Introduction to Horticulture


3.2 Divisions of horticulture

3.2.1 Floriculture

3.2.2 Landscape architeccture

3.2.3 Olericulture

3.2.4 Pomology

3.2.5 Post harvest handling

3.2.6 Arboriculture

3.2.7 Viticulture

3.3 Classifications and nomenclature

3.3.1 Plants and names

3.3.1 Systems for plant classification Botanical classification




Ph.D. Scholar (Horticulture)


3.1 Horticulture

3.2 Divisions of horticulture

3.2.1 Floriculture

3.2.2 Landscape architeccture

3.2.3 Olericulture

3.2.4 Pomology

3.2.5 Post harvest handling

3.2.6 Arboriculture

3.2.7 Viticulture

3.3 Classifications and nomenclature

3.3.1 Plants and names

3.3.1 Systems for plant classification Botanical classification Horticultural classifications Classification by use Classification by climatic requirements Classification by stem and leaf texture Classification by growth habit Classification based on life span

3.4 Significance of horticulture

3.4.2 Horticultural therapy

3.4.3 Careers in horticulture

3.1 Horticulture

The word horticulture is a 17th century English adaptation of the Latin hortus (garden) and cultura (culture). Horticulture is the art of gardening or plant growing, in contrast to Agronomy, Forestry or Agriculture. So we can define this subject as that “Horticulture is the science and art involved in the cultivation, propagation, processing and marketing of ornamental plants, flowers, turf, vegetables, fruits, and nuts”. It is unique among plant sciences because it not only involves science and technology, but it also incorporates art and principles of design.


Horticulture involves eight areas of study, which can be grouped into two broad sections ornamentals and edibles:

3.2.1 Floriculture (includes production and marketing of floral crops).

3.2.2 Landscape Architeccture (includes production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants).

3.2.3 Olericulture includes production and marketing of vegetables).

3.2.4 Pomology (includes production and marketing of fruits)

3.2.5 Post Harvest Handling (involves maintaining quality and preventing spoilage of horticultural crops).

3.2.6 Arboriculture the study and selection, planting, care, and removal of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants.

3.2.7 Viticulture (includes production and marketing of grapes).

3.2.1 Floriculture

Floriculture, or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and for floristry, comprising the floral industry. The development plant breeding of new varieties is a major occupation of floriculturists.

Floriculture crops include bedding plants, flowering plants, foliage plants or houseplants, cut cultivated greens, and cut flowers. As distinguished from nursery crops, floriculture crops are generally herbaceous. Bedding and garden plants consist of young flowering plants (annuals and perennials) and vegetable plants. They are grown in cell packs (in flats or trays), in pots, or in hanging baskets, usually inside a controlled environment, and sold largely for gardens and landscaping. Geraniums, impatiens, and petunias are the best-selling bedding plants. Chrysanthemums are the major perennial garden plant in the United States.

Flowering plants are largely sold in pots for indoor use. The major flowering plants are poinsettias, orchids, florist chrysanthemums, and finished florist azaleas. Foliage plants are also sold in pots and hanging baskets for indoor and patio use, including larger specimens for office, hotel, and restaurant interiors.

Cut flowers are usually sold in bunches or as bouquets with cut foliage. The production of cut flowers is specifically known as the cut flower industry. Farming flowers and foliage employs special aspects of floriculture, such as spacing, training and pruning plants for optimal flower harvest; and post-harvest treatment such as chemical treatments, storage, preservation and packaging. In Australia and the United States some species are harvested from the wild for the cut flower market.

3.2.2 Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture involves the investigation and designed response to the landscape. The scope of the profession includes architectural design, sitr planning, environment restoration, town or urban planning, urban design, parks and recreation planning. A practitioner in the field of landscape architecture is called a landscape architect.

The history of landscape architecture is related to the history of gardening but is not coextensive. Both arts are concerned with the composition of planting, landform, water, paving and other structures but:

Garden design is essentially concerned with enclosed private space (parks, gardens etc).

