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The simplest definition of horticulture is it is the cultivation of plants. It involves growing plants either for their aesthetic value, as in floriculture (the cultivation of flowers), or on a local scale for food and medicine (as in a home garden). In addition to home gardening, horticulturists are involved in the landscaping and maintenance of parks, golf courses, and public gardens. In contrast to agriculture, horticulture does not include intensive crop production or large-scale crop farming.

Horticulture can be divided into several categories, which include:
– Olericulture: the production of vegetables
– Pomology: the production of fruits and nuts
– Viticulture: the production of grapes, primarily for winemaking
– Floriculture: the production of flowers and ornamental plants
– Turf management: the production and maintenance of grass for sports and leisure
– Arboriculture: the cultivation of individual trees, shrubs, and vines for aesthetic or amenity purposes. This is distinct from forestry, which is the large-scale cultivation of trees.

The climatic conditions that have the biggest impact on the development of plants include temperature, precipitation, humidity, light, and wind. Some plants may die when exposed to conditions where frost forms, while others may recover when warmer weather returns. The amount of moisture needed varies greatly. Desert plants can survive on little water and may die if over-watered, while some plants need constant exposure to moisture. All these conditions can be artificially controlled through technology in the case of indoor horticulture.
Irrigation in horticulture is the artificial application of water to the soil in order to supplement or replace unreliable rainfall. There are several irrigation techniques to consider. In surface irrigation, water is distributed over and across the land using gravity flow to wet and infiltrate the soil. Localized irrigation distributes water under low pressure through a piped network. There is also sprinkler irrigation where water is delivered to one or more central locations and distributed overhead by rotating high-pressure sprinklers. Sprinklers can also be mounted on automated moving platforms that are connected to the water source by a hose. One of the oldest methods of irrigation simply uses buckets, though this may be labor-intensive.

The soil used in horticulture needs to have the correct combination of nutrients, organic matter, and moisture. Usually, the preferred garden soil is loamy, meaning it has a balanced mixture of clay, sand, and organic matter. The acidity or alkalinity of the soil and the presence of microscopic organisms are also factors to consider. A common practice involves the addition of mineral nutrients and organic matter in the form of fertilizers that meet the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur needs of the plants. Organic horticulture is an alternative to the use of synthetic chemicals in gardening.
The role of genetics in horticulture is to produce superior plant varieties. Plants can be genetically modified to increase yields, enhance disease and pest resistance, provide resistance to herbicides or increase the nutritional value of the plants.

In conclusion, horticulture is the confluence of science, technology, art, and skill that are applied to the cultivation of better plants, and the field is ever-evolving as new techniques and practices are constantly being discovered.