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Home Propagation

Course CodeAHT106
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


  • Start as a hobby and see where it leads
  • Save the cost of buying plants -grow your own
  • who knows - some people end up with a profitable backyard nursery that grows and grows!

Growing your own healthy plants from next to nothing can be a fascinating and rewarding hobby.

If you love plant collecting it can help save on the cost of buying plants. It can also provide presents you can give to friends and relatives; or donate to community projects.


"Thanks for the videos, they are great! I got a lot of information from them. The Turf Management video is practical and easy to understand. Plant Propagation is a video every student should watch because out here in the real world no-one would give out such information. The Rose Growing Tape was very beneficial to me as I have about 60 odd roses. I thought I knew a little about them but this tape is a real eye-opener."
- Kelvin

Another Alternative:

Our principal has written two books that can help you learn about plant propagation.

We've also produced a comprehensive video that can be purchased as a DVD to learn all about propagation.

Click to purchase from our bookshop


Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Methods of propagation - overview
  2. Propagating Structures & Equipment
  3. Propagating Materials
  4. Seed Propagation
  5. Propagation by Cuttings
  6. Miscellaneous Propagating Techniques - Division, layering, tissue culture.
  7. Budding & Grafting
  8. Propagation of Specific Plants
  9. Nursery Management: Types of plant production (container, bare-rooted, etc.), nursery hygiene
  10. Propagating Area: Layout & Organization

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Propagation can be an Exciting Hobby

There are hundreds of different ways to propagate plant.

Every plant genus has it's own challenges and opportunities for the propagator. You may sometimes become disillusioned by failure, but achieving success with a difficult to propagate species can be a significant reward after previously failing.

This course will enlighten you and give you the fundamental understanding you need to attempt, and ultimately succeed at propagating most of the plants you might grow in your home garden.

Propagating Proteas

Traditionally, proteas have been easier to raise from seed than cuttings, though they are in recent times being grown increasingly from cuttings by commercial producers.

The same technique is followed for many other members of the Proteaceae family, including Leucodendron, Leucospermum and Mimetes. Leucospermum is easily grown from stem or tip cuttings, but can also be propagated by root cuttings and grafting

Protea cuttings are best taken in early spring or early autumn, but if suitable wood is available have been successfully taken through to early winter. Cuttings can be up to 20cm or more long, but are commonly taken smaller. Misting is critical to achieve good results on Protea cuttings. Misting should be done in full sunlight, under glass. Misting is stopped when the sun becomes very bright and hot. Under dull daylight conditions and during the night, misting should operate. Remove the lower half of the leaves and treat with hormone before inserting into a standard sand/peat mix.

Root formation normally takes 3 months or more. It can take many months before roots start growing through the bottom of the propagation pot, at which stage the plants then need to be potted up.

An Unorthodox Approach
One New Zealand nurseryman has been successful striking Protea cuttings of small leaf species planted straight into the field (ie: open ground). He uses cuttings of tip growth or sections of stem dipped in Seradix powder (2 or 3). If the wood is firmer Seradix 3 is used, otherwise, on softer wood Seradix 2 is used. Beds are prepared on a well drained acidic sandy loam, covered with black plastic and cuttings are inserted through a small hole in the plastic. Soil is compacted before planting the cuttings. This nurseryman believes that compacting the soil results in better root formation rather than callus. Cuttings are left with little attention for up to a year before they are dug up. Strike rates are generally between 90 and 100%. Larger leaved species rarely have much better than a 70% strike rate.

Propagating Roses

Roses will grow from seed, but a seedling rose may produce unreliable characteristics. Roses are often grown by budding or grafting onto cutting or seedling grown plants; but they might also at times be propagated as a cutting, without grafting.
Most modern standard, bush and climbing roses are commonly grown by budding or grafting onto cutting grown rootstocks. Cutting propagation, however, of roses is becoming increasingly more important. Some flower farmers have successfully propagated large numbers of modern varieties by cuttings for greenhouse flower cropping. Old world and species roses are often grown by cuttings or layering (ie. moss, centifolias, damask, rugosa, hybrid perpetual, and others). Miniature roses are also often grown commercially from cuttings.

The reasons for grafting modern roses were important in the 18th century, when the practice became common, but with modern practices and technologies, those reasons might not be as significant today. Perhaps many more roses should be grown by cuttings! Cutting grown roses do have many advantages over grafted plants, including:

  • Suckering of rootstocks is less of a problem
  • In extreme climates (eg. northern Europe), top growth can be killed by winter cold, and spring regrowth from surviving roots will still come true.
  • cutting plants are cheaper to produce
  • cutting grown plants are more appropriate for container production
  • propagation can be done any time of year (depending on local climatic conditions)
  • -risk of disease proliferation from stock to scion is removed.

Soft wood or hardwood cuttings are commonly used, occasionally leaf bud cuttings if propagation material is scarce. Although some roses will root easily from softwood cuttings in spring to early summer and placed under mist, hardwood cuttings often prove to be a better method. Hardwood cuttings are taken 20 to 30 cm long, of pencil thickness wood (smaller on miniatures), heavily wounded at the base, treated with hormone (Seradix 3), tied into bundles of 20 to 30, and healed into a sand bed out of doors. They must remain moist. Early in spring the bundles are removed and cuttings which have produced callus growth are planted into nursery rows, or individual containers; the others are thrown away. This method is commonly used for producing rootstocks (e.g. R. rugosa, R. canina, R. multiflora, R ‘Dr. Huey’, Rosa  x noisettiana ‘Manetti’). These should have all buds removed from the cuttings except for the pair of buds at the top. Hormone application appears to be of little benefit in hardwood production of R. multiflora rootstocks.

