Floriculture is a branch of horticulture concerned with the propagation of ornamental plants, with a focus on flowering plants specifically. Worldwide, floriculture is a huge industry, from greenhouses for cut flowers in Israel to facilities which specialize in bedding plants in the Sacramento Valley of California. A number of different topics fall within the purview of floriculturists, ranging from managing bulbs to controlling pests which damage ornamental crops.
Humans have been cultivating flowering plants for centuries for the purpose of ornamentation, employment in religious ritual, and use in medicine. With the development of the greenhouse, and advanced knowledge of how inherited traits work, gardeners began breeding a wide variety of cultivars. In the process, they created a huge demand for flowering plants in array of shapes, sizes, and styles. Today, numerous educational institutions have a floriculture department if they cover agricultural topics, and the industry also conducts research on flowering and other ornamental plants.
People can focus on growing flowers for cutting, such as chrysanthemums and carnations, or flowers destined for flower arrangements. Floriculture also involves the production of ornamental houseplants, and decorative plants grown outdoors, along with bedding plants which can be established in the garden. Bulbs and seeds are also cultivated in some greenhouses. In addition to producing a steady supply to plants to meet demand, many greenhouses work on developing unique cultivars, such as plants with unusually colored flowers or distinctive variegated foliage.
Floriculturists are also interested in the optimal design and layout of greenhouses, along with pest management and the best cultivation techniques for flowers. Some focus on the production of organic ornamental plants which are grown using organic techniques, while others are more interested in maximizing production by any means possible to ensure a profit. Some people in the floriculture industry primarily work as trend spotters, determining which flowers and colors will be in style in a given season to ensure that enough are cultivated. The industry employs skilled horticulturists, gardeners, and laborers who work in the greenhouses to tend the flowers.
The floriculture industry is sometimes criticized because it uses a great deal of natural resources such as water. Greenhouses tend to be located in semitropical regions where conditions are ideal for growing flowers, but this means that the flowers need to be shipped across vast distances to reach consumers. The use of fossil fuels in the movement of flowers around the world has been a target of concern among environmentalists, as have working conditions in some greenhouses, where workers may be exposed to harsh agricultural chemicals without adequate protection.