Practical Horticulture 1

Course CodeBHT238
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Practice Makes Perfect

There are lots of practical horticultural tasks to develop your skills and knowledge covered in this course.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Soil Analysis
    • Soil Analysis
    • Testing Your Soil
    • Good Soil Structure
    • Simple Soil Test
    • Naming The Soil
    • Percolation Rates
    • Drainage Problems
    • Soil Temperature
    • How to Improve Soils
    • Soil pH
    • Methods Of Measuring Ph
    • Probe Meters
    • Colorimetric Methods
    • pH meters
    • Another Way to Measure Organic Matter in Soil
    • Terminology
  2. Seed Propagation (including seed identification)
    • Growing Plants from Seed
    • Hygiene
    • How to Sow Seeds in Containers
    • Germination
    • Preparation of Seed Beds in the Field
    • Selected Plant Species
    • Seed Propagating Media
    • General Characteristics
    • Cation Exchange Capacity
    • Seed Compost
    • Commonly Used Mixes
    • Terminology
  3. Vegetative Propagation
    • The Techniques
    • Classification Of Cutting Types
    • Equipment
    • Procedures For Taking Cuttings
    • Types Of Cuttings
    • Stem Cuttings
    • Herbaceous Cutting
    • Tip Cutting
    • Heel Cutting
    • Nodal Cutting
    • Basal Cutting
    • Cane Cutting
    • Leaf Cutting Techniques
    • Root Cutting
    • Bulb Cuttings
    • Improving Strike Rate
    • Terminology
  4. Potting up and After Care of young plants
    • Transplanting Between Pots
    • Stop Roots Growing into The Soil
    • What is a Perched Water Table?
    • Drainage Holes
    • Potting Up a Plant
    • Potting Up Cuttings
    • Pricking Out or Tubing Seedlings
    • Setting out Cuttings
    • Potting up a hanging basket
    • Porous pots need different treatment
    • Plant Modification to Achieve Uniformity
    • Modification Techniques
    • Spacing
    • Staking
    • Growing-On Areas for Container Plants
    • Chemical Growth Modification
  5. Planting
    • General Planting Considerations
    • Problems With Containers
    • How To Maintain Plants in Pots
    • Types Of Pots
    • Bare Rooted Plants
    • Planting
    • Hints For Planting
    • Drainage
    • Improving Infiltration of Water into The Soil
    • Improving Surface Drainage After Construction
    • Provision Of Sub Surface Drains
    • Layout Of Drains
    • Outlet
    • Gradients
    • Distance Between Drainage Pipes
    • Depth Of Drains
    • Types Of Drains
    • Laying The Drain
    • Surface Drainage
    • Some Points to Remember When Designing a Drainage System
    • Terminology
  6. Maintenance of Established Plants
    • Pruning In the Home Garden
    • The Basic Rules of Pruning
    • Getting Pruned
    • Selecting Your Secateurs
    • Winter Pruning
    • General Principles
    • How To Do It
    • Pruning Tools
    • Some Examples of Winter Pruning
    • Pollarding
    • Plants That Respond Well to Pruning Include:
    • How To Prune a Rose
    • Clean Out Your Dead Wood
    • Wood Rots
    • Dead Heading
    • Is Annual Pruning Enough?
    • What Is Compartmentalisation?
    • What About Wound Treatments?
    • What About Compost – Doesn’t It Spread Disease?
    • Pruning In the Home Orchard
    • Terminology
    • How To Use Trimmers
    • Pruning Tomatoes
    • Root Pruning
    • How To Trim a Hedge
    • Training
    • Terminology
  7. Practical Plant Identification – Woody Plants
    • Plant Names
    • Common Names
    • Scientific Names
    • What Is the Difference Between Families
    • Common Names
    • Scientific Names
    • What Is the Difference Between Families
  8. Pest, Disease and Weed Identification
    • Pests
    • Diseases
    • Diagnosis of Problems
    • Finding Out What the Problem Is
    • Conducting An Inspection
    • Tell Tale Symptoms
    • Is There More Than One Problem?
    • Develop A Systematic and Logical Approach to Inspecting the Plant
    • Conducting An Inspection
    • Diagnosis Of Plant Disorders
    • Shortcuts To Problem Identification
    • Difficult To Diagnose Problems
    • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
    • Weeds
    • Common Terms
  9. Practical Plant Identification – Non-Woody Plants Including Grasses and Indoor Plants
    • Choosing The Right Lawn
    • Turf Varieties
    • Lawn Mixes
    • What To Grow Where
    • Cool Winters/Dry Summers
    • Mild Summers/Cold Winters
    • Fescues, Kentucky Blue Grass, Rye Grass, Couch.
    • Tropical
    • Bulbs
    • What Spring Bulbs Need
    • How To Grow Bulbs
    • Bulbs In Subtropical and Tropical Areas
    • Indoor Plants
    • Potting
  10. Risk Assessment
    • Identifying Risk in The Workplace
    • Chainsaw Use & Safety
    • Save The Back, Use the Head! Hard Work Solutions
    • Cleaning & Sharpening Tools
    • Secateurs And Branch Pruning Tools
    • Shovels And Spades
    • Saws And Chainsaws
    • Protecting Tools from Rust
    • Maintaining Timber Handles
    • Maintaining Plastic Handles
    • Storage

