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Duration (approx) 700 hours
Qualification Certificate

Learn more about both herbs and horticulture with this specialist course. 

A 700 hour course for those who work, or wish to work in the herb industry with half of the course teaching general horticulture, and the other 50% focusing on growing, harvesting, using and marketing of herbs (and herb products). 

The Core Unit - Herb Culture - covers; Introduction to Plants (taxonomy, plant families, basic botany),  Plant Culture (planting, potting, plant selection, pruning, irrigation, tools and machinery), Soils and Nutrition (soil structure, chemistry, nutrition, potting media),  Plant Identification and Use (seed harvesting and storage, germination treatments, cuttings) and Pests, Diseases and Weeds (identification and treatments -chemical and non chemical).
You then choose two optional modules from Aromatherapy, Culinary Herbs, Medicinal Herbs, Lavender and Scented Plants. 

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Study Herb Culture as part of the certificate course, then choose modules in either aromatherapy, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, lavender and scented plants.
  • A flexible course to suit anyone interested in learning more about herb culture.
  • Learn to propagate, grow and produce horticultural herb products
  • Start your own herb farm or nursery business 
To do this you need to develop knowledge and skills in both generic horticulture, as well as growing, harvesting, using and marketing of herbs (and herb products).  This course covers both.
The first half of the course provides a foundation for the second half,  giving you a broad understanding of how to identify and grow any type of plant. This foundation is needed before narrowing your focus more specifically to herbs.
The first part of the course covers:
  • Introduction to Plants (taxonomy, plant families, basic botany),
  • Plant Culture (planting, potting, plant selection, pruning, irrigation, tools and machinery),
  • Soils and Nutrition (soil structure, chemistry, nutrition, potting media),
  • Plant Identification and Use (seed harvesting and storage, germination treatments, cuttings) and
  • Pests, Diseases and Weeds (identification and treatments -chemical and non chemical).


The course requires approximately 700 hours of study.
You can start the course at any time - to suit YOU.


The objective of the course is to: 
  • understand the binomial system of plant classification and to develop resource contacts for information about herbs. 
  • develop a broad perspective of the scope of herb species and varieties, their culture and uses, and an insight into which varieties are more commonly available. 
  • make a detailed study of the most commonly grown herb varieties. 
  • know how to make a wide range of herb crafts and cook a wide variety of herb flavoured foods. 
  • make an awareness of medicinal and toxic chemical properties of herbs (both in general and selected specific terms). 
  • develop an awareness of the work procedures involved in operating a herb farm and how to harvest and provide post harvest treatments to herb produce. 
  • develop knowledge of how to plan and manage a maintenance program in an ornamental garden or park. 
  • design and implement a marketing program for a business operating in the herb industry.
This Certificate in Horticulture involves two parts:
  • CORE STUDIES - involves at least 350 hours, divided into 15 lessons, approximately half of the course.  
  • STREAM (ELECTIVE) STUDIES - a further 350 hrs of study, specifically on herb identification, using herbs, herb farming and landscaping with herbs.

CORE STUDIES: Core studies cover the following:

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, maintenance in the garden and for 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 with the two easiest techniques, 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.


Stream Studies: Herbs

The stream studies are made up of three modules, as follows:

Herb Culture (outlined below)

PLUS any TWO of the following:

EXAMS There are two exams for the core and 3 for the stream (one for each stream module)

Exam fees are extra.

Exams can be taken at a time and location to suit you.  You can find more information on how the exams work here.

Herb Culture Module

This module is divided into 12 units, each containing one or more lesson.

Unit 1: Introduction To Herb Culture

  • Lesson I Introduction to herbs - classification of herbs; use of a botanical key
  • Lesson II Cultural techniques - planting, drainage, feeding, mulching, composting, pruning
  • Lesson III Propagation techniques - propagation mixes, growing structures, cuttings, seed, separation and division, layering
  • Lesson IV Identification of plant health problems – pests, disease, frost, heat, water stress

Unit 2: Using Herbs

  • Lesson I Processing and uses of herbs - medicinal, culinary, perfumes, dyes, oils, distillation
  • Lesson II Harvesting and storage – drying; freezing, fresh storage, when and how to harvest

Unit 3: The Mints (Lamiaceae)

  • Lesson I Mentha species - peppermint, spearmint, applemint, wintermint, pennyroyal, corsican, ginger mint etc.
  • Lesson II Lavender (Lavendula varieties) and thyme (Thymus).
  • Lesson III : Assorted Lamiaceae varieties: Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Rosemary, Bee Balm (Monarda), Basil, Savory, Marjoram, Sage.

