About the CIH

We are the professional voice for horticulture, open to any professional within the horticultural industry, from those at the beginning of their education or career, to those already well established within the field.

The Institute of Horticulture was established in 1984 with the aim of fostering a close relationship between all sectors of professional horticulture throughout the UK and Ireland. On 21st July 2014 the Institute became Chartered and is now known as the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH).

This recognition has enhanced the status of horticulture as a profession which demands high level skills and continuing professional development. Chartered status has also strengthened the influence and therefore the voice of the CIH and all horticulturists with government and policy makers.

The Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH) is the only organisation that can truly claim to bring together all professionals involved with every aspect and facet of the diverse industry that is horticulture. There are organisations concerned with such specialist areas but most horticulturists, whatever the career path they have chosen within horticulture, see themselves as part of the broader industry.

 Membership of the Institute provides a unifying force that draws together horticulturists who may be pursuing very different career paths and ‘uniting a growing profession’.

Defining 'horticulture'

The Institute is a constituent member of the International Society for Horticulture Science (ISHS). Their advocacy group has worked on definitions of horticulture, the professional horticulturist and horticultural scientist and these have been adopted by the Institute (March 2012). These are:


Horticulture is the Art, Science, Technology and Business of intensive plant cultivation for human use. It is practised from the individual level in a garden up to the activities of a multinational corporation. It is very diverse in its activities, incorporating plants for food (fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, culinary herbs) and non-food crops (flowers, trees & shrubs, turf-grass, hops, grapes, medicinal herbs). It also includes related services in plant conservation, landscape restoration, landscape & garden design/construction/maintenance, horticultural therapy, and much more. This wide range of food, medicinal, environmental, and social products & services are all fundamental to developing and maintaining human health and well-being. A gardener is a person who tends to a garden and is therefore a horticulturist, but not all horticulturists are gardeners.

Professional Horticulturist

Horticulturists apply the knowledge, skills, and technologies used to grow intensively produced plants for human food & non-food uses and for personal or social needs. Their work involves plant propagation and cultivation with the aim of improving plant growth, yields, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses. They are also involved in the application of post-harvest technologies, supply chain management and the economics, management and marketing of quality horticultural products and services to customers and consumers. They work as gardeners, growers, therapists, designers, operatives, technical advisors, educators, managers and business owners in the food and non-food sectors of horticulture.

Horticultural Scientist

These scientists focus on the research that underpins horticultural knowledge, skills, technologies, education and commerce. Horticultural science encompasses all of the pure sciences – mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology and biology – as well as related sciences and technologies that underpin horticulture, such as plant pathology, soil science, entomology, weed science, and many other scientific disciplines. It also includes the social sciences, such as education, commerce, marketing, healthcare and therapies that enhance horticulture’s contribution to individuals and society.

Aims and objectives

To promote the profession of horticulture and the professionalism of those working in the industry

To act as an authoritative body; consulting with Government and other policy making bodies on matters of interest or concern to professional horticulturists

To confer recognised status upon professionally qualified and experienced horticulturists

To promote educational and training opportunities and encourage the development of all disciplines within horticulture

To co-operate with other bodies on matters of common concern

To disseminate information on matters affecting the profession and provide opportunities for discussion amongst horticulturists through the website, publications, conferences, seminars, lectures etc.

To promote the importance of horticulture in:

  • food and ornamental plant production
  • providing employment, often in rural areas
  • improving the environment
  • creating and managing valuable sports and recreation facilities
  • as one of the main leisure pursuits – gardening
Can be found here
Organisational chart

As a registered charity, with charity number 1159140, we are required by the Charity Commission to have a council of trustees. Our trustees are therefore responsible for making the strategic decisions that define who we are and what we do.

The CIH Management board members over see the making of day to day decisions. These may in turn be forwarded to our council of trustees for discussion.

The organisational structure can be found here

Equality Statement

The death of George Floyd has shocked and saddened all. The response and realisation that prejudice is still evidenced both in the USA and in the UK generated the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. This has led to a real determination for change across the world.

The Chartered Institute of Horticulture will always be a fair and inclusive home for all Horticulturists, irrespective of race, colour, creed or lifestyle. We must not be complacent, so we will review our processes to ensure that no barriers to membership exist and that we continue to provide a welcoming environment to all prospective members.

Access All Areas - EDI Charter

In December 2021, The British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) guided by Adrian Wickham of Glendale-Services and Tess Johnstone, Chair of BALI, produced an event in London called ‘Access All Areas’. It was the initial first steps working on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) agenda to understand the challenges that people face when joining the horticulture industry.

There was strong desire from the horticulture industry to be more flexible and welcoming, acting together rather than in a ‘silo’, thinking and behaving in a more collaborative way.   To this end a group was formed, made up of horticulture-based associations and businesses, to make a commitment to improve diversity across the industry.

The Charter Group developed a strategy for EDI in the workplace for members. The Charter components are agreed to by all members and is designed to help businesses create more inclusive and equitable environments, where all employees feel valued and respected.

EDI CHARTER GROUP (originally the Horticultural, Arboriculture, Landscaping & Garden Media Professions Group) includes The Arboriculture Association, The British Association of Landscape Industries, The Chartered Institute of Horticulture, The Garden Media Guild, The Landscape Institute, Association of Professional Landscapers, Perennial, The Royal Horticultural Society, The Society of Gardens Designers and many more.