Horticulture: Principles, Practices, and Career Opportunities

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The discipline of horticulture has principles and practices that can be presented in written form, but the hands-on and experiential nature of working with plants makes the printed page a difficult delivery medium.  As we learned about the format and possibilities of electronic textbooks from Great River Learning, it became more and more apparent that this was the ideal means to teach horticulture. 


This reference has been modeled after the approach we each take to teaching introductory horticulture.  Between the two of us, we have taught horticulture at six different colleges and universities to a broad array of students.  In our classes we have strived to introduce the principles and practices of our profession, but also to describe the career possibilities of working with plants, which we feel is important information for beginning students.  Currently there is a shortage of employees in the horticultural and green industries across the United States and the demand and opportunities for skilled, talented, and passionate people is greater than ever.


Throughout this book you will find content and exercises not found in a typical printed textbook.  There are interactive knowledge checks to assess your understanding of concepts throughout each chapter.  In each chapter there are many “Did You Know?” dialog boxes with practical everyday examples of the principles you are learning.  We have also included “Author Flashback” dialog boxes to tell stories of our lifetime of experiences in horticulture that we incorporate into the classes as we teach.  At the end of each chapter there are exercises called “Horticulture All Around You” that are designed for you to examine how horticulture affects your life in ways you may not realize.  Because of the importance of educating students about the career potential of horticulture, our chapters have Career Profiles of professionals with occupations that specifically utilize the principles and practices you have just learned.  Each professional provides answers to a uniform set of questions to give you information on how they found their career path, what they find most rewarding about their career, and advice they give to students interested in horticulture.  As you will learn, horticulture is full of passionate individuals who find their careers very rewarding and fulfilling.

Kopsell, David Eliot

David is the Assistant Chairperson and Professor of Horticulture in the Agriculture Department at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  He grew up with his twin brother Dean on a 200-acre tree and shrub nursery in northern Illinois.  He received an associate degree from McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois in 1991, his bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness-Ornamental Horticulture with a minor in Business Administration from Illinois State University in 1993, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in Horticulture from the University of Georgia in 1995 and 1999, respectively.  He has held positions as a Vegetable Specialist with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, as an instructor and Chairperson of a community college horticulture department, in private industry as a vegetable crop consultation and research specialist, and faculty teaching positions at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and Illinois State University.  In his career he has taught 17 different horticultural or agricultural courses ranging from Introductory Horticulture to Landscape Design and Weed Science to Pest Identification and Management.  He has received over 20 different teaching awards at the departmental, college, university, community and national levels including the American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources Distinguished Young Educator Award in 2011 and the American Society for Horticultural Science’s (ASHS) Outstanding Undergraduate Educator Award in 2015.  He is currently serving on the ASHS Executive Board as the Education Division Vice-president for the society. David was also recently awarded the 2019 Non-land-grant Universities of Agriculture and Renewable Resources (NARRU) Distinguished Educator Award.

Kopsell, Dean Adam

Dean is the Chairperson and a Professor of Horticulture in the Environmental Horticulture Department at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.  He grew up on the same 200-acre tree and shrub production nursery in northern Illinois with his twin brother Dave.  He received his bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness-Ornamental Horticulture from Illinois State University in 1992.  For the next year he worked on the nursery and started a landscape division.  During this time, he completed the Illinois Certified Nurseryman Professional certification.  Dean completed his master’s and doctorate degrees in horticulture from the University of Georgia in 1995 and 1999, respectively.  Dean has held horticultural faculty positions at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Tennessee.  He has taught courses ranging from Introductory Horticulture to Plant Nutrition.  Dean has published 119 research papers, 6 book chapters, and holds 3 provisional patents in the areas of vegetable crop physiology and plant improvement and has received numerous research awards.  Dean served on the American Society for Horticultural Science’s Executive Board as the Research Division Vice-president from 2015-2017 and was elected a Fellow in the society in 2018.  He also sits on USDA advisory council for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).

Chapter 1: History of Horticulture

Chapter 2: Naming and Classifying Plants

Chapter 3: Plant Structures

Chapter 4: Photosynthesis and the Factors Affecting It

Chapter 5: Plant Growth and Development

Chapter 6: Plant Hormones

Chapter 7: Plant Propagation

Chapter 8: Plant Nutrition and Fertilizers

Chapter 9: Properties of Hotricultural Soils

Chapter 10: Integrated Pest Management

Chapter 11: Pruning and Maintenance of Horticultural Plants

Chapter 12: Horticultural Crop Irrigiation and Water Management

Chapter 13: Horticultural Crop Production

Chapter 14: Landscape Horticulture

Chapter 15: Horticultural Calculations and Mathematics