Difference between Horticulture and Agriculture

By: | Updated: Feb-7, 2018
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From our refreshing early morning herbal infusion to the delicious steak we have for dinner, plants and animals play a vital role in our daily lives. Agriculture was born out of our need to survive, and has been part of our lives ever since.

However, we often see another term appear in articles about agriculture: horticulture. Not everyone knows what it is, and some even use the terms interchangeably. Are they indeed the same? This article will answer that question.

Summary Table

Horticulture Agriculture
A branch or sub category of agriculture A broad term that covers forestry, agronomy, animal husbandry, aquaculture, and horticulture.
Focuses on cultivating, marketing, improving, and technology of plants for food and other human necessities Covers cultivating plants and raising animals for food and other human necessities
Sometimes called “gardening” Sometimes called “farming”


man working with plants
Horticulture deals with plants

Horticulture is a subset of agriculture that deals with the cultivation, marketing, study, and technology of all kinds of plants. Its scope covers root crops, fruits, vegetables, trees, herbs, decorative plants, medicinal plants, grass, and even seaweeds and algae. Its application provides food, products for personal use, economic gain, and enhancement of surroundings. It is sometimes simply called “gardening.”

Agriculture, or farming, involves both raising animals and growing plants

On the other hand, agriculture is a multi-disciplined subject that generally covers the practice of propagating plants and raising livestock and poultry. Its chief purpose is to provide food for human consumption and provide other human necessities like clothing and medicines. However, it is also applied to generate profit. The term agriculture comes from the Latin word ager that means “field” and cultura that means “to grow or cultivate,” which is why agriculture is sometimes called just “farming.” Among its many branches are forestry, agronomy, animal husbandry, aquaculture, and horticulture.

Horticulture vs Agriculture

What, then, is the difference between horticulture and agriculture?

Horticulture is just one of the many branches of agriculture. It mainly focuses on the study, cultivation, marketing and technology of all kinds of plants. On the contrary, agriculture is a broad term for any practice that involves propagating plants and/or raising animals (both livestock and poultry). Aside from horticulture as one of its subcategories, agriculture also includes forestry, agronomy, aquaculture, and animal husbandry.

In simple terms, horticulture means “gardening” while agriculture means “farming.” The former involves purely plants, while the latter involves both plants and animals.

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