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Nursery / Plant Worker

Nursery / plant workers usually work in retail or wholesale nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, or the garden/outdoors section of a home improvement store (e.g., Home Depot/Lowes) or department store (e.g., Walmart). They take care of the plants and flowers, and the overall maintenance of the greenery in their work area. If you are a nursery/plant worker, you will have some clearly defined and repetitive tasks (e.g., watering flowers, pruning plants).


This job usually requires a high school diploma and/or a GED certificate.

Previous Experience

Previous experience working with plants in a similar setting is preferred. Although many employers prefer that you have previous experience in the same or similar area of employment, it is strongly encouraged that you apply anyways if you have the required education and skills.

Job Duties

  • Plant, spray, weed, and fertilize flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees.
  • Water greenery using watering cans or garden hoses.
  • Use gardening tools to cut, trim, and prune trees, shrubs, and plants.
  • Pot and transplant shrubs and plants.
  • Examine and inspect flowers, plants, and shrubs for disease and insects.
  • Move potted plants and shrubs using wheelbarrows or carts.
  • Sweep and tidy work areas to maintain cleanliness.
  • Your employer may ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

This job requires that you are able to work ‘Behind the Scene’. If you are working as a nursery/plant worker, you will be working near customers.  However, you won’t have to talk with customers on a regular basis.  You will need to interact with co-workers (e.g., salespersons) on a regular basis and offer your help when they need it. 

Skills / Abilities

Horticulture Knowledge - Some knowledge of horticulture and demonstrated care for plants, etc.

Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your arms, hands, wrists, and fingers to use spray bottles, gardening shears, watering cans, and manually weed plants.

Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to understand and follow verbal instructions and ideas.

Environmental Demands

Location - If you work in a plant nursery, you will typically be working outdoors, therefore, you will need to like working in the sun. If you work in a greenhouse, you may not be exposed to direct sunlight, but you will still be working in an area that is hot and humid.

Noise Level - The noise level will be fairly quiet as there typically won’t be a lot of people around.

Lighting Level - You will usually be exposed to natural lighting (e.g., sunlight).

Work Hours - This job may have short working shifts. Most nurseries are open from morning to evening, and will have varied hours depending on the type of workplace in which you are employed. You will have to let your employer know what types of shifts you can work (e.g., mornings, afternoons, evenings).

Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you stand for long periods of time and may involve heavy manual labor. You will need to be able to stand, sit, walk, bend, reach, lift, push, pull, and carry items for this job. For example, you may need to lift a large potted plant into a wheelbarrow and pull the wheelbarrow to a designated area to remove the plant.

Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting can get messy as you will be working with plants, flowers, shrubs, water, soil, and dirt. In addition, if you are required to spray pesticides onto greenery, you will need to make sure you can tolerate the smell of pesticides.

Work Attire - Work attire will typically be casual clothing as you will most likely get dirt on your clothes. Some employers may give you a t-shirt/hat with a company logo on it or overalls to wear at work.

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a higher degree of structure and predictability.  This means that you will usually complete the same tasks each day and you may be able to complete these tasks in the same order each day (e.g., watering plants, removing dead leaves).  You will probably know how long each task should take you to complete.  You will probably work in the same areas each day, and you will probably interact with the same people each day.

What's the Pace?

    • Steady:  In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that you will always have some work to do.  When the work pace is steady, you are working at a level “5” on a scale of “1” (nothing to do) to “10” (extremely busy, rushed pace).

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