Foundation Certificate II in Horticulture

Course CodeVHT003
Fee CodeS4
Duration (approx)150 hours

Start Your Career as a Gardener, Garden Designer or Horticulturist

  • Learn to grow plants, feed, water, protect and prune them
  • A course for anyone starting out in gardening or horticulture, seeking a job, starting a business or already working in the industry
  • Understand the science that underpins all horticulture and the system that makes it easier to identify and remember plant names.

"This is the best entry level qualification under 200 hours that you are likely to find anywhere".

Quote: John Mason, Garden Magazine Editor, author (45 books), Professional Horticulturist (40 years), Fellow Institute of Horticulture

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Plant Kingdom (part a)
  2. The Plant Kingdom (part b)
  3. The Plant Kingdom (part c)
  4. Plant Propagation
  5. Outdoor Food Production
  6. Garden Planning
  7. The Root Environment and Plant Nutrition
  8. Protected Cultivation
  9. Horticultural Plant Selection, Establishment and Maintenance
  10. Horticultural Plant Health Problems


  • Demonstrate a broad range of horticultural knowledge; communicate clearly and coherently in writing on horticultural matters; and relate horticultural science to its practical application.
  • Understand the classification of higher plants and appreciate the internal structure of higher plants.
  • Understand the external structure of higher plants
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand the fundamental physiological processes within the plant including photosynthesis, respiration, water movement, pollination, fertilisation, seed formation and germination.
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand basic cultural operations and production methods necessary to obtain outdoor food crops.
  • Understand basic surveying and design principles and apply them to basic garden design and planning requirements.
  • Develop an understanding of the constituents, properties and management of soils and growing media.
  • Develop an understanding of environmental control and plant cultivation in greenhouses and other protected environments.
  • Develop an understanding of plant selection, establishment and maintenance of a range of ornamental plants.
  • Develop an understanding of pest, diseases and weeds that affect horticultural plants, and the cultural, biological, chemical and integrated systems used to control those problems.

Tips for Better Gardening - from our tutors

Problems To Watch
There are some mistakes which people commonly make with plants. If you can avoid these, you will be going a long way towards getting the best from your backyard.

Don't plant the wrong size plant: Think carefully about how tall and wide plants grow, particularly the larger plants. Don't always believe what you read on a plant label, as these only give very general information, and the plant might do something quite different in your locality. Always refer to two or three different books to see what they say before planting large trees. If the plant is said to grow 12 metres tall, you should look at something 12 metres tall so you have a clear idea of what that height is.

Don't overplant: Too many large plants too close together will compete with each other either becoming straggly and unattractive, or with one growing strongly and the other weak.

Avoid tall trees close to buildings which will drop leaves in gutters.

Deciduous and fruiting plants can drop large amounts of fruits, berries or leaves onto the ground at certain times of the year, creating slippery paths or messy lawns.

Avoid plants which have damaging roots: Roots can damage pipes, ponds, fences, paths and foundations. These problems are most likely if the soil becomes too dry and the roots need to seek moisture, or if large or vigorous plants are planted too close to these things. By mulching around plants, you can keep the soil moist, and by thinking about where you put vigorous plants, these problems are minimized.

Four Rules
By doing the following you will usually get best results and the least problems from plants:
1. Always prepare the soil before planting anything. Digging in well rotted manure a week or two before
   planting. If the soil is very hard or a clay, lots of compost or organic material such as woodshavings
   should be dug in a month or more before planting.
2. Always plant trees in a garden before smaller plants. The location of trees will affect the small plants
   much more than the small plants affecting the trees.
3. Almost all plants will grow better on soil that is slightly mounded. Unless you have perfect drainage,
   always mound up soil in garden beds.
4. Mulch all plants to keep the soil moist and the weeds from growing. The best mulching is usually mulch
   mat material (available from nurseries) covered with a layer of pine bark, wood chip or some similar
   organic material.


Duration Of The Course

Nominally 120 hours, though we believe only students who already have some prior experience could complete it within this time frame. Most students should budget on spending 150 hours or more doing this course if they hope to be successful when sitting final exams.

The Exams:  2 exams
This course was developed and run as the RHS Certificate II  up until July 2010, when it was replaced by the RHS due to changes in the UK accreditation system. Due to popular demand from students, we continue to offer this as a 'foundation certificate' examined and awarded by ACS Distance Education in Australia (It no longer holds any endorsement from the RHS).


Who Will benefit From This Course?

Anyone starting out in gardening or horticulture, seeking a job, starting a business, or already working in the industry.



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