Horticulture is the science or art of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants.
It extends into the field of development, sustainable production, marketing, and the use of high-value cultivation of food and ornamental plants.
Understanding horticulture and how it works can be helpful if you’re new to owning land and intend to use it in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.
Here’s what you should know about horticulture.
1. What is horticulture?
Horticulture is a segment of the agriculture industry that literally means “the culture of the garden.”
However, the term has also taken on a broader context that includes the production and use of plants for food, comfort, and beautification.
Horticulture crops are wide-ranging and include annual and perennial species, fruits and vegetables, decorative indoor plants, and landscape plants.
As horticulture contributes to the quality of life and the beauty, sustainability, and rehabilitation of our environment, it’s worth practicing.
It allows us to enhance greenspace, enrich our homes and communities, and reduce our carbon footprint.
2. What are the different types of horticulture?
There are several major types of horticulture.
Olericulture: The production of vegetables
Pomology: The production of fruits and nuts (also called fruticulture)
Viticulture: The production of grapes that are largely intended for winemaking
Floriculture: The production of flowering and ornamental plants
Turf management: The production and maintenance of turfgrass for sports, leisure, and amenity use
Arboriculture: The cultivation and care of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants, primarily for landscape and amenity purposes
Landscape horticulture: The selection, production, and care of plants used in architecture
Postharvest physiology: The management of harvested horticulture crops to retard spoilage while stored or transported
3. What career paths exist?
A horticulturist is a person who is an expert in the growth of food and other types of plants.
They can work in industry, education, government, or private institutions.
In this section, we’ll give specific examples of what types of careers exist in horticulture.
If you have a horticulture degree, rest assured that there are plenty of paths that you can take.
Experimentation and Research
Plant research is one direction you may choose to go as a horticulturist.
If you choose to go in this direction, then you may learn about plant evolution and development.
- You may become a plant geneticist and conduct detailed experiments on plants to produce new generations through artificial selection
- You may use your horticulture knowledge, lab equipment, and complex techniques to study plants
- You may conduct research into plants for a college, government, or business
There are plenty of horticulture jobs in construction or landscaping.
Companies will hire you to design and develop the landscape for a specific site or cultivate flowers, grasses, shrubs, trees, etc.
- You may work as a plant developer
- You may work as a lawn care technician
- You may keep grass green and lush at a golf course
- You may design arrangements at a florist shop
Horticulturists can choose to serve as consultants to different individuals like farmers and landscapers.
They can assist a farmer with maximizing their crop outputs or advising with the best ways to irrigate soil to protect crops from insects or parasites.
When growers have questions about their plants or crops, they should call a horticulturist for help.
- You may manage an apple orchard
- You may work as a consultant for a company that manufacturers fertilizers
While horticulturists are commonly in the field, there are opportunities in administrative work that may make sense for them as well.
They may supervise landscapers or gardeners to ensure proper operations.
Additionally, they could also be responsible for planning and organizing landscaping or gardening projects that fit within a budget.
- You may buy plants for a chain store
- You may start a business in which plants or produce are sold
Another path that an experienced horticulturist may take is the education sector.
You could become a professor or guide to students who are interested in horticulture.
This doesn’t always have to be in a classroom context.
You may choose to write publications, lead environmental cleanup efforts, or give public speeches regarding environmental sustainability and protection.
- You may decide to work with the public at a botanical garden or arboretum
- You may teach about horticulture at a college
4. Is this career for you?
How do you know if you cut out to be a horticulturist?
Horticulturists generally have distinct personalities.
Here are some of the top traits associated with this career path.
See if it’s right for you!
5. Where do horticulturists generally work?
As noted above, horticulturists generally work outside, either in greenhouses or labs, depending on their specialized work.
That said, they can work in more administrative settings depending on the position.
Additionally, horticulture also involves a lot of hands-on work.
This may include planting, pruning, harvesting, etc.
So, if you’re interested in having a job that involves a lot of physical labor, then this could be a good fit for you.
The hours of horticulture positions are usually pretty regular outside of planting and harvesting seasons.
During those times, they can get a bit busier.
6. How does horticulture support health and well-being?
Horticulture is highly beneficial to both individuals and families.
It provides a source of physical exercise and nutritious food.
Next, it’s relaxing and relieves stress.
Finally, it helps to create a greater sense of belonging and connectedness with the community and nature.
