What is Horticultural Science

Horticulture is more dependent than ever before on science, and despite its significance being largely unacknowledged, without horticultural science, 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 realise 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 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.
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.
Scope of Horticulture 

Horticulture is a large and diverse industry.

It is often divided into Production and Amenity.

  • Production Horticulture involves producing a usable crop, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbal oils, pharmaceutical products, fibres, or nursery plants
  • Amenity Horticulture involves growing plants for some amenity purpose, including decorative (aesthetic or ornamental), and functional (eg. environmental management, modification)

Becoming a Horticultural Scientist

You might assume that you need a bachelors degree, and perhaps more than that to become a horticultural scientist.  While a degree may be a common starting point for many people who work in horticultural research at universities or government research stations; many others take other pathways to a career in horticultural science

Most people who work in horticulture will do better with a sound understanding of plant science (eg. Botany, Biochemistry, Soil Science, Cell Biology, etc). Many people start out with a certificate, or working in their own business and evolve from there. Some end up developing products for the industry (eg. soil mixes, pesticides or fertilizers); others end up breeding plants, or perhaps operating a tissue culture laboratory, a consultancy business, or being a teacher. All of these professions could be called "Horticultural Scientists"; and some of the best, most innovative horticultural scientists, are those who evolved into their current jobs via an unconventional pathway.

Whatever pathway you take; this is an industry that is full of surprises and constantly changing. If you love horticulture and are fascinated by science; this could be a great path for you to follow....but don't necessarily expect to predict where you will end up.

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