Botany or Horticulture?

magictgboyDecember 18, 2011

Hi everyone I am new to this form and I am very glad to have found it. I really need some help haha. Ok so I am at the point in my life where I am finally going to go to college. the problem is, I know that I want to spend the rest of my life working with plants but I am equally passionate about botany and horticulture. I have no clue what to do. I want to research and I am a sucker for all things science. But a part of my just wants to grow plants and not have to worry about the pure scientific aspects of how they grow. I would really appreciate some advice on what I could do to figure which one I am more suited for. and on another not the amount of schooling and the amount of potential income are not huge factors for me. right now I am more concerned on finding a job that I will enjoy all the time......thank you all and I look forward to being apart of future discussions

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ronalawn82(z9FL)

magictgboy, I take it that you know the difference between Botany and Horticulture. Botany can be viewed as a "Pure" science while Horticulture, an "Applied" science. One can start off studying Botany and as one seeks more qualification, one becomes a Specialist in say, Agronomy - dealing with Agricultural crops; Marine Botany; Paleobotany etc.
Horticulture is a branch of Agriculture and is concerned with the growing of plants for beauty although the USDA has braodened this definition to include plants grown intensively for food or medicine.
You can be a botanist and never have to appreciate horticultural aspects or effects of your work.
On the other hand it is not possible to be a Horticulturist without at least a basic knowledge of botany.
Plant breeding is opening up to be an absorbing and lucrative field especially in Brazil, I have read. New varieties of crop plants offer the least expensive (long term) method to alleviate world hunger.
Such a career would draw upon a knowledge of botany, horticulture and many other sciences.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 10:39AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I should think the answer might depend to some extent upon just how academic your aspirations might be. Writing at The Garden Professors - WSU Extension Doctor Linda Chalker-Scott discusses what she perceives as an area of academic need - "The sorry state of whole plant physiology".

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 12:48PM
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texasflip(Nacogdoches, TX z8)

I was asking myself the exact same question in high school and ended up in the field of forestry/wildlife management. There's really no way of knowing what's the best direction until you get some experience, in school or work. You'll probably end up switching majors a bunch of times as an undergrad like most people do. And if you do end up going to grad school (which seems to be almost standard nowadays) what you majored in as an undergrad doesn't have a huge impact on employers.

Personally, I like the idea of getting a biology/botany degree as an undergrad and then going on to get a Master's degree in horticulture. Your Bachelors will give you a strong foundation in general plant biology and you'll be well-prepared for grad school.

Also keep in mind work experience has a HUGE impact on what jobs are available to you...almost as much as what degree you got...so get jobs and internships!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 10:13PM
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susanzone5(z5NY)

Here's a bit of my story. I hope it helps you in some way. I majored in biology in college (back in the 60's) and found out I loved botany by my junior year. I wanted to be a botanist. I looked around at where I was going to live, to see just what jobs there were. There was only greenhouse work and landscapers. I'd have to live somewhere else.

So I decided to get another degree in teaching, which was smart since they are needed, provide a pension, insurance, time off for family, etc. I joined the Garden Book Club and read about 200 books on horticulture, became a Master Gardener, gave some workshops, and enjoyed my own gardens in the country while having a good paying teaching job with benefits and tenure.

I guess what I'm saying is, look for where you want to live and find out where and what the jobs are. A little research will tell you. In the meantime, take a science/liberal arts major and decide later as you grow and learn.

A good background in botany makes horticulture so much more interesting, and is really necessary. Whatever you do, enjoy the plants!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 5:00PM
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