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Propagation I

Course CodeBHT108
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Propagate all Types of Plants

Propagation may be from seeds or cuttings, and both methods have advantages and disadvantages. Growing from seed is not always possible, some plants are difficult to grow from cuttings, and some plants are better grown from stem cuttings than leaf cuttings. There is a lot to know about propagation and you could spend many years mastering it. This course provides a solid foundation into all types of propagation. 

In this course you will learn: 

  • How to grow plants from cuttings, seed, grafting, division and other methods.
  • How to overcome dormancy in seeds.
  • How to stimulate root growth in cuttings.
  • The importance of humidity, shade and environmental manipulation.
  • How to pot up and grow on clones and seedlings.
  • What materials and equipment to use for successful propagation.
Many people spend a small fortune on plants to establish a garden, and as plants die and need replacing, those costs continue to increase. Learning to propagate plants offers the aspiring horticulturist, landscaper or gardener a business or employment opportunity, as well as home gardeners a chance to make savings on plant purchases. Plant propagation is a skill that will never be wasted. 
Student's comments

"This is the first correspondence course I have done and I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU. I appreciate everyone's effort in such a professionally-run organisation with seamless administration. The office staff's happy can-do attitude, their fast responses to all queries, tutor Shane Gould's quick turnaround in assignment marking and his supportive and motivational feedback and last but not least, the sound subject guides. Most importantly I hope my thanks and appreciation can be communicated to all the staff who have supported me long the way of my learning! I work full time and study on the weekend but really don't stop thinking about what gardening solution I need in order to answer my assignments every day of the week. Thank you for such a great learning experience and I cant wait to start the second half of my course!!"

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Propagation
    • asexual and sexual propagation
    • plant life cycles
    • nursery production systems
  2. Seed Propagation
  3. Potting Media
  4. Vegetative Propagation I
    • cuttings
  5. Vegetative Propagation II
    • care of stock plants
    • layering
    • division and other techniques
  6. Vegetative Propagation III
    • budding and grafting
    • tissue culture
  7. Propagation Structures and Materials
    • greenhouses
    • propagating equipment
  8. Risk Management
    • nursery hygiene
    • risk assessment
    • management
  9. Nursery Management I
    • plant modification techniques
    • management policies
  10. Nursery Management II
    • nursery standards
    • cost efficiencies
    • site planning
    • development

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.


  • Develop the ability to source information on plant propagation, through an awareness of industry terminology and information sources.
  • Plan the propagation of different plant species from seeds, using different seed propagation methods.
  • Plan the propagation of different types of plants from cuttings, using different cutting propagation methods.
  • Plan the propagation of various types of plants using a range of propagation techniques, excluding cuttings and seed.
  • Determine the necessary facilities, including materials and equipment, required for propagation of different types of plants.
  • Determine a procedure to minimise plant losses during propagation.
  • Determine the management practices of significance to the commercial viability of a propagation nursery.
  • Design a propagation plan for the production of a plant.


Tips for Buying Horticultural Tools and Equipment

When you buy equipment or materials for your garden, you usually get what you pay for. The things which do the job well and last are usually the more expensive choices.
A good top of the range pair of secateurs, for example, should last 20 years or more, but a cheap pair may only last one or two years.


  • Loose parts: check moving parts in particular, as well as bolts and screws. 
  • Adequate joins: where parts join (e.g: the spade blade to the spade handle) should be strong enough, and firmly fitted, to withstand the rigours of hard work. For hand tools such as spades, shovels and forks the most likely place for breakages to occur is where the handle meets the tool head. It is important to ensure that you purchase tools with strong durable handles, and that these are subsequently well maintained.
  • Sharp edges: Newly made, or repaired tools will often have sharp edges that can easily cut you, particularly if they have been poorly finished off.    
  • Splinters: Tools with wooden (i.e: handles), or fibreglass parts, will often have splinters, if they have been poorly finished off, or if they have been subsequently damaged. 
  •  Leaks: Check carefully for evidence of water, petrol, oil or other leaks. If there is evidence of some sort of leakage, check to see if this simply a result of a loose cap (e.g; petrol cap), a loose connection (e.g: on a hose clamp), or if machinery has been  tipped, dropped, etc, during use or transport.
  • Wear and Tear: Tools with obvious signs of wear and tear are more likely to break down, or to operate less efficiently.
  • Possibility of obtaining replacement parts if needed.


