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Horticultural Science

Horticulture is more dependent than ever before on science.

All too often though, people think of horticulturists as "gardeners"; not "scientists".
Without horticultural science though, the world's food production would grind to a halt and environmental problems far beyond aesthetic concerns would create havoc across the planet.

We all depend on horticultural science whether we realize it or not.


Opportunities for a career in horticulture are many and varied; but they do change from place to place and time to time. Anyone who wants a sustained career in horticulture needs a broad based foundation knowledge (Research has indicated that "generalist" courses produce horticulturists with better long term career prospects than "specialist" courses.

A Strong Foundation

Horticulture means "culture of or growing of plants" All plant cultivars are different in what they need, how they should be treated in different situations and how they will perform  under different circumstances.

There is a "system" to the way plants are classified; and the conditionds they need to grow well.

The key to understanding not only how to identify them, but also how to grow them, is in developing an understanding of plant families (broad groupings) first, and then more specific names.

For example: once you are able to identify a plant as belonging to the Lamiaceae family, for instance you can then begin to see all sorts of plants that belong to that family, and you will over time become aware of characteristics they share (eg. All Lamiaceae plants tend to be able to propagate from cuttings).

If you don't know plant families, and you are looking to study horticulture, be sure you choose a course that will teach you this.



 Distance Education Course    Certificate in Applied Science (Click for details)


Our horticultural science staff have over the years written a large range of book and ebooks, many of which are are available through our school's online book store. To visit the book store and browse some of these titles, click on any of the books below:
The Scope of Horticultural Science

The horticulture industry can be divided into two broad sectors:
  • the production sector, which is largely involved with producing food crops, and
  • the amenity sector, which is involved with growing plants for recreational or ornamental purposes.

These are not necessarily clear-cut divisions though.
Boundaries defining the two sectors tend to vary from country to country and between horticultural institutions and employers. For example, some horticulturists might view floriculture enterprises or wholesale nurseries as being in the production sector, while others would classify them as amenity industries.

Amenity horticulture is sometimes described as ‘gardening and landscaping’, ‘ornamental horticulture’ or ‘recreational horticulture’. However, as the nature and scope of the horticulture industry has broadened and evolved, these tags, although convenient, do not adequately describe the range of different industries that fall under the umbrella of ‘amenity horticulture’.  

Production horticulture might be the production of any marketable product that is derived from a plant.
In it's broadest sense it can include forestry and broad acre farming of crops such as wheat and rice; though more commonly the term is used in reference to vegetable and fruit production, and a range of less obvious crops such as growing herbs for oil production.

Major sectors within the amenity horticulture industry typically include the following:
  • Arboriculture
  • Landscape industry
  • Parks and gardens
  • Turf management
  • Plant Nurseries – retail
  • Interior landscaping
  • Floriculture
Major sectors within production horticulture might include:
  • Vegetable Farming (market Gardens)
  • Vineyards
  • Orchards
  • Nut Farms
  • Berry Farms
  • Hydroponic Farms
  • Herb Farms
  • Cut Flower Farms
  • Markets, Wholesalers, Distributors of Produce
  • Manufacturers of Produce
  • Production Plant Nurseries
 Each sector uses specialised technical skills and management strategies, but they are all underpinned by the basic horticultural science including skills of soil and water management, plant nutrition, pests and disease management, and plant knowledge.
Scope of Some Sectors
Arboriculture deals with tree management. Arborists select, plant, maintain and manage trees in private and public landscapes. Their work includes tree pruning, transplanting and removal. They use specialised tree surgery techniques, such as bracing, crown thinning and crown renewal, to ensure public safety and to preserve important trees in the landscape. They are able to evaluate and assess tree health and monetary value, and are often involved in landscape preservation and rehabilitation schemes.

Due to the inherently risky nature of working with large trees, arborists work in teams, comprising climbers and ground staff. Many arborists work as private contractors, while others are employed by government authorities.

