Qualification - Certificate In Horticulture (Cut Flowers)

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

Study, Learn and Work in Cut Flower Production 

This course lays a very solid foundation for a career in the Cut Flower Industry; as either a grower, farm manager or in a service business supplying materials, equipment or contract services to cut flower farms.


The Core Units comprise fifteen modules that are divided into the following sections:

  • Introduction to Plants
  • Plant Culture
  • Soils and Nutrition
  • Plant Identification and Use
  • Pests, Diseases and Weeds

Students must complete and pass all of these core units.

1. Introduction to plants (40 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to explain the binomial system of plant classification and demonstrate identification of plant species through the ability of using botanical descriptions for leaf shapes and flowers.


  • Describe the relevant identifying physical features of flowering ornamental plants.
  • Demonstrate how to use prescribed reference books and other resources to gain relevant information.
  • Dissect, draw and label two different flowers.
  • Collect and identify the shapes of different leaves.
  • Demonstrate how to identify between family, genus, species, variety and cultivar.

2. Plant culture (60 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to demonstrate the ability to care for plants so as to maintain optimum growth and health while considering pruning, planting, and irrigation.


  • Describe how to prune different plants.
  • Demonstrate how to cut wood correctly, on the correct angle and section of the stem.
  • Describe how to plant a plant.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of different irrigation equipment, sprinklers, pumps and turf systems available by listing their comparative advantages and disadvantages.
  • Demonstrate competence in selecting an appropriate irrigation system for a garden, explaining why that system would be preferred.
  • Define water pressure and flow rate and how to calculate each.
  • Explain the need for regular maintenance of garden tools and equipment.
  • List factors that should be considered when comparing types of machinery for use in garden maintenance.

3. Soils and plant nutrition (50 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to identify, work with, and improve the soil condition and potting mixes, and to evaluate fertilisers for use in landscape jobs to maximize plant growth.


  • Describe the soil types commonly found in plant culture in terms of texture, structure and water-holding and nutrient holding capacity.
  • Describe methods of improving soil structure, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, drainage and aeration.
  • List the elements essential for plant growth.
  • Diagnose the major nutrient deficiencies that occur in ornamental plants and prescribe treatment practices.
  • Describe soil pH and its importance in plant nutrition.
  • Describe the process by which salting occurs and how to minimise its effect.
  • Conduct simple inexpensive tests on three different potting mixes and report accordingly.
  • Describe suitable soil mixes for container growing of five different types of plants.
  • List a range of both natural and artificial fertilizers.
  • Describe fertilizer programs to be used in five different situations with ornamental plants.

4. Introductory propagation (40 hours duration)
The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's understanding of propagation techniques with particular emphasis on cuttings and seeds. Other industry techniques such as grafting and budding are also explained.


  • Demonstrate propagation of six (6) different plants by cuttings and three from seed.
  • Construct a simple inexpensive cold frame.
  • Mix and use a propagation media suited to propagating both seed and cuttings.
  • Describe the method and time of year used to propagate different plant varieties.
  • Describe and demonstrate the steps in preparing and executing a variety of grafts and one budding technique.
  • Explain the reasons why budding or grafting are sometimes preferred propagation methods.

5. Identification and use of plants (60 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's range of plant knowledge and the plant use in landscaping and the ornamental garden, and the appreciation of the different optimum and preferred growing conditions for different plants.


  • Select plants appropriate for growing in different climates.
  • Select plants appropriate to use for shade, windbreaks, as a feature, and for various aesthetic effects.
  • Categorise priorities which effect selection of plants for an ornamental garden.
  • Explain the differences in the way plants perform in different microclimates within the same area.
  • List and analyze the situations where plants are used.

6. Pests, diseases and weeds (50 hours)
The purpose of this study area is develop the student’s ability to identify, describe and control a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in ornamental situation, and to describe safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals.


  • Explain in general terms the principles of pest, disease and weed control and the ecological (biological) approach to such control.
  • Explain the host pathogen environment concept.
  • Describe a variety of pesticides for control of pests, diseases and weeds of ornamental plants in terms of their active constituents, application methods, timing and rates, and safety procedures.
  • Photograph or prepare specimens, identify and recommend control practices for at least five insect pests of ornamental plants.
  • Photograph, sketch or prepare samples, identify and recommend control practices for three non insect ornamental plant health problems (e.g. fungal, viral, bacterial).
  • Describe the major ways in which diseases (fungal, viral, bacterial and nematode) affect turf, the life cycle features that cause them to become a serious problem to turf culture and the methods available for their control.
  • Identify, describe and recommend treatment for three different weed problems.
  • Collect, press, mount and identify a collection of ten different weeds, and recommend chemical and non-chemical treatments which may be used to control each.
  • List and compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of different weed control methods


