Diploma (Advanced) in Horticulture - Nursery

Course CodeVHT009
Fee CodeAD
Duration (approx)2400 hours
QualificationAdvanced Diploma

Learn all aspects of nursery management from industry experts

This is an extremely comprehensive course which will help you develop a career in the retail or production nursery industry. Work as a Nursery Manager, Technical Officer, Marketing Manager, Consultant, Vocational Trainer.

This course allows you to focus on plants and horticultural skills that most interest you and match your needs.

Learn from experienced horticulturalists. Grow your awareness of industry and opportunities; and develop your networking skills.


“The nursery trade is crying out for well educated managers able to apply their knowledge and skills without constant supervision. This course covers all aspects of nursery management; it is structured to develop students with sound management skills.” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert IV Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort, ACS Tutor.


This course is written to satisfy all relevant competencies of the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Diploma (Advanced) in Horticulture - Nursery.
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Horticultural Research I BHT118
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Propagation I BHT108
 Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
 Botany II (Plant Growth and Development) BSC204
 Cutting Propagation BHT211
 Horticultural Research II BHT241
 Horticultural Resource Management BHT203
 Seed Propagation BHT237
 Horticultural Marketing BHT304
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 13 of the following 24 modules.
 Australian Natives I BHT113
 Azaleas & Rhododendrons VHT106
 Horticulture III (Plant Health) BHT116
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Machinery and Equipment BSC105
 Australian Natives II BHT225
 Conifers BHT230
 Deciduous Trees BHT244
 Garden Centre Management BHT255
 Hydroponic Management (Hydroponics II) BHT213
 Irrigation - Crops BHT204
 Orchid Culture BHT232
 Plant Breeding BHT236
 Practical Horticulture 1 BHT238
 Protected Plant Production BHT223
 Roses BHT231
 Scented Plants BHT229
 Tropical Plants BHT234
 Weed Control BHT209
 Wholesale Nursery Management BHT212
 Ferns BHT314
 Interior (Indoor) Plants BHT315
 Practical Horticulture 2 BHT323
 Tissue Culture BHT306

Note that each module in the Diploma (Advanced) in Horticulture - Nursery is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Today there is an unprecedented interest in gardening and in the use of plants (for purposes both culinary and ornamental), and a nursery or garden centre can represent a viable small business proposition.

Nurseries today are different to what they once were.

  • Retail garden centres can be destinations for social and leisure activities; and places to buy far more than just plants -from homewares and food to pet and craft supplies.
  • Production nurseries are also often more than they once were. Some make significant income by selling over the internet. Others breed plants or acquire plant variety rights, and derive as much income from royalties as from selling actual plants. 

It is very important for you to realise that there are tremendous variations in the way plants are treated from place to place.

There are a number of very basic decisions which need to be made before commencing a nursery operation. These alternatives should be reconsidered every year' or two through an operation, and perhaps changes made accordingly. These first decisions are discussed in turn below.


Many nurseries specialise in a limited range of products, for example:

Plants in Pots
This is the way the major part of the herb farm and nursery industries operates. The scale at which this sector of the industry operates makes growing in containers a low-risk operation compared with some other alternatives. Plants in containers do, however, become pot bound and need to be sold or else potted up within a certain time.

Plants in the Open Ground
Plants are grown in cultivated paddocks until ready for sale, at which time they are dug up and prepared for sale in various ways:

  • they are put into containers
  • soil is removed from the roots (deciduous plants only) and they are stored over winter with roots in moistened shavings or straw
  • the soil ball is held together by tying hessian around it
  • in some heavier soils, plants are sold with whatever soil clings to the roots left as such, not contained in any way by cloth or any other container.
After container growing this is the next most common practice.
Open-ground growing is economical in that it doesn't require the same expense for containers and usually it caIls for less watering.

Bare Rooted Cuttings
Some nurseries specialise in propagation, that is producing roots on cuttings. They leave the job of growing the plants up to a salable size to Herbal products such as cosmetics, herb vinegar, pomanders, and dried herbs for cooking are becoming ever more popular, but do not rely on them heavily at first - business may take time to build up another nursery. This type of operation requires less area but more expertise and a greater initial outlay on expensive  propagating structures and equipment.

Specialised Container Products
Hanging baskets, terrariums, bonsai, mini-gardens and plants in decorative
tubs are all products in which a nursery can specialise. Before commencing
this type of operation however, study carefully the demands of the market
and know what competition exists. You also need to be sure you know
how to produce your product and how to produce it well. Anyone can
make a bonsai but it takes skill to make a good one which will survive.


At what stages of the plants development will you be handling the plant?
The answer could be bay be to concentrate on one of the following.

Propagation Nursery
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.

Plants Ready for Planting Out
The small propagated plants are put into pots, planted into the open ground or into some other situation in which they can be grown to a larger size. There is more difficulty at the beginning of this operation when the plants are moved from a pampered propagating environment to a harsher growing-on environment As they become older, they harden and become more resistant to disease and environmental problems.

Advanced Grown Plants
This involves growing plants to a large size either in containers or the open ground. Though these plants might be hardy, this type of work is heavy and usually requires at least some machinery to handle the plants.
Many nurseries supplement their sales of plants with ancillary products - pots, window boxes, watering cans, potting mixes and various sprays and treatments.


You will develop the skills and knowledge required to work in the retail or production nursery industry at management level.

This course is different to many others. It is an "experiential based" learning program; designed to get you involved with the horticulture industry as you study. The industry is changing faster than ever; and will continue to change; and for ongoing success you need to become "connected" and remain "connected", so that you see and adapt to recent changes, and ongoing changes as your career moves forward.


Let us help you toward a successful future in nursery management!

We've always found it is better to communicate with someone before they enrol. If we understand your passions, capabilities and ambitions, we can help you map out a course of action to give you the best chance of achieving your goals.

Use our free career and course counselling service.



This course is accredited by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.
This course is accredited by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.

ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau
Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau

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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  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 (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
  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; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
  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, Horticulturist, Horticultural Scientist, and Horticultural Consultant
  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.