Horticulturists are professionals involved in the growing, selling, and maintenance of plants for indoor and outdoor use. Some specialize in plants indigenous to Southern Africa. They seek to beautify cities, towns or suburbs and provide better recreation facilities. It requires a lot of research in the field to understand the conditions under which plants grow.

Horticulturists’ work can be divided into different spheres:

Commerce: plants are propagated and seeds produced for marketing by nurseries and in greenhouses or hothouses.

Parks and decorative areas: a park administrator concerned with layouts and cultivation of plants in landscapes, parks and public gardens and also with the beautifying of areas such as pavements and entrances of towns and cities, areas adjacent to freeways and railway stations.

Conservation: Horticulturists / Specialist Horticulturists / Curators of Botanical Gardens work in association with scientists and develop plant collections from all over Southern Africa to get to know how to conserve them, grow them and develop an appreciation for indigenous plants.

Supplementary products: as researchers, advisers, or salespeople of chemicals, fertilisers and horticultural products / elements.

Research: involved with the development of improved varieties of plants. Horticulturist scientists, those with university degrees in horticulture, are the most likely to work for various agricultural research institutes conducting research on vegetables, fruit and flowers as well as on grape and wine preparation.

They also work on environmental and pest control and some work on improving and cultivating plant varieties, hybrids.

Horticulturists often work with engineers, landscape architects, environmental conservationists and town planners. They could provide plant decorations for functions and offices or be involved in the creation of recreational areas such as botanical gardens, nature reserves and hiking trails, where people can relax or exercise, and also for research, conservation and the education of the public. They may contribute to the conservation of the environment through the provision of green zones, the establishment of vegetation in certain areas and soil stabilisation.

Horticulturist work mainly outdoors, at research institutes, production farms, nurseries, parks and botanical gardens, and in conservation areas where they might propagate rare and endangered plants, including those used for traditional healing.

Personal Requirements

  • inborn love of nature
  • enjoy working outdoors
  • responsible and interested in conservation
  • technical abilities
  • patient and persevering
  • able to make decisions independently
  • able to foresee horticultural activities over a whole year and to plan accordingly

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: BSc (Agric) degree - UKZN, UFS, UP, US, UFH, NWU, NMMU, UNISA, UZ, UV. Horticultural Science - US.

Diploma: BTech, N.Dip: Horticulture - UNISA, CPUT, DUT, TUT, Environment and Recreation - DUT, Environmental Health - CUT, CPUT, DUT, TUT, UJ, NMMU, Landscape Technology - CPUT.

Agricultural Colleges: Elsenburg Agricultural College in the Western Cape and Cedara Agricultural College in KwaZulu Natal offer a diploma course which includes Horticulture.

The Institute of Parks and Recreation Management (SA) monitors the courses offered at the training institutions and also offers seminars and conferences on Horticulture. Students can enrol as student members and qualified horticulturists as senior members of the Institute.


  • large fruit, vegetable and flower farms
  • Department of Public Works
  • provincial administrations and municipalities
  • public corporations and semi-state institutions
  • nurseries and botanical gardens
  • manufacturers of pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers
  • universities and universities of technology
  • research institutes
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own horticultural enterprise

Further Information

Botanical Society of South Africa
Private Bag X 10
Claremont, 7735
Tel: (021) 797-2090

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
2 Cussonia Ave
Tel: (012) 843-5000

Agricultural Research Council
1134 Park Street, Hatfield
Tel: (012) 427-9700

Agri SA
Block A, Inkwazi Office Park
1249 Embankment Road
Centurion, Gauteng
Tel: (012) 643-3400

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work as an assistant with a horticultural concern
  • grow vegetables and flowers in your own garden and collect the seeds
  • arrange to visit different horticultural concerns and speak to a horticulturalist about this career

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations

Study at Elsenburg College

Study Horticulture at Stellenbosch University

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