Putting Plant Science to Work
What is Horticulture?
Horticulture is a broad and varied field. It applies aspects of biology, chemistry, ecology, engineering, communications,
business, and education to growing, handling, marketing, and managing landscape plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables. It is
traditionally described as an intensive form of agriculture dealing with crops in the areas of floriculture (flowers),
landscape horticulture (trees, shrubs, vines, etc.), olericulture (vegetables), and pomology (fruits).
What Career Opportunities Would I Have?
- Landscape Design, Installation & Maintenance
You can design planting plans with trees, shrubs, ground covers, herbaceous ornamentals, and turf grass. You may get
involved in the sales of the plants, their planting at the site, or their long-term management. Or you might practice these
activities indoors as an interiorscaper!
You can become involved in the wholesale or retail sale of seed, gardening supplies, cut flowers, fresh or processed
fruits and vegetables, house plants, floral arrangements, or nursery stock. Or, you might choose to be a buyer of these
items for a chain store, a government or private institution, or wholesale distributor.
You can be a scientist. Horticulturists seek ways to improve the yield and quality of fruits, vegetables, flowers and
ornamental plants, and to develop methods for handling, storing, and marketing them. You may choose to specialize in plant
breeding, plant nutrition, plant growth regulation with chemicals, or other fascinating areas of plant research.
- Pest Management
You can be trained for work with state and federal regulatory agencies, agricultural suppliers, processing corporations,
large farm organizations, and as agricultural agents. In addition, you could prepare for graduate work in any area of pest
You can be a teacher. The United States needs qualified teachers of horticulture in high schools, technical schools, and
universities. County extension educators and university extension specialists teach horticulture to adults.
- Industries Serving Growers of Horticultural Crops
Seed firms, manufacturers of fertilizers, pesticide materials, and landscape or farm equipment, and canning and freezing
companies need personnel with horticultural training to perform a wide variety of tasks in research, development, technical
Men and women are employed by government or private agencies as inspectors of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables,
to maintain a high level of quality and uniformity in the produce industry.
Writing for gardening or agricultural magazines, newspapers, television and radio can be a rewarding field for men and
women trained in horticulture.
- Public Gardens
Managing landscapes and plant collections in public gardens and conservatories offers the person interested in both
plants and people the best of both worlds.
Horticultural production and marketing prepares students in the production of horticultural crops or management of horticultural enterprises. Graduates may manage greenhouses or nurseries, floral or plant shops, garden centers, orchards, vegetable farms, and farm markets. They may be involved with development, distribution, or sales of equipment, chemicals, or plant materials.
Plant Science is an option which includes training to improve plants through genetic manipulation and to investigate new methods of propagation, growth, handling, and marketing of horticultural crops. Horticultural scientists work at colleges and universities, state and federal experiment stations, and public or private laboratories and foundations. This curriculum prepares students for scientifically oriented careers such as technicians in plant breeding, propagation, and research industries. It is an excellent preparatory program for students planning to pursue post-graduate study toward a Masters or PhD degree.
Public Horticulture is a professional program leading to employment in botanical gardens, arboretums and other horticultural establishments in the public sector, as curators of plant collections, educators, plant propagators, illustrators, and writers. Practical training through internships in public gardens is stressed.
Landscape Contracting & Management students are prepared to direct and conduct in "hands-on" fashion, the technical side of landscape construction and plant installation. Graduates of this program often operate a landscape design/build or construction and/or maintenance firm, work as a grounds manager.
Landscape Enterprise Management students in addition to their science-based landscape horticultural skills, are prepared to become account managers in client relations, business managers, as well as supervisors for landscape installation projects and landscape management.