Nurseries grow plants for resale to landscapers and to the general public. A nursery can be a field nursery where plants are grown in the soil, a container nursery where all the plants are grown in pots or a greenhouse operation where the plants are grown in different types of growth media. The type of soil needed for nursery production will depend upon what and how you intend to grow. Growing media such as peat or bark are often used in container and greenhouse nurseries to reduce the pest and disease problems.
1. Field Nursery Soil
Field nurseries mainly produce ornamental shrubs, fruit trees and perennial flowering plants. The type of soil needed for a field nursery needs to be fertile and well drained. The soil should cling to the roots of the plants well when the seedlings/grafts are transplanted and the root ball is covered with burlap for shipment.
The top soil should be enriched with compost and manure to maintain fertility and soil structure. The root ball size should be kept as small as possible to minimize topsoil loss. Short duration cover crops may be taken on fallow areas to improve soil tilth by minimizing erosion.
2. Container Nursery Soil
Container nurseries grow plants in containers. Some containers are pot-in-pot where plant containers are placed in permanent ground containers called socket pots. These are usually used to grow trees or large shrubs. Smaller plants and shrubs are grown in pots above the ground. Good drainage is necessary for container grown plants. A mixture of sand, peat moss and aged hardwood bark is commonly used for pot mixture. Lime often needs to be added to the non-soil growth media to balance its pH. Additional nutrients and minerals such as sulphur may also be needed.
3. Greenhouse Nursery Soil
A greenhouse nursery uses a combination of growing media to grow plants. In the greenhouse aeration and drainage are important considerations. Sand and organic growth media such as hammered bark and sphagnum peat moss provide good support for young plants without exposing them to the disease and pest risks found in topsoil.