Rose cuttings generally root faster if cut directly below the bud, because roots can emerge from undifferentiated tissue found at the bud; otherwise callus (which is undifferentiated) must first form, before roots can emerge.

Miniature roses are commonly produced commercially from softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings taken from late spring through to autumn (although they can be taken at most times of the year successfully), treated with hormone and placed under glass sometimes with bottom heat.

Misting is advantageous but not essential, for both indoor or outdoor propagation. Once roots have formed and shoots are moving, the cuttings will benefit from fertiliser throughout the growing season.

The main problems associated with production of rose cuttings are fungal diseases. Too much moisture on foliage promotes moulds, mildews and black spot. Too much moisture in the media causes basal rots. Aphis may also be a problem. Good hygiene, and regular pest and disease control is very important.

Perennials from Cuttings

Many types of perennials are propagated easily and successfully by seed, and others by division; but the preferred method for propagating some may be by cuttings.

Perennials that are grown from stem cuttings can generally be struck anytime any time when in flower; however it is best to avoid cuttings with flower buds (so time cuttings for when flowers are less likely).

The following perennials will grow from stem cuttings
Achillea (Yarrow), Ajuga, Alyssum, Anthemis tinctoria, Arabis, Armeria, Artemisia, Brunnera macrophylla, Campanula carpatica, Cerastium tomentosum, Coreopsis, Delphinium (Larkspur),  Dahlia, Dendranthema hybrids, Dianthus, Dicentra, Dictamnus albus, Erigeron, Euphorbia, Gallium (Woodruff), Geranium, Gypsophila, Helianthemum, Helichrysum, Helipterum, Iberis, Lamium, Lavendula,  Linum perenne (Flax),  Lupinus (Lupins), Lysmachia clethroides, Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife), Matricaria (Feverfew), Monarda didyma, Myosotis (Forget me not), Nepeta cataria (Catmint), Pachysandra terminalis, Penstemon, Phlox paniculata, Phlox subulata, Physostegia virginiana, Platycodon grandiflorum, Rhodanthe (Everlasting), Santolina, Saponaria ocymoides (Soapwort), Scabiosa caucasia (Pincushion), Sedum (Stonecrop), Solidago (Goldenrod), Tanacetum coccineum, Teucrium chamaedrys (Germander),  Thalictrum aquilegifolium (Meadow Rue), Thymus (Thyme), Veronica, Waldsteinia ternata.

The following perennials will grow from root cuttings
Aegopodium podagaria, Anemone X hybrida, Arabis, Asclepis tuberosa, Baptisia australis, Bergenia cordifolia, Brunnera macrophylla, Dicentra, Echinops exalatus, Echinops ritro, Eryngium (Sea Holly), Fallopia japonica (Polygonum), Filipendula, Gallardiera X grandiflora, Geranium, Geum, Gypsophila, Heliopsis, Limonium (Hardy Statice), Mertensia virginica, Paeonia lactiflora (Paeony), Papaver orientale (Oriental Poppy), Phlox paniculata, Pulmonaria (Lungwort), Pulsatilla vulgaris (Windflower), Rudbeckia (Coneflower), Sopanaria ocymoides (Soapwort), Stokesia laevis (Stokes Aster), Trollius (Globe Flower), Verbascum (Muellein), Yucca filamentosa.

This is an individual module course. At the end of the course, there is an optional examination. If you pass all assignments, but do not wish to sit the exam, then you will be awarded a Course Completion letter.
If you do wish to sit the exam, and pass it, you will be awarded a Statement of Attainment. Click here to see more information on how exams work.

Who Would Benefit from this Course?

  • Anyone with a passion for plant propagation
  • Amateur gardeners
  • Property owners seeking to save the expense of buying in plants
  • Garden owners wishing to reproduce prized cultivars from their garden
  • Plant Collectors wishing to multiply their collections

Meet some of our academics

Rosemary Davies Journalist, Editor, Broadcaster, Teacher and Consultant for over 30 years. Rosemary is former gardening editor for the Weekly Times (a Weekly Farming Newspaper in Australia); and author of six books in her own right. She has written articles for many magazines across Australia, and has since 2008 worked as a tutor and freelance writer with ACS; contributing to books a range of genres.
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Dr. Lynette MorganBroad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Check out our eBooks

Farm ManagementThis ebook covers tips to manage your own farm, or work for someone else. It also covers the farm site, production systems, managing livestock, pasture, crops, water, equipment, farm structures, finance, marketing, staff management, farm planning and more. 15 chapters, 129 pages
Growing ConifersConifers have elegant foliage that comes in an array of colours from blues to yellows, dark to acid greens and variegations. They look great all year round and provide a garden with structure, foundation, formality and elegance, especially in winter when other plants are leafless. This is a comprehensive text covering: growing, propagation, container growing, hedges, topiary, landscaping, uses for food, timber and oils plus a directory that explores 32 conifer genera and hundreds of species. 88 colour photos 80 pages
Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmThis is both a guide to “how to propagate plants” as well as an exploration of the possibility of starting a small nursery or herb business that could eventually grow into a blossoming business! It's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. Since it was first published by “Grass Roots” in 1981, we have lost count of the hundreds of people who have told us how this book kicked off a successful business or career for them. 63 pages
Tropical PlantsA comprehensive ebook that covers hundreds of plant genera, species and cultivars suited to the tropics and subtropics such as indoor plants and those grown in protected areas in milder climates. Chapters include: How to Grow Tropicals, Bulbs and Perennials, Low Growing Plants, Climbers, Trees and Shrubs, Creepers, Conifers, Bamboos and Grasses, and Palms. Previously published in print form by Kangaroo Press (Simon and Schuster). 120 pages, 137 photos