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The Latin words hortus ("garden plant") and cultura together form horticulture, classically defined as the culture or growing of garden plants.

Horticulture involves five areas of study: floriculture (which includes production and marketing of floral crops), landscape horticulture (production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants), olericulture (production and marketing of vegetables), pomology (production and marketing of fruits), and postharvest physiology (maintaining quality and preventing spoilage of horticultural crops).

Horticulturists can work in industry, government, or educational institutions. They can be cropping systems engineers, wholesale or retail business managers, propagators and tissue culture specialists (fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and turf), crop inspectors, crop production advisors, extension specialists, plant breeders, research scientists, and of course, teachers.

Some careers in horticultural science require a masters (MS) or doctoral (PhD) degree.