Commercial Horticulture

Plants growing in Fischer Greenhouse

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Commercial Horticulture Program provides non-biased, research based information for growers, retailers, greenhouse operators, landscape contractors, landscape maintenance professionals and other green industry professionals in Delaware, the region, and the nation.  Horticulture is the science, art, technology and business involved in intensive plant cultivation for human use.  It includes non-food crops such as flowers, trees, shrubs, lawns, etc. and food crops (fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and culinary herbs), which are covered in the UD Vegetable and Small Fruits Program.

The needs of the green industry are addressed with applied research and demonstration projects focusing on sustainable landscape installation and management as well as pest control.  The information and knowledge is disseminated through a range of venues in collaboration with the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association (DNLA), including educational meetings, short courses, tours, publications, newsletters, direct contact and this website.

A certified nursery professional program is administered through the DNLA to help industry professionals learn technical information and demonstrate their professional standing.

Plant of the Year

  • Plant of the Year - Each year the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association selects a woody and herbaceous plant that thrives in Delaware and should receive more attention in the trade.  Plants are suggested by a team of loca professionals and the DNLA board votes on the winners.  A one-page colorful flyer is developed to promote the winners each year.

Native Plant Nurseries serving Delaware and the region


The Greenhouse and Nursery industry thrives on the Eastern Shore.  Delaware has several large greenhouse operations and nurseries.  There are also major nurseries in our neighboring state of Maryland.  The Green Industry Consortium is a national group of horticulturists and Ag Economists who have been addressing the needs of the Green Industry for over 25 years.  The Green Industry Consortium has developed many publications for this industry.  The Greenhouse publication is for start-up or existing greenhouses and was part authored in Delaware.  The Specialty crops initiative has provided funding for a number of specialty crops projects in the United States.  A project conducted in Delaware to help nurseries explore growing more native species is listed below.

Delaware Livable Lawns

The Livable Lawns Program certifies lawn care companies that follow environmentally-friendly practices in fertilizer application while educating property owners.

Water Quality Research

  • Winterthur/Applecross -This multidisciplinary project research site is located at Winterthur Museum and Gardens, where the team will compare the quality of a stream impacted by traditional mowed landscapes versus another stream that only receives runoff from meadows, forests and landscape beds. One of the primary goals of the project is to curb water pollution at its source — preventing pollution in the first place rather than waiting to treat contaminated water after it enters waterways.


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