Qualification -Advanced Certificate Applied Management (Wholesale Nursery)

Course CodeVBS001
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationAdvanced Certificate

Learn and Work in a Plant Production Nursery

Develop both management and horticultural skills in the same course


This course is comprised of:

*Core studies - Four units (400 hours) of compulsory subjects for all students.

*Elective studies – Three stream units for the development of knowledge in a chosen industry sector.

*Project – a workplace project of 200 hrs relevant to your field of study. The project specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study. Contact the school for more information.

CORE UNITS Click on each module for more details

Office Practices
Develops basic office skills covering use of equipment, communication systems (telephone, fax, etc) and office procedures such as filing, security, workplace organisations, etc.

Business Operations
Develops knowledge of basic business operations and procedures (eg. types of businesses, financial management, business analysis, staffing, productivity, etc) and the skills to develop a 12 month business plan.

Develops knowledge of management structures, terminology, supervision, recruitment and workplace health and safety.

Marketing Foundations
Develops a broad understanding of marketing and specific skills in writing advertisements, undertaking market research, developing an appropriate marketing plan and selling.


The stream studies are as follows:



  • Explain the significance of property, marketing and contracts to site selection. 
  • Estimate the cost of producing different plant varieties as specified marketable products. 
  • Develop a nutritional program for plants in a wholesale nursery. 
  • Explain the implementation of integrated pest management in a specified nursery situation. 
  • Explain different chemical methods of controlling plant appearance. 


This subject involves eight lessons as follows:

1.Nursery Site Organisation: Buying an established nursery or establishing a new site, site planning, estimating space requirements.

2. Management: Government and commercial nurseries, partnerships, companies, sole proprietorships, developing a management structure, labour relations and seasonal staff, work programs and production timing.

3. Nutrition and Pest Management: Field crops, container plants, principles of fertiliser use and plant nutrition.

4. Growing Media: Soils and soil-free mixes, rockwool, sterilisation, techniques.

5. Irrigation: Methods and equipment, estimation of water requirements and use of liquid fertilisers through irrigation.

6. Modifying Plant Growth: Modification techniques, flower forcing and quality control.

7. Marketing Strategies: Exploiting existing markets, developing new markets, advertising, product presentation, pricing, plant recycling.

8. Selection of Nursery Crops: Developing a stock list, operational flow charts, market surveys.



The course is divided into ten lessons as follows:

1. Introduction to Propagation – asexual and sexual propagation, plant life cycles, nursery production systems

2. Seed Propagation

3. Potting Media

4. Vegetative Propagation I - cuttings

5. Vegetative Propagation II – care of stock plants; layering, division and other techniques

6. Vegetative Propagation III – budding and grafting, tissue culture

7. Propagation Structures and Materials – greenhouses, propagating equipment

8. Risk Management – nursery hygiene, risk assessment and management

9. Nursery Management I – plant modification techniques, management policies

10. Nursery Management II – nursery standards, cost efficiencies, site planning and development


  • Develop the ability to source information on plant propagation, through an awareness of industry terminology and information sources. 
  • Plan the propagation of different plant species from seeds, using different seed propagation methods. 
  • Plan the propagation of different types of plants from cuttings, using different cutting propagation methods. 
  • Plan the propagation of various types of plants using a range of propagation techniques, excluding cuttings and seed. 
  • Determine the necessary facilities, including materials and equipment, required for propagation of different types of plants. 
  • Determine a procedure to minimise plant losses during propagation. 
  • Determine the management practices of significance to the commercial viability of a propagation nursery. 
  • Design a propagation plan for the production of a plant. 



The course is divided into eight lessons as follows:

1. Introduction. The principles of propagating plants by cuttings.:Importance of cuttings, Phenotype vs genotype, why choose cutting propagation, where to get cuttings from, basic cutting technique.