Unit 4: The Daisies (Asteraceae)

  • Lesson I : Artemisia species...Southernwood, Wormwood, Tarragon, Mugwort.
  • Lesson II : Miscellaneous Asteraceae: Chamomile, Tansy, Safflower, Costmary, Yarrow, Calendula, Dandelion etc.

Unit 5: The Parsley Family (Apiaceae)

  • Lesson I : Parsley, Coriander, Dill, Caraway, Angelica, Cumin, Fennel, Lovage, Sweet Cicely

Unit 6: The Onion Group

  • Lesson I : Chives, Leek, Garlic chives, Tree onion, Welsh onion, etc.
  • Lesson II : Garlic

Unit 7: Other Herbs

  • Lesson I : Rosaceae (Rose, Burnet, Strawberry, blackberry, etc)
  • Lesson II : Miscellaneous: Lemon grass, Lemon verbena, Bay, Sorrel, Dock, Juniper, Horseradish, Evening Primrose, etc.
  • Lesson III : Scented Geraniums; Australian Natives, Eucalyptus and Others

Unit 8: Pests & Diseases

  • Lesson I : Companion Planting
  • Lesson II : Natural Pest Control: Herb sprays, biological control, etc.

Unit 9: Landscaping

  • Lesson I : Landscape Design Principles and Practices: How to draw a landscape plan
  • Lesson II : Home Gardening With Herbs; Cottage gardens, hedges & borders, tubs, baskets, kitchen gardens, herb lawns, herb indoor plants.
  • Lesson III : Public Landscaping: Historic herb grdens (Knot gardens etc), herbs for low maintenance & colour in parks..etc.

Unit 10: Herb Farming 1

  • Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Nursery: Open ground vs container growing, nursery layout, potting soils, pots and labels, marketing, etc.

Unit 11: Herb Farming 11

  • Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Farm: Soil Preparation and management (plastic mulch, organic mulches, cultivation), row cropping.

Unit 12: Herb Farming 111

  • Lesson 1 : Evaluating Herb enterprises, assessing market demand. Deciding how to proceed.

The Herb Industry is Thousands of Years Old

Historically the main/most important use of herbs was medicinal.  The use of herbs in this way stretches back to prehistoric times.  Just how much of a scientific basis existed to early herbal knowledge is open to question.  Early man undoubtedly learned about using herbs through trial and error over along period of time, gradually establishing traditional uses (medicinal and other) for herbs.

Over 5000 years ago Sumerian civilisation described medicinal uses for plants such as laurel, caraway and thyme.  The first known Chinese herb book dated to 2700 BC and lists 365 medicinal plants.  The Egyptians are known to have used garlic, opium, castor oil, coriander, mint, indigo and other plants for medicines and dyes around 1000BC.  Hippocrates and other ancient Greeks ignored much of the tradition and superstition which had surrounded herbs up until their time, and began to look at herbs (from a medicinal viewpoint) in a scientific manner.  Herb books from ancient Greece became established references down through the centuries and were in common use right up until the beginnings of modern medicine.

Modern science has not been kind to the knowledge built up over thousands of years about herbs.  Natural remedies were replaced by synthetic drugs, natural flavourings have been replaced by synthetic food additives, plant dyes by chemical colourings and on it goes.

Today there seems to be some trend towards a more balanced approach to considering the values of this knowledge of the past.  A revival of interest in herbs has in some areas perhaps been rightly considered to be fanatical; but no more fanatical than the interest in modern science which disregarded the good uses of herbs over the last couple of centuries.







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Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
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

Capsicums and ChillisCultivars, growing at home or commercially, how to use them, recipes for different cultures, lots of photos.
Scented PlantsScented plants can be either a delight or a curse. For many people, there is nothing more pleasing than a garden filled with fragrance, but for others who suffer allergies, certain plants can make them physically ill; sometimes very seriously.
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.
HerbsLearn to identify and grow dozens of commonly grown herbs. Explore how to use them. Herbs have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more.