Become a valuable nursery staff member!

Learn about plant identification, plant care and how to really sell plants to customers! This wide-ranging course will teach you all the sales secrets you need to know, plus give you the knowledge to advise customers on plants. This course was developed in response to a request from a retail nursery person who was finding it difficult to find staff with appropriate skills. As he put it, job applicants were either over qualified or lacked the basic skills needed: to be able to identify plants, advise customers on their use and to understand some basic sales techniques and procedures.

Garden Centre and Nursery Staff often know plants, but are not so good at selling; or are better at selling but don't know the plants.

To be effective in a garden centre, you need both; and people who have both skills are not only valuable, but often indispensable

This course provides a strong grounding in plant knowledge and sales skills. Learn all about plant identification, plant care, how to advise customers and all about important sales secrets that will boost your bottom line.


There are 5 lessons in this course:

1.Introduction to Plant Identification: Understanding plant classification and pronunciation of plant names.

2.Sales Skills: Determining different types of customers; developing the communication skills to sell, including how to open and close a sale.

3.Caring for Plants: Planting techniques, understanding soils, plant nutrition and pest management.

4.Selecting the Right Plant for the Right Place: How to create different moods using plants.

5.Advising Customers in a Nursery: Developing good communication skills, knowing your product, plant placement.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


Duration: 100 hours



  • Identify a sales opening.
  • Identify and demonstrate how to 'close' a sale.
  • Demonstrate a range of sales skills in a horticultural workplace
  • Identify a range of different plants, based on their flower and leaf structures.
  • Describe the importance of effective communication and sales techniques in the retail nursery industry.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to care for plants, both in the garden and in the nursery.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate plant selection for a range of different sites.
  • Identify a range of plant health problems and describe appropriate chemical and non-chemical control methods to control those problems.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and use of nursery products.
  • Describe the importance of plant placement in the retail nursery.



  • Research your customer and product first.
     (You need to know both the customer & the product before you attempt
      to sell)
  • Get your customer's full shopping list before you start. Gently introduce them to
     products that will complement the ones they want e.g. orchid mix for an orchid plant.
     Remember that most customers are open to suggestion and want their plants to grow well
     so help them achieve these goals.
  • Highlight the benefits of a product...rather than the features.
     (Tell the customer what it can do for them personally...don't tell them
      what is great & unique about the product if it is not relevant to them
      in particular).
  • If there are objections, play it cool and try to determine, very
     specifically what they are...once you narrow down the objection,
     put it into perspective by showing something about the product which
     compensates that objection (e.g. Yes it is expensive  but it will do more
     things). Don't make it seem as if you have won a point.
  • Always keep control of the conversation...don't let yourself get into
     a defensive position. This is done by asking questions when the customer
     starts to take the offensive.
  • Do not talk while giving a demonstration. Show them, then stop & talk,
     stop talking while you show them again...etc.
  • Handle products with respect.
  • Get the customer to try out the product.
  • If you need to, use the phone or calculator to buy thinking time.
  • Try to close the sale  ask for an order at the appropriate time, when the
     customer seems to be in a state of mind where he/she is likely to buy.
  • Fulfilling the customer's needs is more important than improving
     your own knowledge or sales technique.
  • Remember that the customer is always right  without him you are not
     going to remain in business.

In the nursery situation, plant knowledge and cultural information are one of the most important requirements of staff. This can be disadvantageous for new staff with low or little plant knowledge. Teach then that customers prefer to wait while information is being researched rather than be fed incorrect information. Remember, signage around the nursery will help here.


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