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What Does a Horticulturist Do?

Some horticulturists study plants and crops in a controlled environment.
A horticulturalist can advise farmers on the best way to irrigate crops.
A horticulturist might work on improving crop yields.
A plant growing.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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A horticulturist is a scientist who specializes in plant cultivation and propagation. He or she might conduct research to learn more about the genetics and properties of plants or apply growing ideas to produce higher crop yields. Many become involved with important causes, such as ending world hunger and reducing pollution from manufacturing plants and pesticides. Professionals apply their skills in many industries and settings, including private research laboratories, universities, greenhouses, agriculture businesses, and government agencies.

Horticultural experts who engage in plant research usually specialize in particular areas of the discipline. Some professionals conduct field research to learn more about plant evolution and development under natural conditions, while others raise plants and crops in very controlled settings. A plant genetics conducts detailed experiments on inheritance and artificial selection to produce new generations of plants with desired qualities. Researchers employ complex laboratory equipment and techniques to study plants in detail.

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A horticulturist who works for an agriculture company can provide consulting services to farmers to help them maximize the quality and yield of their crops. He or she advises growers on the best ways to irrigate soil and protect crops from insect or parasite infestations. A plant scientist may also be employed by a landscaping development company to select different types of flora to be planted at a specific site. He or she determines which plants are likely to grow best, given the climate and location, and is often responsible for tending to the plants throughout the year so they maintain their aesthetic qualities.

An experienced, respected horticulturist might decide to get involved with public policy and education efforts. The individual may decide to become a university professor to mold the next generation of horticulturists or enter politics to help shape the future of agriculture. Professionals often write for informational publications, lead environmental cleanup efforts, and give public talks about the importance of sustainability and protection of plant resources.

An individual who wants a career in this field may be able to find an entry-level job after receiving a bachelor's degree in biology, botany, or agricultural science. Some colleges offer master's and doctoral degrees specifically in horticulture, which can be very helpful in landing research jobs in government agencies and private laboratories. Most professionals begin their careers as field workers or research assistants. Working under the supervision of established professionals, they gain valuable firsthand experience. In time, dedicated assistants are allowed to take on more responsibilities and start working independently on projects.

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Perdido
Post 4

My dad is a landscape horticulturist. He advises clients on the best choices for their soil type and land layout.

Some of his biggest clients are banks, post offices, and mansion owners. He works in a wealthy section of town, so he stays pretty busy.

After he helps them decide which plants would be best for them, he advises other workers with the landscape company on how to plant them and what potting soil, fertilizer, or mulch to use. Once the plants are in the ground, he has to visit the area weekly to advise the workers on when to water and fertilize them.

StarJo
Post 3

My favorite cousin is a plant genetics horticulturist. He is responsible for the development of several hybrid flower types in unnatural colors and patterns.

Though I will probably never understand just how he does it, he spends hours studying and experimenting to yield amazing results. Last year, he developed a blue rose with frilly edges and jagged stripes. A few months ago, he came up with a yellow daylily with purple diagonal stripes and white dots.

These new breeds of flowers look as though they must have been handpainted. I find it fascinating that he can do this with his knowledge of genetics.

wavy58
Post 2

I am a schoolteacher, so I have three months during the summer free. I spend them helping and learning from my grandmother, who is a horticulturist at a greenhouse that she owns.

For many years, she has studied the effects of certain soil and moisture conditions on different plants. She has extensive knowledge of flowers I have never even heard of, and she uses this to grow the biggest, healthiest plants possible for her customers.

She offers free advice with each plant purchase. She has even written and self-published a guide with information about every type of plant contained in her greenhouse.

kylee07drg
Post 1

I often wish I had studied horticulture in college. I have developed a real love of plants over the past few years, and I think working with them every day would be a rewarding experience.

I often drive by the courthouse on my town square and admire the work of the person responsible for the design and upkeep of the big flower landscape out front. It is always bright and healthy, and as seasons change, the flowers are replaced with ones that perform their best during the new season.

Though workers for a landscape company probably plant them in the ground, the horticulturist is responsible for picking the best ones to grow there. I think it would be awesome to have that responsibility.

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