can ship to alaska, but its just too expensive) and to puerto Rico.

The inspection was 2 hours long where he searched every plant for any sort of pest along with snails, slugs, japanese beetles, and the like. He also searched for any signs of virus. All of which I had none of!

All I have to do now is wait for the bill in the mail (75$) and then my official tangible nursery license.

Thank you guys for all your help and guidance.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Great! Lots of luck with your new venture.

north coast nsw, Australia

Where/how do you think i go my collection of hundreds of orchids. hehe!

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