Foundation Certificate in Horticulture

Course CodeVHT003
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)150 hours

E learning for a Career in Gardening

•Learn to identify and grow a wide range of different plants
•Study the science that underpins all knowledge of horticulture
•Enroll anytime, study from anywhere, learn at your own pace
•Interact one on one with highly qualified and experienced tutors
•Access tutors whenever you need them -Our faculty of 10 horticulturists are accessible 5 days a week, 50 weeks of the year by phone or email)

Student Comment: "I have found the course material to be comprehensive and informative and have learnt a lot and really enjoyed my year of study. The office staff at ACS have always been helpful and efficient and quick to respond to requests or queries. My tutor, Adriana, was encouraging and supportive, as well as being really thorough in the way she marked my assignments. I had not studied for 20 years before I started my (Horticulture study) and the feedback and reassurance I received from my tutor made all the difference." Katherine Parry, Australia - Foundation Certificate in Horticulture.
Nominally 120 hours, though we believe only students who already have some prior experience could complete it within this time frame. 
There is one exam to sit.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Plant Kingdom (part a)
  2. The Plant Kingdom (part b)
  3. The Plant Kingdom (part c)
  4. Plant Propagation
  5. Outdoor Food Production
  6. Garden Planning
  7. The Root Environment and Plant Nutrition
  8. Protected Cultivation
  9. Horticultural Plant Selection, Establishment and Maintenance
  10. Horticultural Plant Health Problems

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.


  • Demonstrate a broad range of horticultural knowledge; communicate clearly and coherently in writing on horticultural matters; and relate horticultural science to its practical application.
  • Understand the classification of higher plants and appreciate the internal structure of higher plants.
  • Understand the external structure of higher plants
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand the fundamental physiological processes within the plant including photosynthesis, respiration, water movement, pollination, fertilisation, seed formation and germination.
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand basic cultural operations and production methods necessary to obtain outdoor food crops.
  • Understand basic surveying and design principles and apply them to basic garden design and planning requirements.
  • Develop an understanding of the constituents, properties and management of soils and growing media.
  • Develop an understanding of environmental control and plant cultivation in greenhouses and other protected environments.
  • Develop an understanding of plant selection, establishment and maintenance of a range of ornamental plants.
  • Develop an understanding of pest, diseases and weeds that affect horticultural plants, and the cultural, biological, chemical and integrated systems used to control those problems.

What You Will Do

  • Draw and label a diagram of a plant cell.
  • Draw a diagram showing where active cell division is located within plants.
  • Draw two diagrams (one of a monocotyledon, the other a dicotyledon), showing the external differences between a monocotyledon and a dicotyledon.
  • Identify plants with botanical keys.
  • Dissect two different flowers and identify their parts.
  • Collect and identify different types of fruits.
  • Collect different leaves, draw and describe them.
  • Sow different types of seed, draw and describe the changes occurring to the seed.
  • Try to find as many examples of modified plant parts that you can.
  • Compare different pollination methods
  • Define botanical concepts and terms
  • Develop a crop rotation system for a vegetable garden - submit with your assignment.
  • Visit an orchard and discuss suitable cultivars and root stocks selection, fertilisation, certification schemes available for fruit plants, pests and diseases control, crop production and harvest methods
  • Find articles, plans or real life gardens that represent the following five styles (one garden for each style): formal, informal, productive vegetable and fruit garden, greenhouse or conservatory garden and walled garden (or courtyard).
  • Study and compare different landscapes
  • Identify the soil layers (soil horizons) of the soil profile.
  • Take a soil sample for later analysis.
  • Contact irrigation suppliers and compare irrigation systems.
  • Draw a diagram outlining the carbon and nitrogen cycles.
  • Visit a fertiliser supplier or garden centre and collect/gather information in relation to the various types of fertiliser available.
  • Contact growing structure suppliers and manufacturers, i.e. home greenhouses, conservatories, cloches, and any other growing structures. Collect brochures and catalogues on the products they sell. Try to include information on heating, irrigation, cladding, etc.
  • Visit a commercial greenhouse and take photographs of equipment they use to assist with environmental control including heating, lighting, ventilation, misting or fogging systems.
  • Investigate the type of pots and potting mixes available in the market.
  • Investigate the current legislation in your area regarding the approved use of chemicals for the control of fungi, pests and bacteria and legislation in relation to runoff and other environmental factors associated with greenhouse production.
  • Investigate the health and safety issues and risk associated with greenhouse production.
  • Research a range of plants suited to greenhouse growing or those that start their life in a greenhouse.
  • Compile the list of plants above; include the botanical name, description including flowering time, propagation techniques, potting, feeding, watering trimming/pruning/deadheading, tying/staking, harvesting, cultural requirements for each plant, and any associated pest and disease problems.
  • Interview a local horticulturist, landscape contractor, nursery person or garden designer regarding the selection and establishment of plants in your local area.
  • Find and identify 15 weed species growing in your locality.
  • Research the pests and diseases that commonly attack plants
  • Investigate the chemical, cultural and biological control methods used to control those pest and diseases in your locality.
  • Research two examples of IPM successfully implemented to protect crops in your region or country.
  • Find six plants with significant health problems. For each plant, conduct a plant inspection and attempt to diagnose the cause(s).

Why Study This Foundation Course?

Having a broad knowledge of plants and how to use them is something which everyone who works in horticulture is expected to be able to do. This course serves as an ideal introduction to developing plant knowledge and a solid foundation upon which to expand your knowledge and skills. It is also the perfect course for people who would like to explore what horticulture has to offer and gain an insight into different fields within the profession of horticulture.

This course may be of great interest to those who would like to work in:

  • Garden maintenance
  • Retail nurseries
  • Garden centres
  • General horticulture

It is also a great course for the garden enthusiast who would like to broaden their knowledge and learn better ways to manage and improve their own gardens.      

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ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau
Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau

These studies satisfy curriculum developed by the Royal Horticultural Society
These studies satisfy curriculum developed by the Royal Horticultural Society

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association

ACS is recognised by the IARC
ACS is recognised by the IARC

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  Rosemary Davies

Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
  Robert James

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Horticulturist, Horticultural Scientist, and Horticultural Consultant
  Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
  Adriana Fraser

Freelance writer, businesswoman, educator and consultant for over 30 years. Adriana has written extensively for magazines including free living publications -Grass Roots and Home Grown; and has authored or co authored many books ranging from a biography to books on business and gardening. She holds formal qualifications in education, child care and horticulture and has worked with ACS Distance Education since the mid 1990's.
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