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Practical Horticulture 2

Course CodeBHT323
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Practical Gardening Skills to Better Manage Horticultural Enterprises 

In this course, you'll learn skills that you would normally learn from working under the supervision of a horticultural expert. Note that some supervision by an independent horticultural expert, such as your work manager or other expert, is required to complete the course . 

Work planning and project management is an important aspect of the type of work that would be generally carried out by the professional horticulturist. It may be in diverse areas within the horticulture industry i.e. a planting program, plant sales program, landscape project, re-vegetation project, sports or turf management, irrigation and drainage systems implementation, production planning (crops and nursery), conservation of natural resource areas, conserve a heritage area and so on. Project management may be under the broad direction of superiors in certain situations however self-directed application of knowledge that has substantial depth is expected at this level.

The course contains all the tips to develop excellent practical skills in the management of a variety of horticultural situations. It covers subject areas such as: horticultural calculations, propagation management, hard and soft landscape management, planning - identifying needs for management of horticultural sites, identifying plant tissue and much more.

This course will help you to stay ahead of the competition and fulfil your managerial or business aspirations.

Although the course covers areas complementary to Practical skills I. You can take this course by itself, though for most students it will be taken after Practical Horticulture I.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Materials and Equipment
  2. Horticultural Calculations
  3. Practical Risk Management
  4. Machinery and Equipment Assessment and Maintenance
  5. Propagation Management
  6. Hard Landscape Maintenance
  7. Soft Landscape Maintenance
  8. Practical Plant Identification Techniques
  9. Pest, Disease and Weed Control
  10. Identifying plant tissues
  11. Planning -identifying needs for management of horticultural sites.

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.


  • Identify a range of horticultural materials and equipment and sundries
  • Specify assessments necessary to perform horticultural operations, and carry out calculations for these assessments
  • Assess horticultural situations for risks and hazards, and demonstrate methods and procedures to minimise risk
  • Assess the state of repair of a powered implement and carry out routine maintenance or calibration.
  • Organise the propagation of a range of plants
  • Carry out routine maintenance on a variety of hard landscape features.
  • Demonstrate and determine the routine maintenance and future management for production and amenity situations of a variety of soft landscape features.
  • Identify a range of seeds and plants
  • Identify a range of weeds, plant pests, diseases and disorders, and state methods of their prevention and control.
  • Identify plant tissues and state their functions
  • Carry out a planning exercise to determine future management of a given area of plants, and all hard or soft landscape features

Tips for Feeding Plants

As plants burst into spring growth, they draw heavily on nutrients in the soil. This is when they need the extra nutrients a fertiliser can give.

If inadequate nutrients are present, plant growth becomes stunted. This effect is subtle and not usually noticed until it becomes severe. The nutrient level in the soil may drop as low as 30% below the optimum before deficiency symptoms such as discolouration appear in the leaves. By this time, the overall growth rate and general health of the plant has been affected significantly.

There is a vast array of fertilisers available and every one is different. Using the wrong fertiliser or the right fertiliser at the wrong rate can create problems in your garden.

So how do you choose the right one? For a start, it’s helpful to know what the various fertiliser terms mean:

Complete fertiliser – These contain a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Some also contain calcium and sulphur, and trace elements. The formulations vary according to the plant groups for which they are designed, eg. lawns, shrubs, azaleas and camellias. They come in powdered, granular and water-soluble form and are a convenient way to provide plants with all the nutrients they are likely to need. 

NPK fertilisers – Another name for ‘complete’ fertilizers (Note: NPK stands for the chemical symbols: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium; which are the main nutrients a plant needs from a fertiliser).

Water-soluble fertilisers – These are powdered or liquid complete fertilisers that are applied as a dilute solution. They generally have a high nitrogen content and also contain trace elements. They are useful for boosting plant growth but only have a short-term effect. 

Slow-release or controlled-release fertilisers – These complete fertilisers are designed to release their nutrients slowly, often up to 12 months. Some are in the form of plant pills, others are covered with a protective coating, eg. Osmocote and Nutricote. They are convenient, safe and easy to use but are more expensive than other NPK fertilisers.  Some organic fertilisers such as blood and bone also release nutrients over a long period of time. 

Inorganic fertilisers – Artificially-made fertilisers; includes the NPK mixtures. 

Organic fertilisers – A broad term for naturally-occurring fertilisers; includes animal manure and animal by-products such as blood and bone, mushroom and other composts, green manures, seaweed and worm casts. The nutrient content is variable, depending on the source of the fertiliser. Some commercially prepared organic fertilisers have known levels of nutrients that are listed on the packet. 

When you choose a fertiliser think about the following:

  •  convenience and ease of use 
  •  the type of plants you are fertilising and the time of year
  •  the soil type (clay soils hold fertilisers better than sandy soils)
  •  how quickly you want the plants to grow  
  •  how much you’re prepared to spend
  •  whether you prefer to rely on organic fertilisers

It makes no difference to the plants whether you apply artificial or organic fertilisers. They simply absorb whatever nutrients are available in the soil.
BUT there are important differences (eg. the way they work; levels of pollution created in their production; residues on unused by products left behind, etc).

  • inorganic fertilisers release nutrients quickly, producing rapid plant growth
  • many inorganic fertilisers can burn plants if applied at high doses
  • many inorganic fertilisers have a short-term effect and need to be applied frequently to maintain growth
  • inorganic fertilisers can leave undesirable chemical residues in the soil
  • most organic fertilisers are safe to use and won’t burn the plants (except some fresh manures which should be aged before use)
  • most organic fertilisers improve the texture and structure of the soil, thereby improving air and water uptake (exceptions are powdered organic fertilisers such as blood and bone)
  • some organic fertilisers don’t contain many nutrients – their main value is as a soil-improver

It is always better to apply too little than too much. You can always add more, but you can't take it out of the soil and put it back in the bag!

Always read the instructions on fertiliser packets. If applying fertiliser to young plants or less hardy plants (eg. ferns and some indoor plants) you are better to put on less fertiliser.


Meet some of our academics

Marie BeermanMarie has over 7 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants". Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Ldscp.
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.
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

Commercial HydroponicsLearn to grow vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs and other plants hydroponically. A classic, republished with new images, a new layout and revised text. Contains unique advice on growing 102 different plants hydroponically! 74 pages
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest, can be an exciting and satisfying experience.
Organic GardeningCreate a healthy, well-balanced garden. Attract abundant beneficial insects to pollinate your plants. Have healthy, fertile, organic soils teeming with life. Use this book as a guide to establish lush gardens laden with fruit, vegetables, herbs and ornamentals - without the use of chemicals. The ebook covers: soils and nutrition, pest and disease, natural weed control, conservation and recycling. 179 pages, 170 colour photos
Plant Pests & DiseasesThis is a great guide to understanding, identifying and treating problems in your garden. Discover how to systematically examine and determine what is wrong with plants. Read about all of the main types of pests, diseases, and other problems that can occur, from frost damage to viruses. 197 pages