Horticulture I

Course CodeBHT101
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Horticulture Distance Learning Course

What will Horticulture 1 teach you?

  • To scientifically identify around 100 plants
  • To understand soils
  • To propagate plants
  • To prune plants
  • To identify and control pests and diseases
  • To control weeds
  • To establish, repair and care for turf
  • To plan and draw a simple garden design

Lesson Structure

There are 13 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant identification
    • Naming plants
    • Distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid
    • Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons
    • Characteristics of botanical families
    • Structure and arrangement of leaves and leaflets
    • Leaf terminology
    • Leaf arrangements
    • Flower structure and identifying the different parts of a flower
    • How seeds form
    • Plant reviews
    • Collecting and pressing plants for herbaria
  2. Planting
    • Garden terminology
    • Common garden problems
    • Basic planting procedure
    • Fertilising and staking when planting
    • Dealing with bare rooted plants
    • Time of planting
    • Deciding where to plant
    • Mulching
    • Making garden beds
    • Raised beds
    • Sunken beds
    • Planting terminology
  3. Recognising plant families and identifying plants
    • Becoming familiar with plant families
    • Botanical Latin
    • Systematic examination of plants - dicot or monocot, type of wood, etc
    • Characteristics of important families including: Amaryllidaceae, Araceae, Asteraceae, Ericaceae, Lamiaceae, Fabaceae.
    • Getting to know more common families
    • Other ways to identify plants
    • Plants for shade
    • Plants for exposed conditions
    • Plants for inner city gardens
  4. Soils
    • Purpose of soil
    • Soil structure: classifying soils
    • Soil water and air
    • Soil temperature
    • Soil pH
    • Nutrient availability
    • Naming a soil
    • Improving soils
    • Composting
    • Natural plant foods
    • Sampling and testing soils
    • Potting soil mixes
    • Soil terminology
  5. Plant nutrition
    • The nutrient elements
    • Major elements
    • Minor elements
    • Diagnosis of nutrient problems
    • Fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium
    • How much fertilizer to apply
    • Terminology
  6. Water management
    • Introduction to irrigation
    • Feasibility of irrigation
    • Soil and water
    • When to irrigate
    • Water deficiency symptoms
    • Types of soil moisture; gravitational, capillary, hygroscopic
    • Measuring water available to plants
    • Rooting depths of plants
    • Estimating water requirements
    • Pumps, sprinklers and other equipment
    • Understanding hydraulics
    • Conventional sprinkler systems; portable, permanent, semi permanent
    • Cyclic watering
    • Pulse watering
    • Irrigation scheduling
    • Sprinkler spacing
    • Improving soils for water management
    • Drainage
    • Erosion management
    • Soil compaction
    • Acidification
  7. Garden maintenance and weeds
    • Cost of garden maintenance
    • Machinery
    • Comparing more and less costly areas of the garden.
    • Common weeds and their identification
    • Weed control methods - chemical and non chemical
    • Plants that become invasive
    • Environmental weeds
  8. Pests and diseases
    • Pest and disease overview
    • Preventative measures for managing pest and disease
    • Review of major pest problems and control options: Aphis, Borers, Caterpillar, Leaf Miner, Mealy Bug, Red Spider, Scale, etc
    • Review of major diseases and their control: Anthracnose, Black Leg, Rots, Botrytis, Damping off, Die back, Mildew, Rust etc.
    • Diagnosis of problems
    • Introduction to plant pathology and entomology
    • Chemical pesticides and basic toxicology
    • Integrated pest management
  9. Pruning
    • Reasons for pruning
    • Identifying bud types
    • Basic rules of pruning
    • Pruning in a home orchard
    • Terminology
    • Winter pruning tools
    • Examples of winter pruning; Crepe Myrtle, Hydrangea, Raspberry, Fuchsia, Kiwi Fruit, Grevillea, etc
    • Rose pruning
  10. Landscaping
    • Introduction and pre planning information
    • Plant selection criteria
    • Covering the ground
    • Living plant cover
    • Mulches
    • Container growing outside
    • General considerations
    • Terminology
  11. Propagation
    • Methods of propagation: seed propagation and vegetative propagation
    • Propagation structures: cold frames
    • Cutting propagation
    • Factors affecting rooting of cuttings
  12. Lawns
    • Turf grass varieties
    • Review of common turf species
    • Laying a new lawn
    • Common turf problems
    • Cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.
  13. Arboriculture
    • What is arboriculture
    • How to keep trees healthy
    • Where and how to cut trees to remove branches or prune
    • Why remove a tree
    • Ways to fell a tree
    • Removing a stump
    • Tree surgery; terms and techniques


