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Ornamental Horticulture - Overview


Programs in ornamental horticulture teach people how to breed and grow decorative plants. Students learn methods of using plants in artistic and pleasing ways. They study the growth and development of specific types of decorative plants. They also learn the basic principles of plant science.

The English poet Alexander Pope once wrote, "All gardening is landscape-painting." If this is true, then working in ornamental horticulture would make you an artist. And if you love the idea of being an artist and using flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants on your palette, then this program of study may be right for you.

Although our fast-paced lives sometimes discourage us from stopping to smell the roses (literally!), many people do love the beauty that flowers and other plants bring. They lend color, fragrance, and a sense of life to even the drabbest concrete buildings. As an ornamental horticulturist, you not only have the opportunity to work with plants all day long. You also have the satisfaction of knowing that your work brings joy to many people.

In this program, you take courses in horticulture and plant science. These courses give you the foundation for focusing on ornamental plants. You learn how plants reproduce, develop, and grow. You study the diseases and pests that plague plants. You then learn how to grow and care for specific kinds of ornamental plants, such as perennials, bulbs, trees, and shrubs. You also learn how to breed new plants using both natural and artificial methods.

A background in ornamental horticulture may lead you to a career in greenhouse management, floral consulting, or botanical garden care. You could research exciting new plant hybrids or help breed rare and exotic flowers that are popular with gardeners and collectors.

Many schools offer programs in ornamental horticulture where you can typically earn either a certificate or an associate's degree. A certificate generally takes up to a year of full-time study after high school. An associate's degree usually takes one to two years.

At some schools, ornamental horticulture and floriculture are often concentrations within bachelor's degree programs in horticulture, horticultural science, plant science, or environmental design. In general, studying ornamental horticulture at one of these programs takes about four years of full-time study after high school. You could also earn a master's degree or doctorate (Ph.D.) in this area. (In many cases, ornamental horticulture is a concentration within a larger horticulture program.) You generally need two years of study after earning your bachelor's degree to get a master's degree. A doctorate takes about five years of additional study after your bachelor's degree.

Ornamental horticulture and floriculture are often concentrations within programs of plant science or horticulture.

Students who major in ornamental horticulture may choose concentrations in research and genetic engineering or nursery business management.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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