What is Horticulture? Its Characteristics and Types

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Do you want to get a diploma in horticulture but you are not completely sure of what it is? Here we offer you some information about what is horticulture, its characteristics, the types, and what a horticulturist does. 

The word horticulture comes from the Latin hortus, “garden” and colere, “to cultivate”. In general, this word refers to everything that has to do with plants and garden management. It is easy to define horticulture in simple terms: horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens for food production or ornamental purposes. Keep on reading to find out what is horticulture. 

What is Horticulture? 

As mentioned before, horticulture is an art. This art is in charge of cultivating plants in a garden, to improve their growth, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects and diseases. Horticulture also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, soil management, and garden design. The American Society for Horticultural Science defines horticulture as “[...] the only plant science that incorporates both the science and aesthetics of plants. It is the science and art of producing edible fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and ornamental plants, improving and commercializing them.”

Horticulture is sometimes confused with agriculture. Agriculture is an art and a science; it is in charge of cultivating the soil and growing crops. Although horticulture derives from agriculture, the former does not involve intensive crop farming. It aims at producing food or growing plants for ornaments. In fact, horticulture is divided into these two subcategories and each of them involves different practices. Within the cultivation of plants for food, we can include pomology and olericulture. On the other hand, within the cultivation of plants for ornaments, we can find floriculture and landscape horticulture. 

Pomology, from the Latin ponum, “fruit”, and -logy, is the branch of horticulture that deals with fruits and their cultivation. In some countries, the word fruticulture can also be used. Pomology is usually in charge of the development, enhancement, and cultivation of fruit trees. On the other hand, olericulture is the branch of horticulture that deals with the science of growing vegetables. It deals with the herbaceous plants for the kitchen. 

Floriculture is a branch of ornamental horticulture and it deals with the cultivation and marketing of flowers and ornamental plants. Floriculture is thought to be part of the greenhouse industry since most flowers grow and are produced in plant-growing structures, even though many other plants and flowers are grown outside. On the other hand, landscape horticulture is a wide branch of horticulture that deals with different specialty areas such as plant identification, landscape design, plant cultivation, and nursery. Landscape horticulture covers plants for landscapes, including shrubs, trees, turf, and vines among others. 

What Does a Horticulturist Do? 

As a horticulturist, you may have different roles and responsibilities. But you will mainly deal with the cultivation and growth of plants, fruits, and vegetables. Here is a list of some of the roles and responsibilities of a horticulturist. 

  • Experimentation and Research: A horticulturist might be involved in plant research in any particular field. 
  • Landscaping: A horticulturist might be involved in landscaping companies to design and develop landscapes of particular sites. 
  • Advising: Another job of a horticulturist is as an adviser to people. They might serve as consultants to customers such as farmers and landscapers. 
  • Administration: A horticulturist may also work in the administrative field, making sure all operations are being followed correctly. 
  • Education: The education field might also be a good job for a horticulturist, who can become a professor and teacher and transfer all of their knowledge to other people. 

To sum up, horticulture is the art of cultivating plants and might be divided into the cultivation of plants for food and plants for ornaments.  Likewise, it is branched into pomology, olericulture, floriculture, and landscape horticulture. As a horticulturist, you may have different roles and jobs such as experimentation and research, landscaping, advising, administration, and education. 

If you find this career appealing, and you think the cultivation of plants, fruits, and vegetables is the perfect career for you, there is one place in Australia where you can get a diploma in horticulture: Melbourne Polytechnic. 

Get more information about this and more degrees by filling in the form on this site so one of our advisors can contact you to answer all of your doubts. 

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