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Qualification - Certificate in Australian Natives

Course CodeVHT121
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

Study Australian Plants

  • Learn to identify hundreds of species
  • Learn to propagate and cultivate both as Indoor and Outdoor Plants

Australian plants are increasingly being discovered by the horticulture industry across the world. The diversity of these plants is huge and most have not yet started to realize their economic potential.

In the world of horticulture; Australian flora offers opportunity to plant breeders, flower growers, nurserymen and landscapers across the world:

  • opportunity to develop and introduce new products
  • commercial opportunities
  • opportunity to be at the forefront of horticultural research and development

As the world is changing, different types of Australian plants and trees are being introduced across the globe; changing the nature of horticulture everywhere. This course presents you with a uniqie opportunity.

  • A 600 hour certificate focusing on plants that are indigenous to Australia.
  • Learn how to identify, propagate and manage Australian plants.
  • Learn about the use of trees in a landscape and when and where to plant them.
  • Specialise with the elective options for this Certificate - study modules on Tropical Plants, Palms and Cyads, or Interior Plants.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate in Australian Natives.
 Australian Native Trees VHT115
 Australian Natives I BHT113
 Australian Natives II BHT225
 Bush Tucker Plants: Growing and Using BHT328
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 6 modules.
 Acacias VHT114
 Australian Native Ferns VHT116
 Eucalypts VHT117
 Growing Grevilleas VHT118
 Palms & Cycads BHT233
 Interior Plants (Indoor Plants) BHT315

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Australian Natives is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


  • Ferns have been around for millions of years. Australian Ferns include groups which are native to tropical regions and others to temperate. You will learn how to identify these and what their characteristics are.
  • You will be able to identify Australian native trees - their characteristics, how to propagate them and where to grow them.
  • You will be able to distinguish between different types of native wildflowers, and develop a cut flower production plan for a selected Australian wildflower.
  • Further details of the aims for each module can be found by clicking on the links to the respective module pages, above.

Many Thousands of Species

There is a vast selection of Australian natives that are just as easy as any other plants to cultivate. Indeed, many are among the easiest of all plants to grow.Some however are just as difficult as the most difficult plants from any other country.

These plants have been growing here for thousands of years and so have adapted to  the local conditions and soils. Australia is a large, and diverse country. There are plants that come from wet rain forests, and others from deserts; some species grow in cold climates and suffer snow and frost for months every year, while others come from hot, humid, tropical rain forests.

When you grow any Australian indigenous plant, do your homework before planting it. Discover where it occurs naturally and what the climatic conditions are in that natural landscape. Once you know that; choose a micro climate that matches it's needs.

Choose the Micro climate to Suit the Species

These are the environmental conditions that occur when local conditions modify the climatic characteristics of an area, in some way, from the general overall climatic conditions of the area. These local conditions or factors include the physical topography of the area (e.g. hills, mountains, slopes, cliff faces, gorges), local soil conditions (e.g. type, structure, depth), vegetation types and coverage, the presence of water bodies (e.g. rivers, streams, ponds, lakes), the action of animals (e.g. animals digging soil, animals eating vegetation), and man made structures.

Understanding how these local factors modify the general climatic characteristics will enable you to make appropriate plant selections. For example trees provide shade and maybe frost or sun protection, but can restrict light and reduce growth rates (an advantage with some plants and a disadvantage with other plants).

Another example is that of hill-slopes. These will have a major effect on how much light a plant receives. The amount of sunshine a hill-slope receives is dependent on its aspect and where it is situated (i.e. country or hemisphere). In the southern hemisphere northerly facing slopes receive more sun than those facing south. In the northern hemisphere this is reversed.

In the southern hemisphere, northeast facing slopes generally receive maximum direct radiation in the morning, while north-westerly facing slopes receive their most radiation during the afternoon. Northwest slopes therefore tend to heat up more slowly during the day than north-east ones, but will generally reach a higher overall temperature, unless the slopes are shaded out by other topographical features. Northerly slopes will generally be drier than adjacent southerly slopes due to the increased warmth. Steeper slopes will receive the most radiation in winter, while lesser slopes will receive maximum radiation in summer. The warmer northerly slopes are often used for fruit-bearing plants that require that extra bit of warmth for ripening fruit.

The local topography will also have major effects on directing the passage of warm and cold air flows. Generally cold air is denser than warm air, so the cold air tends to settle in low lying areas and depressions. This can result in the creation of frost hollows, where cold air has collected at night.

However, cold air pockets can also collect on flat mountain tops, so don't think that frosty areas will only occur in the lower areas. Upper slopes of valleys tend to be the most frost-free areas. Topography will also channel winds, and play a major role in determining the drainage characteristics of an area.

All of these local modifying factors need to be considered, when deciding what and where to plant. Simply observing a site over an extended period (perhaps a year so that all seasons are observed) will give you a lot on insight into local microclimates. Remember though that conditions can vary from year to year also - sometimes considerably.

Typically, different sites in the same locality can vary a great deal in their climatic characteristics and suitability for growing various fruit-producing plants.

  • A warm site has an aspect which faces the midday sun (on a slope facing north in the southern hemisphere). It will miss early and late season frosts which affect other parts of the locality because cold air will fall into the valleys below. Where a slope facing the midday sun is at a higher altitude, the advantages found normally are counteracted by the cold which comes from being at a higher altitude.

  • A cold site has an aspect facing away from the midday sun. It heats up less in summer because it gets less direct sun. Being higher up the slopes it still may miss early and late frosts which drain into the valleys below.

  • A very cold site is a low spot in a valley which gets less direct sun than other sites and collects frosts earlier and later in the season than other places.

  • An average site is flat. Frosts do not drain away as easily as on sloping ground. Sun is collected in summer or winter at an average rate. If on top of a hill it will be warmer than part way down a slope.

Note: Prevailing winds, shade from trees and buildings, etc. can also affect the climatic characteristics of a site.