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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Become a Perennial Plants Expert!

Study perennials and learn more about culture, propagation and much more.

"This course will give you the opportunity to become an expert in this field. Perennials are gaining popularity - many are dry garden tolerant and as a result many people are showing an interest in growing and learning about such a diverse range of plant species. A great fully rounded course covering diverse aspects of plant growing."
Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.

Practical and Versatile Perennials!

Perennials come in all forms, from herbaceous plants that die down in the winter and re-emerge in spring (year after year), to plants that retain their soft-stemmed leafy growth year round. Although beautiful, many perennials are also tough and very much adapted to a variety of climates - ranging from very dry to wet. Some have colourful foliage as well as beautiful flowers, others add architectural interest - but all add excitement and diversity to the landscape or garden as they burst into flower each year. Discover what perennials are, which perennial plants are most popular today, their cultural requirements (ie. feeding, watering, soil requirements, pruning, pest control), and learn how to use them to create beautiful landscapes. A course equally valuable to landscapers, nurserymen, cut flower growers and garden enthusiasts.



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Learn to identify and grow a wide variety of perennials. 

This is a course for amateurs and professionals; plant collectors and breeders, nurserymen, botanists, landscapers, gardeners and horticulturists.  Increase your knowledge of perennials in the comfort of your own home, supported by our highly experienced horticulture  tutors. 


The course requires 100 hours of study.
Start Date
Start  at any time to suit you.


There are eight lessons in the course -

1. Introduction

  • Review of the system of plant identification
  • Physiology
  • Information sources

2. Culture

  • Planting
  • Staking
  • Mulching
  • Watering
  • Feeding
  • Pruning, etc.

3. Propagation and Hybridization

  • Seed
  • Pricking out seedlings
  • Cuttings
  • Factors affecting cutting strike
  • Propagating media
  • Types of cuttings
  • Hardening off young plants
  • Division
  • Separation
  • Layering
  • Potting mixes
  • Potting up

4. Review of Major Types of Perennials

  • Herbaceous perennials
  • Establishing herbaceous plants
  • Popular bulbs, corms and tubers
  • Supporting herbaceous plants
  • Herbs in a perennial border
  • Wildflower meadows
  • Maintaining herbaceous borders
  • Perennials for different purposes/uses
  • Artemisia
  • Lavandula
  • Scented Geraniums
  • Ornamental; grasses
  • Bamboos

5. Pests and Disease

  • Plant pathology
  • Parasitic and non parasitic problems
  • Conducting an inspection and identifying problems
  • Tell tale symptoms
  • Common terminology
  • Common pests on perennials and their management
  • Diseases

6. Water Management

  • Significance of water
  • Infiltration and water retention
  • Water needs for perennials
  • Watering methods
  • When to water
  • Testing water needs
  • Reducing water needs
  • Watering perennials in pots
  • Drip irrigation
  • Hydroponics Introduction
  • Types of hydroponic systems

7. Landscaping with Perennials

  • Designing the garden
  • Landscape principles and components
  • Landscape effects
  • Design styles
  • Flower bed design
  • Colour themes
  • Cottage gardens
  • What perennials to grow in cottage gardens
  • Scented plants
  • Landscaping with bulbs

8. Further Uses for Perennials

  • Cut Flowers
  • What flowers the longest
  • Harvest and storage
  • Growing Carnations
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Herbs
  • Herb crafts

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.



  • Describe the identification of Perennial Plants
  • Determine sources of further information for identifying and growing different varieties of perennials.
  • Discuss a variety of cultural techniques used to improve success in growing of different perennial plants
  • Determine the propagation of different perennial plants.
  • Discuss the horticulture of a range of commonly grown perennial genera.
  • Discuss the management of pests and diseases occurring on a range of perennial plants.
  • Manage irrigation and drainage to ensure optimum water levels are maintained for healthy growth in perennials.
  • Determine appropriate use of perennials in a range of horticultural situations.
  • Describe a variety of uses for perennials.

What is a Perennial?   

Perennials cover a wide range of plants including both ornamental and useful plants. There are perennial plants for all situations.

Botanists may call perennials any plants that live for several years (ie. anything that is not an annual or a biennial). Gardeners and horticulturists however, generally refer to perennials as plants which have softer tissue (ie. are not woody), as well as living for several years.

The term biennial is also sometimes used, referring to a plant that lives for and completes its life cycle in 2 years. A perennial may therefore be distinguished from annuals and biennials as having a longer lifespan than those two types of plants.

Horticulturists and gardeners commonly think of two types of perennials:

  • herbaceous perennials
  • evergreen perennials

Herbaceous perennials die back for during part of the year. Commonly, the whole of the top of the plant may die back, leaving a crown or swelling at ground level, and the roots below. Some however may only loose part of the top growth.

Evergreen perennials maintain leaves (at least some) throughout all seasons.


Herbaceous Perennials

Herbaceous is a general term to describe those plants that do not have woody growth. Some herbaceous plants retain their foliage all year and many others have a period of dormancy. These plants often store food in a part of the plant below the ground. They include bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes. These types of plants provide some of our most spectacular flowering displays. Some are also very fragrant.

Herbaceous plants can be used to create a number of different landscaping effects:

  • planted in single varieties in massed beds for a formal appearance
  • interspersed with other plants in the garden bed in clumps or drifts for an informal effect
  • planted under deciduous trees in random groups to create a naturalised 'wild' garden effect

When selecting herbaceous plants, consider how they will look all year round. For many months, they will be dormant and unseen. They also need to be left to die back after flowering, when they can often look unattractive. To be grown at their best, herbaceous plants require careful maintenance.


Establishing Herbaceous Plants

Often herbaceous plants (such as those grown from bulbs, corms and tubers) do not need heavy feeding when first planted as they will initially utilise their stored food supply Because they are mostly grown for flowers, they generally need larger amounts of potash than other nutrients. They usually also have a dormant period and can be susceptible to rotting if left in a moist situation during dormancy (ie. their metabolism is slow in dormancy this means their defence mechanisms are lower). Most herbaceous plants prefer a rich, organic, well drained loam. They thrive on soil that has been prepared with rotted manure or compost prior to planting. Sunny but cool positions are excellent. They can often burn if there is too much heat or wind.







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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

John Mason (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Nurseryman, Landscaper, Garden Writer, Parks Manager and Consultant. Over 45 years experience; working in Australia and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 100 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
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

Growing and Using Perennial PlantsWhen designed and grown well, a perennial garden produces a blaze of colour for many months – starting in spring, flourishing through summer, and beyond into autumn.
Growing & Knowing LavenderThe Growing and Knowing Lavender ebook is full (117 pages) of wonderful information, stunning pictures and great facts on lavenders. The ebook covers ideal growing conditions, propagation and a guide to the different Lavender species and cultivars.
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.
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.