The Main Branches of Horticulture  
Plus other Descriptors

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Based on crop grouping and plant use, the main divisions or branches of horticulture are:

1. Olericulture - the production of vegetables including storage, processing, and marketing. Vegetable crops are grown for their succulent and edible parts such as the roots, stems, leaves, young tops, flowers, fruits, or seeds for use in culinary preparations either fresh or preserved in the fresh state.

2. Pomology - the branch of horticulture which deals with fruit crop production. Fruit crops are grown for their edible fruits which, as a rule, are consumed raw.

3. Floriculture - the cultivation and management of cut flowers, flowering plants, and foliage plants (Louisiana State University 2011) including their use in ornamental construct such as flower arrangement (ISHS 2011). A term that is used interchangeably with floriculture is ornamental horticulture.

4. Plant Propagation / Nursery Crop Culture - the propagation and production of seedlings, young trees, shrubs and vines, as well as ground covers, turf, ornamental plants and other crops in nurseries for landscaping, interior plantscaping, or outplanting.

5. Landscape horticulture - the branch of horticulture which includes the design, construction and care of landscapes taking into consideration proper choice of plants and aesthetic effects for homes, businesses and public places.

The following crops are likewise generally included within the domain of the branches of horticulture: perennial bush and tree nuts; and aromatic and medicinal foliage, seeds and roots (ISHS 2011).

In addition, the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS 2011) and Janick (1972; 2002) provide the following descriptors of horticulture:

1. Horticulture differs from agronomy in many ways but some crops can be classified as both horticultural and agronomic depending on use (e.g. sweet corn is horticultural, grain or forage corn is agronomic). In the tropics, however, the distinction between horticulture and agronomy is not clear.

2. Horticulture is intensive. It deals with high-value crops which are intensively cultivated with high infusion of capital in terms of production inputs, labor and technology per land area.

3. Protected cultivation, as in glasshouses and plastic tunnels, and irrigation are common.

4. The following terms are used to refer to production units for horticultural crops: gardens, orchards, groves, vineyards, greenhouses, nurseries, and sometimes plantations.

5. Horticulture supports environmental enhancement through a special branch of horticulture called environmental or urban horticulture which includes home gardening, landscaping, arboriculture (growing of trees), and interior decorating with the use of plants. These activities have been applied in horticultural therapy in which horticultural plants are used as therapeutic tools.


  1. [ISHS] INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR HORTICULTURAL SCIENCE. 2011. Defining horticulture, horticultural products and horticultural science. Retrieved Oct. 8, 2011 from
  2. JANICK J. 1972. Horticultural Science. 2nd ed. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company. 586 p.
  3. JANICK J. 2002. Lecture 30: Origins of horticultural science. In: History of Horticulture. Purdue University. Retrieved Oct. 8, 2011 from
  4. LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY. 2011. What is/careers. Retrieved Oct. 8, 2011 from

(Ben G. Bareja. October 2011)

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