Course CodeBHT230
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Be a Conifer Expert

Grow conifers:
  • In a garden bed
  • As a shade tree
  • As a tub plant
  • As a bonsai

Learn to propagate them; learn about their many uses (for food, timber, medicinal uses etc). 

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review the system of plant identification, general characteristics of the conifer plant group, information contacts you can use (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs, etc).
  2. Culture
    • Planting, staking, mulching, watering, pest & disease, feeding, pruning, protection from wind, salt air, propagation, etc.
  3. Trees
    • Conifers that reach tree proportions, their characteristics and requirements, how to grow conifers by seed propagation and grafting techniques.
  4. Common Medium Size Shrubs
    • Many conifers fall into this height category. Some of the popular conifers are Chamaecyparis, Juniperus and Thuja. How to prune conifers.
  5. Small Shrubs
    • How to choose small and prostrate conifers and their care. How to care for seedlings up to planting out stage.
  6. Australian Native Conifers
    • Araucaria, Callitris, Podocarpus are three good conifers for use. The importance of environmental zones in Australia and how it can effect plant growth.
  7. Rarer Conifers
    • Hemlocks, Podocarpus, Larches and leaf characteristics of Cephalataxus.
  8. Using Conifers
    • As timber, oils, edible seed, Christmas trees, etc.
  9. Landscaping with Conifers
    • Developed in conjunction with the Rural Industries Industry Training Board in Queensland and accredited from 1995-2000 as an Advanced Diploma Module. Notes are continually upgraded to maintain relevance to current and future needs.


  • Distinguish between different types of conifers in cultivation, including twenty-five different genera and fifty different varieties.
  • Specify the general cultural requirements of different conifer genera.
  • Determine specific cultural requirements for some commonly cultivated conifer species.
  • Specify specific cultural requirements for some lesser grown conifers, including Australian native and uncommon species.
  • Determine different commercial applications for conifers in horticulture.
  • Prepare a planting design using conifers.


Conifers Indigenous to Australia

Australia isn't always thought of as home to conifers  but there are several indigenous species that are native to this region and of fascination to enthusiasts world-wide - this course does concentrate on conifers that are grown throughout the world. Here is a fascinating insight on what grows naturally in Australia:

Generally conifers are hardy once established, provided the soil remains moist (i.e. never bone dry and never waterlogged) and cool (in hot areas, mulching is vital). In humid areas such as sub-tropical Brisbane, fungal diseases can be a problem. To overcome this there needs to be plenty of air movement around the plants, so space them far enough apart so that they don’t grow into each other. Callitris and Araucaria are perhaps the two most commonly grown groups of native conifers. Other native conifers worth considering are:

Three species, all from south-west Western Australia, some from very dry climates. Though usually found on sandy soils, they all adapt well to a wide range of soils and climates. A. pyramidalis is the most commonly grown species. They can be propagated by seed and possibly cuttings.

Agathis robusta (Kauri)
A tall, well-formed tree growing to a height of 40 or 50m in its native Queensland - but smaller in cooler areas; there are many fine specimens in old gardens around Sydney and Melbourne. Due to its size, it is generally only suited to larger gardens.

The genus is found in South America, the Pacific Islands and Australia. The most commonly cultivated species is Araucaria heterophylla, the Norfolk Island Pine. The two native species are

A. cunninghamiana (Hoop Pine)

A. bidwillii (Bunya Pine).

Callitris spp.
Commonly known as the ‘Cypress Pine’, this genus comprises plants which are rather symmetrical, dense shrubs and trees. Seed is produced in small cones which are usually globular, oval or pyramid-like shapes with 6 to 8 woody scales. The bark is hard and furrowed in all but one species:

Callitris macleayana - which has a fibrous hard bark.

More commonly grown species are

C. preissii subsp. preissii,

C. collumellaris

C. rhomboidea.

Lagarostrobus franklinii (Huon Pine)
A very slow growing, but attractive tree which produces one of the finest timbers in the world. Suited to gardens in Tasmania and cooler parts of mainland Australia, perhaps better treated as a shrub, given that it can take a lifetime to being looking like a tree. Not commonly available, though it is worth hunting for if you want something special.


Who Will Benefit From This Course?

  • Enthusiasts
  • Those interested in forestry
  • Gardeners wanting to include conifers in their gardens
  • Nursery tradespeople working in this field



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