  • Distinguish between different plants, to enable identification of the plant species.
  • Explain appropriate procedures for establishing a range of plants in different conditions.
  • Describe the characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the characteristics of plant nutrition necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Determine appropriate water management procedures for healthy plant growth.
  • Understand appropriate procedures for pruning plants on a horticultural site.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common weeds.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common pests and diseases.
  • Prepare a concept plan for the development of a garden.
  • Understand commonly used plant propagation techniques.
  • Develop guidelines for general lawn care.
  • Develop guidelines for general tree care in a horticultural situation.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between plants in order to identify at least 120 plants on plant review sheets.
  • Plant out a container plant following a recommended procedure.
  • Sample and carry out simple tests on different soils.
  • Identify a range of nutrient problems in plants.
  • Identify a range of pest and disease problems in plants.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for pruning a plant.
  • Identify a range of different plants, based on their flower and leaf structures.
  • Determine appropriate procedures for planting according to type of plant and site.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to care for plants in the garden.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate plant selection for a range of different sites.
  • Identify a range of plant health problems and describe appropriate chemical and non-
    • chemical control methods to control those problems.
  • Identify characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the importance of organic matter in soil management.
  • Describe the principles and techniques of composting.
  • Determine nutrient problems and describe chemical and non-methods for overcoming these problems.
  • Identify management solutions to a range of plant problems including weeds, pests and diseases.
  • Explain the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
  • Determine appropriate water management practices applicable to plant growth.
  • Describe the characteristics of irrigation and drainage systems.
  • Describe the importance of pruning to plant growth, flowering and fruiting.
  • Describe safe use of chemicals.
  • Develop criteria for selecting suitable plants for a landscape project.
  • Prepare concept plans for landscape redevelopment.
  • Draw a concept plan for a garden redevelopment.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for taking cuttings from a range of plants.
  • Distinguish between different pre-germination seed requirements and techniques, for different plant species.
  • Determine appropriate turf species for different purposes and chosen climatic conditions.
  • Explain the composition of lawn seed mixes and fertilizers.
  • Observe and report on lawn management techniques.
  • Determine solutions to lawn problems.
  • Explain the cause and effect of common tree problems.
  • Determine appropriate methods for treating tree problems.

What you learn

Horticulture involves “growing plants for an intended purpose”. The purpose might be very obvious such as providing food, or producing ornamental plants for an urban garden; but it could also be more obscure, such as filtering pollutants from the air, reducing the negative effects of storms, or creating an environment that is friendly to people or animals.

There are tens of thousands of different plants that are grown; some as crops to harvest, and others as amenity or ornamental plants to serve some other purpose. Every one of those different plant cultivars has a different (potential) purpose. By learning to identify different plants in this course, you will expand your awareness of what plants you can choose from when you have a purpose that needs to be met. The course will raise your awareness of specific plant cultivars, but also your ability to find, identify and select other plants not specifically even covered in the course. Building this plant knowledge is a path that starts with these studies; but continues to develop well beyond this course.

There are many things that affect how a plant grows; and how it survives and satisfies it's intended purpose after it reaches maturity. You need to understand how soil structure, soil fertility, water, drainage, disease, light, wind, temperature and many other things impact on plants. You also need to understand the measures you can undertake to affect all of these factors. Learning these things is learning plant culture. In the same way that learning plant identification gets you started on a pathway to continual improvement; learning plant culture does the same.

This course gives you an extremely solid start. You graduate with a level of knowledge that makes you more effective at work in any horticultural situation; but beyond that, a foundation to build upon.

Where to use your learning

This course sets you up for to be more effective growing plants in any situation, from amateur gardening and self sufficiency to commercial production or amenity horticulture. That could include any of the following:

  • Nursery production for landscapes, land conservation or other green spaces
  • Landscape Design
  • Landscape Construction
  • Growing cut flowers and and cut foliage crops
  • Urban parks development or maintenance
  • Home garden development or maintenance
  • Turf Industries
  • Arboriculture Industries
  • Horticulture Leisure and Therapy Activities/Services
  • Garden Tourism
  • Allied Trades supplying equipment and materials for horticulture
  • Fruit production
  • Edible fungi production
  • Vegetable production
  • Growing plants for Essential oil production
  • Agronomic crops such as Pharmaceutical plants or Fuel crops (bio-fuels)
  • Growing Soil improvement crops – for production of composts, fertility supplements, etc.

Most of these industry sectors have huge career and business potentials. Any one could offer options for businesses that can develop into multi million pound (Euro or dollar) turnover enterprises.

Start studying - enrol today

If you want to learn about Horticulture this is a great place to start - this extensive, introductory course provides you with a broad technical grounding in Horticulture as well as including practical elements. In addition to our high quality course materials, you will receive personal feedback to your assignments from your tutor, who is also available for you to contact with any questions you may have as you work through the course.

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