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Practical Horticulture 1

Course CodeBHT238
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


Learn to be a Horticulturalist with the best practical skills!

How do you learn the practical side of horticulture by distance education?

Although all ACS courses are practically and well as theoretically focused - this course was developed for those people who feel that they will gain more from a course that places MOST of the learning experience on learning theory - through practice. There are lots of practical horticultural tasks to develop your skills and knowledge covered in this course. So if you are a student that prefers practical learning, then this course is the ANSWER, and it really does work!  

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Soil Analysis
  2. Seed Propagation (including seed identification)
  3. Vegetative Propagation
  4. Potting up and After Care of young plants
  5. Planting
  6. Maintenance of Established Plants
  7. Practical Plant Identification
  8. Pest and Disease Identification
  9. Weed Identification
  10. Risk Assessment

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.

What You Will Do

  • Test soils to determine characteristics which would be valuable to management of any given soil in a horticultural situation
  • Identify sandy loam, silty loam, and clay loam soils by feel; and pH testing by soil indicator; and relate to plant selection
  • Identify and sow a range of different types of seeds, in different situations, in a way that will optimise successful propagation.
  • Propagate a range of plants using different vegetative propagation techniques
  • Pot up and provide after care for a range of propagated seedlings and cuttings.
  • Plant a range of (different types) plant material.
  • Maintain the desired growth type and habit for a range of plants.
  • Identify significant woody plants including: Trees; Shrubs; Groundcover; & Conifers
  • Identify a range of significant plant problems including pests, diseases and others.
  • Identify a range of non woody and indoor plants of horticultural significance.
  • Conduct a risk assessment of a horticultural workplace to determine safe working practices and select appropriate personal safety clothing and equipment.

Tips -Practical Gardening over Winter in response to Climate Change

Climate Change and global warming is impacting everywhere; Sub tropical areas and temperate areas are both recording unseasonal temperatures -and this calls for practical adaptations to how we garden everywhere.

Some years are difficult than ever to predict garden problems that may transpire over winter. What problems are we likely to face this winter then; and how do we handle them? Many years of drought has changed the populations of insects and diseases - not only pests but also predators. Things are out of balance - and it may take a season or two to restore it!

Temperature Changes

Temperature extremes are affecting both local indigenous fauna and garden plants; if vegetation dies or thins, it affects the buffering capacity of local environments (ie. with more vegetation, low temperatures don’t go as low and hot days don’t get as hot. Once plants die due to extremes, the area becomes even hotter in summer or colder in winter. Strong winds now rip through the remnant vegetation, foliage dries out faster then water can be up-taken by the roots - causing wilting and more damage.

Unexpected cold snaps can bring frosts or cold winds – in the tropics plants may not be acclimatised to these swift changes in temperature. Cold reduces growth and also flowering and fruit development and can even kill parts or all of a cold sensitive plant.

  • To protect from frosts cover plants with hessian or some other physical protection such as horticultural fleece.
  • Alternatively put sprinklers on for a few hours just before dawn when the chance of frost is greatest (i.e. the slightly higher temperature of the water is often enough to prevent frost damage).


Pests and Diseases

With the recent rains, pests and diseases now have a great opportunity to flourish – however the population of predators is low, their population won’t boom until after the pests have boomed and provided them with a food supply.

You Can Help Restore Balance in Your Garden

  • attract birds to the garden
  • buy and Introduce good parasites to eliminate aphis, mites etc
  • use natural controls (eg. biological traps) for pest populations until natural predators build
  • be vigilant - inspect often and use a “soft” spray like pyrethrum to control populations before they explode
  • understand the life cycles of pests and diseases – this is the best way to prevent or combat problems
  • learn to identify pest and disease problems – so you can choose the appropriate treatment
  • avoid blanket spraying – this will eliminate a struggling predator population’s chance of re-establishing
  • practice bio-diversity - to attract natural predators and confuse pests
  • practice crop rotation in the vegie patch to prevent build up of pests and diseases
  • mulch after rains only to establish healthy plants
  • healthy soils grow healthy plants - add compost and well decomposed animal manures – this helps problems from starting in the first place
  • plant to suit the situation – it is best to choose plants suited to your area rather then change and area to suit your plants
  • feed and water your plants regularly – stressed plants attract pest and disease problems
  • thick mulching can help buffer temperatures, both hot and cold, and keep moisture in the ground
  • reduce materials like stone, brick, ceramic and asphalt - these can act as heat banks in heat waves; and in a cold snap will get colder faster than a bank of trees, shrubs or even grass
  • protect your garden and plants from hot or cold wind with thickly planted edges or hedges



Horticulture is very much a hands-on field. Whilst there is much to learn through reading and observing, becoming adept at the practical side of things is highly valuable in all areas of horticulture. This course directs students in sound practical methods for undertaking a variety of tasks from planting to weeding, and pruning to applying insecticides. Those who complete this course will have a range of skills which should set them up in many fields including:

  • General horticulture
  • Garden maintenance
  • Parks & gardens
  • Landscaping
  • Nursery & propagation

Meet some of our academics

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.
Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Check out our eBooks

Growing & Knowing Flowering BulbsWith 187 pages the Growing and Knowing Flowering Bulbs ebook is a great foundation on growing bulbs and includes a colour glossary of flowering bulbs. This ebook is a great read for students, professional horticulturalists and gardeners.
Trees & Shrubs for Small GardensGet it right the first time - choose plants for small places that will enhance property values, and that won’t become a costly nightmare later! This invaluable book covers trees for small gardens, balconies, verandas or courtyards; 46 genera of small trees, 80 shrub genera and hundreds of species. 74 pages, over 150 colour photos
Landscaping & Gardening in the ShadeThe ‘Landscaping and Gardening in the Shade’ ebook explain what you need to know about designing a shaded garden. It will go through specific plants you could use, how to care for them and different plant varieties that will give you a great shaded area.
Water Gardening This book is designed to inspire and educate presenting you with a wide range of possibilities and at the same time, raising your awareness and understanding of how water can be used in any size garden to add interest, coolness and life.