What is Ornamental Horticulture?

Ornamental Horticulture is the art of growing decorative plants and flowers. Essentially, it provides aesthetic value to landscapes and green spaces. By studying Ornamental Horticulture, you can explore the wide range of ways in which ornamental plants are used.

Ornamental plants play a huge role in decorative and recreational purposes. Generally, most careers in Ornamental Horticulture involve these plants.

What is Ornamental Horticulture?

For instance, you may work in nurseries, florist shops, garden centers or greenhouses. Some may even work for golf clubs and landscaping companies.

However, to prepare for this kind of work, you may need a degree in ornamental horticulture. Usually, specializations like floral design are helpful.

Eventually, you will be qualified to open your own florist shop. Moreover, you will learn the latest trends through lectures and practical lab work.

Indeed, specializations help understand the most practical ways to grow ornamental plants. For instance, floral design courses may include Japanese designs or bouquet design.

As you gain experience, you will be able to use a variety of flowers to create stunning designs.

Ornamental Horticulture experts should always be aware of the design principles:

In a nutshell, professionals in Ornamental Horticulture should always be aware of the design principles:

  • Balance: Your floral design should be symmetrical in nature
  • Scale: This is the relative size of an element with respect to its surroundings
  • Dominance: A dominant element creates harmony in your designs
  • Rhythm: The flow of eye movement through the design arrangements
  • Colour: Every colour combination has a mood associated with it
  • Orientation: Ideally, design elements should be arranged around a single axis

Sub-Branches of Ornamental Horticulture

Ornamental Horticulture includes two things:

  1. Floriculture
  2. Landscape Horticulture

Both involve growing and maintaining ornamental plants. Primarily, flower arrangement and landscape design. However, the turf industry may also be considered part of ornamental horticulture.

It’s crucial to follow best practices while creating a sustainable landscape. This includes selecting the low maintenance plants. Preferably, the regional plants that thrive in local climate. Notably, some growth strategies like crop rotation help replenish nutrient in the soil.

ornamental horticulture strategy

Although flower bulbs, seeds and cut flowers are the major part of the industry. Their global trade is limited due to their highly perishable nature and high logistics cost. These ornamentals are very popular in parts of South America, Europe and Asia.

With experience, you will be able to plan flowering cycles and match them with nearby design elements.


Floriculture is all about growing flowers and ornamental plants for gardens and the floral industry. For centuries, it has been very popular throughout the world. Especially, European and Asian countries that grow more than half of the world’s produce.

Floriculture industry deals with very specific crops. That’s why growers have precise control of the growing environment. Since flowers and ornamentals are widely grown indoors, they are part of the greenhouse industry. However, some horticulturists also practice outdoor cultivation.

Another interesting aspect is that most floral crops are seasonal. This is exactly why growers design landscapes with flowering seasons in mind. But the miracle of nature is such that it’s difficult to predict exact flowering time.

Floriculture and ornamental horticulture are related in a way

Besides, their perishable nature demands extra care should be taken postharvest. As a result, their cost is significantly higher than regular crops. Usually, it’s the grower that mass-produces flowers and the retailer selling to the public.

To keep the prices competitive, most growers are based in suburbs or rural areas due to lower taxes and cheaper labour. Moreover, the climate is much better for crop growth than the urban areas.

Landscape Horticulture

This industry has everything related to landscaping. From design and growing to implementation and maintenance. Normally, the plants are grown in a nursery and then planted on site.

Landscaping plants range from woody and herbaceous plants to ornamental ones like corms, tubers and bulbs.

Besides ornamental plants, nursery crops also include fruits and vegetables. These can be good additions to home gardens or for commercial growers. Cuttings and foliage plants too are very popular for landscapes.

Landscape horticulture

Naturally, the regional climate decides the kind of plants grown. For instance, deciduous and coniferous evergreens are popular in northern regions. Whereas, southern regions usually have evergreens.

Most horticulture gardens in the world are designed with temperate zones in mind. However, many tropical plants can be grown in subtropics. And the opposite is true as well.

Ornamental horticulturalists design landscapes and garden arrangements that are sustainable and aesthetic. What’s more, there’s a lot of planning needed before planting. In fact, most of them use detailed planners like this one on Amazon.

Essentially, they aim to achieve aesthetic, environmental and social outcomes through landscapes. Hence, it’s vital to examine existing ecological and soil conditions before designing.

To sum up, the scope of landscape horticulture is:

  • Landscape Design
  • Landscape Implementation
  • Maintenance
  • Site Planning
  • Restoration
  • Irrigation
  • Erosion control
  • Sustainability
  • Eco Friendly nature

Ornamental Horticulture Careers

Careers in Ornamental Horticulture often involves organizing ornamental plants and flowers for aesthetics. Once you earn a degree, you will be eligible for a wide range of opportunities. Here are some of the career options:

  • Florist
  • Landscape Designer
  • Horticulture Therapist
  • Specialist
  • Supervisor

And much more

ornamental horticulture and plants

Ornamental Horticulture is all about woody and herbaceous plants used in Floriculture, Landscaping and Turf management. Notably, the floriculture industry involves growers, wholesale, retail and flower arrangement services.

