Horticulturist

South African agriculture produces varied crops from fruit and vegetables to ornamental plants and nuts. Horticulture is the art of cultivating and producing fruit and vegetables, decorative indoor and outdoor plants, landscape plants and grasses, medicinal plants, and other perennial plant species. The sustainable propagation, cultivation and maintenance of seedlings and plants, the work of horticulture, is key in the production of healthy and resilient plants.

Horticulturists propagate and cultivate trees, shrubs and ornamental and flowering plants and grasses. They analyse plants to identify whether they are nutrient deficient, infected with disease or infested with pests, determining the best means to remedy the plant. They draw up maintenance plans for the propagation and care of rare plants as well as garden design and landscaping. Some also develop and give educational presentations to the public around plant species.

Horticulturists can work with land architects, conservationists, town planners and engage with the general public and students around plant education. They mainly work outdoors in nurseries or botanical gardens, for example and return to an office environment to plan planting schedules and research.

Skills

Horticulturists require a vast knowledge of indigenous and non-indigenous plant species and the properties that govern their development. They will further benefit from:

  • Excellent planning and organisational ability
  • Strong project coordination competence
  • Creative ability
  • Good written and verbal communication ability

Tasks

Oversee the production and care of plants

Manage crop scheduling for timing of appropriate planting and harvesting

Perform propagation, irrigation and pest management of plants

Advise and educate varied stakeholders on plant species

Studies

B.Sc. in Agriculture specialising in Horticulture at NWU, SU, UFH, UKZN, UL and Univen

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Horticulture at CPUT, DUT, TUT and UNISA

Horticulturists can also benefit from a Diploma or General Certificate in Horticulture at Cedara Agricultural College and Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute.

Employers

National parks and botanical gardens.

Plant nurseries.

Landscaping firms.

Golf, country and housing estates.

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