Option 1

Our old 15 lesson course is divided into the following:

1. Cut Flowers (Introduction) 2. Culture
3. Hydroponic Production Systems 4. Flow Charts
5. Bulbs 6. Perennials
7. Cropping Bulbs & Perennials 8. Woody Flower Crops
9. Rose & Orchid Production 10. Foliage Production
11. Diagnosis of Pests & Diseases 12. Control (Pests & Diseases)
13. Weed Control 14. Harvest & Post-harvest
15. Marketing Procedures For Cut Flowers


Option 2.

You can negotiate to select three appropriate modules from those offered, such as: Cut Flower Production, Growing Carnations and Cut Flower Bulbs

Fees do not include exam fees.


What Opportunities Exist For Cut Flower Growing?

In order for a producer to be successful they need to address several issues:

  • What is the market demand? ie. what will the producer grow, does it have an established market or is this a new product?
  • How will it be presented? ie. as bunched flowers, individual stems or as bouquets?

When a grower decides to produce a certain product the decision is influenced firstly by the constraints of the production area and secondly by the market research conducted before production commences. Potential crops are not just limited to cut flowers but may also include dried flowers, native flowers, cut foliage and fillers for bouquets. Most growers increase their chance to make a profit by growing more then one variety throughout the growing season by choosing species that extend the harvest period. Successful growers will understand the limitations of the growing area through soil analysis, climate, aspect, drainage and irrigation and also the specific requirements of the varieties they choose to grow ie. soil pH, fertiliser etc.

Where is my market? 

Producers close to their markets have a competitive edge for example - The Netherlands and Germany. Smaller growers may decide to supply the domestic market only or may find a niche market for exports of specialty products ie. native flowers. Flowers can be sold through wholesalers at markets to small local outlets, or at the farm gate. The small beginner may find it easier to start with local retail outlets, the local farmer’s market and farm gate sales and even the internet, and then gradually branch out to larger distributors as production increases. Wholesalers usually require specific grading, packaging and a consistent quality, although prices will be lower then through direct sales wholesalers will handle large quantities for the grower.

Exporters have specific problems they need to overcome in order to satisfy potential export markets. Quality is probably the most important element, an efficient transport system is vital in retaining product quality as is the production system used and the harvest techniques including handling and post harvest handling.
What Do You Need to Learn about Growing Flowers?
There are potentially thousands of different types of cut flowers that can be grown. Success in this business is as much as anything, dependant upon what you choose to grow, when you grow it, how you grow it and where you market it. To properly match your choice of plant with the potential market, requires a very high level of plant knowledge. Consider the following. This is just one type of plant. Consider what you might need to understand about this plant; and then consider what it can take to learn just as much about hundreds of other types of plants.  This course builds that type of knowledge; and does so within the context of growing cut flowers.


Family: Amaryllidaceae

Origin: There are more than 30 species in this genus which come from South Africa.

Appearance: They have linear to strap-shaped mid-green leaves which normally follow the flowers. The striking flowers are borne in loose terminal umbels on leafless stems from late summer through to late autumn. Each flower has 6 thin petals which are often twisted. Flowers may be white to pink and red.   

Culture: They are half hardy. They do well in most free-draining soils in full sun. Apply a thick layer of organic mulch over the bulbs for winter. Apply weekly liquid feed during the growing season for those grown in greenhouse containers, and re-pot every few years.  

Propagation: Offsets may be lifted and replanted when they have separated from the parent plant. Some species may be divided every 4-5 years when they become overcrowded. Alternatively, plant seeds when ripe.

Health: They are sometimes prone to a virus disease which can cause chlorosis of the leaves. They are also sometimes attacked by mealy bugs, particularly when grown in greenhouses.

Uses: With the exception of N. bowdenii, they are best grown as greenhouse plants in cold temperate regions. In warm temperate, tropical and subtropical areas they may be grown as container plants, border plants, or in rockeries or xeriscapes.  


N. bowdenii - to 30-60cm tall. The hardiest species which will usually survive through cool temperate winters. The umbels bear up to 8 pink flowers each to 10-15cm wide.

N. humilis (syn. N. flexuosa) - to 60cm tall. A tender species. The umbels bear up to 12 pink flowers each to 10-15cm wide. N. f. 'Alba' is a white variety.



  • People working or wishing to work in the area of cut flower production.
  • Those that want flexibility from their qualification - you learn fundamentals applicable to all sectors of horticulture






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