Landscape design is concerned with the design of enclosed space, as well as unenclosed space which is open to the public (town squares, country parks, park systems, greenways etc). Through the 19th century, urban planning became more important, and it was the combination of modern planning with the tradition of landscape gardening that gave Landscape Architecture its unique focus. In the second half of the century, Frederick Law Olmsted completed a series of parks which continue to have a huge influence on the practices of Landscape Architecture today. Among these were Central Park in New York, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Boston‘s so called Emerald Necklace park system.

3.2.3 Olericulture

Olericulture is the science of vegetable growing, dealing with the culture of non-woody (herbaceous) plants for food. Olericulture is the production of plants for use of the edible parts. Vegetable crops can be classified into 9 major categories:

Potherbs and greens– spinach and collards

Salad crops- lettuce, celery

Cole crops– cabbage and cauliflower

Root/tuber crops– potatoes, beets, carrots, radishes

Bulb crops– onions, leeks

Legumes– beans, peas

Cucerbits– melons, squash, cucumber

Solanaceous crops – tomatoes, peppers

Sweet Corn

Olericulture deals with the production, storage, processing and marketing of vegetables. It encompasses crop establishment, including cultivar selection, seedbed preparation and establishment of vegetable crops by seed and transplants. It also includes maintenance and care of vegetable crops as well commercial and non-traditional vegetable crop production including organic, sustainable horticulture, hydroponics and biotechnology.

3.2.4 Pomology

In Pomology, we studies and cultivates fruits.The pomological researches are mainly focused on the development of and the cultural techniques and physiological studies in fruit trees. The goals of fruit tree improvement include enhancement of fruit quality, regulation of production periods, and reduction of production cost.

The introduction of new varieties required exact representations of the fruit so that plant breeders could accurately document and disseminate their research results.

3.2.5 Post harvest Handling

Postharvest handling is the stage of crop production immediately following harvest, including cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing. The instant a crop is removed from the ground, or separated from its parent plant, it begins to deteriorate. Post-harvest treatment largely determines final quality, whether a crop is sold for fresh consumption, or used as an ingredient in a processed food product.

The most important goals of post-harvest handling are keeping the product cool, to avoid moisture loss and slow down undesirable chemical changes, and avoiding physical damage such as bruising, to delay spoilage. Sanitation is also an important factor, to reduce the possibility of pathogens that could be carried by fresh produce, for example, as residue from contaminated washing water.

After the field, post-harvest processing is usually continued in a packing house. This can be a simple shed, providing shade and running water, or a large-scale, sophisticated, mechanized facility, with conveyor belts, automated sorting and packing stations, walk-in coolers and the like. In mechanized harvesting, processing may also begin as part of the actual harvest process, with initial cleaning and sorting performed by the harvesting machinery. Initial post-harvest storage conditions are critical to maintaining quality. Each crop has an optimum range for storage temperature and humidity. Also, certain crops cannot be effectively stored together, as unwanted chemical interactions can result. Various methods of high-speed cooling, and sophisticated refrigerated and atmosphere-controlled environments, are employed to prolong freshness, particularly in large-scale operations.

Regardless of the scale of harvest, from home garden to industrialized farm, the basic principles of post-harvest handling for most crops are the same:

1) Handle with care to avoid damage (cutting, crushing, bruising)

2) Cool immediately and maintain in cool conditions

3) Cull (remove damaged items)

3.2.6 Arboriculture

It is the cultivation and management of trees within the landscape. This includes the study of how trees grow and respond to cultural practices and the environment, as well as application of cultural techniques such as selection, planting, care, and removal.

The purpose of arboriculture is generally to manage amenity trees; that is, trees that add benefits to the landscape that humans interact with. Amenity trees are usually in garden or urban settings, and arboriculture is the management of them for plant health and longevity, pest and pathogen control, risk management, and aesthetic reasons. Trees offer cultural and natural heritage benefits beyond production of wood products; for this reason, arboriculture needs to be distinguished from forestry, which is the commercial production and use of timber and other forest products from plantations and forests.

3.2.8 Viticulture

Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) is the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture. It is one branch of the science of horticulture.

Duties of the viticulturist include: monitoring and controlling pests and diseases, fertilizing, irrigation, canopy management, monitoring fruit development and characteristics, deciding when to harvest and vine pruning during the winter months. Viticulturists are often intimately involved with winemakers, because vineyard management and the resulting grape characteristics, provide the basis from which winemaking can begin.

