A Horticulturist has an important role in providing us healthy and nutritious food. Above all, they improve our quality of life by creating and maintaining stunning landscapes. Horticulturists master the art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants in gardens or greenhouses.
The Horticulture industry offers a wide range of opportunities. Most horticulturists work in greenhouses, garden centers, parks and nurseries. Notably, it requires skills like growing and maintaining plants, management, marketing and sales. Some even work as arborists, foresters and landscapers.
Horticulturists specializing in landscapes and forestry provide ecosystem services not limited to:
- Creating practical eco-friendly landscapes
- Design and maintain green spaces such as parks, gardens and yards
- Reduce soil erosion
- Improving air and water quality
- Lower energy usage for garden maintenance
- Stabilizing and protecting slopes
Landscapers must have a good eye for detail while designing gardens. However, landscape horticulture is seasonal.
On the other hand, those in ecological and sustainable production focus on:
- Sustainable practices for growing plants
- Managing greenhouses, nurseries, vineyards or orchards
- Grow and sell the plants and trees
- Advise customers on sustainable plant care and maintenance
Whereas, Horticulturists specializing in turf management deal with:
- Design and Managing turf for golf courses
- Turf managers must know various types of fertilizers, pesticides and grass varieties
- Ensure that the turf looks top notch
- Selecting the most practical grounds-keeping method
Indeed, this industry gives opportunities year-round with a wide range of employers.
For instance, Horticulturists in Viticulture manage vineyards and wineries. Additionally, they also advise growers on best practices.
Whereas, those in pest management advise various pest control methods to horticulture suppliers, government regulatory firms and private agencies.
On the other hand, some horticulturists enter the education industry. For instance, they become professors at esteemed universities or may even provide trainings and online courses.
What is a horticulturist?
We saw how a horticulturist can take on different roles in the industry. In general, they are experts in growing food crops and ornamental plants.
Horticulturists use their skills, knowledge and expertise to grow plants with the latest tech. Moreover, they share their skills and techniques with farmers and gardening lovers. Above all, they research on ways to improve crops resistance to diseases. Detailed study of pests and diseases help them develop enhanced plant varieties.
With a wide range of careers, horticulture is a much larger field than you may think. Usually, its focus is mainly on improving the environment. For example, a sustainable design helps reduce maintenance by being more practical. Additionally, horticulturists advise on the best eco-friendly products for growing plants.
Due to the highly perishable nature of horticulture crops, most horticulturists grow them near major cities. Notably, the space restrictions have led to innovative solutions like vertical and container gardening. With the rapid increase in urban population, there’s a greater demand for smart technologies. For instance, hydroponics, propagation and indoor gardens have grown popular over the years.
Horticulturists aim to maximize the crop yield and disease resistance using the latest technologies. Although most of them work in the horticulture industry, some work in sectors like education, research, marketing and management. As a matter of fact, some are even self-employed.
It may sound like landscaping. But it is not. Usually, landscapers design the layouts for parks, gardens and other spaces. Whereas, horticulturists take it to the next level. Their in-depth knowledge of various plants and special techniques make them distinct.
Moreover, they often conduct research in:
- Crop Production
- Gardening and Landscape Techniques
- Plant Propagation
- Genetic Engineering
- Plant Physiology
These are some of the various kinds of work that a horticulturist does:
Landscaping is one of the most popular opportunities for horticulturists. There are plenty of landscaping and construction companies that employ them. They design and develop landscapes with grasses, shrubs, trees, flowers and ornamental plants.
Additionally, they advise on selecting the right plant products and methods to maintain landscapes. That being said, they also help in choosing the right plant combination that’s eco-friendly. They are aware of the plants that flourish together.
Evidently, the by-products of one plant may be useful for its surrounding plants. Moreover, they also consider climate regions, soil, nutrient and watering needs as well as plant care in the most practical way.
Administration and Management
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, then an Administrative role is a good choice. They ensure that the best horticulture practices and standards are followed. What’s more, they also ensure that government rules and regulations are met.
In addition, they sometimes supervise gardeners and staff to ensure smooth functioning. Responsibilities may also include planning and redesigning landscapes.
Not all roles require time out in the field. For instance, an expert horticulturist may work in the education industry. Its very common for them to work as a university professor or provide training and online courses to gardening fans.
Some even host public speeches and conferences on various horticulture aspects. Indeed, a great way to raise awareness of the green industry. Whereas, others take up research and write for publications.
Experimentation and Research
Horticulturists may engage in research within one of the many specializations of horticulture. Usually, they study plants under various controlled settings. These help in finding new ways to increase yield, develop resistance to diseases and discover new plant species.
On the other hand, they may conduct experiments on plants to genetically modify plants. Notably, recent studies show that plants with desirable qualities are developed with artificial selection. Generally, these horticulturists use advanced techniques, technologies and equipment to study plants.
Over the years, the industry has seen a huge contribution from researchers. These include better equipment, supplies and advanced techniques for famers and growers alike.
Some horticulturists also take up consultation as a career. It may range from private consulting to public conferences with landscapers, farmers and customers. Ultimately, the goal is to help people in the industry by advising them on the best practices. These can help growers enhance crop yields with special techniques.
Moreover, they also advise on developing resistance of crops to diseases and pest. And selecting the right equipment and products. Undoubtedly, a horticulturist can be relied on for any kind of advice and tips.
What’s the work environment of a Horticulturist like?
As we saw above, a horticulturist’s work environment varies with position. Although most of them work outdoors in greenhouses, gardens, parks or nurseries. Some may work in research labs or educational institutes.
Usually, landscapers and turf managers spend most of their time outdoors. But the design and planning phases are done indoors. Normally, horticulturists work full-time. While most jobs are year-round. Some may be seasonal due to harsh climatic conditions based on your region.
