Horticultural Technicians


Exploring this Job

If you've spent a summer mowing lawns for your family or neighbors or kept up a garden in the backyard, then you already have valuable horticulture experience. Many nurseries, flower shops, and local parks or forest preserves use temporary summer employees to work in various capacities. You can also join garden clubs, visit local flower shops, attend botanical shows, and participate in internships to explore the career. The American Public Gardens Association offers a list of internships in public gardens throughout the United States at its Web site, https://www.publicgardens.org/professional-development/jobs.

You can learn more about various landscaping careers, educational training, and opportunities for women in horticulture and landscaping by visiting https://www.landscapeindustrycareers.org.

The Job

Horticultural technicians usually specialize in one or more of the following areas: floriculture (flowers), nursery operation (shrubs, hedges, and trees), turfgrass (grass), and arboriculture (trees). Most entry-level technicians work as growers, maintenance workers, or salespeople.

The activities of floriculture technicians and of nursery-operation technicians are closely related. Both kinds of technicians work in nurseries or greenhouses to raise and sell plants. They determine correct soil conditions for specific plants, the proper rooting material for cuttings, and the best fertilizer for promoting growth. They may also be involved with the merchandising aspects of growing plants.

Technicians working in floriculture or nursery operations may become horticultural-specialty growers or plant propagators. These technicians initiate new kinds of plant growth through specialized techniques both in outdoor fields and under the environmentally controlled conditions of greenhouses and growing sheds. They carefully plan growing schedules, quantities, and utilization schemes to gain the highest quality and most profitable yield. Some of their duties include planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, pruning plants, and inspecting crops for nutrient deficiencies, insects, diseases, and unwanted growth.

In greenhouses and growing sheds, horticultural-specialty growers monitor timing and metering devices that administer nutrients to the plants and flowers. They are also responsible for regulating humidity, ventilation, and carbon dioxide conditions, often using software programs. They formulate schedules for the dispensing of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides and explain and demonstrate growing techniques and procedures to other workers. Horticultural-specialty growers may also hire personnel, work with vendors and customers, and handle record keeping.

Horticultural technicians working in the area of turf-grass management are involved in the planning and maintenance of commercial lawns and public lands, such as parks, highways, and playing fields. They also work in specialized areas, such as sod production, seed production, irrigation, transportation, and sales of other products and services.

Turfgrass technicians may run their own businesses or work for lawn care services. Private businesses provide lawn care services to homeowners, corporations, colleges, and other large institutions with extensive grounds. These services include mowing, fertilizing, irrigating, and controlling insects, diseases, and weeds. They may also provide tree and snow removal services and sell lawn care products and equipment. Technicians working in the public sector for local, county, state, or federal government agencies may be involved in designing turfgrass areas in parks or playing fields, or for areas along public highways.

Arboriculture technicians plant, feed, prune, and provide pest control for trees. Self-employed technicians may contract their services to private businesses or a group of companies located in the same industrial park or neighborhood. They care for the trees on the company grounds or in the landscaped areas of industrial parks. Private companies hire arboriculture technicians not only to keep their grounds attractive but also to prevent damage by fallen trees or overgrowth to on-site power lines or other property.

Arboriculture technicians are also employed by local, state, or federal agencies. They decide when and how trees should be removed and where new trees should be placed on public grounds. They work for park and parkway systems, public recreational agencies, and public school systems.