Career Profile: Nursery and Greenhouse Managers
Greenspaces around your town or city, or the beautiful gardens that people grow around their own homes, add beauty and natural touches to our lives. But most of the plants, flowers, and trees in these gardens and landscaped areas didn’t sprout there naturally — they came from garden centers supplied by plant nurseries and greenhouses. Greenhouses are also a vital part of the agricultural food chain, supplying greenhouse-grown fruits and vegetables to processing factories or grocery stores, and supplying starter plants or seeds to farmers.
Nursery and Greenhouse Managers are the people who oversee the operation of plant nurseries and greenhouses. They are responsible for managing staff, planning and directing nursery or greenhouse operations, designing care and planting schedules, determining what plants to grow, performing inventory of stock and ordering supplies, maintaining records and accounts, and providing information to customers.
Many different horticultural and agricultural products rely on greenhouses and nurseries, including Christmas tree farms, flower farms, fruit orchards, tree and shrub farms, and vegetable greenhouses.
These horticulture workers also need to have a strong interest in plants, the knowledge to identify plant problems such as insect pests or diseases, and an understanding of plant growth and seasonal cycles. Most positions as a nursery or greenhouse manager require a college or university degree in horticulture, botany, agriculture, or a related field, as well as three to five years of work experience in a greenhouse or nursery.
Lots of greenhouses and nurseries will regularly hire high school and university students during the summer, which can be a great way to start gaining experience for those who want to become greenhouse managers. Since a management position requires supervising, mentoring, and disciplining staff as well as working closely with others, it’s important to work hard to improve your people skills.
Greenhouse and nursery managers will usually work daytime hours, but may need to start very early in the day or work evenings and weekends depending on the needs of the greenhouse. For example, spring and summer hours may be longer or include weekends as these are the busiest seasons for gardening and agriculture.
The workplace tends to be a combination of working in an office, and working directly with plants on the greenhouse or nursery floor. These jobs require a certain level of physical fitness, as there will often be moderate to high amounts of standing, walking, bending, and lifting required, as well as operating equipment including hand tools, hoses and irrigation systems, hand trucks and dollies, and even forklifts or motorized pallet carts.
In Canada, greenhouse and nursery managers earn between $18 and $54 per hour on average, depending on the level of experience and the location of the job. While many places across Canada have greenhouses, the larger proportion of these career opportunities are found in Ontario, BC, and the prairies, and near large urban centers or farming and agricultural regions.