Certificate In Herbs

Love Herbs? Learn to grow and use herbs - with a stronger herb focus than our other certificate. Learn to design herb gardens, grow potted herbs, cook, propagate, farm, make crafts, and more.

Course Code: VHT014
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Learn to Grow and Use Herbs

  • Start a Herb Business
  • Grow herbs, Harvest Herbs, Make Herb Products

If you have a passion for herbs and want to get really serious; this is a course that can provide a foundation for a business or career.
If you already work on a herb farm, in a nursery or in the production or sale of herb products; this course can expand your understanding of herbs and help you explore possibilities that you may not have even considered.

“Love the magic of herbs? Then this is the course to start you in your herb career – it will enable you to consider opening a herb farm, or working in this exciting and field. A great course that will challenge you to expand your knowledge and become a true expert.” - Adriana Fraser Adv.Dip.Hort, ACS Tutor.

 Course Structure:

There are 30 lessons as follows:

1. Introduction

2. Overview of Herb Varieties

3. Soils & Nutrition

4. Herb Culture

5. Propagation Techniques

6. Pests & Disease Control

7. Harvesting Herbs

8. Processing Herbs

9. Using Herbs: Herb Crafts

10. Using Herbs: Herbs for Cooking

11. Using Herbs: Medicinal Herbs

12. Herb Farming

13. Herb Garden Design

14. Constructing a Herb Garden

15. Managing a Herb Nursery

16. Lavenders

17. Mints

18. Lamiaceae Herbs

19. Garlic

20. The Asteraceae (Compositae) Herbs

21. The Apiaceae Family

22. Other Herbs

23. Topiary & Hedges

24. Producing Herb Products  A

25. Producing Herb Products  B

26. Producing Herb Products  C

27. Marketing in the Herb Industry

28. Budgeting & Business Planning

29. Workforce Design & Management

30. Major Research Project

What's in Each Lesson?

A typical lesson involves set reading (which we provide), a set task (eg. research or practical), a written assignment (to be submitted), and preparing plant reviews. This involves photographing different herbs, identifying their names, and writing descriptions about them. Most students do this by visiting gardens or plant nurseries; or by collecting herbs for their own collection, and photographing those. If your access or mobility is limited, you can collect photos from magazines or online.
If you have difficulty identifying herbs; our expert tutors can help by looking at your photo and description.
It may seem tedious to some students; but the best way to learn about herbs is by observing different ones, discussing them and considering their attributes and distinguishing characteristics. We've been teaching herb identification this way for decades and it really works well.

Making a Career out of Herbs
Herbs have been cultivated by man for thousands of years; both farmed for the products they can provide (eg. cut flowers, perfumes, medicines, culinary products), and used as a landscaping plant in our gardens.
This course provides a foundation for a great diversity of career options; from nurseryman to farmer and landscaper to product manufacturer.
How Can Herbs be Used in Landscaping?
While herbs can be grown alongside any other plants in your garden, they provide their best display when given their own section – no matter how large or small.

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to a herb garden. There are spectacular herb gardens of several acres and others which neatly fit into a small courtyard. Whatever size herb garden you wish to create, even if it is only a combination of herbs with other plants or a herbaceous border, you’ll need to work to a plan.

Herbs can become either a small or a large part of a garden (or farm), depending on two things:

  • The requirements of the household for herbs, either in cooking or perhaps in craft and medicines.
  • The preference which the home owner has for herbs above other plants or the desire to create a character in the garden which is achieved through the use of herbs.
If only a few different types of herbs are required for cooking (perhaps parsley, mint, chives and garlic) these can be grown in any corner of the garden, in part of the vegetable patch or simply in containers. But if the home owner is more serious, herbs may be given their own garden area.
In some situations, herbs might be mixed with other plants to create an old world cottage garden affect. In this situation, herbs can become the common thread which runs through the entire garden.

What are some of the Different Types of Herb Gardens?
Formal Herb Gardens
Almost any geometrical form can be used in a formal herb garden but it should be symmetrically arranged on two sides of a central line. That central line should normally extend from a doorway, gate or another point of entry into the garden.
The central axis forms a line along which the eye is drawn, and as such a garden feature should normally be located at the end and perhaps in the centre of that axis. Examples of such features are a fountain, sundial, arbour or a statue.

Formal herb gardens should consist of well-defined lines such as walls or continually cut edges. Hedges are ideally suited to edge beds in a formal garden. They should always be cut so as to slope slightly from the top to the bottom. Rosemary is one herb that is particularly suited to hedges. Some formal examples to consider are a circular pattern similar to a wheel with the rim and spokes being the paths and the spaces in between being beds; or a rectangle, square, triangle or octagonal shape, divided by a path down the centre.

Perennial Borders
Many herbs are perennial plants growing strongly throughout the warmer months and dying back to their root systems in winter. These are the true ‘herbaceous’ plants – there are many exceptions of course including the much used rosemary, bay, lavender and other small and large woody shrubs considered ‘herbs’.

