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Duration (approx) 150 hours
Qualification Certificate

Study this Foundation Certificate in Horticulture from Home by Distance Learning.

  • Develop your knowledge of horticulture.
  • Understand essential horticulture principles and practical skills, such as plant propagation, growth and care.
  • Highly respected tutors in the field of horticulture.
  • Study at your own time at your pace.




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Study with this specialist horticultural course focusing on essential horticulture princples and practices.

This vocationally-oriented course comprises core studies in general horticulture plus specialised elective studies.

The course is designed to lay a foundation for a long-term career in horticulture by developing the ability to identify a large range of plants, knowledge of essential horticultural principles and practices and practical skills in plant propagation, growth and care.

  • A valuable vocational course offering a strong foundation in plant science, plant identification and horticultural practices.

There are ten lessons in this course: 

1. The Plant Kingdom (part a)
  • The classification and taxonomic hierarchy of seed-bearing plants
  • The use of botanical keys to identify plants
  • Stages of plant growth and life cycles
  • The structure and function of plant cells and tissues
  • The processes of meiosis and mitosis
  • The differences in the external and internal structure of monocotyledons and dicotyledons.

2. The Plant Kingdom (part b)

  • The identification and function of the external vegetative parts of higher plants: roots, leaves, stems and buds
  • The identification and function of flowers
  • The identification and function of fruits and seed.
3. The Plant Kingdom (part c)
  • The importance of photosynthesis and respiration
  • Transpiration and translocation of water throughout the plant
  • Pollination and fertilisation
  • Seed formation and germination
  • Growth regulation including phototropism and photoperiodism.
4. Plant Propagation
  • How to differentiate between plants produced by seed (sexual) and plants produced by vegetative propagation methods (asexual)
  • Seed propagation
  • Cutting propagation
  • Propagation aftercare
  • Layering
  • Propagation tools 
  • Grafting
  • Propagating plants in a greenhouse
5. Outdoor Food Production
  • Growing outdoor food crops
  • Timing crops
  • Making gardens more productive
  • Sustainable land management
  • Composting
  • Companion planting
  • Vegetable crowing
  • Fruit crops
  • Pests and diseases of crops
  • Windbreaks
  • Crop harvesting
6. Garden Planning
  • Collecting pre-planning information
  • Preparing landscape plans
  • The principles, elements and procedures of landscape design
  • Creating landscape effects
  • Using hard and soft landscaping materials.
7. The Root Environment and Plant Nutrition
  • The physical properties of soil
  • Techniques for improving soil
  • The importance of organic matter in the soil
  • Soil water
  • Watering systems
  • Drainage systems
  • Soil pH
  • Carbon and nitrogen cycles
  • Soil nutrients and their effect on plant growth
  • Fertilisers
  • Properties of growing media
8. Protected Cultivation
  • Greenhouse types and shade houses
  • Environmental controls in protected environments
  • Irrigation and nutrition control
  • Containers and growing media in protected environments
  • Care and display of indoor plants
  • Production of selected crops in protected cultivation (tomato, lettuce, begonia, rose).
9. Horticultural Plant Selection, Establishment and Maintenance
  • The selection of plants for different purposes
  • Guidelines for selecting plants
  • Environmental factors affecting plant selection
  • Selecting particular plants (which ones to buy)
  • Planting techniques
  • Selection, establishment and maintenance of turf, annuals, herbaceous plants, shrubs, trees, hedging plants and climbing plants
  • Pruning in the home garden
  • Mulching

10. Horticultural Plant Health Problems

  • Plant problems and their identification
  • Pests
  • Diseases
  • Environmental problems
  • Chemicals and their use
  • Non-chemical controls
  • Weed problems and their identification control

Most students should budget on spending 150 hours or more doing this course if they hope to be successful.


  • Demonstrate a broad range of horticultural knowledge; communicate clearly and coherently in writing on horticultural matters; and relate horticultural science to its practical application.
  • Understand the classification of higher plants and appreciate the internal structure of higher plants.
  • Understand the external structure of higher plants
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand the fundamental physiological processes within the plant including photosynthesis, respiration, water movement, pollination, fertilisation, seed formation and germination.
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand basic cultural operations and production methods necessary to obtain outdoor food crops.
  • Understand basic surveying and design principles and apply them to basic garden design and planning requirements.
  • Develop an understanding of the constituents, properties and management of soils and growing media.
  • Develop an understanding of environmental control and plant cultivation in greenhouses and other protected environments.
  • Develop an understanding of plant selection, establishment and maintenance of a range of ornamental plants.
  • Develop an understanding of pest, diseases and weeds that affect horticultural plants, and the cultural, biological, chemical and integrated systems used to control those problems.


Where Can this Course Lead?

This course is deigned as a broad foundation, and can lead you anywhere you want to go, or wherever you find opportunities arise in horticulture:

  • In itself, it is sufficient to start a small business or start seeking employment in gardening businesses, plant nurseries, on farms, in parks or anywhere else in the realm of horticulture.
  • Some students may use this as a fist step toward higher studies
  • Use this to expand and compliment experience or qualifications you already have. eg. People with qualifications in science or management may already have valuable knowledge for working in horticulture; but without the "pure" horticultural learning that comes from this type of course; you may struggle to relate that knowledge to horticulture -or struggle to convince clients or employers of your usefulness.


Student Comment:  "I have found the course material to be comprehensive and informative and have learnt a lot and really enjoyed my year of study. The office staff at ACS have always been helpful and efficient and quick to respond to requests or queries. My tutor, Adriana, was encouraging and supportive, as well as being really thorough in the way she marked my assignments. I had not studied for 20 years before I started my ...Certificate... and the feedback and reassurance I received from my tutor made all the difference." Katherine Parry, Australia

If you have any questions, our horticulture tutors are here to help you - please get in touch with them by using our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.

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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Marie Beerman B.Sc.,M.Hort.Marie has been involved in horticulture since 2003. She completed a Masters degree in Horticulture at Hannover University in Germany in 2007, and has worked with ACS since 2011 She has co-authored of several ebooks including one on Roses and has a very sound knowledge and experience with horticultural science and research ranging from plant taxonomy and plant breeding to pest, disease and soil management.,
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

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.
Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmIt's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. To work efficiently and profitably, a nursery or herb farm must be both well organised and properly managed. As with any business, it is essential to be confident enough to make firm decisions as and when needed. This e-book is your ticket to a fragrant future.
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.
What to Plant WhereA great guide for choosing the right plant for a particular position in the garden. Thirteen chapters cover: plant selection, establishment, problems, and plants for wet areas. Shade, hedges and screens, dry gardens, coastal areas, small gardens, trees and shrubs, lawns and garden art.