Horticulture Foundations (Horticulture I)

Course CodeBHT101
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Gain The Fundamentals of Horticulture - Start Here

The ideal course for anyone starting out in horticulture:

  • A foundation before you set up a gardening business
  • Training to improve your chances of success in an existing or new job
  • A taster course if you are contemplating a diploma or degree
This is a thoroughly practical course which gives you a sound broad technical grounding in horticultural principles and practices. 

Lesson Structure

There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant Identification: Naming plants; distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid; identifying the different parts of a flower; distinguishing the morphological characteristics of leaves.
  2. Planting: Planting methods used for different types of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreen and deciduous plants; influence of environmental factors on planting techniques.
  3. Soils: Classifying soils; sampling and testing soils; chemical and physical properties of soils; soil improvement techniques; composting; potting mixes.
  4. Nutrition: Major and micro elements necessary for plant growth; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities; fertilisers.
  5. Water Management: Irrigation systems ... characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; drainage systems; waterwise gardening.
  6. Pruning: Pruning techniques; importance of pruning to growth, flowering and fruiting; pruning tools.
  7. Weeds: Identifying common weeds; characteristics of weeds; control techniques; herbicides.
  8. Pests and Diseases: Identifying common insect and disease problems; control methods; Integrated Pest Management; pesticides; hygiene procedures; chemical safety.
  9. Landscaping: Stages of landscaping; design procedures; collating pre-planning information; preparing plans; selecting plants for specified sites.
  10. Propagation: Asexual and sexual propagation; taking cuttings; sowing seeds; aftercare of propagated plants.
  11. Lawns: Turf grass varieties; laying a new lawn; cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.
  12. Arboriculture: Tree management techniques including pruning, removal and tree surgery; identifying tree problems.

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.


  • Distinguish between different plants, to enable identification of the plant species.
  • Explain appropriate procedures for establishing a range of plants in different conditions.
  • Describe the characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the characteristics of plant nutrition necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Determine appropriate water management procedures for healthy plant growth.
  • Understand appropriate procedures for pruning plants on a horticultural site.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common weeds.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common pests and diseases.
  • Prepare a concept plan for the development of a garden.
  • Understand commonly used plant propagation techniques.
  • Develop guidelines for general lawn care.
  • Develop guidelines for general tree care in a horticultural situation.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between plants in order to identify at least 120 plants on plant review sheets.
  • Plant out a container plant following a recommended procedure.
  • Sample and carry out simple tests on different soils.
  • Identify a range of nutrient problems in plants.
  • Identify a range of pest and disease problems in plants.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for pruning a plant.
  • Identify a range of different plants, based on their flower and leaf structures.
  • Determine appropriate procedures for planting according to type of plant and site.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to care for plants in the garden.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate plant selection for a range of different sites.
  • Identify a range of plant health problems and describe appropriate chemical and non-chemical control methods to control those problems.
  • Identify characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the importance of organic matter in soil management.
  • Describe the principles and techniques of composting.
  • Determine nutrient problems and describe chemical and non-methods for overcoming these problems.
  • Identify management solutions to a range of plant problems including weeds, pests and diseases.
  • Explain the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
  • Determine appropriate water management practices applicable to plant growth.
  • Describe the characteristics of irrigation and drainage systems.
  • Describe the importance of pruning to plant growth, flowering and fruiting.
  • Describe safe use of chemicals.
  • Develop criteria for selecting suitable plants for a landscape project.
  • Prepare concept plans for landscape redevelopment.
  • Draw a concept plan for a garden redevelopment.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for taking cuttings from a range of plants.
  • Distinguish between different pre-germination seed requirements and techniques, for different plant species.
  • Determine appropriate turf species for different purposes and chosen climatic conditions.
  • Explain the composition of lawn seed mixes and fertilizers.
  • Observe and report on lawn management techniques.
  • Determine solutions to lawn problems.
  • Explain the cause and effect of common tree problems.
  • Determine appropriate methods for treating tree problems.

