Cacti & Succulents

Study cacti and succulents - follow a passion, enhance a career or business.

Course CodeVHT108
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method

I am studying from...

Enable Javascript to automatically update prices.

All prices in Australian Dollars.

Click on Enrol Now to See Our Payment Plans Available. No Obligation.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!
Growing cacti and succulents can be rewarding, but the correct conditions must be created to produce the most satisfying growth. Succulents are frequently easy to grow, but it can be harder to grow superb specimens. The main requirements of cacti and succulents is strong light, adequate drainage, and to be sufficiently dry during any dormant period.

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.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Physiology
    • Information sources
    • Three Cacti tribes -Perskia, Opuntia, Cerus
    • Main succulent genera
    • Pronouncing Names
  2. Culture A.
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Soils
    • Feeding
    • Pruning etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating cacti & succulent plants
    • Propagation of selected varieties
    • Seed, Cuttings, Grafting
  4. Using Cacti & Succulents
    • Edible succulents
    • Garden Design
    • Garden Styles
    • Mexican gardens
    • Using Colour
    • Rock Gardens
    • Growing Cacti or Succulents in containers
  5. Culture B.
    • Pest & Disease
    • Irrigation
    • Greenhouse growing
  6. Cacti developing your plant knowledge.
    • General guidelines for growing cacti
    • Review of Cacti Genera
    • Zygocactus -featured plant
  7. Succulents developing your plant knowledge.
    • Review of Succulent Families
    • Bromeliads -featured plants
    • Kalanchoe
    • Sansavieria
  8. Special Project
    • PBL - Plan the establishment of a collection of different cultivars of either Cacti OR Succulents suited to growing in a specified locality.

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.


  • Develop knowledge of botanical naming conventions and their application in understanding the horticultural potential of cacti and succulents.
  • Evaluate needs then select or improvie growing media for cacti and succulents
  • Propagate different types of cacti and succulents
  • Explain a range of uses for cacti and succulents
  • Manage growing conditions for cacti and succulents
  • Explain the cultivation of a range of cacti.
  • Explain the cultivation of a range of succulents.

How to Grow Cacti in Pots

Many Cacti and succulents do particularly well in containers, because container growing is able to provide well drained conditions and periods of dryness that they are adapted to in nature.

Cacti and succulents generally contain a lot of fleshy or watery tissue. Such tissues are in fact storing water; and when the soil goes very dry for an extended period, they may be able to draw on the reserves of moisture held in that tissue. This can make many of these plants able to survive if you forget to water them, if grown under a roof or during long dry spells (When many other plants may well dry up and die).

Growing these plants in tubs or other containers has certain advantages and disadvantages.  Above all, plants in tubs are flexible   they make a landscape  (or inside décor) changeable.  Tub plants can be removed out of view when they are sick and returned when they become healthy again. Plants in tubs need more watering and feeding than those in soil.  It is essential that the tub be properly drained.  Sufficient holes in the bottom of the tub, and perhaps some large stones for a layer below the soil are needed.  Non glazed ceramic containers will drain through the water absorbent walls and generally require a soil mix which retains more moisture.  Glazed ceramics and plastics absorb no moisture at all though the sides of the pot, thus need more holes in the bottom.

Cacti and succulents can be provided with excellent drainage if grown in containers.  These plants (as is the case with most plants) do better with water when putting on growth –but when the weather is cold and growth stops, watering can make them more susceptible to root rots. A cacti in a pot can be put in a dry place, and watering stopped over winter; and that can reduce the likelihood of disease attack. When the weather warms, it can be watered again; which helps encourage growth. In this way a containerised plant may be managed more easily than one in the ground.


If you choose an appropriate species, succulents or cacti can be found to use in most garden situations. Though often grown as a “succulent” area in a garden, many can also be mixed in with non-succulent plants e.g. plants such as Sedums work well and are often used with other plants in garden borders

Consider choosing and using cacti or succulents in the following ways:

  • As a ground cover; at the front of a garden bed; as a lawn substitute, in open spaces between taller plants or between pavers in a pathway or patio.
  • As a container plant; singly with one per pot or tub or many plants in a larger container such as a trough or large hanging basket.
  • As a border plant, edging a path or garden bed.
  • As an architectural plant. Taller growing succulents or cacti (e.g. some agaves, yucca), and species with larger strap like leaves are often used by garden designers and landscape architects, to provide interesting or contracting forms in a landscape.
  • For roof gardens or vertical gardens
  • For colour - the diversity of colour in foliage can be used to create dependable, all year colourful affects. Consider: if you plant a mass of azaleas, the mass is only colourful when the plants are in full flower; but if you plant a mass of succulents, you can have a splash of red, blue or gold in part of a garden for 12 months of the year.
  • Most non-succulents burn, but most succulents do not and as such can be considered as fire retardant plants.

ENROL (go to top) or

Use our FREE Counselling Service to Connect with a Tutor


Need assistance?

Start Now!


John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
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, Hort
Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li
Scented Plants
Scented 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.
Tropical Plants
This luscious, illustrated ebook covers hundreds of different plant genera, and many more cultivars. You will learn how to grow plants commonly cultivated in the tropics and subtropics. It contains everything you need to know about growing tropical plants
What to Plant Where
A 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 an
This ebook covers propagating, how to give your succulents the most ideal growing conditions and is also a wonderful guide to the different genera and species of succulents.