The term 'Horticulture' is derived from the Latin word, 'Hortus' meaning garden and 'Cultura' which means cultivation. In simple terms, it can be defined as the art and science of smart gardening or plant production for both beauty and utility.
It is also defined as the branch of agriculture which deals with the cultivation, production and utilization of horticultural crops like fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, ornamental and flowering plants, spices and condiments, plantation crops, medicinal and aromatic plants and avenue trees.
It is also an art, science, technology and business involved in intensive plant cultivation for human use. Horticultural science encompasses all of the pure sciences- mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology and biology. The main divisions of horticulture are:
1. Olericulture: the production, storage, processing and marketing of vegetables.
2. Pomology: deals with the production technologies of fruit crops.
3. Floriculture: the cultivation and management practices of cut flowers, flowering plants, foliage plants and their use in ornamental decoration.
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 plant scaping or out planting.
5. Organic Farming: the production system which excludes the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.
6. Plant breeding: It deals with the breeding techniques of various horticultural crops for yielding a crop with all the desirable characters like high yielding, disease resistance, tolerance to adverse climatic conditions, etc.
7. Landscape/ornamental horticulture: includes the study of designing, construction and care of landscapes taking into consideration the proper choice of plants and aesthetic effects for homes, business and public places.
8. Entomology: deals with the study of insect pests, the damage they pose to crops and he preventive and control measures to be taken.
9. Arboriculture: study of selection, planting, care and removal of individual trees, shrubs, vines and other perennial woody plants.
1o.Viticulture: deals with production and management of grapes.
11. Weed management: the study of nature of various types of noxious weeds inhabiting the agricultural fields and the management practices to keep their population at levels below those causing economic damage to crops.
12. Post Harvest management: concerned with maintaining the quality or shelf life of the horticultural produce after harvest.