How can I Learn Horticulture?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Horticulture is science involving the management and cultivation of land and gardens. How you might want to go about learning horticulture will depend a great deal on why you are interested. If you are interested in pursuing horticulture professionally, your answer is likely to be different than if you are interested in horticulture as a hobby. Horticulture can be a pleasant avocation or one’s life work.

There are distance learning programs in horticulture, such as those from the University of Nebraska.
There are distance learning programs in horticulture, such as those from the University of Nebraska.

Hobbyists may learn horticulture mainly from working in the gardens about their home or with their houseplants and assessing the results. Often, they can find assistance from a variety of sources: in books for non-specialists; from greenhouses and garden supply stores that they visit; and on Internet sites run by greenhouses, garden supply stores, and state extension services. Neighbors and friends who garden may also be sources of advice for the casual gardener, particularly for problems unique to your area.

Horticulture can be pursued as a hobby or professionally.
Horticulture can be pursued as a hobby or professionally.

A greater level of depth can be achieved with classes. Garden supply stores, garden societies, and extension services all offer classes which take learners into more depth than a short consultation when they are, say, buying a bougainvillea. In addition, there are several magazines for avid but non-professional horticulturists, such as Horticulture and The American Gardener, put out by the American Horticultural Society.

Horticulture involves the management and cultivation of farm land and gardens.
Horticulture involves the management and cultivation of farm land and gardens.

A noteworthy effort is the Master Gardeners initiative, which is active throughout the United States and several Canadian provinces. The Master Gardeners program provides intense training in horticulture followed by a period in which the trainee “pays back” the local extension service by volunteering. Details are available on the American Horticultural Society website.

A horticulturist may work in a greenhouse environment.
A horticulturist may work in a greenhouse environment.

For those interested in professional practice as a horticulturist, however, an accredited course of study is probably the most effective path. The study of horticulture may lead to a certificate or a degree, either associates, undergraduate, or graduate. There are even distance learning programs in horticulture, such as those from Texas Tech University and University of Nebraska, but you will have to determine if online interaction will provide sufficient training for the subspecialty of horticulture you are interested in.

The specialties within horticulture include landscape management, floriculture and greenhouse management, turfgrass management, landscape design, fruit and vegetable production, ornamental horticulture, and golf course management. Those with a horticulture certificate or degree may find work in nurseries and greenhouses, commercial food producers, federal and state agencies, landscape services, seed production, teaching, research, conservation, agronomy, forestry, environmental science, and other areas.

An aspiring horticulturalist should have a passion for and interest in plants.
An aspiring horticulturalist should have a passion for and interest in plants.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments

anon129951

A wide range of horticultural subjects can be studied by distance learning, ranging from those to suit the amateur to the highest professional level. UK Royal Horticultural Society qualifications in horticulture are particularly valued while Certificates in Garden Design and similar sectors are readily available from the Garden Design Academy and other institutions.

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