A garden bed made up of permanently green trees and shrubs often has a strip at the front (edging a lawn or path) planted with perennials. They grow strongly in spring, flower in spring and summer, and create a different appearance to the garden in those warmer months. When the plants die back in winter, they leave a bare strip, creating a more open feeling to the garden bed – an atmosphere which is a distinct advantage when the weather is less inviting.

Ideal herbs for such a perennial border include: Apple mint, lemon balm, bergamot, fennel, angelica, sage, tansy, yarrow, chives, Russian garlic, and hyssop.

Rock Gardens
Many herbs suit rock gardens well, growing in confined spaces and being tolerant of fluctuant water conditions in the soil. Be aware of the varying growth habits of different types of herbs. The danger in a rock garden is that one type of herb (such as yarrow) might take over and compete to the detriment of others.

The Cottage Garden
The cottage garden concept involves planting perennials and herbs together, perhaps, with fruit trees and some old world shrubs to create a potpourri effect. The cottage garden provides a blend of textures and colours which will be attractive at all times of the year.


How might Herbs be Used in a Landscape?

Creating a Sense of Distance

Coarse textured plants such as aloe, angelica and geraniums and bright coloured foliage plants create the impression that they are close, while fine textured plants such as rosemary, some thyme species and dark coloured foliage plants create the impression that they are further away than they actually are. Therefore, if you plant coarse textured, bright coloured plants in the foreground, and fine textured, dark coloured plants in the background, you will create a sense of the garden being bigger than it really is.

Screening Distractions
Hanging baskets or shrubs can be used to block views which may distract the attention of people from garden features. By creating a green barrier in all but the line of view where you want attention directed, the feature is highlighted.

Making Walls Higher
Baskets or pots of herbs placed on the top of a wall will do two things:

  • Increase the height of the wall.
  • Change the top of the wall from a hard line to a soft line.

Plant Curtains
Baskets of herbs may be hung at varying heights and distances apart to create barriers with varying degrees of density. The plant curtain my simply filter the view, allowing you to see through, but perhaps taking the distraction of the outside area away thereby creating a sense of enclosure. A lot of baskets hung close together may completely block the view, darkening the area enclosed by the herb plant wall.

Foliage Above Eye Level
Sometimes a plant is needed to break the uniform height of the ceiling or the floor in a room (indoors or out). Breaking the even line this way will reduce the formality of the area and create a more relaxed environment. Often, a basket from the ceiling will do this job better than a container on the ground (or floor), and in this way the level of spaciousness is maintained.

Topiary is a very old form of horticultural art which involves pruning plants into shapes such as balls, pillars, pyramids, arches or even the shape of an animal or building. Many herbs are well suited to topiary and there are a couple of ways of going about it. One involves making a framework out of metal or wire and growing the plant over the frame, pruning it to keep to the shape of the frame.

You can create simple wire frames by bending thick wire yourself with the aid of pliers. To get circular shapes, bend wire around a large tub or barrel.
One of the simplest forms of topiary is a wire circle on top of a straight pole. Use a wooden stake for the pole and tie the wire circle to the top.  More complex shapes such as animals can be brought pre-made from some of the “boutique style” garden shops in larger cities. Climbing or creeping herbs are some of the best to train on wire frames.

Hollow wire mesh frames are sometimes filled with moss which is kept moist to support the growth of creeping plants such as Corsican mint or pennyroyal.

A more traditional method of creating topiary is to train a plant from an early stage by pruning and staking if support is needed. Generally the more woody herbs are preferred for this method of training, mainly because they don’t have the support of a frame and need strong enough stems to hold their shape. Stakes can be used if extra support is needed.

Whatever method you use, frequent pruning is the key to achieving a good topiary. Once topiary gets too far out of shape, it can be almost impossible to return to the original form.


The herb industry is more significant than most people realize, supplying not only garden plants, herbal medicines and scented oils; but providing important ingredients for all sorts of products that we use every day, from toothpaste to detergents and deodorants.

This is a course for only the serious student, who wishes to establish a business or forge a career working with herbs or herbal produce.

Graduating from this course will arm you with knowledge and awareness to start a more viable future in the herb industry, and at the same time it will serve as a statement to potential employers, clients and customers; letting them know that you indeed have knowledge of herbs that goes beyond most working in the industry.


We have a range of other courses

  • Available through our Microcredentials training system (LearnHowTo)
  • Shorter, less costly courses
  • Covering subjects not offered through the main ACS Distance Education curriculum

Examples include:

  • Topiary
  • Home Garden Permaculture
  • Deer Farming
  • Agroforestry
  • Fodder Trees
  • Urban Forestry
  • Growing Tomatoes
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
Long-term member since 1986.
Long-term member since 1986.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
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If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding in your selected discipline. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

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You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades.
Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

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

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