No one can deny the importance of plants, not only for us as humans but to our planet as well. And yet, there has been an obvious decline in young adults seeking out degrees in horticulture. Likewise, the horticulture departments at major college campuses are disappearing due to lack of participation. This has created an interesting paradox. As more millennials are becoming environmentally-conscious while also seeking a solid career path, why not kill two birds with one stone? Few of these students realize the numerous career paths available to those with a degree in horticulture. Here we take a brief look at what is horticulture, all the different career paths a person with a horticulture degree could pursue and how more horticulturalists could save the world.
What is Horticulture?
Horticulture can be defined as the practice of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers or plants for beauty or utility. Truly, it is part art and part science. Horticulture encompasses the process of planting the seeds into the earth, ensuring the soil provides the nutrients that the seed needs while watering, sheltering and nourishing it as it grows into a plant. When successful, the seed grows into a plant and will reproduce in some fashion whether, fruiting, flowering or producing clones. The plant’s offspring can then be used in numerous different ways depending on the industry. What is interesting is how far horticulture can reach within different aspects of society across cultures.
There are five main branches of horticulture:
- Floriculture- production/marketing of flowers
- Landscape- production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants
- Olericulture- production/marketing of vegetables
- Pomology- production/marketing of fruits
- Postharvest Physiology- Expertise in how to prevent produce from prematurely spoiling.
Horticulture does not only impact the food industry. The pharmaceutical, landscape, lumber, floral, and clothing industries are just a few of the industries that fall under the umbrella of horticulture’s influence.
How Horticulturalists Save the World
“If you want to save the planet, one of the best ways to do it is through horticulture,” said Angus Murphy, Chair of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland at College Park. What did he mean by that? Plants help re-oxygenate the planet and can have dramatically positive effects on the environment. For example, if an area is prone to flooding because of rainfall. You can plant a tree in that location. The roots will absorb the excess water like a sponge, while the leaves will act like little umbrellas. Not to mention, when you facilitate the growth of plants, you are literally helping to generate life which is a pretty commendable and amazing thing.
In an effort to bring much-needed attention to the field of horticulture, organizations are sprouting up and using social media campaigns to attract youth participation and also bridge the gaps between horticulture and “cooler” industries. The younger the people are that get interested in horticulture, the sooner they can begin forming their career goals around horticulture with a sense of clarity and purpose.
What are Some of the Career Possibilities?
- Arboretum Director/Associate
- Botanical Gardens Manager/Grounds Associate
- Business Owner
- Community Garden Planner
- Extension Educator
- Farmer of Specialty Vegetables/Fruits
- Floral Designer
- Greenhouse Manager
- Garden Manager
- Garden Center Operations, Sales, Maintenance, Landscaping
- Golf Course Superintendent
- Horticulture Therapist
- Horticulture Marketing/Sales Manager
- Landscape Design
- Lawn Maintenance Foreman/Technician
- Master Gardener/Landscaper
- Plant Biologist
- Plant Breeder
- Produce Retail Team Member
- Research Scientist
- Urban Garden Manager
According to a study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2015, nearly 58,000 jobs become available each year in agriculture-related fields but only 61% of those jobs are filled by qualified candidates. With so many students entering college and graduating college, horticulture could provide a viable avenue to make it inside the industry of their choice.
Cityscapes has consistent openings in the horticulture departments with training provided. For more information, check out our careers page.
There is something inherently rewarding about growing and attending plants, even on a minimal scale. It is nurturing and gratifying in it’s own completely unique way. You get your hands dirty and you help produce something. You help life, you help the planet and you help yourself at the same time.