Is Permaculture The Same as Horticulture? Permaculture Vs Horticulture

Permaculture Vs Horticulture

Experts have spoken on the subject of Horticulturalists’ food cultivation and how necessary and valuable it is. Now the talk is on Permaculture vs Horticulture.

The terms agriculture, permaculture and horticulture, mean different things, and it is essential to keep our knowledge on these variances crystal clear.

Horticulture is the growth and development of plants – flowers, fruits and vegetables. It’s an evolutionary business of producing fruits and vegetables for industrial use to feed the world. Permaculturalists seek to integrate patterns of human life, creating efficient self-sustaining ecosystems wherein humans and plants co-habit in a complimentary and self-sufficient situation of energy-saving green initiatives. Thus Permaculture and Horticulture are not the same. 

Permacultural naysayers have lately criticized the Horticulturalists, stating that their mass production will eventually rob the earth of any goodness in future years, leaving it barren and incapable of sustaining crops for feeding future generations of humans.

These people are generally known as hobbyists. A few groups of them can be found scattered around the world, trying to practice what they preach. However, they’re fragmented, and their ideology is just that, a working theory that hasn’t developed into a real and serious challenge. 

Mankind hasn’t yet looked up from the morning newspaper and recognized any imminent crisis.

They know horticulture is booming and hope it might one day soon create a solution to enable the earth to create continued sustainability long into the future for decades, if not beyond.

Permaculture is, for now, regarded as the nudist camp of great ideas if only we had the time and inclination. In other words, a fad that probably won’t take off.

Most people understand agriculture as to do with farming and livestock and crops to sustain the livestock, including everything about that basic plant cultivation or food production instead of referring to technologies and techniques.

With these concepts in mind, we should examine the significant differences between Permaculture vs Horticulture.

What is Permaculture? 

The term permaculture is derived from the words permanent and culture or permanent and agriculture.

Permaculture is fast becoming a popular buzzword for gardeners and farmers.

It refers to the growth of agricultural ecosystems in a sustainable and self-sufficient manner. Permaculture is an ecological farming system (permanent agriculture) and includes people’s housing and social needs (permanent culture).

Permaculture works with nature and not against it. Ecosystems in the wild regenerate themselves. They are self-maintaining. People engaged in Permaculture have observed these natural causes and recreated them in their backyards and farms.

It brings together the concepts of organic farming, applied ecology, agroforestry, and sustainable development. Regenerative systems are created based on the knowledge of: 

  • Harvesting and distribution of rainwater
  • Composting
  • Rotational Grazing
  • Lasagna Mulching
  • Hügelkultur (organic gardening)

Ecological principles encourage the design of permanent and sustainable growing areas. Once a permaculture garden has been established, it requires little to no intervention for it to be productive, meaning you will not have to work as hard.

Many people understand Permaculture as an organic and sustainable home vegetable garden.

What is Horticulture?

The term horticulture is derived from two Latin words, which mean garden and culture.

Horticulture is the science and art of growing and handling fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, foliage plants, flowers, turf, and woody ornaments.

It can be referred to as an art, a business, way of life, hobby, or therapy. Horticulture feeds people and improves the environment.

Horticulture is often referred to as an area of agriculture that focuses on growing and caring for plants. It is also socially significant because it improves how plants are used for food and other human purposes. It is also used to repair the environment and for personal aesthetics.

Horticulture includes, among other things:

  • Gardening
  • Landscaping
  • Growing crops for fuel, fiber, and food
  • Arboriculture or the caring of trees
  • Horticultural therapy or the use of horticultural methods for treating patients

It falls between field agriculture and domestic gardening and includes crops such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Annual and perennial plants
  • Landscape plants
  • Decorative indoor plants

It is said that Horticulture dramatically contributes to the quality of life as well as the beauty, rehabilitation, and sustainability of the human condition and the environment.

The crops, plants, and green spaces enrich and sustain people’s lives by offering nutritious food, enhancing the beauty of communities and homes, and reducing the carbon footprint in the environment.

Permaculture vs. Horticulture

Simply put, Permaculture is a set of design principles recognized in natural ecosystems. On the other hand, Horticultural refers to the growth of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and decorative crops.

Below is a thorough description of the differences in Permaculture vs Horticulture. 

Permaculture is a design process focusing on the integration of natural systems in the design of sustainable human habitats.

It is, therefore, common for people to use forest gardens, sustainable wood lot management, green architecture, and some annual vegetable gardens.  

Horticulture, in contrast, refers to cultivation in gardens. It includes a wide variety of methods and varieties of cultivated herbs, vegetables, fruits, and useful plants.

Permaculture focuses on the design and implementation of strategies in using natural resources to benefit the environment and mankind.

Horticulture focuses on developing plants, most vegetables, for commercial consumption.

Permaculture provides farmers with methods to achieve high productivity and yields in an environment-friendly and sustainable manner superior to conventional farming methods. 

Horticulture cultivates plants and food crops using unique methods and techniques, including biochemistry, genetic engineering, modern-day technologies, and scientific research.