3.3 Classification and Nomenclature

Why classify and name plants?

1) To help identify them

2) To organize knowledge into a logical system

3) To store and summarize useful information

3.3.1 Plants and names

All plants have one scientific (botanical) name and one or more common names

Quercus nigra (Black oak). We may discuss its characteristics as follows:

-it is a tree (woody, perennial)

-it has deep green, glossy leaves

-the leaves have pointy lobes

-the buds and midveins are fuzzy

-it produces catkins and acorns

-it drops its leaves in winter

3.3.1 Systems for Plant Classification

Botanical – based on biological (i.e., genetic, evolutionary) relationships

Horticultural – based on use Botanical Classification

Botanical Classification focuses on evolutionary relationships between plants. In this type of classification we use reproductive structures (e.g. flowers) and their component parts (numbers) as a basis to group plants.

Binomial system (2 names, both in latin)

Genus + specific epithet = species

Dianthus caryophyllus (Carnation) Horticultural Classifications

With hundreds of thousands of plants used by mankind, it is impossible to talk about each one individually. Plants are grouped by various common characteristics to help us communicate similar ecological adaptation and cultural requirements. For example, the term “shade plants” indicates plants tolerant to various levels of shade. “Xeric” groups those plants requiring less supplemental irrigation in our climate. It is important to point out that any classification system will have plants that don’t quite fit the groupings. The following are examples of some common classifications used in horticulture. Classification by Use

I. Edibles

A. Fruits

1) Tree fruits

2) Small fruits

B. Vegetables

1) Warm season vegetables

2) Cool season vegetables

C. Herbs

1) Culinary

2) Medicinal

D. Nuts

II Ornamentals/Landscape Plants

A. Woody plants

1) Trees

2) Shrubs

3) Vines and ground covers

B. Herbaceous plants

1) Flowers

2) Vines and ground covers

C. Grass/turf

III. Potted plants, houseplants, gift plants

A. Flowering gift plants

B. Foliage plants Classification by Climatic Requirements

Temperature Requirements

Tropical plants originate in tropical climates with a year-round summer-like growing season without freezing temperatures. Examples include cocao, cashew and macadamia nuts, banana, mango, papaya, and pineapple.

Sub-tropical plants cannot tolerate severe winter temperatures but need some winter chilling. Examples include citrus, dates, figs, and olives.

Temperate-zone plants require a cold winter season as well as a summer growing season, and are adapted to survive temperatures considerably below freezing. point. Examples include apples, cherries, peaches, maples, cottonwoods, and aspen. In temperate-zones, tropical and sub-tropical plants are grown as annuals and houseplants.

Cool season plants thrive in cool temperatures (40o to 70o daytime temperatures) and are somewhat tolerant of light frosts. Examples include Kentucky bluegrass, peas, lettuce, and pansies.

Warm season plants thrive in warm temperatures (65o to 90o daytime temperatures) and are intolerant of cool temperatures. Examples include corn, tomatoes, and squash. Some warm season plants are sub-tropical and tropical plants grown as annuals in Colorado.

Tender plants are intolerant of cool temperatures, frost, and cold winds. (e.g., most summer annuals, including impatiens, squash, and tomatoes).

Hardy plants are tolerant of cool temperatures, light frost, and cold winds (e.g. spring-flowering bulbs, spring-flowering perennials, peas, lettuce, cole crops).

Hardiness refers to a plant’s tolerance to winter climatic conditions. Factors that influence hardiness include minimum temperature, recent temperature patterns, water supply, wind and sun exposure, genetic makeup, and carbohydrate reserves. Classification by Stem and Leaf Texture

Herbaceous plants have non-woody stems.

Woody plants have woody stems that generally live for several years, adding new growth each year.

Deciduous plants shed all leaves at approximately the same time annually.

Evergreen plants retain some leaves longer than one growing season thus leaves are present throughout the year. Seasonal drop of some of the oldest interior leaves is a natural part of the life cycle.

Semi-evergreen refers to plants that may retain their leaves, depending on the winter temperature and moisture.

Broadleaf plants have a broad leaf blade (e.g. ash, maple, lilac and beans).

Narrow leaf plants have needle-like (e.g. pine, spruce) or awl-like (e.g. junipers)

Grass-like plants have narrow leaves, usually arising from the base of the plant.