2. Stem cuttings. Ease with which tissue forms roots, types of stem cuttings (softwood, hardwood, semi hardwood, herbaceous, tip, heel, nodal, cane etc), treatments (eg. basal heat, mist, tent, etc), testing rooting, etc.

3. Non-stem cuttings. Leaf cuttings, root cuttings (natural suckering with or without division, Induced suckering, In situ whole root cuttings; ex situ detached root cuttings), bulb cuttings, scaling and twin scaling, sectioning, basal cuttage.

4. Materials and equipment. Selection and maintenance of stock plants; disinfecting cutting material;

5. Growing media. Propagation media; biological, chemical and physical characteristics of propagation and potting media, Testing for toxins, air filled porosity, potting up cuttings, soil-less mixes, rockwool, etc.

6. Factors affecting rooting. Juvenility, Cutting Treatments (hormones & their application, anti transparents, acid/base treatments, disinfectants etc), Callusing, Mycorrhizae, Carbon Dioxide enrichment, etc.

7. Setting up a propagation area. Creating and managing an appropriate cutting environment in terms of: Water; Disease; Temperature; Light and Air Quality. Greenhouses and other structures, watering methods (mist, fog, capillary etc), heating, etc.

8. Management of cutting crops. Estimating cost of production; Keeping records, etc.


  • To familiarise the student with the principles of propagating plants by cuttings 
  • To develop an understanding of how to propagate plants from stem cuttings 
  • To develop an understanding of how to propagate plants from non-stem cuttings 
  • To develop an understanding of the materials and equipment used for propagating plants from stems 
  • To understand the principles of growing media in relation to cutting propagation 
  • To understand how and why cuttings form roots. To learn how to manipulate the formation of roots on cuttings 
  • To understand the principles for establishing successful plant propagation areas 
  • To understand the principles of nursery crop scheduling 


What is a Good Potting Mix?
Success or failure of a wholesale (production) nursery, often depends heavily on having a good potting mix.
Your ability to buy, or create, a good potting media, will depend upon availability and cost of components that are in your locality. Organic materials (often composted), frequently make up a significant part of the media. Nurseries in the past had used a lot of peat moss in some countries; but the availabilty and cost of peat is restrictive; not to merntion environmental concerns associated with peat.
Container plants can  be grown in a wide variety of different media. Some are mainly a mixture of soils others are a mixture which includes no soil at all. Some potting media are combinations of both soil and non soil components. 

The ideal potting medium should have the following characteristics:

  • Free of weed seeds.
  • Free of pest or disease organisms.
  • Freely draining and with good aeration.
  • Able to retain plant sufficient nutrients and moisture for healthy plant growth.
  • Waste salts from fertilisers should leach out of the soil easily.
  • The mix should be heavy enough to make the pot stable, but light enough to minimize the effort involved in lifting the pots. 
  • Buffer capacity should be good   this is the ability of the media to resist changes in pH.
  • It is preferable that the Cation Exchange Capacity is at least moderate to good.

Different types of plants have different needs in a mix. Nurseries which grow a wide variety of plants may need to use a variety of different mixes, but nurseries growing all of the one type of plant may be able to use just one or two types of mixes.

To make quality potting mix with uniform characteristics a company needs to use components which are of a very even quality (ie. not much variation in particle size or chemical properties), and to achieve this usually requires very expensive screening and mixing equipment.  In many parts of the world, potting mix companies still operate with less sophisticated equipment, hence produce less sophisticated mixes which can vary in quality. Because good potting mix equipment is very expensive, the best mixes are also expensive.

Potting media may utilise a combination of any number of different media. The availability and cost of components can vary greatly from place to place, so the things which are generally most available are normally those which are most used. Nurseries which are in isolated areas may be left with little option but to make their own mixes, but in large centres, there are usually several large and reputable companies offering a wide variety of mixes.

 Learn more about all aspects of managing a production nursery; both on the horticultural side; as well as management of people, finance, marketing and physical resources associated with the nursery. Enrol Today

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