How to Start a Horticultural Therapy

Horticulture therapy is defined as the process of using gardening activities and plants to improve an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. While this treatment approach dates back to ancient Egypt, it was first introduced in the 1940s as part of a rehabilitation project for service members returning home from the war. Since then, it has been introduced into a variety of therapy settings, offering social, cognitive, physical, and emotional benefits. It is currently used in various applications, such as clinical practice, community programs, independent living programs, and prisons.

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Learn how to start your own Horticultural Therapy and whether it is the right fit for you.


Start a horticultural therapy by following these 10 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your horticultural therapy . These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

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STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a horticultural therapy ?

A horticulture degree is the first investment you will make in achieving your business goals. The average cost for this two-year program is $51,000. Once you have completed your coursework and internship, you can begin to start investing in your business’s future. When first launching your business, it may not be necessary to lease a dedicated space. You will need to sharpen your skills, pool all potential resources, market within the medical community, and seek funding for research and development. As your business progresses, you may find it necessary to invest in an office and community space in order to further your work.

What are the ongoing expenses for a horticultural therapy ?

Horticulture therapists are responsible for procuring all plants and materials used during therapy sessions. The materials’ average cost for each therapy session ranges from $17 to $25 per person. Therapists are encouraged to approach local plant nurseries for donations. In addition to the standard overhead expenses associated with managing a business, entrepreneurs in this field will need to budget for liability and health insurance, continuing education, and payroll-related expenses.

Who is the target market?

Horticulture therapists are licensed to work in a variety of healthcare and/or social service settings. It’s important for you to carefully consider the impact you wish to make within the community before developing your marketing strategy. Target markets include everything from mental health, corrections, special education, and foster care programs.

How does a horticultural therapy make money?

As a horticulture therapy business owner, you can expect to generate revenue through each therapy program you develop and each session you and your team participate in.

How much can you charge customers?

As an independent horticulture therapist business, you will be paid on a contractual basis, earning upwards of $85,000 annually per contract. The specifics of fees collected will be mapped out in a signed contract and will match the scope of services you are contractually obligated to provide.

How much profit can a horticultural therapy make?

If your horticulture therapy business signs two contracts at $84,000, this will generate a gross annual income of $168,000. If you are able to lead both programs with the help of volunteers and donations, you stand to net over $100,000 annually.

How can you make your business more profitable?

As your business begins to build a reputation within the community, new opportunities will arise. Each potential business opportunity should be carefully considered to ensure that you maximize your profits. If you take on a new contract that pays $58,000 annually but the cost to hire an additional therapist will set you back $54,000, it may not be in your best interest to take on this new client.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your horticultural therapy is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can start an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

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You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.

Small Business Taxes

Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).

You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.

Open net-30 accounts

When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.

Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.

Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.

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Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Learn more about General Liability Insurance.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

How to promote & market a horticultural therapy

Once you have identified which aspect of the medical community you wish to focus your efforts on, you will need to approach administrators of healthcare facilities and agencies that serve those special needs. A deliberate and educational presentation will be your first step. Once you have gained administrative support, the Board of Directors of the healthcare facility will look to you for educational materials before making their final decision.

How to keep customers coming back

Once your organization has gained its first contract, you will need to utilize your training and experience to develop a targeted program that meets the needs of the facility and its patients. Patient success translates to organizational success, ensuring you retain current contracts and build a reputation that will spread throughout the medical community.

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Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.

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Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.

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Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.

Start A Horticultural Therapy In Your State

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

Launching a horticulture therapy business is ideal for individuals looking to combine their passion for gardening with a desire to help others achieve their personal and professional goals. Therapists are often part of a highly skilled and trained medical team that includes physicians, occupational and physical therapists, psychiatrists, nurses, and even job coaches.

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Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

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What happens during a typical day at a horticultural therapy ?

A horticulture therapist’s day is structured around the needs of the individual or group they are treating. They are responsible for educating staff and administrators regarding the basics of horticulture and its benefits. Collaboration with medical teams helps the horticulturist identify individual or group therapy needs in order to then design a therapy strategy that meets those needs. Working within their program’s budget constraints, they are tasked with developing long-term programs and locating affordable resources.

When not conducting therapy sessions, horticulture therapists work to find funding and additional resources for their programs, find and train volunteers, market their business, and educate others regarding the benefits of horticulture therapy.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful horticultural therapy ?

As part of the medical community, you will first need to procure a horticulture degree through an accredited college with a concentration in horticultural therapy. Aspiring therapists are also required to complete a 480-hour internship where they gain real-world clinical experience under the supervision of a Registered Horticultural Therapist (HTR).

Due to the nature of this business, successful horticulture therapists should also be patient and flexible. They must be able to communicate with people from various backgrounds and possess the ability to communicate the benefits of the niche human service they provide.

What is the growth potential for a horticultural therapy ?

The benefits of horticulture therapy were first recognized by the ancient Egyptians. Plants reward their caregivers with flowers, fruits, new growth, and a deep sense of satisfaction. Innovative and driven entrepreneurs have an opportunity to realize significant growth, limited only by their own imagination.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a horticultural therapy ?

Horticulture therapists are encouraged to continually sharpen their skills. This can be done through participation in organizations such as the American Horticultural Therapy Association and the American Society for Horticultural Science.

How and when to build a team

Most horticulture therapists rely on the support of volunteers. As your business starts to gain traction within the community, it may be necessary to hire additional therapists and expand your pool of volunteers. Since employee and volunteer actions are a direct reflection of your company, careful vetting and training should be considered of the utmost importance.

Next Steps

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