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A horticulture student tending to plants in a garden in Lawrenceville, Georgia, March 2015 Horticulturist Amy Boul by Lance Cheung.jpg
A horticulture student tending to plants in a garden in Lawrenceville, Georgia, March 2015
Typical cart used in horticulture in Vottem, Belgium Charrette des maraichers de Vottem Belgique.jpg
Typical cart used in horticulture in Vottem, Belgium

Horticulture is the branch of agriculture that deals with the art, science, technology, and business of plant cultivation. It includes the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, flowers, seaweeds and non-food crops such as grass and ornamental trees and plants. It also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, landscape and garden design, construction, and maintenance, and arboriculture, ornamental trees and lawns. [1] [2] [3]


The study and practice of horticulture have been traced back thousands of years. Horticulture contributed to the transition from nomadic human communities to sedentary, or semi-sedentary, horticultural communities. [4] Horticulture is divided into several categories which focus on the cultivation and processing of different types of plants and food items for specific purposes. In order to conserve the science of horticulture, multiple organizations worldwide educate, encourage, and promote the advancement of horticulture. Some notable horticulturists include Luca Ghini and Luther Burbank.


Flower seedlings at a market in Breda, Netherlands 027 Flowers at Algemene warenmarkt - market in Grote Markt, Breda, Netherlands.jpg
Flower seedlings at a market in Breda, Netherlands

Horticulture, from Latin hortus meaning garden and colere meaning to cultivate, [5] focuses on the use of small plots, [6] in contrast to agronomy which involves intensive crop farming and large-scale field crop production of grains and forages or forestry involving forest trees and products derived form them. [7] It deals with garden crops such as ornamental plants grown for their appearance, fruits and vegetable and spices grown for their food value, and medicinal plants. [7]


There are several major areas of focus within the science of horticulture. [1] They include:


The history of horticulture overlaps with the history of agriculture and history of botany.

The origins of horticulture lie in the transition of human communities from a nomadic lifestyle as hunter-gatherers to sedentary, or semi-sedentary, horticultural communities. In the Pre-Columbian Amazon Rainforest, natives used biochar to enhance soil productivity by smoldering plant waste. [9] European settlers called this soil Terra Preta de Indio. [10] In forest areas, such horticulture was often carried out in swiddens, or "slash and burn" areas. [11] In pre-contact North America, the semi-sedentary horticultural communities of the Eastern Woodlands, who grew maize, squash, and sunflower, contrasted markedly with the nomadic hunter-gatherer communities of the Plains people. Mesoamerican cultures focused in the cultivating of crops on a small scale, such as the “milpa” or maize field, around their dwellings or in specialized plots which were visited occasionally during migrations from one area to the next. [4] In Central America, Maya horticulture involved augmentation of the forest with useful trees such as papaya, avocado, cacao, ceiba and sapodilla. In the cornfields, multiple crops such as beans, squash, pumpkins and chili peppers were grown, and in some cultures, these crops were tended mainly or exclusively by women. [12]


There are various organizations worldwide that focus on promoting and encouraging research and education in all branches of horticultural science; such organizations include the International Society for Horticultural Science [13] and the American Society of Horticultural Science. [14]

In United Kingdom, there are two main horticulture societies. The Ancient Society of York Florists is the oldest horticultural society in the world and was founded in 1768; this organization continues to host four horticultural shows annually in York, UK. [15] Additionally, The Royal Horticultural Society, established in 1804, is a charity in United Kingdom that leads on the encouragement and improvement of the science, art, and practice of horticulture in all its branches. [16] The organization shares the knowledge of horticulture through its community, learning programs, and world-class gardens and shows.[ citation needed ]

The Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIoH) is the professional body which represents horticulturists in Great Britain and Ireland [17] while also having an international branch for members outside of these islands. The Australian Society of Horticultural Science was established in 1990 as a professional society to promote and enhance Australian horticultural science and industry. [18] Finally, the New Zealand Horticulture Institute is another known horticultural organization. [19]

In India, Horticultural Society of India (now Indian Academy of Horticultural Sciences) is the oldest society which was established in 1941 at Lyallpur, Punjab (now in Pakistan) but was later shifted to Delhi 1949. [20] The another notable organisation in operation since 2005 is the Society for Promotion of Horticulture based at Bengaluru. [21] Both these societies publish scholarly journals viz., Indian Journal of Horticulture and Journal of Horticultural Sciences for the advancement of horticultural sciences.[ citation needed ] Horticulture in the Indian state of Kerala is spearheaded by Kerala State Horticulture Mission.

The National Junior Horticultural Association (NJHA) was established in 1934 and was the first organization in the world dedicated solely to youth and horticulture. NJHA programs are designed to help young people obtain a basic understanding of horticulture and develop skills in this ever-expanding art and science. [22]

The Global Horticulture Initiative (GlobalHort) fosters partnerships and collective action among different stakeholders in horticulture. This organization has a special focus on horticulture for development (H4D), which involves using horticulture to reduce poverty and improve nutrition worldwide. GlobalHort is organized in a consortium of national and international organizations which collaborate in research, training, and technology-generating activities designed to meet mutually-agreed-upon objectives. GlobalHort is a non-profit organization registered in Belgium. [23]

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Agriculture</span> Cultivation of plants and animals to provide useful products

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to agriculture:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Agronomy</span> Science of producing and using plants

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ornamental plant</span> Plant that is grown for decorative purposes

Ornamental plants or garden plants are plants that are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design projects. Many if not most are flowering plants, and garden varieties tend to be specially bred cultivars that improve on the original species in qualities such as colour, shape, scent and long-lasting blooms. There are many examples of fine ornamental plants that can provide height, privacy, and beauty for any garden. These ornamental perennial plants have seeds that allow them to reproduce. One of the beauties of ornamental grasses is that they are very versatile and low maintenance. All the main types of plant have many ornamental varieties: trees, shrubs, aquatic plants, perennial and annual plants. Non-botanical classifications include houseplants, bedding plants, plants for cut flowers and foliage plants. The cultivation of ornamental plants comes under floriculture and tree nurseries, which is a major branch of horticulture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Legume</span> Plant in the family Fabaceae

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae, or the fruit or seed of such a plant. When used as a dry grain, the seed is also called a pulse. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for human consumption, for livestock forage and silage, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Well-known legumes include beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, tamarind, alfalfa, and clover. Legumes produce a botanically unique type of fruit – a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces on two sides.

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  13. "ISHS". Archived from the original on September 22, 2012.
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  15. "Ancient society of York Florists,oldest horticultural society in world,longest running horticultural show in world established 1768, flower shows in york yorkshire uk,horticultural shows in york yorkshire uk, vegetable shows in york yorkshire uk, fruit shows in york yorkshire uk, floral art shows in york yorkshire uk,handicrafts and baking shows in york uk,dahlia shows in york yorkshire uk,gladioli shows in york yorkshire uk,chrysanthemum shows in york yorkshire uk, auricula shows in york yorkshire uk, sweet pea shows in york yorkshire uk". www.ancientsocietyofyorkflorists.co.uk.
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  21. "SPH". sph.iihr.res.in. Retrieved 2021-08-19.
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  23. "The Global Horticulture Initiative".

Further reading