Horticulture I

Course CodeBHT101
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Start At The Beginning - Learn the Basics of Horticulture

This course starts with the basics - to truly understand plants and the garden environment that is exactly where you need to start. This course is entry level yet comprehensive. Learn lots!

It has also been written to teach horticulture in a way that will be relevant to all parts of the world. It puts aside regional techniques, and tries to teach you principles and concepts that can be applied to anywhere. Keep this in mind as you study. Try to see the principles. You are not just studying facts.

NOTE: The traditional (printed notes) version of this course varies slightly to the online and e learning version. It only has 12 lessons, but throughout those lessons, you are given extra work related to plant knowledge. The learning overall though, is basically the same, no matter which version you undertake.


Lesson Structure

There are 13 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant Identification
    • Naming plants
    • Distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid
    • Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons
    • Characteristics of Botanical Families
    • Structure and Arrangement of leaves and leaflets
    • Leaf terminology
    • Leaf Arrangements
    • Flower Structure and identifying the different parts of a flower
    • How seeds form
    • Plant Reviews
    • Collecting and Pressing Plants for Herbaria
  2. Planting
    • Garden terminology
    • Common garden problems
    • Basic Planting Procedure
    • Fertilising and Staking when planting
    • Dealing with BaZre Rooted Plants
    • Time of Planting
    • Deciding where to plant
    • Mulching
    • Making Garden Beds
    • Raised Beds
    • Sunken Beds
    • Planting Terminology
  3. Recognising Plant Families and Identifying Plants
    • Becoming familiar with plant families
    • Botanical Latin
    • Systematic Examination of Plants -dicot or monocot, type of wood, etc
    • Characteristics of important families including: Amaryllidaceae, Araceae, Asteraceae, Ericaceae, Lamiaceae, Fabaceae.
    • Getting to Know More Common Families
    • Other Ways to Identify Plants
    • Plants for Shade
    • Plants for Exposed Conditions
    • Plants for Inner City Gardens
  4. Soils
    • Purpose of Soil
    • Soil Structure: Classifying soils
    • Soil water and air
    • Soil temperature
    • Soil pH
    • Nutrient Availability
    • Naming a Soil
    • Improving Soils
    • Composting
    • Natural Plant Foods
    • Sampling and testing soils
    • Potting soil mixes
    • Soil Terminology
  5. Plant Nutrition
    • The Nutrient Elements
    • Major Elements
    • Minor Elements
    • Diagnosis of Nutrient Problems
    • Fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium
    • How much fertilizer to apply
    • Terminology
  6. Water Management
    • Introduction to Irrigation
    • Feasibility of Irrigation
    • Soil and Water
    • When to Irrigate
    • Water Deficiency Symptoms
    • Types of Soil Moisture; gravitational, capillary, hygroscopic
    • Measuring Water Available to Plants
    • Rooting depths of plants
    • Estimating Water Requirements
    • Pumps, Sprinklers and other equipment
    • Understanding Hydraulics
    • Conventional Sprinkler Systems; portable, permenant, semi permenant
    • Cyclic Watering
    • Pulse Watering
    • Irrigation scheduling
    • Sprinkler spacing
    • Improving Soils for Water Management
    • Drainage
    • Erosion Management
    • Soil compaction
    • Acidification
  7. Garden Maintenance and Weeds
    • Cost of Garden Maintenance
    • Machinery
    • Comparing more and less costly areas of the garden.
    • Common Weeds and their Identification
    • Weed Control Methods -Chemical and non chemical
    • Plants that become Invasive
    • Environmental Weeds
  8. Pests and Diseases
    • Pest and Disease overview
    • Preventative measures for managing pest and disease
    • Review of major pest problems and control options: Aphis, Borers, Caterpillar, Leaf Miner, Mealy Bug, Red Spider, Scale, etc
    • Review of major Diseases and their control: Anthracnose, Black Leg, Rots, Botrytis, Damping off, Die back, Mildew, Rust etc.
    • Diagnosis of Problems
    • Introduction to Plant Pathology and Entomology
    • Chemical pesticides and basic toxicology
    • Integrated Pest Management
  9. Pruning
    • Reasons for Pruning
    • Identifying bud types
    • Basic rules of pruning
    • Pruning in a home orchard
    • Terminology
    • Winter PruningPruning tools
    • Examples of Winter Pruning; Crepe Myrtle, Hydrangea, Raspberry, Fuchsia, Kiwi Fruit, Grevillea, etc
    • Rose Pruning
  10. Landscaping
    • Introduction and Pre Planning Information
    • Plant Selection Criteria
    • Covering the Ground
    • Living Plant Cover
    • Mulches
    • Container Growing Outside
    • General Considerations
    • Terminology
  11. Propagation
    • Methods of Propagation: Seed Propagation and Vegetative Propagation
    • Propagation Structures: Cold Frames
    • Cutting Propagation
    • Factors affecting rooting of cuttings
  12. Lawns
    • Turf grass varieties
    • Review of common turf species
    • Laying a new lawn
    • Common turf problems
    • Cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.
  13. Arboriculture
    • What is Arboriculture
    • How to keep trees healthy
    • Where and how to cut trees to remove branches or prune
    • Why remove a tree
    • Ways to fell a tree
    • Removing a stump
    • Tree surgery; terms and techniques