Horticulture is Essential
  • In some respects, horticulture is part science and part art.
  • It can be a hobby or a career.
  • Some people become passionate about horticulture
  • Others find it a chore to be endured in the home garden on the weekend.
Without horticulture though; we would not have food to eat, and our environments would be less comfortable both physically and aesthetically.

What then is Horticulture?

Horticulture is simply the act of 'growing plants'.   Plants grow wild in nature; but plants grown in "captivity" have their growth controlled by people. Man selects and controls the growth of plants for a purpose; perhaps to provide food, or maybe to modify the environment or provide a more pleasant environment.

Controlling the growth of plants can be relatively simple up to a point, but to get perfect results can become extremely complex. Anyone can choose to grow a plant, plant it and water it and have a fair chance of success. But to see any plant reach its full potential requires careful attention to everything that the plant needs, from soil conditions and nutrition to light conditions and water.

Plants Need Food Too

Like us, plants need to be fed in order to be healthy and grow well. They need the right nutrients in the right proportions, just like we need the right vitamins and minerals (in the right proportions), to maintain our health. 

The best way to ensure that your plants are well fed is to first feed the soil; soil that isn’t ‘fed’ can become sterile and cannot provide plants with the nutrients they need to maintain healthy growth. The old saying ‘what comes around goes around’ is a good adage to adopt in your garden; healthy and strong plant growth is directly proportional to the amount of soil food you use and its quality.

What Nutrients Do Plants Need Then?

Some nutrients are used by plants in very large quantities, while others may only be needed in tiny amounts. Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (shown as NPK on most packaged or bagged fertiliser) are the most important ‘macronutrients’ needed for healthy plant growth.  Bulky plant foods (e.g. manures, blood and bone), and also NPK (chemical) fertilisers you buy are mostly made up of these three nutrients. 

Also critical to plant health and growth and the success of your gardening pursuits, are a range of other nutrients i.e. secondary nutrients (these are needed in smaller quantities than NPK). The ‘secondary nutrients’ needed by your plants are Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulphur (S), because these nutrients are usually not deficient in soils, you would not ordinarily apply them, unless you need to change the soil pH (calcium and magnesium sweeten the soil i.e. raise the pH; sulphur will lower the pH).

Lastly your plants need a range of ‘micronutrients’ (also known as trace elements). They used by plants in tiny proportions –but are still essential for healthy growth. They include: boron (B), copper (Cu), Iron (Fe) chloride ( Cl) Manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and Zinc (Zn). When you buy some bulky fertilisers (mentioned before) read the label, you will find that they often have micronutrients added. So if you use these types of fertilisers in your garden regularly you may never need to add extra micronutrients as well. 

Whatever way you look at it; horticulture is  something that is a part of everyone's life; and as such, the horticulture industry is totally indispensable.
How Do You Learn Horticulture?
Learning is more than just reading facts. Anyone can read and understand something -then forget it.
  • When you learn about horticulture through this course, you develop an  understanding of horticulture principles and underpinning science.
  • You revisit knowledge in different contexts, and by doing so, you begin to see more and more ways to apply that knowledge.
  • Seeing and handling plants in different places, and different ways is what this course is all about.
  • What you learn gradually becomes embedded in your long term memory; and your ability to grow plants gradually improves.
Having a foundation can make everything else far easier to learn, both during and after your studies.

We have been teaching this Horticulture I course since the 1970's. Thousands have completed it and gone on to successful careers in all branches of horticulture, in countries all around the world. We keep updating and improving the course materials, and the quality of horticulture professionals standing behind the course is second to none (check out our staff).

When you understand how plants are classified, you can then begin to learn the plant families that all plants fit into. As you get to know the families and the characteristics that are common to them; it then becomes far easier to remember individual plant names; as you have a framework into which they can be slotted. Similarly, with an understanding of the physical and chemical properties of soils; you can evaluate individual soils far easier; and better determine how different types of plants would perform in those different soils.
This course provides a foundation for horticulture in a very effective and practical way.
The course has worked for thousands of others; some home gardeners; many who are now working as horticultural managers, trades people or business owners. 



 The ideal course for anyone starting out in horticulture:

  • A foundation before you set up a gardening business
  • Training to improve your chances of success in an existing or new job
  • A taster course if you are contemplating a diploma or degree






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