Although flowers and ornamental plants can be grown outdoors, most growers grow them in greenhouses. And this aspect makes it relate to the Horticulture industry.

Nurseries are also major contributors to the Ornamental Horticulture space. Ideally, a wholesale nursery focuses on a few crops and deal only with retailers and florists.

Primarily, they sell young plants, seedlings, cuttings of woody material. Some even do plant propagation, breeding or hydroponics to maximize yields and quality.

retailers take care of saplings

On the other hand, retailers take care of the young plants until a customer buys them. Most nurseries even provide plant arrangement services. Due to their highly perishable nature, transport is a critical factor affecting plant quality.

Moreover, Ornamental Horticulture also includes landscape design and maintenance. This has a significant impact on quality of life. In fact, landscaping and gardening activities provide Horticulture Therapy.

That’s exactly why there’s an ever-increasing demand for green spaces in urban areas. And this is where the nursery industry plays a vital role. By growing young ornamental plants and flowers to make the world a greener place.

Career Description

Ornamental Horticulture professionals design and care for decorative plants in a variety of spaces. Such as commercial complexes, residential areas, schools, gardens, parks, private estates and homes.

Generally, they work with decorative plants and trees. Including floral arrangements, landscaping for recreational areas and golf courses.

Here are some of the plants used in Ornamental Horticulture:

  • Herbaceous plants
  • Woody Ornamentals
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Flowering plants
  • Ornamental shrubs and trees
  • Aromatic plants
  • Medicinal plants
  • Herbs

Plant propagation, breeding and hydroponics also plays an important role in Ornamental Horticulture. They use unique ways to grow plants from seeds, cuttings, bulbs, corms, tubers and swollen roots.

hydroponics in greenhouse

Whereas, work in nurseries, garden centers and greenhouses involves wholesale, retail and garden design services. They also grow grass which can be cut and used for landscaping. Moreover, retailers often sell gardening supplies, products and equipment as well.

On the other hand, some horticulturists conduct research to develop new ways of growing plants. Notably, they use controlled conditions that favour plant growth and boost yields and quality. Indeed, a great way to contribute to the industry.

How much do Ornamental Horticulture professionals earn?

The average yearly salary of Ornamental Horticulturists is $67,505 in the United States. Salaries range from $35,200 and go up to $129,400 based on the experience level. Generally, managerial roles have a higher payscale.

However, salaries vary with the employer and job role. Above all, the education level and degree influence the salary. Typically, professionals in research and the education industry earn more than landscaping and gardening roles.

ornamental horticulture research

Notably, the demand for groundskeeping has been growing at a rate of 13% for past decade. And its expected to continue growing. That’s why most Ornamental Horticulturists take up a career in groundskeeping. Similar jobs are found in the floristry, parks and professional gardening industry.

On the other hand, you could become a Landscape Architect and design gardens, parks and other green spaces. The average yearly salary of landscape architects in the US is $73160 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And its expected growth rate is 6%.

Besides, you could also apply for jobs like Greenhouse or Nursery manager, Agricultural inspector and Arboriculturist.

Am I eligible to work in Ornamental Horticulture?

To be eligible to work in the Ornamental Horticulture industry, you need to have some form of education or certification. Let’s explore the options:


Even though most people learn on the job, some jobs demand a formal education. A degree in this area may be either:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree
  • An Associate Degree
  • Or Certifications

Speaking of degrees, they are also common at the graduate level. Some universities even let you apply work done in certificate programs as coursework of a degree program.

For more on degrees, read my article ‘What can you do with a Horticulture Degree?


Typically, Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Horticulture have specializations in Ornamental Horticulture. You could learn about areas like sustainable designs, advanced technologies and techniques.

ornamental horticulture degree

Moreover, some university extension schools also offer master gardener programs. Typically, specializations cover nursery practices, soil science, irrigation, pest control, plant structures and functions.

In general, lab work and internships are part of some programs. Indeed, it’s the best way to gain hands-on experience.


The Association of Horticultural Sciences (ASHS) offers two certification programs:

  1. ASHS Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH)
  2. ASHS Associate Professional Horticulturist (APH)

A certification through ASHS is a great addition to your profile. Moreover, this can help showcase your dedication and skills to employers and industry experts.

Make sure you maintain your certification by earning Continuing Education Credits as you grow professionally.


We discussed all there is to know about Ornamental Horticulture. And how it makes up a big part of the Horticulture industry. Above all, an Ornamental Horticulturist should always be aware of the design principles.

Moreover, we saw the branches of Ornamental Horticulture. That is, Floriculture and Landscape Horticulture. And we understood their scopes too.

career options in ornamental horticulture

In addition, we discussed the career options in Ornamental Horticulture. Ranging from florist to landscape designer to horticulture therapist and much more.

Lastly, we saw the various options to become eligible to work in the industry.

I hope you enjoyed this article and are inspired to become an Ornamental Horticulturist. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Read my article on Ornamental Horticulture for more.

Subscribe to my blog to get additional updates

Make sure to subscribe to my blog and share this post with fellow Horticulturists.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *