Qualification - Certificate in Horticulture (Ornamental Horticulture)

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

Work in Amenity 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.

This Certificate in Horticulture involves the areas of work:

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.

Note: Course fee does not include exam fees (x 4).

Lesson Structure

There are 30 lessons in this course:

  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.
  16. Introduction To Landscaping
  17. Landscape Design Procedures
  18. Basic Landscape Construction
  19. Landscape Construction B
  20. Plants For Problem Areas
  21. Part 1: Indoor & Tropical Plants. Part 2:Flowers
  22. Herbs
  23. Different Growing Techniques
  24. Arboriculture
  25. Planning Garden Maintenance
  26. Turf Care
  27. Introduction To Nursery Management
  28. Nursery Stock Maintenance & Quality
  29. Running A Garden Centre: Display & Display Techniques
  30. Marketing & Management In Ornamental Horticulture

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.

What You Will Do

  • The following is just an incomplete list of things covered in this course:
  • 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.

How To Make Garden Bed

Garden beds can vary in terms of:
1. Size 
Garden designs may incorporate a few large beds, or a large number of smaller beds covering the same area. The most obvious advantages of larger beds are they have greater visual impact and they are better suited to growing taller, broader plants. Large beds, offer better opportunities for creating interesting planting schemes, using a range of plants grouped according to shape, height, texture and colour. 
Smaller beds however are cheaper to construct and plants are more easily accessed. With careful planning, several small beds achieve greater visual interest than one large bed. Small beds are particularly good for breaking up large expanses of paving or lawn.
2. Shape
The shape and style of the surrounding garden often dictates the shape of a garden bed. In informal gardens, create free-form shapes with gentle curved edges. Regular shapes such as circles, ovals and rectangles are better suited to formal gardens.
The width of the bed needs to be adequate for the types of plants grown; in general the bed should be at least as wide as the tallest shrub, so that the branches don’t spill over the edges.
3. Edges
Garden bed edges can be well defined (curved or straight), or less well defined, with plants spilling over the edge. 
Use a straight-edged spade to shape the edge and keep it neatly trimmed with an edger or lawn trimmer. Alternatively, rocks, bricks, pavers, timber, terracotta edging tiles or metal edging hoops can be used to separate the bed from the lawn.  
4. Topography
Beds can be flat, raised, mounded, stepped/terraced, sloping or depressed. If you change the shape of the ground to create the bed, you will change the drainage patterns. Raised beds will drain freely and the plants in these beds may need extra water. Sunken beds will obviously act as a reservoir and need to be designed carefully to avoid becoming waterlogged bog patches. 
Sloping ground does not catch water – create a ditch around the plants or build swales (small ditches) to stop the water running off the slope.
5. Soil
The soil quality (drainage, pH, fertility, water absorption, etc.) is paramount to the success of garden bed; it is always easier to improve soil before planting than afterwards.
How to prepare soil in a new garden bed:
  • For sandy soil, dig in well-matured organic matter, e.g. aged compost and manure.
  • For clay soil, add gypsum to break up the clods. Also dig in organic matter. 
  • For a raised bed, only import good loose loam (avoid clay soils) and add lots of organic matter.  
6. Surfacing/Mulch
Wherever possible, use organic mulches to cover the soil. They preserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth and enrich the soil as they break down. Use whatever is available in your area – wood chips, Lucerne hay, bagasse, manure etc.  
Pebbles and gravel are also suitable mulches for some garden beds (e.g. cacti gardens or some alpine plants).
7. Irrigation Systems
Hand-watering is time-consuming and inefficient – the plant roots rarely receive enough water for good strong growth. Sprinklers are better but they still take up a fair amount of time as they need to be moved around the garden, and they tend to waste water, especially on warm windy days when the plants need it most.
A permanent drip or trickle irrigation system is the best watering system for garden beds. A well-designed automated system saves time, uses water efficiently, and directs the water where it is needed. Soil and water-borne particles can block irrigation fittings, so they need to be checked regularly.




  • Gardeners
  • Parks and garden maintenance
  • Arboriculturists
  • Landscapers
  • Nursery workers




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