The leaves may be soft (ornamental grasses) or stiff (yucca).


• Some evergreens are broadleaf (e.g., Oregon grape, most true hollies, and evergreen euonymus).

• Some narrow-leaf plants are deciduous (e.g., larch and bald cypress).

Conifer refers to cone-bearing. Most conifers are narrow-leaf evergreens. A few conifers are deciduous (larch, bald cypress). Classification by Growth Habit

Growth habit refers to the genetic tendency of a plant to grow in a certain shape and to attain a certain mature height and spread.

Trees typically have a single trunk and mature height over 12 feet.

Shrubs typically have multiple-branches from the ground and a mature height less than 12 feet.

Vines have a climbing, clasping, or self-clinging growth habit.

Note: Many landscape plants could be considered small trees or large shrubs. The term tree or shrub would be applied based on the general appearance of the plant. Plants have vastly different growth habits. It is important to understand growth habits in order to make knowledgeable decisions regarding plant placement, plant selection, pruning and maintenance requirements. The species, cultivar, and/or variety names sometimes indicates some characteristic of growth habit Classification Based on Life Span

From a horticultural perspective, life span is a function of climate and usage. Many garden plants (including tomatoes and geraniums) grown as annuals in Colorado would be perennials in climates without freezing winter temperatures

Annuals complete their life cycle (from seedling to setting seed) within a single growing season. However, the growing season may be from fall to summer, not just from spring to fall. These plants come back from seeds only.

Summer annuals germinate from seed in the spring and complete flowering and seed production by fall, followed by plant death, usually due to cold temperatures. Their growing season is from spring to fall. Examples: marigolds, squash, and crabgrass. These are also called warm season annuals.

Winter annuals germinate from seed in the fall, with flowering and seed development the following spring, followed by plant death. Their growing season is from fall to summer. Examples: winter wheat and annual bluegrass. These are also referred to as cool season annuals. Many weeds in the lawn (such as chickweed and annual bluegrass) are winter annuals

Biennials complete their life cycle within two growing seasons. Biennials germinate from seed during the growing season and often produce an over wintering storage root or bulb the first summer. Quite often they maintain a rosette growth habit the first season, meaning that all the leaves are basal. They flower and develop seeds the second summer, followed by death. In the garden setting, we grow many biennials as annuals (e.g., carrots, onions, and beets) because we are more interested in the root than the bloom. Some biennial flowers may be grown as short-lived perennials (e.g., hollyhocks).

Perennials live through several growing seasons, and can survive a period of dormancy between growing seasons. These plants regenerate from root systems or protected buds, in addition to seeds. Herbaceous perennials develop over-wintering woody tissue only at the base of shoots (e.g. peony and hosta) or have underground storage structures from which new stems are produced. (Please note: Golden Vicary Privet can be either herbaceous or woody as grown in Colorado). Spring ephemerals have a relatively short growing season but return next season from underground storage organs (e.g. bleeding heart, daffodils).Woody perennials develop over-wintering tissue along woody stems and in buds (e.g. most trees and shrubs grown in Colorado).

Combinations – Plants are usually classified as annual, biennial, or perennial on the basis of the plant part that lives the longest. For example, raspberries have biennial canes and perennial roots.

3.4 Significance of Horticulture:

The Horticulture provides us many essential components of our daily diet and individual’s aesthetic needs. It promotes the physical and mental health and economic prosperity of individuals and nations. The importance of Horticulture in improving the productivity of land, generating employment, improving economic conditions of the farmers and enhancing exports is widely acknowledged. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables play a significant role in human nutrition, especially as sources of vitamins (C, A, B6, thiamine, niacin, E), minerals, and dietary fiber. Fruits and vegetables also supply 16% of magnesium, 19% of iron, and 9% of the calories. Legume vegetables, potatoes, and tree nuts (such as almond, filbert, pecan, pistachio, and walnut) provide proteins and their proteins. Nuts are a good source of essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, and minerals. Other important nutrients supplied by fruits and vegetables include folacin, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. 

