Horticultural Science deals with the creation, production, distribution and use of fruit, vegetable, ornamental, greenhouse, turf and specialty crops (plants used for flavoring and medicine). Horticultural Science is probably the most diverse biological science you can study at a university. Not only are the biology and genetics of crop plants interesting, but application of this knowledge is equally important in a myriad of situations. Horticulturists are employed not only in the more typical plant nurseries, greenhouse, public parks, vegetable fields, and golf courses, but also in hospitals (horticultural therapy), aerospace (food and recycling in space labs), and zoos (managing environments for animals and visitors). What they have in common is a strong desire to work intensively with plants to improve our environment and our health.

What are the course tracks?

As a student studying Horticultural Science, you will concentrate on two major themes: (1) the plants (biology and use) that are commonly utilized in the profession, and (2) the control (physiology, genetics, environment) of the growth of these plants in production of final use situations. Horticulture classes often include lecture and lab sections, the lecture providing the theory and the labs providing “hands-on” application of that theory. You will also take classes in other disciplines including botany, plant pathology, soils, entomology, and business/economics.

  • Landscape horticulture
    • Identification of trees, shrubs, evergreens, groundcovers, and vines
    • Propagation and culture of ornamental nursery stock
    • Planting and establishment of aesthetically pleasing landscapes
    • Management and care of urban landscape trees and shrubs
    • Diagnosis and treatment of pests and diseases affecting landscape plants
    • Herbaceous ornamentals and interiorscaping
    • Introduction to interior ornamental plants, including commercial, public and private aspects
    • Emphasis is placed on sight identification, plant description, aesthetic qualities, use, adaptability, culture, diseases and pests
  • Vegetables and food
    • A tour through the diversity of vegetable plants associated with cultures throughout the world.
    • Genetic, environmental, historical, and human cultural perspectives of these unique plants.
    • Laboratory exercises include culinary preparation of vegetables, field trips, guest lectures, and hands-on experimentation.
  • Fruit and food
    • Exposure to fruit crops of the world.
    • Emphasis on north temperate crops such as apples, strawberries, hazelnuts, and cranberries.
    • Management of diseases and pests including organic approaches.
    • Production practices and plant genetics as they influence fruit quality and yield.
  • Turf
    • Survey of turfgrass industry including golf course, lawn and landscape, athletic field, and sod production.
    • Turfgrass selection, weed identification, influence of environmental factors and cultural and integrated pest management systems.

Can I afford school?

  • Scholarships: The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has an extensive scholarship program, especially for incoming students. Applications are available from county extension offices, high school guidance counselors or directly from the Office of Academic Student Affairs. Departmental scholarships are also available for students excelling in the Horticulture and/or Plant Science disciplines.
  • UW Student Jobs: There are a variety of work-study positions available to students. Jobs may involve laboratory greenhouse or field experience. The department maintains a job availability list. Other job listings are available at www.osfs.wisc.edu
  • Internships: The Career Services Office posts job and internship openings; assists undergraduates with developing internship programs; and conducts workshops on interview and job-hunting skills. Students may also earn credits for internship experience.

For more information contact the Department of Horticulture:

Prospective Student Services: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Office of Academic Affairs

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an AA/EEO institution. University policies create additional protection that prohibits harassment on the basis of cultural background and ethnicity. Inquires concerning these policies may be directed to the appropriate campus admitting or employing unit or to the Equity and Diversity Resource Center, 179-A, Bascom Hall, (608) 263-2378, TTY (608) 263-2473.