Certificate In Horticulture (Herbs)

This certificate is focused half on general horticulture and half on herbs, giving the broadest foundation - keeping your options open to work in any sector of horticulture; while building a specialised knowledge of herbs.

Course Code: VHT002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Study for Practical Skills and a Career in Herb Production

This course teaches is half focused on learning about general horticulture; and the other half, focused on herbs. As a graduate; you have the skills to work in or start a business in any sector of horticulture; but in addition, you have a specialised training with herbs. This added, specialist learning, is designed to set you apart from your competition and give you an edge over others in industry. In today's world, you need that little "extra" thing that others don't have, and this course gives you exactly that.


“This is beyond what you would learn in a Trade Certificate in Horticulture. It teaches you everything a tradesman would learn about plant culture; and more science, plus more plant identification than what an average tradesperson would know” - John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Supn, FIOH, FPLA, Professional Horticulturist for over 40 years, Garden Author and educator

“Learn to grow plants first! This may sound simple but in reality a herb is a plant like any other, and to be truly successful in this field you will need the general horticultural knowledge offered through this terrific course. The second half of the course focuses on the diverse aspects of herb growing from medicine to farming. A wonderful course in an exciting field.” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert 1V Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort, ACS Tutor.


  • Use the binomial system of plant classification
  • Develop a resource file for information about herbs
  • Identify a wide range of herb species and varieties, their culture and uses, and their availability
  • Study in depth the most commonly grown herb varieties, their culture and uses
  • Use herbs in a different herb crafts and foods
  • Identify medicinal and toxic chemical properties of herbs (both in general and specific terms)
  • Describe work procedures involved in operating a herb farm, including harvesting herbs and use of post-harvest treatments
  • Plan and prepare to manage a maintenance program in an ornamental garden or park
  • Design and implement a marketing program for a business operating in the herb industry.


This course is made up of the following two PARTS:

1. CORE STUDIES - at least 350 hours of study, or half the course. The student completes 15 lessons on general horticulture.

2. STREAM STUDIES - a further 300-350 hrs of study specifically on herbs. The student completes 3 additional elective modules on the cultivation, uses, and marketing of herbs.

Core Studies

These involve 15 lessons in general horticulture, as follows:

1. Introduction to Plants - Nomenclature and taxonomy, the plant kingdom, genus, species, hybrids

2. Parts of the Plant - How plants grow, plant structure, parts of the flower and leaf, modification of stems and roots

3. Plant Culture - Planting  - How to plant and protect newly planted specimens, terms like: annuals, biennials, perennials, deciduous, evergreen and herbaceous plants

4. Plant Culture - Pruning   - Purposes of pruning, rules for pruning, how to prune

5. Plant Culture - Irrigation and Machinery  - Different irrigation systems, components of an irrigation system, designing an irrigation system, maintenance in the garden and of tools

6. Soils and Media  - Soil classifications, testing soil, potting mixes, the U.C. System, ingredients of potting mixes

7. Soils and Nutrition  - Fertilisers, deficiencies and toxicities, N:P:K ratios, salting, fertiliser programming, compost

8. Propagation - Seeds and Cuttings  - How to propagate plants with the two easiest techniques, propagating mixes, cold frame construction, after care for young plants

9. Propagation - Other Techniques  - Other methods to increase plant numbers - budding, grafting, layering, division and tissue culture

10. Identification and Use of Plants - How are plants used in the landscape, how to choose and purchase plants, selecting plants suitable for the climate and site

11. Identification and Use of Plants - Problems with plants and choosing plants for problem site

12. Identification and Use of Plants - Indoor and Tropical Plants, flowers, herbs, bulbs, ferns

13. Pests - Identifying and controlling pests, chemical and natural methods for control, chemical safety precautions

14. Diseases - Identifying and controlling diseases, plant pathology, fungi, viruses, non pathogenic problems, interactions with the host and the environment

15. Weeds - Identifying and controlling weeds, chemical terminology.

Stream studies: Herbs

The stream studies are made up of three modules, as follows:

  • Herb Culture (outlined below)

PLUS any TWO of the following:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Culinary Herbs
  • Medicinal Herbs
  • Lavender
  • Scented Plants
  • Manufacturing Herbal Products.

