Horticulture I

Learn horticulture at home, studying online or by distance education, foundations of horticulture, plant science, plant identification, soils, weeds, pest control, landscaping, turf, propagation and arboriculture.

Course CodeBHT101
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Start Your Horticulture Career Here

Join thousands of graduates that have enrolled in this most popular course and gone on to be horticulturists and gardeners!

This course isn't about ticking you off against a list of basic competencies. This course establishes sound horticultural skills and knowledge and importantly develops problem solving skills that are so valued by employers, but rarely found in graduates from competency based courses.

This is a 'Problem Based Learning' course not just competency based!

What will studying Horticulture 1 do for you?
Give you a sound grounding in the principles of horticulture.
Develop your practical skills so you can apply these principles.

What will Horticulture 1 teach you?

To scientifically identify around 100 plants
To understand soils
To propagate plants
To prune plants
To identify and control pests and diseases
To control weeds
To establish, repair and care for turf
To plan and draw a simple garden design

As you can see this course is an 'all-rounder' - A great starting point for any budding horticulturist or garden enthusiast.

Get 3 free ebooks when you enrol in this course - we will select them to specifically to suit this course (written by the ACS academic staff) that is at least $100 value free! Mention this offer when you enrol.

ACS student comment: Yes, the course has been a valuable learning experience definitely.  I’m learning a lot of things that I find useful straight away, and there are lessons that I can practically apply to help me to learn. Rowena Headlam, Australia,

Lesson Structure

There are 13 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant identification
    • Naming plants
    • Distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid
    • Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons
    • Characteristics of botanical families
    • Structure and arrangement of leaves and leaflets
    • Leaf terminology
    • Leaf arrangements
    • Flower structure and identifying the different parts of a flower
    • How seeds form
    • Plant reviews
    • Collecting and pressing plants for herbaria
  2. Planting
    • Garden terminology
    • Common garden problems
    • Basic planting procedure
    • Fertilising and staking when planting
    • Dealing with bare rooted plants
    • Time of planting
    • Deciding where to plant
    • Mulching
    • Making garden beds
    • Raised beds
    • Sunken beds
    • Planting terminology
  3. Recognising plant families and identifying plants
    • Becoming familiar with plant families
    • Botanical Latin
    • Systematic examination of plants - dicot or monocot, type of wood, etc
    • Characteristics of important families including: Amaryllidaceae, Araceae, Asteraceae, Ericaceae, Lamiaceae, Fabaceae.
    • Getting to know more common families
    • Other ways to identify plants
    • Plants for shade
    • Plants for exposed conditions
    • Plants for inner city gardens
  4. Soils
    • Purpose of soil
    • Soil structure: classifying soils
    • Soil water and air
    • Soil temperature
    • Soil pH
    • Nutrient availability
    • Naming a soil
    • Improving soils
    • Composting
    • Natural plant foods
    • Sampling and testing soils
    • Potting soil mixes
    • Soil terminology
  5. Plant nutrition
    • The nutrient elements
    • Major elements
    • Minor elements
    • Diagnosis of nutrient problems
    • Fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium
    • How much fertilizer to apply
    • Terminology
  6. Water management
    • Introduction to irrigation
    • Feasibility of irrigation
    • Soil and water
    • When to irrigate
    • Water deficiency symptoms
    • Types of soil moisture; gravitational, capillary, hygroscopic
    • Measuring water available to plants
    • Rooting depths of plants
    • Estimating water requirements
    • Pumps, sprinklers and other equipment
    • Understanding hydraulics
    • Conventional sprinkler systems; portable, permanent, semi permanent
    • Cyclic watering
    • Pulse watering
    • Irrigation scheduling
    • Sprinkler spacing
    • Improving soils for water management
    • Drainage
    • Erosion management
    • Soil compaction
    • Acidification
  7. Garden maintenance and weeds
    • Cost of garden maintenance
    • Machinery
    • Comparing more and less costly areas of the garden.
    • Common weeds and their identification
    • Weed control methods - chemical and non chemical
    • Plants that become invasive
    • Environmental weeds
  8. Pests and diseases
    • Pest and disease overview
    • Preventative measures for managing pest and disease
    • Review of major pest problems and control options: Aphis, Borers, Caterpillar, Leaf Miner, Mealy Bug, Red Spider, Scale, etc
    • Review of major diseases and their control: Anthracnose, Black Leg, Rots, Botrytis, Damping off, Die back, Mildew, Rust etc.
    • Diagnosis of problems
    • Introduction to plant pathology and entomology
    • Chemical pesticides and basic toxicology
    • Integrated pest management
  9. Pruning
    • Reasons for pruning
    • Identifying bud types
    • Basic rules of pruning
    • Pruning in a home orchard
    • Terminology
    • Winter pruning tools
    • Examples of winter pruning; Crepe Myrtle, Hydrangea, Raspberry, Fuchsia, Kiwi Fruit, Grevillea, etc
    • Rose pruning
  10. Landscaping
    • Introduction and pre planning information
    • Plant selection criteria
    • Covering the ground
    • Living plant cover
    • Mulches
    • Container growing outside
    • General considerations
    • Terminology
  11. Propagation
    • Methods of propagation: seed propagation and vegetative propagation
    • Propagation structures: cold frames
    • Cutting propagation
    • Factors affecting rooting of cuttings
  12. Lawns
    • Turf grass varieties
    • Review of common turf species
    • Laying a new lawn
    • Common turf problems
    • Cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.
  13. Arboriculture
    • What is arboriculture
    • How to keep trees healthy
    • Where and how to cut trees to remove branches or prune
    • Why remove a tree
    • Ways to fell a tree
    • Removing a stump
    • Tree surgery; terms and techniques

