These are fee-based serial and ongoing resources, covering academic databases, journals, and subscription-based guides that pertain to horticulture and gardening. Each resource includes the following: name; public URL (often a database vendor) describing the resource, since access links will differ among institutions; fees, where available; and a description of the resource's importance. Unless otherwise noted, subscriptions are dependent on individual institutional agreements, so prices are not listed. Please discuss cost choices with your library administration and its selected vendors.

I have categorized subscriptions based on specificity, first the more specific horticulture serials and databases, followed by general botany and biology resources.

These resources would help you answer the following questions as a reference librarian:

  • Which databases do I need to be aware of that contain indexes, abstracts, and/or articles on horticulture, or related fields like botany?
  • Which of these continuing resources would help me find and learn about California horticulture, in particular?
  • By becoming familiar with these continuing resources, I know better how to search and browse through them when patrons ask for help—as well as know where to look for additional subscriptions for our collection.

Please bear in mind that of the resources below, Pacific Horticulture specifically targets horticulture in California. Nevertheless, other items still offer information on California horticulture when you use geographic terms in your research—i.e., California, Western United States, etc., depending on the controlled vocabulary of the resource.

Not to be neglected are general science databases, several of which your library may be subscribed to. To search or browse for horticulture topics and articles, I suggest following the tips mentioned in the Home page. That is, look for subject headings and/or controlled terms for horticulture and gardening, where possible.

Note: Starred (*) resources are available through San José State University's King Library.

Horticulture serials and databases

Garden, Landscape and Horticulture (GLH) Index

Library Journal Best Reference Sources has called this database "… the only game in e-town to find popular, practical, scholarly, and R&D literature on gardening and horticulture in one place." It indexes and abstracts over 500 publications (books, journals, etc.), which provides an excellent source of journals that you and your patrons could access and evaluate—ideal in an academic library or special collection. Keep in mind that the GLH lacks full text items, so you would need to have access to other databases, books, or journals. As an alternative to the EBSCO index, a thoughtful review from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL) described how Gale Cengage offers a similar, smaller horticulture database that does include full text to horticulture: over 2.5 million articles indexed from over 100 sources, but with full text access to over 20 books and over 60 serials.


Monthly journal. Some content is available online, but full text access requires an institutional subscription.

HortScience is a general academic horticulture journal published by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), that is "of interest to a broad array of horticultural scientists and others interested in horticulture. Its goals are to provide information on significant research, education, extension findings and methods, and developments and trends that affect the profession." Not only are abstracts from workshops and conferences included, this journal also provides book reviews—both which are timely and helpful for collection development.

Ovid Horticultural Science

This horticulture database contains over 480,000 abstracts from 1990 onwards, with over 34,000 added annually. It is derived from the CAB Abstracts database (described below), so if your organization cannot afford the CAB bundle, Ovid's would serve as a neatly specialized, more affordable resource. If your library cannot subscribe to either GLH (EBSCO or Gale Cengage) or CAB Abstracts, this would be a good alternative.

Pacific Horticulture

Quarterly magazine. Can purchase either individual issues ($8 to $10 each) or a subscription through obtaining a membership (from $28 to $65).

Pacific Horticulture is an association of six West Coast organizations, five of which are based in California. This high-end magazine will educate and inspire you about California horticulture, since many professionals, academics, and garden enthusiasts enjoy this magazine—which has been published since 1940. As Ulrich's stated, "This is a regional gardening magazine that encompasses mountains, desert, grassland, and temperate rain forest … [and] describes gardens to visit throughout the region, introduces construction techniques." Pacific Horticulture also regularly offers plant suggestions and alternatives.

Price information for Australia, US, and other countries.

PlantFile is a visually oriented horticulture encyclopedia that comes in several formats to suit your library's needs, especially if the library's budget precludes subscription to the databases mentioned above.

  • PlantFile standalone database (CD with license) in several pricing tiers to suit individual (student or professional) or institutional budgets. Coverage ranges from 2,900 to 3,500 plant species plus their cultivars, and over 16,000 color images.
  • iPlantFile Pro: A mobile app for iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Android devices, containing 3,500 species and 6,000 cultivars—as well as over 14,000 images. This tool would be helpful for roving reference, whether inside or outside a library—such as a garden, classroom, or research lab.
  • PlantFile Online is an online subscription database with nearly 3,600 species, over 5,200 cultivars, and over 14,000 images.

All versions include the following features: 42 categories for searching, browsing, and list making; cross references by scientific and common names, as well as taxonomic families; landscape and cultivation information; pest and disease information; and thorough, illustrated glossaries for botanic terms and plant anatomy.

Botany and biology databases


BioOne is a non-profit publisher that focuses on "peer-reviewed research in the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences." This database contains the full text of 108 scholarly, biological journals, 12 of which are open access. In addition to article coverage on horticulture and gardening, BioOne covers publications from distinguished botanic organizations, including the Missouri Botanical Garden and the California Botanical Society.

CAB Abstracts

Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International (CABI) is a non-profit research facility based in the United Kingdom that focuses on agricultural and environmental topics. CAB Abstracts is highly regarded—not only accessed around world, but also provides resources to 75% of American universities. Coverage is vast: 7.7 million records, 350,000 added annually; and 10,000 resources indexed, including books, continuing publications, and conferences. CAB Abstracts includes horticulture, but this resource might be pricy for smaller collections, as opposed to libraries serving larger plant science, agriculture, or ecology departments. If you can access this database, however, you will get broad exposure to the many fields (and the activities within them) that influence horticulture.

Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (eLS): Plant Science*

This online, subscription-based encyclopedia has over 5,000 peer-reviewed entries written by scientists, with monthly updates. The eLS has a section devoted to plant science, with nearly 400 articles. The articles will introduce you to clear, authoritative, and timely information on botany—less so than on gardening or agriculture, yet helpful if you are new to plant science. Even though taxonomy is neglected, topics like the anatomy, physiology, ecology, genetics, and biotechnology of plants are covered.

If your library does not have access to this online encyclopedia, you may wish to consider Keith Roberts's 2007 print book, which collects the botany articles. This 2-volume set is expensive at $660, but reviewed well in ARBA: "Academic and special libraries that serve plant biologists and their students but do not have [eLS] will find the handbook extremely valuable, however, and it is highly recommended for those institutions."

Roberts, K. (Ed.). (2007). Handbook of plant science (1st ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.*

ISBN 9780470057230; hardcover, 2-volume set, color illustrations.
Powell's | Amazon | WorldCat


This database of over 384,000 records (more than 4,700 of which are open access) covers subjects concerning "global climate change, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling and more." As broad a scope as that may seem, this resource does include articles on horticulture and gardening—while providing a perspective on the impact of industry, agriculture, and science on the environment.

JSTOR Life Sciences: Botany & Plant Sciences discipline* (limited)

JSTOR's Botany & Plant Sciences database offers over 200 titles in full text, including The Jepson Manual; Judith Larner Lowry's lauded book on California native gardening, Gardening with a Wild Heart; numerous enthusiast guidebooks to California plants; and various publications from world renowned horticulture institutes like the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. This is an easily navigable resource for historical and current botanic and gardening topics.


Liberman, S. (2009). Baby Blue-eyes, Sticky Monkey flowers, Clarkia "Farewell to Spring." Retrieved from Botany gallery | Liberman.

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