The term horticulture comes from two Latin words hortus meaning garden and colere meaning cultivation. Bailey in 1939 noticed that horticulture relates to the cultivation within enclosure. There is a slight difference between gardens and fields by the concept of enclosure. Janick defined horticulture as the field of agriculture-related cultivation of plants for food, medicinal purposes, or for aesthetic pleasure. So horticulture is that part of plant agriculture which deals with garden crops.
Custom defines the difference between horticulture, agronomy, and forestry. Horticultural product usually has higher water content, has a longer shelf life and is usually consumed fresh. Agronomic and forestry products are often consumed in non-living state and usually have high amounts of dry matter. Yet, crops like potato and sweet potato are agronomic crops when people use them as a staple food. In Pakistan, potatoes and sweet potatoes are vegetable crops. Trees like walnut, pine and mango are forest crops if planted for wood and horticultural crops if used as fruit and ornamental trees.
Horticulture deals with many plant species. It includes fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants. Moreover, medicinal plants, beverage plants, and spices are also horticultural crops.
Divisions of horticulture
There are three basic classes of horticulture:
Pomology or fruit production
Olericulture or vegetable production
Floriculture or flower production
Horticulture also consider landscape and designing as its distinct branch. There are other commercial branches like seed production and marketing, greenhouse crops, pharmaceutical crops, processing and storage along with many support industries.
Pomology is the study of fruits. In botanical terms, the fruit is a mature ovary. According to the horticultural definition, fruit is the consumable, fleshy or dry part of a plant whose development is closely linked with the flower. The commercial production of fruits is called orcharding. Grapes plantations are called vineyards and their cultivation is called viticulture. Similarly, citrus orchards are called citrus groves and cultivation of citrus is called citriculture. Post-harvest handling of fruits itself is a specialized discipline that deals with grading, packing, storing, processing, and shipping operations.
Olericulture is the branch of horticulture that deals with the cultivation of vegetables. A vegetable may be the edible part of the plant that people consume fresh or processed. The consumable part may be the fruit, foliage, tuber, root, or any other plant part. There are three main sub-classes of vegetable production: home gardening, market gardening, and truck gardening.
Home Gardening is the production of vegetables for home use. It is the oldest form of vegetable production and still the most important source of vegetables in our households. Apart from the economic point of view, it also assures that your products are fresh and safe and the choice of crops can depends according to the liking of the family. Home gardening has lead people to the concept of organic farming. People have come to know that products from the market are highly contaminated with chemicals that may be hazardous to health. So, the only way to get fresh and healthy vegetables is through organic home gardening.
Market Gardening involves the production of vegetables on a usually large scale to meet the requirements of people with no land that depend on market gardening. It is mainly for the people who have a lack of agricultural land, time or interest to grow their vegetables. Market gardens near big cities utilize sewer water as a source of fertilizer and irrigation. Often heavy use of chemicals is made to control the spread of pests and diseases carried in city refuse. Vegetables cultivated on land fertilized with sewage water may contain a heavy load of chemicals that are harmful to human health.
Truck Gardening or farming is the production of vegetables in relatively large quantities for distant markets. Truck farming is less intensive than market gardening. Also, the grower can wait a few days to several weeks between harvesting and marketing.
Vegetable forcing involves the production of vegetables out of their normal season of outdoor production. There is a huge demand for out-of-season produce and consumer is ready to pay extra. The most common form is the early or late production of summer vegetables.
Floriculture or ornamental horticulture
The branch of horticulture deals with plants and their layouts for aesthetic purposes or beautification of the environment. A variety of plants are used as ornamental plants based on their values and personal choices.
Ornamental plants play an important role in enhancing the beauty of domestic and urban environment and pollution control. A variety of plant material is imported for ornamental purposes. Ornamental plants are also grown for the extraction of products like essential oils and aromatic compounds for sale as cut flowers, and medicinal purposes.