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What is a Horticulturist?

A Horticulturist is a specialized type of Scientist. Also known as: Production Horticulturist, Horticulture Scientist.

A horticulturist is someone who uses scientific knowledge to cultivate and propagate plants, and then uses this knowledge to provide technical information to fruit, vegetable and flower growers as well as farmers. A horticulturist will conduct pest and disease investigations and experiment with improved varieties of plants with greater resistance to disease. They will sometimes work in the field of landscaping design to create gardens, recreational areas, and parks, with the goal of preserving our natural resources. They may also work in the mining industry, where they assist in regenerating degraded land.

What does a Horticulturist do?

Horticulture is a branch of agriculture which mainly deals with the reproduction of plant life. It involves the management and cultivation of gardens and land. While this career is similar to a landscape architect, there are fundamental differences between the two.

Landscape architects have a lot of knowledge on how to design beautiful layouts for public gardens or parks. A horticulturist goes one step beyond and knows the science behind different plants, flowers, and greenery. They conduct research in gardening and landscaping, plant propagation, crop production, plant breeding, genetic engineering, plant biochemistry, and plant physiology. Their work particularly involves berries, fruits, nuts, vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, turf, and soil management. 

A horticulturist can have many different roles, but as a general rule, they are the people that are experts in the growth of food and other types of plants. Horticulturists can work in industry, education, government, or private institutions. Here are a few of the different kinds of work that a horticulturist may be involved in:

Experimentation and Research

  • A horticulturist may engage in plant research, usually within a particular discipline. Some professionals learn about plant evolution and development under natural conditions while some may conduct research in very controlled settings. A plant geneticist conducts detailed experiments on plants to produce new generations through artificial selection that have desirable qualities. These types of horticulturists use lab equipment and complex techniques to study these plants with great detail. 

Landscaping

  • A horticulturist may join construction or landscaping companies to design and develop the landscape for a specific site. They cultivate flowers, grasses, shrubs, trees, and advise their client on proper plant products and irrigation to maintain the look and integrity of the greenery. Horticulturists know the types of plants that would thrive with each other. They also take into account climate, soil, necessary nutrients, and plant care. 

Advising

  • A horticulturist may also serve as a consultant to a range of customers such as farmers or landscapers. They can help a farmer maximize their crop outputs by advising on planting, growing, and harvesting techniques. They may also advise farmers on the best ways to irrigate soil to protect crops from insects or parasites, or give advice on planting trees in shady areas. If any grower has a question about their plants or crops, a horticulturist is the one they call on. 

Administrative

  • Not all the work of a horticulturist is spent out in the field. They make sure their client or place of work is in accordance with proper horticultural policies and standards. They may supervise landscapers and gardeners to make sure the proper operations are being followed. They could also be responsible for planning and organizing landscaping or gardening projects that fit within a budget. 

Education

  • An experienced horticulturist may work in the education sector, becoming a professor and teaching students who are interested in horticulture. They may even write for publications, lead environmental cleanup efforts, or give public speeches regarding environmental sustainability and protection.

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What is the workplace of a Horticulturist like?

Most horticulturists work outside, in greenhouses, or in labs, depending on their specialized work. In general, working in horticulture involves a lot of hands-on work. Whether planting, pruning, or harvesting, there is a lot of physical work involved. While horticulturists tend to keep regular hours, their workload gets busier during the planting and harvesting seasons.

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