Just as the development of automobiles negated the need for buggy makers, the use of word processors has sent typewriter manufacturers into bankruptcy. The incorporation of new technology into horticulture companies has created some problems. The one most common to all types of businesses is the impact on the workforce. Most upgrades in technology necessitate the retraining of some employees. That may or may not involve an expense. Some technical advances also displace workers or require their replacement with better-educated workers who expect higher salaries, and who may not be easily recruited. Older work­ers, long in their service and loyalty to a company, and knowledgeable of existing technology, may resist accepting the new knowledge and techniques. New technology excites some people and is perceived as a threat by others.

As the current and future generations of American horticulturists train to work with the new technology, fewer people will remain to per­form the labor-intensive entry level and field tasks that will still consti­tute a large portion of the production services performed by green industry companies. The employee shortage is already a major concern in all sectors of ornamental horticulture. The new technology may her­ald an era of increased sophistication in the ways horticulturists present their products and services, while simultaneously provoking a shortage of personnel to do the work.


Technology is rapidly expanding throughout the industries of ornamen­tal horticulture. Operations common to all businesses, as well as those distinctive to the nation’s flower shops, greenhouses, nurseries, arborists, and landscape and lawn care firms are now routinely aided by comput­ers. Computer-centered machines, equipment, and software programs are changing how plants are grown, inventories are monitored, plans are drawn, estimates prepared, communications transmitted, advertis­ing prepared and delivered, and customers serviced. The advances in technology and their applications to ornamental horticulture seem cer­tain to continue into the future. Those advances will bring opportunities and challenges to industry professionals as they strive to balance the benefits of improved quality, craftsmanship, speed, client satisfaction, or other measures against the costs of new equipment, technically trained employees, and the shortage of entry-level laborers that may result.


1. List ten uses of computer technology that ornamental horticulturists and most other business people commonly use.

2. List three uses of computers specific to each of the following horticulture professions:

a. greenhouse grower

b. nursery grower

c. landscaper

3. Explain what the following computer software programs do.

a. word processing

b. CAD systems

c. greenhouse environmental controls

4. Assume the role of a computer advocate. How would you respond to a landscape designer and a nursery grower who were contemptuous of computers and said there was no place for the technology in either of their businesses?

5. Without becoming totally impractical, offer a suggestion for a future technological advancement beyond the current capabilities of these computer programs:

a. word processing

b. CAD systems

c. graphic imaging

d. greenhouse environmental control

e. automated irrigation

f. estimating

g. inventory control