7. What are the physical and nutritional benefits of consumer horticulture?
Even simple horticulture activities like gardening have been linked with improvements in the function of muscles and joints, good bone mass, improved metabolism, immunity to disease, and enhanced mental health.
It’s a great way for anyone to achieve regular physical activity while meeting physical, nutritional, mental, and social needs.
While gardening, you are exercising while digging, weeding, planting, raking, and staking plants.
These tasks require both upper and lower body strength and are comparable to briskly walking, swimming, dancing, and biking.
Furthermore, the outcome of gardening provides healthy and fresh fruits and vegetables, which enhance the household’s diets.
Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals essential to health.
Horticulture provides opportunities for individuals to remain active and make healthy food choices, which ultimately minimize the risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and various types of cancer.
8. What are the mental and emotional benefits of consumer horticulture?
Aside from the physical and nutritional benefits that horticulture supports, it also provides unique mental well-being benefits.
Gardening is a repetitive task that can be both relaxing and therapeutic.
Many gardeners note that it serves as “stress relief” while giving them a sense of purpose and allowing them to forget their worries.
Additionally, a garden often meets a need for personal mastery over space.
When you design a garden, you are able to select the various plants you wish to care for and grow.
This gives a sense of purpose and pride.
Whether you choose to grow edible plants, such as fruits and vegetables, or plants that are entirely ornamental, it is entirely up to you.
Furthermore, there’s something unique about having a project that offers an opportunity for production.
It’s a safe place to grow something of your own and even build a relationship with those plants.
Gardening teaches individuals about patience, delayed gratification, and nurturing.
It can also be an important space for community connections.
9. What is horticulture NOT?
It’s important to note that horticulture does NOT involve large-scale crop production or animal husbandry (unlike agriculture).
Rather, it emphasizes the use of small plots with a diverse mix of crops.
10. How does horticulture improve the income of farmers?
Did you know that horticulture can help increase the incomes of farmers?
Farmers who grow high-value crops like fruits, vegetables, flowers, or herbs will consistently earn more than those who grow other commodities.
As a result, horticulture can be an engine for agricultural and economic diversification.
Increasing farmer profits and diversifying diets is one of the main goals of horticulture
11. What are the challenges for horticulture development?
There are a few main challenges for horticulture development as outlined by the Global Horticulture Assessment, which is an in-depth, collaborative, global analysis.
Here are the three themes:
While vegetables, fruits, and cut flowers are often grown and marketed by women, women still have less access to markets, land, inputs, and education.
It’s essential to address these constraints that are placed on women growers to improve productivity and expand horticultural markets.
Horticulture is complex, and innovative “leapfrog” technologies can reduce constraints and input costs that limit farmers, especially small farmers, from achieving maximum profitability.
Access to information and research capacity
Commercial success in horticulture depends on locally adapted research tools.
This may include improved cultivars, management tools, market knowledge, and effective postharvest practices.
Keeping horticultural growth sustainable requires access to reliable information as well as a well-trained workforce and local capacity to conduct both original and adaptive research.
12. What are the differences between horticulture and agriculture?
After hearing that horticulture revolves around plant life, many people relate it to agriculture.
Isn’t it the same thing?
While some agricultural strategies cross over into horticultural strategies, the two are different.
Here’s a quick bullet-point summary of how the two are distinct from one another.
Horticulture strictly involves plant cultivation
Agriculture involves both plant cultivation and animal farming
Horticulture can include plants that are not for human consumption
Agriculture primarily focuses on plants that are for human consumption
Horticulture is done on a much smaller scale (small, enclosed plots)
Agriculture is performed on extensive pieces of land on a large scale
13. What are the differences between horticulture and botany?
As horticulture and botany share core elements, it can get confusing as to whether these two terms are interchangeable.
In the section, we’ll spell out both the similarities and differences.
Horticulture and botany both deal with plants and derive knowledge from science.
Additionally, if someone is trained in botany, they can work in the same department as someone trained in horticulture (and vice versa).
Horticulture is an applied science whereas botany is a pure science.
Horticulture focuses only on edible and ornamental plant life while botany deals with living plant organisms from the smallest algae to the largest trees.
Finally, horticulture is the combination of science and art and aims to cultivate and nurture gardens and plants.
Botany studies the structure and physiology of plants.
Horticulture is the only plant science that includes both plant science and plant aesthetics.
The knowledge gained by horticulturists is used to improve plant production, marketing, and the quality of human and animal life on Earth.
This is an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to use small plots of land to supply healthy fruits and vegetables.
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.