However, an important aspect to consider is that horticulturists may need to work with chemicals, fertilizers and plant allergens. For instance, growers are exposed to plant pollen and smells of chemical fertilizers. Hence, this career may not be suitable for people sensitive to such allergens.
Generally, horticulturists need to do a lot of physical work. Whether its planting or maintenance, there’s a lot of hands-on tasks. On the brighter side, all that planting and digging is a good workout and has amazing health benefits.
Are you suited for horticulture?
Since most of the work is outdoors, the job will appeal you if you’re alright with getting your hands dirty. Moreover, you need to be creative and well organized. All the intensive physical work of digging and planting requires muscle strength.
Generally, horticulturists have unique personalities and are extremely resourceful. They tend to be enthusiastic, energetic, ambitious, optimistic and motivational. After all, being surrounded by plants leads to amazing physical and mental well-being. Their confidence helps them develop an extroverted and curious nature.
Working in this industry makes you persistent and practical to set realistic goals. Above all, you will be able to identify all kinds of plants and know their care needs. This lets them optimize the crop yield with the perfect amount of nutrients and water requirements.
Getting a Horticulture Degree
Most jobs in the industry require a college degree. For instance, gardening and landscape companies employ applicants with a 4-year college degree. However, some degrees may be of a shorter period.
Majors in horticulture include, but are not limited to:
- Applied Horticulture
- Landscaping & Groundskeeping
- Turf & Turfgrass Management
- Ornamental Horticulture
- Floriculture/Floristry Operations & Management
- Plant Nursery Operations & Management
- Greenhouse Operations & Management
- Horticultural Business Services
In general, coursework includes plant and soil science, genetics, botany, pest and disease control. Experienced horticulturists also go for research.
How Much does a Horticulturist earn?
The average yearly salary of Horticulturists is $67,505. Salaries range from $35,200 and go up to $129,400 based on the experience level. Usually, managerial roles have a higher payscale. They also vary with the employer and job role. More importantly, the education level and degree affect the salary. In general, those in research and the education industry earn more than landscaping and gardening roles.
Responsibilities of a Horticulturist
Since the Horticulture industry offers a wide range of opportunities, the responsibilities vary with the job. Hence, horticulturists work towards contributing to the industry in any way possible. Whether its landscaping, gardening, education or research. Ultimately, they all aim to achieve high quality produce with the best practices.
Here are some of the duties a Horticulturist performs:
- Planning, Designing and Implementing landscapes
- Analyse site conditions and soil
- Create environmental field reports
- Gather and analyse data on forests
- Support new growth of young plants
- Maintenance activities like pruning, weeding, watering and fertilizing
- Collect samples and specimen for analysis
- Ability to identify plant species and have knowledge of their qualities
- Create eco-friendly and sustainable landscapes
- Selecting the right plants, equipment and growing techniques based on site conditions
- Managing and maintaining parks, gardens, nurseries or private estates
- Ensure regulatory compliance of green spaces
- Stay up to date with the latest innovations and technologies in the industry
- Contribute to the industry through research and new discoveries and techniques
- Use the latest techniques like propagation, breeding and hydroponics for ideal crops
- Developing hybrid varieties that are with improved yield and disease resistance
Expert horticulturists may also opt for the following roles:
- Senior Managerial positions in greenhouses, parks, gardens and similar spaces
- Manage staff and department managers
- Administration of quality control and safety measures at facilities
- Setup meetings and conferences with clients, industry experts and companies
- Raise awareness on sustainability and best practices for eco-friendly designs
- Ensure that green spaces comply with local rules and regulations
- Approve pesticides for commercial and public use for gardening purposes
- Collaborate with industry leaders towards advanced technology and innovations
- Analyze data on crops to predict yields, quality and profits
- Oversee processes like planting, maintenance, inspection and harvesting
- Manage logistics and infrastructure
Professional Organizations for Horticulturalists
The Ancient Society of York Florists was the first horticultural society in the world. It was founded in 1768 in the UK. And they host shows throughout the year. With such a long history, this Society is a link between eras that are centuries apart. Their conference hall is an excellent venue for gardening enthusiast and industry experts to show off their plantings and skills. It’s also a great place to interact with fellow gardeners. Whether you’re an exhibitor or a new gardener, they aim to make everyone feel welcome.
The Royal Horticultural Society is another popular society in the UK. It was founded in 1804 as the Horticultural Society of London. Today, it is the UK’s leading gardening charity. They also provide trainings to garden enthusiasts and host flower shows. Popular shows include Cardiff flower show, Tatton Park flower show and the Chelsea flower show. Additionally, the RHS owns four gardens in the UK. And they attract over a million visitors from all over the world.
American Horticultural Society (AHS) is the oldest national gardening society in North America. It was founded in 1922 with its headquarters at Virginia. Notably, the society has been a trusted source of horticulture and gardening information ever since. They have a wide range of training courses, awards and publications. They have formal and natural gardens, an orchard, a meadow and wildlife garden. To date, it continues to inspire people with its social, educational and environmental duties. A great platform for educators, community leaders and designers to inspire horticulturists.
We saw the various activities that a Horticulturist does. Moreover, we discovered the kind of opportunities the green industry offers. Ranging from Gardening, Landscaping and Management to Education, Research and Consultancy. Indeed, a Horticulturist is spoiled for choice.
Furthermore, we discussed the work environments and responsibilities. Above all, the degrees, job opportunities and income levels. Finally, we learnt about the professional organizations for Horticulturists to enhance skills.
I hope you enjoyed this article and got some inspiration to become a Horticulturist. Which Horticulture role did you like the most? Let me know in the comments section below.
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