How can I learn horticulture?

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

Horticulture is the science that involves the management and cultivation of land and gardens. How you might want to learn horticulture will largely depend on why you’re interested. If you are interested in pursuing horticulture professionally, your answer will likely be different than if you are interested in horticulture as a hobby. Horticulture can be an enjoyable occupation or a lifelong job.

Horticulture can be practiced as a hobby or professionally.

Amateurs can learn horticulture primarily by working in their home gardens or with their houseplants and evaluating the results. Often, they can find help from a variety of sources: in books for non-experts; from greenhouses and garden supply stores they visit; and on Web sites run by greenhouses, garden supply stores, and state extension services. Neighbors and friends who work in the garden can also be sources of advice for the casual gardener, especially for problems specific to your region.

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

A greater level of depth can be achieved with lessons. Garden supply stores, gardening societies, and extension services offer classes that take students into more detail than a brief consultation when they’re, say, shopping for a bougainvillea. In addition, there are several magazines for avid but non-professional horticulturists, such as Horticulture and The American Gardener, published by the American Horticultural Society.

A horticulturist may work in a greenhouse environment.

One noteworthy effort is the Master Gardeners initiative, which is active in the United States and several Canadian provinces. The Master Gardeners program offers intensive training in horticulture followed by a period where the trainee “pays back” the local extension service as a volunteer. Details are available on the American Horticultural Society website.

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An aspiring horticulturist must have a passion and interest in plants.

For those interested in professional practice as a horticulturist, however, an accredited course of study is probably the most effective route. Studying horticulture can lead to a certificate or diploma, whether associate, undergraduate or graduate. There are even distance learning programs in horticulture, such as those at Texas Tech University and the University of Nebraska, but you will have to determine whether online interaction will provide enough training for the horticultural subspecialty you are interested in.

Specialties within horticulture include landscape management, floriculture and greenhouse management, lawn management, landscape design, fruit and vegetable production, ornamental horticulture and golf course management. Those with a horticultural certificate or degree can 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.

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