EXAMS There are two exams for the core and 3 for the stream (one for each stream module). Exam fees are extra



Herb Culture

This course is divided into 12 units, each containing one or more lesson.

Unit 1: Introduction To Herb Culture

Lesson I Introduction to herbs - classification of herbs; use of a botanical key

Lesson II Cultural techniques - planting, drainage, feeding, mulching, composting, pruning

Lesson III Propagation techniques - propagation mixes, growing structures, cuttings, seed, separation and division, layering

Lesson IV Identification of plant health problems – pests, disease, frost, heat, water stress

Unit 2: Using Herbs

Lesson I Processing and uses of herbs - medicinal, culinary, perfumes, dyes, oils, distillation

Lesson II Harvesting and storage – drying; freezing, fresh storage, when and how to harvest

Unit 3: The Mints (Lamiaceae)

Lesson I Mentha species - peppermint, spearmint, applemint, wintermint, pennyroyal, corsican, ginger mint etc.

Lesson II Lavender (Lavandula varieties) and thyme (Thymus).

Lesson III : Assorted Lamiaceae varieties: Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Rosemary, Bee Balm (Monarda), Basil, Savory, Marjoram, Sage.

Unit 4: The Daisies (Asteraceae)

Lesson I : Artemisia species...Southernwood, Wormwood, Tarragon, Mugwort.

Lesson II : Miscellaneous Asteraceae: Chamomile, Tansy, Safflower, Costmary, Yarrow, Calendula, Dandelion etc.

Unit 5: The Parsley Family (Apiaceae)

Lesson I : Parsley, Coriander, Dill, Caraway, Angelica, Cumin, Fennel, Lovage, Sweet Cicely

Unit 6: The Onion Group

Lesson I : Chives, Leek, Garlic chives, Tree onion, Welsh onion, etc.

Lesson II : Garlic

Unit 7: Other Herbs

Lesson I : Rosaceae (Rose, Burnet, Strawberry, blackberry, etc)

Lesson II : Miscellaneous: Lemon grass, Lemon verbena, Bay, Sorrel, Dock, Juniper, Horseradish, Evening Primrose, etc.

Lesson III : Scented Geraniums; Australian Natives, Eucalyptus and Others

Unit 8: Pests & Diseases

Lesson I : Companion Planting

Lesson II : Natural Pest Control: Herb sprays, biological control, etc.

Unit 9: Landscaping

Lesson I : Landscape Design Principles and Practices: How to draw a landscape plan

Lesson II : Home Gardening With Herbs; Cottage gardens, hedges & borders, tubs, baskets, kitchen gardens, herb lawns, herb indoor plants.

Lesson III : Public Landscaping: Historic herb gardens (Knot gardens etc), herbs for low maintenance & colour in parks..etc.

Unit 10: Herb Farming 1

Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Nursery: Open ground vs container growing, nursery layout, potting soils, pots and labels, marketing, etc.

Unit 11: Herb Farming 11

Lesson I : Establishing & Operating a Herb Farm: Soil Preparation and management (plastic mulch, organic mulches, cultivation), row cropping.

Unit 12: Herb Farming 111

Lesson 1 : Evaluating Herb enterprises, assessing market demand. Deciding how to proceed.




Herb oils are best and most commonly extracted by distillation, a process which is probably beyond most home herb gardeners. Distillation involves boiling a solution of the herb so that the oil vapourises with steam. As the vapour cools, the steam (ie: water gas) and the oil vapour will turn into liquid at different temperatures. By collecting the oil when it turns back into liquid but not collecting the steam, the two can be separated and the herb oil extracted.

Pure herb oils prepared by distillation can be purchased from craft shops or some herb nurseries.



A simpler way to create herb oils is by using non aromatic oils (eg: Olive oil or Safflower oil). These are oils that have no real odour.

Herbs can be mixed with non aromatic oils and allowed to stand for a period of weeks (or more).

The oils in the herb will to some degree penetrate the non aromatic oil giving a mixture of non aromatic oil and the herb's scents/flavour. This type of oil is weaker than that extracted by distillation, but it can still be used in much the same way as the pure herb oil can.



