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Qualification - Certificate in Horticulture (Ornamental Horticulture)

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

Gain and All-round Education in Horticulture

The Certificate in Horticulture (Ornamental Horticulture) is a vocationally oriented course comprising core studies in general horticulture and stream studies specific to ornamental horticulture.

The objective of the course is to:

  • Develop general and broad based skills in horticultural practices and plant identification.
  • Provide more specific knowledge in areas of ornamental horticulture including garden maintenance, turf care, arboriculture, landscaping and nursery work.

The Certificate in Horticulture involves the following areas of study:

  • CORE STUDIES - this involves at least 300 hours, divided into 15 lessons, approx. half of the course.
  • ELECTIVE STUDIES - this involves a further 300 hrs of study going into greater depth in the areas of garden maintenance, nursery practices and landscaping.


1.  Introduction to Plants - Nomenclature and taxonomy, the plant kingdom, genus, species, hybrids.

2.  Parts of the Plant - How plants grow, plant structure, parts of the flower and leaf, modification of stems and roots.

3.  Plant Culture - Planting - How to plant and protect newly planted specimens, terms like: annuals, biennials, perennials, deciduous, evergreen and herbaceous plants.

4.  Plant Culture - Pruning - Purpose for pruning, rules for pruning, how to prune.

5.  Plant Culture - Irrigation and Machinery - Different irrigation systems, components of an irrigation system, designing an irrigation system, selection, use and maintenance of machinery and tools.

6.  Soils & Media - Soil classifications, testing soil, potting mixes, the U.C. System, ingredients of potting mixes.

7.  Soils & Nutrition - Fertilisers - deficiencies and toxicities, N:P:K ratios, salting, fertiliser programming, compost.

8.  Propagation - Seeds & Cuttings - How to propagate plants by seed and cuttings, propagating mixes, cold frame construction, after care for young plants. 

9.  Propagation - Other Techniques - Other methods to increase plant numbers - budding, grafting, layering, division and tissue culture.

10. Identification and Use of Plants - How are plants used in the landscape, how to choose and purchase plants, selecting plants suitable for the climate and site.

11. Identification and Use of Plants - Problems with plants and choosing plants for problem sites.

12. Identification and Use of Plants - Indoor and tropical plants, flowers, herbs, bulbs, ferns.

13. Pests - Identifying and controlling pests, chemical and natural methods for control, chemical safety precautions.

14. Diseases - Identifying and controlling diseases, plant pathology, fungi, viruses, non-pathogenic problems, interactions with the host and the environment.

15. Weeds - Identifying and controlling weeds, chemical terminology.


This part of the course involves four main areas of study, as follows:

1.    Landscaping

    • Lesson 1  Introduction to Landscaping
    • Lesson 2  Landscape Design Procedure
    • Lesson 3  Landscape Construction A
    • Lesson 4  Landscape Construction B

2.    Plant knowledge  

    • Lesson 5  Plants for Problem Areas
    • Lesson 6  Flowers, Indoor and Tropical Plants
    • Lesson 7  Herbs

3.    Plant Care

    • Lesson 8  Different Growing Techniques
    • Lesson 9  Arboriculture
    • Lesson 10 Planning Garden Maintenance
    • Lesson 11 Turf Care

4.    Nursery Practices

    • Lesson 12 Introduction to Nursery Management
    • Lesson 13 Nursery Stock Production and Quality Control
    • Lesson 14 Operating a Garden Centre
    • Lesson 15 Marketing and Management in Ornamental Horticulture

Scope of stream studies:

  • Landscape design (including pre-planning and drawing plans).
  • Principles and styles of landscape designs.
  • Analysis of garden designs.
  • Graphic skills, materials and techniques.
  • Estimating costs for landscape jobs.
  • Surfacing materials and their effects.
  • Quality and cost of different landscape materials.
  • Plant knowledge, both native and exotic, suitable for local conditions.
  • Plant selection for difficult sites and conditions (including treating degraded sites and interior plantscaping).
  • Tropical and indoor plants.
  • Environmental factors important for indoor plant culture.
  • Bulbs, perennials and annuals.
  • Planting design for flower beds (annuals and bulbs) suitable for your locality.
  • Herb culture and garden design.
  • Miscellaneous growing techniques including; bonsai, terrariums, pot culture, baskets and hydroponics.
  • Describe the importance of trees to humans.
  • Procedures for the proper and safe removal of a limb from a tree.
  • Tree problems and their treatment.
  • Compartmentalisation, and its effect on the spread of disease in trees.
  • Preparing a detailed maintenance program for a garden.
  • Seed selection, storage, preparation and spreading (sowing).
  • Preparation, planting and establishment of a lawn.
  • Establishing turf on a steep slope.
  • Turf maintenance techniques.
  • Analysis of nursery production systems.
  • Preparing a flow chart for the production of a particular plant, from propagation to marketing.
  • Preparing a maintenance program for green life in a garden centre.
  • Preparing guidelines for the disposal of surplus or below standard stock in a nursery.
  • Write an advertisement for a nursery or garden maintenance business.
  • Basic management procedures for a single person nursery or garden maintenance business.
  • Basic communication skills.
  • Health and safety requirements for a nursery or garden maintenance workplace.


Plant Knowledge is the Foundation of Good Ornamental Horticulture
It is important to have a sound knowledge of a wide range of plants particularly those native to the or growing well locally.
Seedlings will come up in any garden and it is important to know which are weeds, which are young shoots or suckers from trees, which are little plants appearing from seed or roots from the original foundation planting. This is where a solid ability to identify plants comes into play; and these are skills which are given a high priority in this course.
Knowing which fragments of the planting are in good health or poor health and just surviving is vital. So too is a sound knowledge of how to propagate all the plants on the site. It may be necessary to take cuttings, seed or use other methods to propagate from the last surviving plants on the site, of particular species.  
The first year or so in establishing or renovating any garden can be a lengthy drawn out process of collecting information; planting and nurturing plants,
Constructing new features or unearthing old paths, repairing and replacing old paths and driveways so the hard landscaping or ground work is in place, at the same time you have identified correctly all the plants and know what they are what conditions they are in , so that any foundation work on paths, edging, and rebuilding of the historic buildings themselves does not result in damage or death to existing plantings.  If it is a very overgrown garden then expert consultants in their field will also need to be brought in to determine what tree surgery and tree maintenance is needed, which trees are in poor health and which if any need to be completely removed. As these have their canopy changed this will also affect the plants growing underneath, making them more expose, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the plant concerned. 
How the garden is maintained properly, that is how many people are available for the regular maintenance and the budget allocated for this when it is completed, will also influence how the plantings and restorations take place. During the Early Victorian era for example a one acre garden may have had up to twenty gardeners to maintain it. A suitable workforce and the associated ongoing expense of this will need to be considered both in the re-design and replanting of the garden now and into the future.  Obviously the maintenance will need to be reduced from what it was during the early years. 
There are many ways to easily reduce the maintenance of a garden. Many of the ways are included here. The type of design you choose will also create or reduce the amount of maintenance and so too will choosing the right position for all sort of things like paths, clothesline compost bins garden tools, to make maintenance and jobs around the garden easier. 

Meet some of our academics

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.
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.
Garden Design Part 1This stunning full colour Garden Design ebook is full of useful tips, information and inspiration. It contains around 300 colour illustrations! It is comprised of three parts: Design, How a Garden Functions, and Aesthetics (making it look good). Let your inner designer out (outside). A great introductory text for garden designers. 299 high quality inspirational colour photos. 106 pages
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.