A number of plants are used to make Herbal medicines to prevent illness Tea (made from ginger root) is used to soothe an upset stomach. Tea (made from white spruce and hemlock) is used to prevent scurvy. White willow bark is used to ease pain. kinnikinick (buffalo berry) was used to treat kidney problems. Opium poppy’s seedpod thick milky fluid provides a powerful pain medication. Quinine, which comes from the cinchona tree, is used to prevent malaria.

Non-traditional high value crops have proved worth worldwide. Cut flower industry is an important component of floriculture. VALUE-added floriculture is a process of increasing the economic value and consumer appeal of any floricultural commodity. Value-addition ensures good reward to the grower. The value-addition for marketing flowers includes adoption of post-harvest technology and improved logistics. Export of value-added product e.g. oil (extracted in small units set up in production zones) rather than the raw material e.g. rose petals, can help generate substantial revenue in international market.

3.4.1 Horticulture and Environment

Plants on earth are food and oxygen factories. They clean the air for us to breath. Foliage plants taking in carbon dioxide, improves our environment in tangible ways as well as aesthetically. Properly arranged, foliage can shade us without stilling the breeze and thus balance our energy budgets comfortably. Plants can also heal scarred land and scavenge pollutants from waste. Finally, we have recently learned that foliage can take in air pollutants, and the estimated cleansing of the air is considerable. Plants give us array of tangible and non tangible benefits as food, shade, fragrance, clean air, wood, and ecological habitat for life.

Today we experience an alienation from nature. To keep this relationship, we travel distances to see the areas of natural beauty. For common city dwellers parks and park-lets, gardens, plantscaped interiors, window boxes and even dish gardening provide opportunity for sustaining this contact with nature. Presence of Landscaped premises adds up to quality of life in cities.  

It offers a range of tangible and intangible benefits to city dwellers.  

In a modern society nature in its natural, naturalized, or artificial form is extending range of personal, social and health giving benefits.

In modern city living it is evidenced that people acquire tensions related to working pressure of daily life.  

Availability of nearby nature results in less perceived job pressure. It keeps people calm and provide welcome relieve against tension and fatigue.

Green spaces provide habitat for a variety of birds, fish, animals, insects, and other organisms, while also providing corridors and greenways to link habitats. They prevent soil erosion and absorb rainwater, thereby improving drainage. Trees have been shown to absorb pollutants; as few as 20 trees can offset the pollution from a car driven 60 miles per day. Community gardens also provide chemical-free food production and gardening.

3.4.2 Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural Therapy has been defined as “the use of plants and gardens for human healing and rehabilitation”. It is an ancient practice, but a rather new profession. Horticultural Therapy programs are now commonplace at many different facilities in this country and abroad. Studies show that success with plants can lead to successes in other aspects of our lives. This is important for individuals whose disabilities or limitations might hinder their accomplishments in other pursuits.

3.4.3 Careers in Horticulture

Horticulture, As an Industry is divided on the basis of crop and plant use. For instance, horticulture can be divided into two groups including edible plants and aesthetic plants those are grown for their beauty. Horticulture offers three distinct areas of concentration; Ornamental, Olericulture and Pomology. Entrepreneurial and professional employment opportunities exist in the nursery crop production industry, installation and maintenance of outdoor/indoor landscapes, and in wholesale and retail sales. Many students show their interest in prestigious arboretums, amusement parks and large-scale nurseries. This option is also flexible enough to fulfill the needs of students interested in the production of fruits, nuts, and vegetables and the allied service sector, i.e. field representatives for produce brokers/buyers, food processors, or crop consultants. In Turfgrass Management students learn to manage golf courses, athletic or recreational fields. Aggressive turfgrass management specialists often command some of the highest salaries available in professional agriculture. The Science Option is for students interested in teaching and/or research in horticulture. Most students taking this option pursue an advanced degree. They can work in industry, government or educational institutions or private collections. They can be cropping systems engineers, wholesale or retail business managers, propagators and tissue culture specialists (fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and turf), crop inspectors, crop production advisers, extension specialists, plant breeders, research scientists, and of course, teachers.

Plant science and horticulture courses include: plant materials, plant propagation, tissue culture, crop production, post-harvest handling, plant breeding, pollination management, crop nutrition, entomology, plant pathology, economics, and business. Some careers in horticultural science require a masters (MS) or doctoral (PhD) degree.

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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