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Learn how to start in the Nursery Business with the ACS Home Study Nursery Growers Course.

An introductory course to work in the nursery business.

  • Learn to propagate plants and start a small nursery operation.
  • Improve your knowledge of plants.
  • Improve your job prospects.







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Learn how to Make a Start in the Nursery Business.

This is an introductory course which shows the beginner how to get started in the nursery business.



  • Learn how to propagate plants.
  • Decide what to propagate.
  • Learn how to start a small inexpensive operation.
  • Learn how to go about selling what you grow.
  • Part of each lesson is devoted to the important area of building up your knowledge of plants.

Through six lessons you will learn how many established nurseries have started out slowly as a small part time operation, and how you can follow the same path. (If you intend studying propagation and wholesale nursery management, this course is not necessary).


The course is divided into six lessons as follows:

1. Plant Identification and Culture.  How plants are named, scientific and common names, watering, weed control, when and how to use a glasshouse/shadehouse.

2. Plant Propagation.  Overview of propagation techniques, propagating mixes, pots, hormones, propagating structures and aids.

3. Soils and Nutrition. Soil structure, soil additives, major nutrients, minor nutrients, nutrient deficiencies, salt toxicity, soil mixes, fertilisers.

4. Seed Propagation and Nursery Business.  Handling seed, pre-germination treatments, handling seedlings, propagating selected species.

5. Cutting Propagation.  Stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, leaf bud cuttings, propagating selected species by cuttings.

6. Pest and Disease.  Identifying a problem, insects, fungal diseases, nursery hygiene

At the completion of this course you should be able to:

  • Understand plant identification and culture.
  • Describe a range of growing structures including a greenhouse, glasshouse and shade house.
  • Understand the differences between sexual and asexual plant propagation.
  • Have and understanding of basic nursery management principles.
  • Understand the uses of a range of different materials used in plant propagation.
  • Explain the main components of common potting mixes and how they contribute to the final product.
  • Describe seed sources and how to store a range of different seeds for maximum viability.
  • Explain how to overcome dormancy in seeds.
  • Understand a range of cutting techniques including hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings, semi hardwood cuttings, tip cuttings, heel cuttings, nodal cuttings, can cuttings and basal cuttings.


  • Develop a budget for a hypothetical nursery operation
  • Name a soil based on criteria given in the course
  • Create a potting mix using a given recipe
  • Assess a number of plants for growing profitability
  • Prepare a pot of cuttings and estimate the cost of production for each cutting produced
  • Prepare a range of different types of cuttings
  • Find two plants with insect damage and determine the problem and possible remedies.
  • Collect information on various chemicals used in the nursery industry.
  • Assess plant ill health caused by agents other than insects. 

Starting A Nursery -The Possibilities
In the past, nurseries were involved in almost all aspects of the production and culture of plants. They grew a wide variety of plants, and they sold them both wholesale and retail, as well as supplying a wide range of allied products and services. Today all but the largest nurseries tend to specialise. Many nurseries still begin (and often remain) as relatively small family businesses.

  • Is there a market in my community for this kind of business? Will people buy my product or service, and are there enough buyers to sustain this business in this area?
  • How much money would it take to start the nursery? Will I be able to borrow that much money? How much will it cost me in the long run?
  • How many hours a week is it likely to take to run the nursery? Am I willing to commit that much time?
  • What are the particular risks associated with this nursery? What is the rate of business failure? Why have similar businesses failed, and how can I overcome these risks?
  • Does my background prepare me to run this kind of nursery? Do most people who own this kind of nursery have more or different experience or knowledge than I do? What do I need to learn, and am I willing or able to learn it quickly?
  • How much money could I make running this business? What is my lowest likely net profit? Is this sufficient to meet my needs, and when can I expect to make this?

Launching a new business, introducing a product or service, and buying advertising are so expensive that misjudgements can mean disaster for an entrepreneur. Market research can avoid costly errors by telling you what people want to buy, and how they want it presented to them.

Regardless of how great you think your product/service is, it is virtually impossible to sell any product or service that people do not want. On the other hand, it is very easy to sell people what they do want. That is the whole point of market research: to find out what people want so you can provide it for them. To be successful, a business owner must know the business’s market; who are its customers and potential customers; and how they perceive the business’s products and services.

The first step is to know the industry; the next step is to find a viable market; and only after you have done these things, will you be ready to start a nursery.

The Benefits of Studying This Course
This course is suited to those who may have some industry knowledge or horticulture skills and are looking to grow plants. You may just want to add some skills to improve your employment prospects or you may want to brush up on an area where you feel you are lacking knowledge. This course will do this for you.

Those interested in this course are likely to be working in the following areas:

  • Nursery and propagation
  • Market gardening
  • Crop production
  • Hydroponics
  • General horticulture

Enrolling is easy - just go to the box at the top right-hand side of this page.

If you have any questions, or need help in choosing the right course for you please do get in touch with us - connect with our expert tutors, use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.

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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

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Meet some of our academics

Dr Lynette Morgan (Horticulture)Lyn worked with Rivendell Mushroom Farm between 1986 and 88; and then as a research assistant and technician for a few years while undertaking university studies. In 1991 she graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Horticultural Science (Hons) which covered broad horticultural sciences, as well as nursery vegetable and fruit production. Throughout the 90's she worked in both the nursery industry and horticultural crop production, before establishing her own business "Suntec" which has built an exceptional international reputation providing consulting services; particularly in hydroponic crop production. Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

Plant LanguageAn essential companion for any horticulture enthusiast, professional or student, this ebook will help you pronounce and understand plant names.
Starting a Garden or Landscape BusinessExpert advice on how to get started in your own garden or landscape business! Packed with valuable business advice, horticultural and landscaping knowledge, and practical ideas - this book is a must have for garden lovers. It is great for anyone thinking about (or already involved in), a horticultural, landscaping or garden business. This updated re-print is only available as an ebook.
Getting Work in HorticultureExplore what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse this industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
OrchidsA colourful guide for students, home gardeners and orchid enthusiasts. The first part deals with growing orchids, and the second covers dozens of orchid genera, and hundreds of cultivars. Explore orchids as cut flowers, container plants, indoor plants and outdoor garden plants, in both tropical and temperate climates, across the world.