Landscape Industry
The landscaping industry is involved with designing, constructing and maintaining private gardens and commercial landscapes. It utilises many diverse skills, ranging from designing and drafting to construction and installation, and landscape maintenance.   
There are two major divisions in this sector:
  • ard landscaping or hardscaping – treatment of hard surfaces such as drives, walls, paths. Contractors and employees in this area must be skilled in construction work such as paving, bricklaying and building.
  • Soft landscaping or softscaping – treatment of plants. Those who select, advise and work with plants must have thorough plant knowledge and a sound understanding of horticultural processes. Some also have landscape design skills and construction skills.
Most landscapers work as private contractors. Small firms tend to work in the residential sector, while projects undertaken by larger contractors are generally in the commercial and government sectors. Landscape projects include design and installation of landscapes associated with new housing developments, shopping and office developments, sports and recreation facilities, large-scale engineering projects such as highways and other transport corridors, and hotel and resort constructions.

Parks Management
The parks and garden industry is involved with the maintenance and management of public and private parks, reserves and gardens. Traditionally, the parks and gardens sector has been largely associated with public authorities and institutions responsible for maintaining large tracts of land; for example, council parks departments, regional botanic gardens, cemeteries, historic trusts, prisons and universities. However, the development of the tourism, leisure and recreation industries over the last couple of decades has provided many other diverse opportunities in the commercial and private sectors; for example, developing and maintaining theme parks, zoos, golf courses, industrial parks, private hospitals and holiday resorts.  

Environmental concerns in recent years have lead to many new types of jobs in this sector. Increasingly, ‘environmental horticulturists’ are employed to rehabilitate degraded sites, and to create, preserve and manage ‘natural’ environments. Their work may be associated with mine sites, traffic corridors, national parks, farm and rural planning, urban and rural reserves, and urban forestry schemes.

Plant Nurseries
Since the nursery industry is largely concerned with producing and selling plants for ornamental purposes, this sector is sometimes (but not always) classified as an amenity horticulture industry. There are two main divisions in this sector: the wholesale nursery industry, which is involved with propagating large numbers of plants for sale to retailers and landscapers; and the retail nursery industry, which is involved with marketing and selling plants and associated horticultural products to the public.

The nursery industry is almost exclusively associated with the private sector. Traditionally wholesale nurseries have been small to medium family businesses, located on the outskirts of larger towns and cities. As land prices have increased, many larger production nurseries have moved further a field, relying on transport networks and sophisticated marketing strategies to ship and sell plants both nationally and globally.

Technology has had a significant impact on both the retail and wholesale nurseries, with computerised and automated equipment enabling the mass production of high quality, uniform plants.

Turf Management
The turf industry is a specialised branch of amenity horticulture involved with the management of recreational and commercial turfed areas. There are two main industry groups: turf producers, who grow and sell turf; and turf managers, who design, plant and maintain turfed areas.

Turf management is associated with recreational and sports surfaces such as ovals, golf courses, bowling greens, wicket and pitch preparations, playing fields and racing tracks. Work in the turf industry includes site design and preparation, planting, irrigating, fertilising, mowing, and undertaking other turf maintenance operations.

Interior Landscaping
We usually associate amenity horticulture as an outdoor pursuit, but the interior landscaping industry fills a small but increasingly important niche as we spend longer hours in offices and shopping centres. This industry is mostly concerned with designing, installing and maintaining plant displays in corporate and commercial environments; for example, offices, shopping arcades and malls, resorts and hotels, and private hospitals. Plants may be grown outdoors in courtyards, or indoors in reception areas, conservatories and atriums.

Floriculture is the production of cut flowers, seeds and foliage. Globally it is a very important industry, with many different countries producing and exporting flowers for sale around the world. In Australia, floriculture operations are mostly outdoors, with plants grown as intensive row crops. In cooler regions, in the UK and other parts of Europe, many cut flowers are grown under cover, where growing operations can be closely controlled and, increasingly, automated.

Floriculture operations include site preparation, planting, growing, harvesting, applying post-harvest treatments and marketing. This industry has greatly benefited from advances in plant breeding, improved mechanisation and technology, and more sophisticated marketing and distribution networks.

Contact us -Talk to a professional horticulturist who knows this industry. 
  • Ask about our ebook "Getting Work in Horticulture"
  • Ask about the huge range of Horticulture Courses we offer. 
Learn from our experience.

[22/10/2021 05:33:37]

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