What You Will Do

  • Test soils to determine characteristics which would be valuable to management of any given soil in a horticultural situation
  • Identify sandy loam, silty loam, and clay loam soils by feel; and pH testing by soil indicator; and relate to plant selection
  • Identify and sow a range of different types of seeds, in different situations, in a way that will optimise successful propagation.
  • Propagate a range of plants using different vegetative propagation techniques
  • Pot up and provide after care for a range of propagated seedlings and cuttings.
  • Plant a range of (different types) plant material.
  • Maintain the desired growth type and habit for a range of plants.
  • Identify significant woody plants including: Trees; Shrubs; Groundcover; & Conifers
  • Identify a range of significant plant problems including pests, diseases and others.
  • Identify a range of non woody and indoor plants of horticultural significance.
  • Conduct a risk assessment of a horticultural workplace to determine safe working practices and select appropriate personal safety clothing and equipment.

Keep Your Plants Fed and they will be Healthier

Plants need nutrition in order to grow and remain healthy. When plants lack nutrients they can become unhealthy; and that can make them more susceptible to lots of other problems.
Feeding plants is thus a very practical way of minimizing a lot of the other problems which can confront a gardener or horticulturist.
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. 

You will no doubt have heard the terms fast and slow release fertiliser and maybe wondered ‘what on earth does it mean and how does it affect my plants’? Organic fertilisers often contain more complex molecules hence break down gradually, releasing their nutrients slowly over a long period (from several weeks to many months). Soil rich in soil microorganisms are efficient at converting soil nutrients, so these nutrients can be accessed and used by plants. 
Water soluble fertilisers release nutrients much faster – these feed the plant not the soil and can be used as a tonic, but only after the soil has been enriched with other organic matter, otherwise you are just using the soil to hold the plant in place (like hydroponics).
How Do You Feed the Soil?
Try the following in your garden and see the great results!
  • Add animal manures (well decomposed to prevent root burn).
  • Add well-decomposed plant material in the form of compost; un-decomposed material needs nitrogen to decompose, if you apply it in a ‘raw’ state it will use the soil nitrogen to decompose. This robs the soil of plant available nitrogen. 
  • Don’t use mushroom compost too often (one initial application is fine) as it tends to be alkaline (same for chicken manure); this may radically change the soil pH especially if you add it on a regular basis.
  • Grow green manure crops such as legumes the help of soil microorganisms, convert unavailable nitrogen to available nitrogen and store it in root nodules attached to the legume’s root system (inhabited by the microorganisms). The nitrogen is released back into the soil when the tops are cut off, or it is dug into the soil. Green manure legumes can add enough nitrogen to your soil without needing the addition of topdressing with nitrogen fertilisers. 
Other good organic fertilisers that are readily available and easy to use in your garden include blood and bone, bagged pelletised manure, organic mulch such as pea straw  or even a compost tea. 



This course will have a range of skills which should set them up in many fields including:
  • General horticulture
  • Garden maintenance
  • Parks & gardens
  • Landscaping
  • Nursery & propagation  


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