Horticulture is the art and science of the cultivation of plants.
In 2017 the farmgate value of Horticultural output was €433m. The key crops in the Food Horticulture sector include Mushrooms, Potatoes, Field Vegetables, Outdoor Fruit and Protected Crops which have a combined value of €379m. The key crops in the Amenity Horticulture sector include Nursery Stock Production, Protected Flowers/Ornamentals, Christmas Trees, Cut Foliage and Bulbs which have a total value of €63m.
The key market for the Horticultural Industry is the domestic market. The main outlet for fresh produce is the domestic retail market which is valued at €1.54bn. The other notable outlet for fresh produce is the foodservice sector which is valued at €396m at wholesale prices.
The top 10 vegetable crops (including salad lines) purchased in the retail market in value terms are Tomato (€112m); Carrots (€63m); Peppers (€58m); Mushrooms (€56m); Broccoli (€33m); Onions (€33m); Lettuce (€30m); Cucumbers (€17m); Cabbage (€16m); Spring Onion (€10m) – 75% value of the vegetable sector of the market (source: Kantar Worldpanel).
Floriculture – This area of horticulture focuses on the cultivation of flowers (cut and potted) and foliage. Flower arrangement also fall under this header.
Pomology – If you love to eat delicious fruit, then pomology may interest you. This branch of horticulture revolves around production and cultivation of fruit crops.
Nursery/Plant Propagation – The development and dissemination of plant seeds, shrubs, trees, ornamental plants, and ground covering is the focus of this area of horticulture. Typically these plants are used in landscaping or interior plantscaping projects.
Landscape Horticulture – Ever wonder who develops those beautiful parks and indoor garden environments? Landscape horticulturists design, construct, and take care of landscapes in homes, businesses, and public areas. They choose plants for their aesthetic appeal and practicality and arrange them in ways that are pleasing and conform to the needs of their clients.
Commercial horticulture involves the growing and selling of food crops and ornamental plants. In the area of food production it is the horticulturist who faces the challenge of growing the fruit and the vegetables that we eat. The Department of Agriculture reports that growing potatoes and mushrooms are currently the two biggest areas of employment in this sector. Producing these crops is a very technical business, involving automated systems, controlled using state of the art computer technology, alongside traditional skills. Commercial horticulture includes floristry and retail horticulture too.
Amenity Horticulture includes gardening, landscaping, designing and a whole lot more. It starts with the design and construction of recreational areas. These can be parks, nature reserves, wildlife gardens, and roadside plantings, amongst other designed landscapes. Amenity areas can be public, as with local authority parks, and roadside plantings, so important to wildlife. They can also be private, as in stately homes, apartment complexes and so on.