Certificate in Horticulture (Ornamental Horticulture)

Learn practical garden & horticulture skills.. Propagate & cultivate hundreds of different ornamental plants -science & plant knowledge beyond most other courses. Improve your long term career & employment prospects.

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

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Learn to Manage Public or Private Gardens.

The Certificate in Horticulture (Ornamental Horticulture) is a vocationally oriented course comprising core studies (general horticulture) and stream studies specific to ornamental horticulture.
  • develop general and broad based skills in horticultural practices and plant identification.
  • build more specific knowledge in areas of ornamental horticulture including garden maintenance,
    turf care, arboriculture, landscaping and nursery work.
  • connect with the industry as you study, building contacts and networking skills 
Quote from our principal:
"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 trades person would" - John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Supn, FIOH, FPLA, Garden Author and educator.


The Certificate in Horticulture involves the areas of work:

  • CORE STUDIES - this involves at least 300 hours, divided into 15 lessons, approx. half of the course.
  • ELECTIVE STUDIES - this involves a further 300 hrs of study going into greater depth in the areas of garden maintenance, nursery practices and landscaping.


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 - Purpose for 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, selection, use and maintenance of machinery and tools.

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

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

8.  Propagation - Seeds & Cuttings - How to propagate plants by seed and cuttings, 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 sites.

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.


This part of the course involves four main areas of study, as follows:

1.    Landscaping

    • Lesson 1  Introduction to Landscaping
    • Lesson 2  Landscape Design Procedure
    • Lesson 3  Landscape Construction A
    • Lesson 4  Landscape Construction B

2.    Plant knowledge  

    • Lesson 5  Plants for Problem Areas
    • Lesson 6  Flowers, Indoor and Tropical Plants
    • Lesson 7  Herbs

3.    Plant Care

    • Lesson 8  Different Growing Techniques
    • Lesson 9  Arboriculture
    • Lesson 10 Planning Garden Maintenance
    • Lesson 11 Turf Care

4.    Nursery Practices

    • Lesson 12 Introduction to Nursery Management
    • Lesson 13 Nursery Stock Production and Quality Control
    • Lesson 14 Operating a Garden Centre
    • Lesson 15 Marketing and Management in Ornamental Horticulture

Scope of stream studies:

  • Landscape design (including pre-planning and drawing plans).
  • Principles and styles of landscape designs.
  • Analysis of garden designs.
  • Graphic skills, materials and techniques.
  • Estimating costs for landscape jobs.
  • Surfacing materials and their effects.
  • Quality and cost of different landscape materials.
  • Plant knowledge, both native and exotic, suitable for local conditions.
  • Plant selection for difficult sites and conditions (including treating degraded sites and interior plantscaping).
  • Tropical and indoor plants.
  • Environmental factors important for indoor plant culture.
  • Bulbs, perennials and annuals.
  • Planting design for flower beds (annuals and bulbs) suitable for your locality.
  • Herb culture and garden design.
  • Miscellaneous growing techniques including; bonsai, terrariums, pot culture, baskets and hydroponics.
  • Describe the importance of trees to humans.
  • Procedures for the proper and safe removal of a limb from a tree.
  • Tree problems and their treatment.
  • Compartmentalisation, and its effect on the spread of disease in trees.
  • Preparing a detailed maintenance program for a garden.
  • Seed selection, storage, preparation and spreading (sowing).
  • Preparation, planting and establishment of a lawn.
  • Establishing turf on a steep slope.
  • Turf maintenance techniques.
  • Analysis of nursery production systems.
  • Preparing a flow chart for the production of a particular plant, from propagation to marketing.
  • Preparing a maintenance program for green life in a garden centre.
  • Preparing guidelines for the disposal of surplus or below standard stock in a nursery.
  • Write an advertisement for a nursery or garden maintenance business.
  • Basic management procedures for a single person nursery or garden maintenance business.
  • Basic communication skills.
  • Health and safety requirements for a nursery or garden maintenance workplace.


  • Learn from an international team or renowned horticultural experts led by John Mason, Fellow Institute of Horticulture (UK), Fellow Australian Institute of Horticulture, Fellow Parks and Leisure Australia.  John is also a former nurseryman, parks director, and is one of the most prolific gardening authors from Australia -many of his books being used by other schools and universities to teach horticulture across Australia and beyond.
  • A unique opportunity to connect and learn from our international faculty that includes Rosemary Davies (formerly Garden Advisory Service, and Age Garden Writer, Melbourne),  Maggi Brown (former Education officer for Garden Organic, UK), Gavin Cole (former Operations Manager for the Chelsea Gardener, London), and Dr Lyn Morgan (renowned Hydroponic expert from New Zealand); and a host of other equally qualified professionals. 
  • See profiles of our faculty at https://www.acs.edu.au/about-us/staff/default.aspx

Exams:   There are two exams for the core and 2 for the stream (4 in total for this certificate

Rationale of this Certificate

The Certificate in Horticulture is a vocationally oriented course comprising a common core of studies and a specialized stream of studies in one of several elective areas.

The ability to choose a major stream of study allows the student to develop both skills which are in demand in a chosen sector of industry as well as providing participants with general horticultural knowledge and skills

Original Curriculum Documentation

The following documentation was developed initially in 1992 as a basis for developing this certificate. Since then, the certificate has been continually revised and added to, in order to keep in step with changes in industry



We provide most of what you need, and if required advise where you can find the odd things that we cannot supply. If you are motivated, and persist, there is no reason why most people cannot complete this course.

Upon enrolment the student will be provided with:

  • all necessary course materials (in printed or electronic form

In addition to these reference materials, the student will also require:

  • access to work places (assistance is available to students who have difficulty);

  • small quantities of horticultural materials such as soil or potting mix, garden tools, etc;

  • access to a variety of different plants either through nurseries, farms or gardens.


How Can This Course Help You?

The crucial learning for anyone who works in horticulture is a solid foundation in horticultural principles and practices. It involves understanding soils, plant nutrition, where to position different species of plants, how to prune and maintain them, and how to detect and deal with pests and diseases. You learn all this in the core part of this course but then get to focus on different areas of ornamental horticulture. The outcome is you have a very well-rounded understanding of applied horticulture.

This course is targeted towards people who want to make a start in horticulture. It can serve as a solid foundation for moving on to specialised studies in other areas of interest but will also provide students with sufficient knowledge to seek employment in various fields including:   

  • General horticulture

  • Parks & gardens

  • Botanic gardens

  • Garden maintenance

  • Landscaping

  • Garden design

  • Nursery hand


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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 (c
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.
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
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