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.


  • Distinguish between different plants, to enable identification of the plant species.
  • Explain appropriate procedures for establishing a range of plants in different conditions.
  • Describe the characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the characteristics of plant nutrition necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Determine appropriate water management procedures for healthy plant growth.
  • Understand appropriate procedures for pruning plants on a horticultural site.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common weeds.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common pests and diseases.
  • Prepare a concept plan for the development of a garden.
  • Understand commonly used plant propagation techniques.
  • Develop guidelines for general lawn care.
  • Develop guidelines for general tree care in a horticultural situation.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between plants in order to identify at least 120 plants on plant review sheets.
  • Plant out a container plant following a recommended procedure.
  • Sample and carry out simple tests on different soils.
  • Identify a range of nutrient problems in plants.
  • Identify a range of pest and disease problems in plants.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for pruning a plant.
  • Identify a range of different plants, based on their flower and leaf structures.
  • Determine appropriate procedures for planting according to type of plant and site.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to care for plants in the garden.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate plant selection for a range of different sites.
  • Identify a range of plant health problems and describe appropriate chemical and non-
    • chemical control methods to control those problems.
  • Identify characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the importance of organic matter in soil management.
  • Describe the principles and techniques of composting.
  • Determine nutrient problems and describe chemical and non-methods for overcoming these problems.
  • Identify management solutions to a range of plant problems including weeds, pests and diseases.
  • Explain the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
  • Determine appropriate water management practices applicable to plant growth.
  • Describe the characteristics of irrigation and drainage systems.
  • Describe the importance of pruning to plant growth, flowering and fruiting.
  • Describe safe use of chemicals.
  • Develop criteria for selecting suitable plants for a landscape project.
  • Prepare concept plans for landscape redevelopment.
  • Draw a concept plan for a garden redevelopment.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for taking cuttings from a range of plants.
  • Distinguish between different pre-germination seed requirements and techniques, for different plant species.
  • Determine appropriate turf species for different purposes and chosen climatic conditions.
  • Explain the composition of lawn seed mixes and fertilizers.
  • Observe and report on lawn management techniques.
  • Determine solutions to lawn problems.
  • Explain the cause and effect of common tree problems.
  • Determine appropriate methods for treating tree problems.

Approaches to Horticulture are Varied

Horticulture deals with living things and as such is somewhat unpredictable and variable. The ways you treat a plant is different from place to place, time to time, and according to what you are trying to get from the plant.

When referring to a book or magazine article, always look at where it was written and by whom it was written. Most gardening writers usually write about gardening in their own locality. If you live in a different city those recommendations might be quite misleading for you! There can be great variations over relatively small distances in such things as rainfall, wind and soil type. A certain type of tree may very well grow twice as tall in the eastern suburbs of a large city compared to its eventual height in the western suburbs of the same city.

In horticulture, often there are different ways of tackling a job - each one just as valid as the next. Never consider that a particular technique is the only way of doing something! You should try to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of all of the alternatives. They all have their pros and cons, and it is up to your own preferences as to which way you choose to do something.


How Can You Benefit From This Course?

  • Starts you off in the industry
  • Develops your basic horticultural knowledge

The ideal course for anyone starting out in horticulture:

  • A foundation before you set up a gardening business
  • Training to improve your chances of success in an existing or new job
  • A taster course if you are contemplating a diploma or degree


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