Permaculture gardening is based on using the right plants for the climate and what works best for the environment.

Permaculture combines techniques from different sources to adapt your permaculture garden. This depends on the hardiness zone climate of your plants.

Horticulture is the processing and production of various crops.

Permaculture gardens (and the principles thereof) have been embraced by farm-to-table and green living movements as well as sustainable agriculture practitioners.  Permaculture gardens are characterized by: 

Perennial Crops

Permaculture advocates using perennial crops that are planted only one instead of annual crops that need constant tillage.

Cultivating edible tree crops (agroforestry) is emphasized, such as cacao plantations and shade-grown coffee.

Most crops people eat are not perennials, but if the monocultures of wheat, soy, and corn are replaced with agroforestry systems while still providing foods, agriculture can be more sustainable.

Closed-loop Systems

Any system that produces its own energy requirements is naturally sustainable. In Permaculture, this concept includes food and fertilizer and is known as “inputs.”

Instead of buying fertilizer for your garden or farm, Permaculture allows you to design for your own fertilizer needs, such as cover crops or livestock manure.  This is turning waste into resources.

Water Conservation

Permaculture focuses on water conservation in farms and gardens where the earth is carefully sculpted to allow every drop of rain to be useful.

Think of swales on slightly sloped land, terraces on steep land, shallow ditches, or a system of canals and of planting berms on swampy low ground.


The concept of making every part of a landscape or structure fulfill multiple functions is one of the unique ideas of Permaculture.

The concept entails creating a self-sufficient system through strategic design.

For example, if a fence is needed to secure animals, design it in such a way that it doubles as a trellis, windbreak, and a reflective surface to divert some light and heat to the plants nearby.

A water butt can also be used to house edible fish and aquatic plants while providing irrigation.

One with Nature

Permaculture allows nature to do most of the farming and gardening tasks for you. As in, having chicken tractors where the natural bug-hunting and natural scratching behaviors of hens clear an area of weeds and pests in preparation for planting.

Horticulture farms and gardens, on the other hand, is characterized by:  

High-value Crops

Horticulture is based on scientific research and will naturally produce higher-quality crops.

Modern Technology

Horticulture widely uses specific methods and technologies for the improvement of crop yields.

High Capital Investment

High capital investment is needed to build and maintain greenhouses, facilities, equipment, and resources.

Management Intensive

Horticulturists need specialized training for proper handling and maintaining the high quality of the crops.

Diverse Yield

Horticulture produces food crops as well as decorative plants.

Permaculture is a unique design and ethics-based process aimed to make agriculture more sustainable.

Permaculture techniques can also restore soil, redirect waste streams, and conserve water. Permaculture works with nature.

Horticulture aims to improve the way crops are utilized – for food and other functions. It also fixes the surroundings and its aesthetics.

Horticulture also values plants as being crucial for ecological security.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Permaculture

Pros of Permaculture

  • Sustainable concept in agriculture
  • Waste reduction
  • Reduces air pollution
  • Helps reduce soil pollution
  • Reduces groundwater pollution
  • Avoids the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizer
  • Makes use of renewable energy
  • Self-reliant on energy
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Diversifies against risks
  • Protects the natural habitats of plants and animals
  • Reduces the problems of endangered species
  • Long-term process

 Cons of Permaculture

  • Costly implementation
  • May slow economic growth
  • The concept is new to farmers
  • High skepticism on the concepts
  • Limited knowledge about the concepts
  • Possible spread of some pests and bacterial
  • May have some difficulties for mass production
  • Conflicts with some local customs
  • Religious concerns
  • Labor intensive
  • Possibility of unpleasant smell
  • Takes time to see the benefits of the concepts

Advantages and Disadvantages of Horticulture

Pros of Horticulture

  • It is fulfilling to grow plants in your home.
  • Horticulture helps reduce air pollution inside homes and outside.
  • Growing plants at home is a good form of relaxation.
  • Horticulture allows you to enjoy garden-to-table vegetables.
  • Practicing urban horticulture helps you relieve stress.
  • The plants you grown in your home can help you feel fresh throughout the day.

Cons of Horticulture

  • Many people are not aware of the right horticulture practices.
  • Difficulty in selecting the right plants to grow.
  • It can be difficult to find organic fertilizer specific to some plants.
  • Many people do not have enough space to practice horticulture.
  • It can be costly to set up a horticulture garden because many plants are expensive.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the difference between Permaculture vs Horticulture is to understand the concepts that cause them to differentiate.

Permaculture is a perception of agriculture that aims to make the process of growing plants as sustainable and natural as possible.

Everything that is produced should benefit people and the environment – nothing should be wasted.

Horticultural actions are no longer perceptions. They are currently developing plants through the use of technology to improve productivity for commercial consumption.

Their further aim, in the future, is the improvement of the economic conditions of farmers and entrepreneurs.


Jenny Marie

Tribal Writer


Edited By

Patricia Godwin




Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

Recent Posts