What is horticulture?

The word horticulture comes from two Latin words which mean “garden” and “culture.” Horticulture is the art and science of growing and handling fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, flowers, foliage plants, woody ornamentals, and turf.

Horticulture is different things to different people. It is a science on the cutting edge of biotechnology, an art, profession, business, industry, hobby, way-of-life, and therapy for millions of people. Each of us comes in contact with horticultural products and professions every day of our lives. Horticulture feeds us, improves our environment, and, through science, is helping find answers to tomorrow’s problems. National Junior Horticulture Association

Horticulture is the area of agriculture involving the science of growing and caring for plants. Horticulture is socially important because it improves how we use plants, for food and other human purposes, as well as repairing the environment and personal aesthetics. Plants are also very important in environmental protection. They are used to re-vegetate and restore land disturbed by human or natural activities, they control erosion, and they help to clean the air and water. Plants also have an important role in the beautification of urban and rural landscapes and recreation areas. Environmental Programs

Examples of horticulture include the following:

  • landscaping
  • gardening
  • growing crops for food, fiber, and fuel
  • horticultural therapy—using horticultural methods to treat patients
  • Arboriculture—the care of trees


Andy Siebel, Associate Extension Specialist, Virginia Cooperate Extension
D. Jewel Harris, STEM++ Education, NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program

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