1. Place petals from scented flowers such as Jasmine or Rose in a clean ceramic container and pour water over the top. After some weeks or months oil will appear as a filmy scum on the surface of the water. You can then use a piece of cotton wool to carefully absorb the oil from the surface of the water. The oil can then be squeezed out of the cotton wool. This is a delicate procedure which will work, but is tedious and only yields small quantities of oil.  Store in small glass vials.

2. To extract oils from fragrant woods such as cedar, sandalwood, sassafras, camphor laurel etc. Reduce the wood to shavings using a wood plane for tough woods, or garden shredder for softer woods. From there extract the oil using one of the methods outlined above.



Herbs are used in all sorts of ways; from providing flavour in our foods to fragrance in cosmetics and toiletries. Herbs are important garden plants and the source of materials for crafts. Some are used as medicines, and others to bring a fragrance inside as an indoor pot plant or cut flower.
This course will expand your perception of what herbs can be used for what purposes, as well as how to identify and grow them.

Where to grow Lavender:

  • At a gateway or doorway where the scent will greet you
  • Beside a garden arch or pathway
  • As a hedge surrounding an outdoor living area
  • In a tub
  • As a standard topiary

Cooking with Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the dried bark of a tropical tree. Cinnamon powder is usually made from inferior product, and is simply this bark ground into a fine powder.

Cinnamon is mostly a culinary herb, used in baked goods, sweets, curries and drinks.

Try adding some cinnamon to your coffee or hot chocolate, or put a pinch into scones, damper or bread, next time you are baking.

How to Pickle Onions

Making pickled onions is really easy and nothing tastes better than the home-made version.


  • 2kg brown or white pickling onions
  • 250g salt
  • 2 red chillies
  • ½ cup sugar (optional)
  • 4 cups spiced vinegar

Method    Cut the ends of the onions, then peel. Stir the salt into 8 cups water until dissolved, then pur over the onions. Leave to soak for 24 hours. Drain and pack lightly into jars. Add chillies. Dissolve the sugar into the cold spiced vinegar and pour over the onions. Cover and store for several weeks before using.

Herbal Pest Control

Pyrethrum is a commercially grown herb. A chemical is extracted from the daisy type flowers, which is used as an insecticide. It has a good ‘knockdown’ effect on caterpillars, aphids, bugs, thrips, beetles and leaf hoppers and is not residual in the plant or soil. Most nurseries sell products containing this “natural” pesticide.

Carrots with Mint

If you love the flavour of mint? Then try this delicious recipe:


  • 6 – 8 tender young carrots or 2-3 cups of cooked carrots
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Method   Cook carrots and drain. In a frypan, melt butter, add honey and mint, then heat until bubbling. Add carrots, toss to glaze and heat thoroughly.



Certain aromas can actually have specific effects on the body. Smelling salts can be used to revive someone after they faint; and putting your head over a basin of boiling water and Vicks can clear the nose when you have a bad head cold. Similarly; many herbal scents can affect the body in a variety of ways, including calming an over-active mind or stimulating dulled senses.

Aromatherapists are professionally trained to actually improve your health and wellbeing through the use of different scents. You can also learn about aromatherapy, to help yourself get over minor complaints by doing an aromatherapy course.

Check out our Aromatherapy Course


Is This What Should You Study?

This certificate is different to our Certificate in Herbs in that:
a/ It covers more general, broad based horticulture. You learn more about landscaping, propagation and growing plants beyond just herbs (and that keeps your options for work in the future a bit broader).


b/ In teaching you about things beyond herbs, there is less time to specialize in herbs; so the pure herb studies are reduced. The second half of this course now teaches you specifically about herbs; and with the underpinning knowledge you covered earlier, you will find that understanding and remembering this second part of the course will become easier, and your knowledge of herbs will strengthen beyond what may have been possible without first covering those underpinning topics.

In the grand scheme of things though; the difference between this certificate and the Certificate in Herbs is not huge. Your direction and level of success after you complete either course will depend more upon your motivation and enthusiasm and the experience you strive for after graduation.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
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.

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More information is here

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Course Contributors

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

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.

Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Diana Cole

B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.
In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

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