Quality of Materials: 

  • Rust/Corrosion: This is a good indicator that the tool or machine has been poorly maintained or stored. 
  • Good grip (to ground, hands): Good quality tyres are very important for machinery such as ride-on mowers, particularly when they are being used on boggy or sloped areas. Good hand grips are vital to ensure not only safe handling so that tools and machine won't slip, or get loose from your control, but also to ensure comfortable handling. 
  • Safety guards: These are extremely important for machines that have parts that could readily catch or grab you or your clothing; and for machines that are likely to throw up debris such as stones or wood chips. Safety guards should always be kept in good condition, and in the correct position while machines are operating.
  • Anti-Vibration: Some machines that have high vibration levels (e.g: chainsaws, jackhammers) come with anti-vibration handles. These are not always available on cheaper models. Such handles help reduce fatigue from trying to hold such machines, and reduce the likelihood of problems, such as 'White Knuckles' (permanent damage to the hands) from occurring.


Every Plant is Different

The ideal way to propagate a plant is not a straight forward thing! Every plant will respond differently to propagation methods under different conditions. If, for example; you have sophisticated environmental control equipment at your disposal, you may choose what would otherwise be a difficult technique. If time is of the essence; or there is a need to produce very large numbers of plants, your choice of propagation method may be different to what it may be if you have all the time in the world and only need to reproduce a few specimens.
Take tip or semi-hardwood cuttings with a heel any time over autumn, and treat with 4000 -  8000ppm IBA powder. One year old shoots are generally taken at 4-5cm long. A suitable striking media is a sand/peat mixture. Cuttings can also be struck in-ground in prepared beds. Percentages should never fall below 75% for most of the common prostrate junipers (e.g: J. sabina, J. horizontalis, J. communis). Some of the more difficult species can yield less than a 50% strike rate. Bottom heating to 20 degrees C appears to offer optimum rooting development for much of the genus. Excessive water can lower strike rates. Cuttings can be slow to strike. Greenhouse production under misting and heating should produce plants suitable for potting up in around 6 months. In-ground bed production may take up to 2 years (depending on cultivar) for good root development.
Limited success has been achieved (25%) for J. scopulorum cultivars using 8cm heel cuttings, treating with a  15ppm chlorinated solution then a solution like 200ppm Physan. The propagation media used was 90/10 perlite/peat. Base heating was essential, as was misting to achieve any success. Some varieties of J. scopulorum have had higher success with NAA at 3000ppm
Junipers may also be propagated using the following technique: harvest 12-15cm long hardwood cuttings in winter, ensuring the cuttings have some 2-yr old wood at their base. Place the cuttings  in a polythene bag, which is then sealed and placed in cool storage (1-4 degrees C) for 6-10 weeks. The cuttings are then removed from cold room, trimmed as required, wounded for about 1- 1.5cm long on both sides, and treated with hormone. The cuttings are inserted into pots; placed in a well lit position, out of direct sunlight, and regularly watered. The cuttings mature about mid-summer.

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.
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.
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 and Using Perennial PlantsWhen designed and grown well, a perennial garden produces a blaze of colour for many months – starting in spring, flourishing through summer, and beyond into autumn.
Scented PlantsScented plants can be either a delight or a curse. For many people, there is nothing more pleasing than a garden filled with fragrance, but for others who suffer allergies, certain plants can make them physically ill; sometimes very seriously.
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
Trees and ShrubsA great little encyclopaedia that is valuable for students, tradespeople, or the home gardener needing a quick reference when selecting garden plants. It covers the care and culture of 140 commonly grown genera of trees and shrub, plus many hundreds of species and cultivars. 169 colour photos 94 pages