Foundation Certificate in Plant Growth for Horticulture Level 3

A fast track certificate to build on prior learning (through a foundation course or experience). - 200 hours covers plant taxonomy, structure, function & growth; managing plant health, and propagation.

Course CodeVHT041
Fee CodeS4
Duration (approx)200 hours

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Home Studies Course - Foundation Certificate in Plant Growth for Horticulture Level 3

  • Learn to identify more plants
  • Learn more ways to propagate plants
  • Understand plant botany better
  • Learn to manage pest and disease, prune different types of plants
  • Take your career to a new level -increase business and job prospects in horticulture 

Lesson Structure

There are 15 lessons in this course:

  1. Taxonomic Classification of Plants
  2. Structure and Function of Cells and Tissues
  3. Role of Flowers and Fruit
  4. Photosynthesis, Respiration, and Movement of Water
  5. Effects of Tropisms and Plant Growth Regulators
  6. Physical Properties of Growing Media
  7. Chemical Properties of Growing Media and Role of Air and Water
  8. Biological Processes in Growing Media
  9. Nutrients and Plant Growth
  10. Organic Techniques and Soil Management
  11. Plant Pests, Diseases and Disorders Part A
  12. Plant Pests, Diseases and Disorders Part B
  13. Regulation of Chemicals and Storage Procedures
  14. Seed Propagation
  15. Vegetative Propagation

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.


  • Demonstrate knowledge of the major divisions of the plant kingdom and an understanding of the taxonomic hierarchy and its relevance to horticultural practice.
  • Identify and describe the different types of plant cells and tissues, their structure, and function.
  • To understand the role and function of the reproductive parts of the plant and the seed in the plant lifecycle.
  • Understand the mechanism and role of photosynthesis and respiration in the metabolism of plants, the role of water in the plant, and the movement of water, solutes, and assimilates through the plant.
  • To develop an understanding of the effects of tropisms and other plant movements on growth and development.
  • Understand the physical properties of growing media and their significance in relation to plant growth.
  • To understand basic chemistry of soils and other growing media, and the relationship between their air and water content and plant growth.
  • To understand the role of living organisms in the biological processes of soils and other growing media.
  • To understand how nutrients affect plant growth and describe a range of fertilisers and their applications.
  • To determine appropriate management programs for different soils in horticultural situations.

There's a System to Identifying Plants (extract from course)

For ease of study, the plant kingdom is divided into two main groups:

1) Higher Plants (flowering plants)
2) Lower Plants (non-flowering plants)

Higher plants are all seed-bearing and include trees and shrubs as well as the vast array of flowering plants. Although most seed-bearing plants produce flowers, some do not. Nevertheless, even these plants have ovules and pollen producing organs.

Lower plants include ferns, horsetails, algae, mosses and club mosses.

Botanical Classification

In the scientific system, plants are classified by dividing them into groups which have similar characteristics. These groups are then divided into smaller groups with similar characteristics. These smaller groups are divided again, and so on. The division of group to sub-group and sub-group to further sub-groups continues until you finally have only one type of plant in each group.

There are many different levels of division, although the main ones which we use in horticulture are at the bottom end of the scale (i.e. family, genus, species and variety).

What are Hormones and Tropisms (extract from course)


Plant hormones or ‘plant growth regulators’ are quite different to animal hormones. They are produced in the stems, leaves, roots and flowers of plants. They initiate biochemical processes that result in observable physiological responses in the plant.

Auxin (also known as indole-3-acetic acid or IAA) is a plant hormone that stimulates increases in cell length, especially near stem and root tips. It is produced in the apical meristem and then moves downwards toward the roots. As it does so, its concentration decreases. The extent to which cells in the plant stem elongate is directly proportional to the concentration of auxin present.


Tropisms are plant growth responses to external stimuli. A tropic movement is always determined by the direction of the external (exogenous) stimulus. For instance, a plant might move its leaves or flowers towards the sun (positive tropism) or away from it (negative tropism). Tropisms are controlled by plant hormones.


What's Needed to Get the Certificate?

To obtain the certificate, awarded by the RHS in England, the student needs to sit and pass written exams conducted under supervision, and assessed by the RHS.

Exams can be arranged to be sat anywhere in the world.

Exams are offered twice annually; in February and June. A separate fee applies for exams; set by and paid to the RHS.

A network of exam centres are located across the UK for students located in the UK. For students located outside the UK; a provision may be made for exams to be conducted "under arrangements for exceptional supervision".

Exams can often be arranged to be sat anywhere in the world (but unless you are in the UK, this cannot be given a 100% guarantee as the provision is controlled by UK authorities beyond any school's control).

This is one of several new RHS Qualifications that were phased in to replace older courses over the second half of 2010.

The older courses can still be studied with ACS, but there will be cut off dates on their accreditation; and the possibility of sitting an RHS exam for the older qualification may be missed. Opportunities will be made available to upgrade from the older courses to the new qualifications, irrespective.

Another exam option: If you discuss exam options with the RHS (after completing your assignment work through us) and find you are unable to sit the exam or travel to the UK then ACS is happy to conduct an exam and recognise a pass by awarding a Foundation Certificate in Garden Planning, Establishment and Maintenance. To be clear though, it would not have 'RHS' in the title.

How Can This Course Help You?

Whilst it covers some of the same ground, this extensive course goes into greater depth than the RHS Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Plant Growth, Propagation and Development. Students who have previously taken the Certificate 2 can take this course if they wish to upgrade. The course provides students with a thorough grounding in all aspects of plant growth so that graduates will fully understand how chemical and biological processes within plants affect plant growth and health. Through applying this knowledge they will master propagation techniques. 

People who take this course include those working in, or who would like to work in:

  • Propagation & nurseries
  • Crop growing
  • Botany
  • Horticulture consultancies
  • Horticultural science
  • Horticulture research
  • Horticulture management

Why Study an RHS Course with ACS Distance Education?
The RHS is probably the world's oldest and most respected horticultural organisation in the world.
Their qualifications are recognised in more countries than any others.
They have been producing highly educated horticulture graduates for decades.
ACS has worked with the RHS helping to deliver their courses in Australia and the UK since the 1990's.
The curriculum developed by the RHS encompasses the most important elements of horticulture.
The course notes developed by ACS strictly follow RHS guidelines, but add even greater detail.
Students receive expert feedback from professional horticulturists.

Want to Learn More?
Use our Free Advisory Service
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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 recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council
ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council

Member since 1986
Member since 1986

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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
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
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 edito
Gavin Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
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