Certificate In Horticulture (Propagation)

700 hour comprehensive studies for a foundation in both horticulture and propagation - Work in a garden centre or plant production.

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

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Develop Practical Skills and become a Professional Plant Propagator

The objective of the course is to:

  • develop skills and knowledge about propagating different types of plants by seed, cuttings, budding and grafting, separation, division and layering in a commercially viable way.
  • develop skills and knowledge about tools, equipment & growing structures used in a nursery for plant production.
  • develop general skills in horticultural practices and plant identification.

ACS student comments: I have learnt so much from this course. I have learnt how easy and how much material strikes and grows, if you follow the rules. I learnt to propagate bulb leaves and grow them on. There are so many more plants that can be propagated and its not hard to do. I hope more people take up the challenge. As I don't have the internet, it's good to be able to use what may be an old fashioned way of learning. Please don't change, I don't think I'm the only one wanting to learn without the internet. Pauline Ross - Australia, Cutting Propagation course.

'This is beyond what you would learn in a Trade Certificate in Horticulture. It teaches you everything a tradesman would learn about plant propagation and 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, Author of Nursery Management (published by Landlinks Press).

Course Structure
The Certificate in Horticulture (Plant Propagation) is a vocationally oriented course comprising a core of studies common to all horticulture certificates, plus specialised studies in plant propagation.

This Certificate involves the following areas of work:

*CORE STUDIES - fifteen lessons involving at least 350 hours.

*STREAM STUDIES - stream studies on plant propagation involving at least 350 hours of study.


What You Will Do

  • Collect seed from and propagate different varieties of plants with that seed.
  • Describe the method and time of year used to propagate at least 200 different plant varieties.
  • Draw and label the parts of a seed.
  • Explain how a seed germinates, and grows in the early stages of its development.
  • Explain a variety of different harvest and post harvest treatments for seed.
  • Explain a variety of pre-germination treatments for seed.
  • Collect, identify and prepare cuttings for at least 50 different varieties of plants.
  • Propagate from cuttings and successfully grow on ten different plant varieties to the stage of a saleable tube.
  • Mix and use a propagation media suited to propagating cuttings and seed.
  • Explain the reasons why particular propagation methods are preferred to other methods.
  • Explain the propagation of at least 40 different varieties of plants by grafting or budding.
  • Prepare examples of at least ten different types of grafts.
  • Successfully execute at least ten grafts using at least ten different plant variety combinations.
  • Propagate fifteen different plants by methods including separation, division and layering.
  • Explain tissue culture techniques and their commercial relevance in plant production.
  • Consider site features which are important to the operation of a nursery.
  • Explain different nursery production systems.
  • Construct a simple inexpensive cold frame.
  • Prepare a routine maintenance program for plants in a production nursery.
  • Analyse and report on the operation of two different production nurseries.
  • Prepare a floor plan for the interior layout of a propagation/potting area.
  • Describe how to pot up and plant out at least 20 different types of plants.
  • Describe soils and potting media in terms of texture, structure and water holding and nutrient holding capacity.
  • Prescribe methods of improving soil structure, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, drainage and aeration.
  • Describe how to grow plants successfully in containers.
  • Describe suitable potting mixes for container growing of five different types of plants.
  • List safety procedures to be followed in a nursery.
  • Show an awareness of irrigation equipment and its operation in a nursery.
  • Explain growing structures and equipment used to enhance the propagation of plants including, hot beds, misting, fogging, cold frames and greenhouses.


There are 15 lessons in the first half (core):

  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, stem & root modification.
  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, NPK 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 - 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.

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.



There are four major topic areas comprising fifteen lessons in the second half:

The content of the fifteen lessons is as outlined below:



Lesson 1. Methods Of Propagation

Lesson 2. Seed Propagation A

Lesson 3. Seed Physiology & Germination

Lesson 4. Seed Propagation B



Lesson 5. Propagation By Cuttings A

Lesson 6. Propagation By Cuttings B

Lesson 7. Efficiencies In Cutting Production



Lesson 8. Miscellaneous Propagating Techniques

Lesson 9. Budding & Grafting

Lesson 10. Tissue Culture

Lesson 11. Layering



Lesson 12. Propagating Structures & Equipment

Lesson 13. Propagating Materials

Lesson 14. Nursery Management A

Lesson 15. Nursery Management B


The beginning of the plants life: seed is sown, a cutting is struck, bulbs are divided or a fruit tree is budded etc. This stage requires greater technical skill and, in some cases, more expensive equipment than other stages.

Every production plant nursery needs at least one skilled propagator to start the plants they grow. A less skilled, but well managed work force may be able to do a lot of the other things that need doing in a nursery; but the skill of the propagator can be the difference between resounding success or failure.

The skills you need to be an effective propagator will change depending upon the plants you are propagating, and the nursery you work in. Some plants can only be grown well using certain techniques, and sometimes those techniques are time consuming and prone to fail unless you are well practiced and skilled in what you do. Propagating plants from cuttings for instance will require you to prepare a cutting for each new plant individually;then plant it; but propagating by seed can be done by handling, treating and sowing hundreds of seeds at a time. Grafting plants is even more time consuming than propagating by cuttings. Generating new plants from tissue culture is something else again.

This course will provide a foundation for developing an understanding and awareness of all of these techniques.


Some nurseries operate on a larger scale and others smaller; but even a smaller nursery needs to propagate a large number of plants to be viable.
If you are starting a new nursery, will it be a one person part-time or full time business, or will several people be engaged full-time? The quantity of plants handled annually will depend very much on the stages of the nursery operation in which you are involved. A propagation nursery may need to produce up to 100,000 cuttings a year to be viable and a cutting propagator might need to prepare and plant between 1000 and 2500 cuttings a day (depending upon the type of plant). Planting 1500 per day may be a good job when 95% form roots and grow. Planting 2500 is of far less value if half fail to form roots.

Success is More than Numbers 

Good quality plants can generate more profit and are more likely to sell than poor quality ones.
Plants need to be healthy and attractive; but there is even more to consider than that. as the type of label (with a photograph, printed or simply handwritten), type of container (cheap plastic bag, simple solid plastic pot or better-looking plastic pot), whether plants are sold with a stake or trellis, and whether plants will be pruned to shape as part of the growing process. Will plants which don't thrive be thrown out or still sold? Will plants which are pot bound be sold? It is not necessary to decide all these details at the planning stage, but you should formulate a general policy on quality.


  • People who already work in a production nursery or elsewhere in horticulture
  • Anyone wanting a career in horticulture - this is a good first step, because it keeps your options wider than if you did a certificate that is only propagation. This gives you a broad foundation to work in ANY area of horticulture; but extra knowledge to set you apart with knowledge of propagation beyond other certificates
  • Anyone with a passion for plant propagation
  • Anyone with a desire to start their own production plant nursery.




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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.
Marie Beermann

Marie has more than 10 years experience in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M. Sc. Hort., Dip. Bus., Cert. Ldscp.
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
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