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.


  • Distinguish between different plants, to enable identification of the plant species.
  • Explain appropriate procedures for establishing a range of plants in different conditions.
  • Describe the characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the characteristics of plant nutrition necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Determine appropriate water management procedures for healthy plant growth.
  • Understand appropriate procedures for pruning plants on a horticultural site.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common weeds.
  • Determine solutions for the management of a range of common pests and diseases.
  • Prepare a concept plan for the development of a garden.
  • Understand commonly used plant propagation techniques.
  • Develop guidelines for general lawn care.
  • Develop guidelines for general tree care in a horticultural situation.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between plants in order to identify at least 120 plants on plant review sheets.
  • Plant out a container plant following a recommended procedure.
  • Sample and carry out simple tests on different soils.
  • Identify a range of nutrient problems in plants.
  • Identify a range of pest and disease problems in plants.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for pruning a plant.
  • Identify a range of different plants, based on their flower and leaf structures.
  • Determine appropriate procedures for planting according to type of plant and site.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to care for plants in the garden.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate plant selection for a range of different sites.
  • Identify a range of plant health problems and describe appropriate chemical and non-chemical control methods to control those problems.
  • Identify characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
  • Explain the importance of organic matter in soil management.
  • Describe the principles and techniques of composting.
  • Determine nutrient problems and describe chemical and non-methods for overcoming these problems.
  • Identify management solutions to a range of plant problems including weeds, pests and diseases.
  • Explain the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
  • Determine appropriate water management practices applicable to plant growth.
  • Describe the characteristics of irrigation and drainage systems.
  • Describe the importance of pruning to plant growth, flowering and fruiting.
  • Describe safe use of chemicals.
  • Develop criteria for selecting suitable plants for a landscape project.
  • Prepare concept plans for landscape redevelopment.
  • Draw a concept plan for a garden redevelopment.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure for taking cuttings from a range of plants.
  • Distinguish between different pre-germination seed requirements and techniques, for different plant species.
  • Determine appropriate turf species for different purposes and chosen climatic conditions.
  • Explain the composition of lawn seed mixes and fertilizers.
  • Observe and report on lawn management techniques.
  • Determine solutions to lawn problems.
  • Explain the cause and effect of common tree problems.
  • Determine appropriate methods for treating tree problems.

Where Can this Course Lead?  


Thousands of people have studied this course. Many now run their own successful garden, landscaping or nursery businesses or farms. Others work on golf courses, for parks departments, on orchards, vineyards, or for garden supply or service companies. Some have gone on to be successful in the media, and others have used this course to lay a foundation for further studies.


ACS Distance Education is unique, and we have trained tens of thousands of people in horticulture. The principal is an internationally renowned horticulturist; the only person to have been made a fellow both by the Australian Institute of Horticulture and the UK Institute of Horticulture. He is also a fellow of Parks and Leisure Australia; and early in his career, at the age of 23 was the youngest parks superintendent in Australia. Our team of expert tutors are all university trained and exceptionally well experienced professionals.
See profiles of our faculty at https://www.acs.edu.au/about-us/staff/default.aspx



To be successful in horticulture,  you need passion, persistence and a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed.

If this describes you; we can help you to get a start.

You need to build a foundation first, to understand the science that underpins horticulture, and to be able to identify lots of different plants (for plant knowledge is fundamental to any good horticulture).

This course could lead to:

  • Work in a nursery or garden centre - many people in this industry lack plant identification skills.

  • Work as a gardener - many gardeners have absolutely no formal training and it shows!

  • A hobby gardener turning a passion into a profession.

  • A first step to further education.



Need assistance?

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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
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.
Jacinda 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
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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