Nursery Hands Course

Learn to manage plants in a florist, garden centre or production nursery -100 hour training for nursery assistants, nurserymen or gardeners

Course Code: VHT102
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Work in a Garden Centre

  • Learn skills that garden centres look for in their employees
  • Improve your chances of getting your first job, or advancing in a job you already have
  • Lay the foundation for advancing in a horticultural career
Quote:
“Those who seek to enter the nursery industry or who are currently employed in a nursery will find this course invaluable. From plant identification to propagation, nursery structures to irrigation, this course has it all. Graduates will be accomplished in all aspects of nursery work from the ground up to marketing.”
- Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.

Who is this course for?

  • Anyone starting out in gardening or horticulture, with a strong desire to work in a plant nursery
  • Anyone who works as a general labourer in a nursery, who desires an opportunity to advance their career or business prospects.

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Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to the Nursery Industry: production systems, transport regulations, PVR
  2. Plant Identification and Taxonomy: systematic botany, plant families, leaf and flower parts
  3. Nursery Structures and Buildings: greenhouse management, structures for nurseries
  4. Potting Mixes: U.C. soil mixes, understanding soils, growing media
  5. Seed Propagation: quality, sources, storage, germination treatments
  6. Cutting Propagation: stock plants, hormones
  7. Other Propagation Techniques: tissue culture, division, separation, layering, grafting
  8. Plant Nutrition in the Nursery: nutrition management,
  9. Pests and Diseases Control: hygeine
  10. Other Nursery Tasks: nursery irrigation, modifying plant growth
  11. Marketing and Sales: sales methods

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.

Aims

  • Understand plant propagation techniques and efficiency and quality control measures for the nursery.
  • Understand means of identifying and naming plants through International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
  • Describe pros and cons of different nursery structures and understand effective management techniques.
  • Describe different types of potting mix, their uses and pros and cons.
  • Discuss different sources, maintenance of genetic identity, hybridisation techniques, storage and germination; of seeds.
  • Understand different means of propagating cuttings.
  • Understand alternative methods of propagation and their appropriate uses.
  • Discuss the importance of major and minor elements to plant health and the effect of their deficiencies upon plant nutrition.
  • Understand the effects of pests and diseases on the livelihood of the nursery and the importance of good hygiene standards in their control.
  • Understand different methods of controlling plant growth.

What You Will Do

  • Collect, dissect and observe flowers and leaves from six different plant species belonging to two plant families.
  • Speak to some of the nurserypeople you have contacted throughout the course to date.
  • Find out what you can about their preferences for different types of greenhouses and different shade houses.
  • Prepare two different types of propagating media; a soil-less potting media for general use in container growing of plants and a general potting mix containing some soil.
  • Contact and collect catalogues from at least six different seed suppliers.
  • Collect seed from at least three different plants growing in gardens or bushland and sow this seed.
  • Contact (by phone) at least six different nurseries to research seed sourcing.
  • Prepare a pot of cuttings and estimate the cost of production for each cutting produced.
  • Obtain some pieces of wood and practice preparation of grafts and buds. Prepare three other grafts on a living plant.
  • Visit or contact a nursery or stock agent who supplies fertilisers.
  • Research the various types of fertilisers available and their appropriate applications.
  • Obtain a soil-less growing medium (such as vermiculite, perlite, sand and so on or a mixture), which has had no fertilizers added to it at all.Fill 4 pots with this medium and plant 4 seedling plants into the pot.
  • Obtain some different types of fertilizers and feed three of the pots, each with a different fertilizer...do not feed the fourth pot at all.Grow for 2‑3 weeks and then observe the differences in growth between each pot.
  • Identify as many pest or disease problems as you are able to for a given set of plants.
  • Contact three irrigation companies to find out what types of irrigation equipment are available for nursery irrigation.
  • Try to get a comparison on prices between the cheaper systems and the more expensive systems which are available.
  • Visit two different nurseries to research the techniques which are used in modifying plant growth.

KEEPING PLANTS HEALTHY IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL

Selling plants starts with having a good quality product that a customer desires.
If the plants in a nursery are unhealthy, and no more appealing than what a person can dig out of a neighbours garden; it will be an uphill battle to sell anything.

As such, the job of a nursery hand is in large part, caring for plants so they remain healthy. This involves watering, controlling pests and diseases, feeding and moving plants to isolate sick ones, and move others into places where the environmental conditions are more appropriate (something that is needed for some varieties, at certain times of the year).

How To Feed Plants in the Nursery

Consider the following factors when planning the apply fertilisers:
  • Different plants will use fertilisers at different rates. Slow growing plants should be fed at lower rates than faster growing plants.
  • Fertiliser will wash through more sandy, better draining, soils much faster than clay soils, and therefore should be applied more often and in smaller quantities on such soils.
  • The pH (acidity or alkalinity) of the soil affects the availability of different nutrients in different soils or mixes. If the pH is very acidic (e.g. pH 4) certain nutrients such as iron are more readily available to plants. However, other nutrients such as nitrogen are not able to be taken up as easily as they are at a higher pH. Every nutrient has its own ideal pH. Different plants require different amounts of different nutrients and this fact makes it preferable to have the soil pH at different levels to achieve the optimum nutrient take up with different types of plants. Some things grow better at pH 5, others are better at pH 7; most prefer a pH of around 5.5 to 6.0.
Methods of Applying Fertilisers

1. Mix straight, organic or inorganic, fertilisers into potting soil before plants are potted, and follow up with applications of liquid fertilisers at regular intervals. Soil or other media which has such fertiliser incorporated into it must be used quickly within a week or two of adding fertiliser. The fertiliser can leach out or change form if left for any period.

2. Mix fertilisers into the soil before potting, then add additional fertiliser by topdressing on top of pots or the ground at the base of the plants. Frequency of topdressing will depend upon the type of fertiliser being used and upon the characteristics of the potting mix or soil to leach out or retain nutrients applied.

3. Mix slow-release fertilisers such as Osmocote into the soil from the beginning before plants are potted or planted in open ground. The slow-release fertiliser might or might not be sufficient to feed the plant for its entire life in the nursery. Temperature and moisture can affect how quickly or slowly the fertiliser is depleted. Some fertilisers do not work at all in cooler climates during the winter months, and should normally be used only in sub tropical or tropical regions. Any fertiliser mixed into a soil must be mixed thoroughly and evenly. Some nurseries do this by using a cement mixer, adding the fertiliser as they use it whilst others have the soil supplier mix the fertiliser for them.

4. Apply slow release fertiliser to base of the plant after planting or potting. This method is preferred by some because it allows flexibility to apply different types of fertilisers to different plants and because it avoids the problem of having to ensure a thorough mixing of fertiliser in the soil/potting mix. It is important that the person doing this job does not overfeed or underfeed. A pinch is not enough. Variations in the rate of feeding can cause variations in the growth habit and growth rate between plants. A set measure per plant is required.

5. Use liquid fertilisers, normally applied through either sprays or through the normal watering system, sometimes called ‘fertigation’. Liquid feeding can vary from daily to only once every 5 or 6 weeks. There are arguments for both methods. The danger is that overfeeding can burn plants and underfeeding will not achieve the growth required. The rate of feeding must be calculated carefully, and the application of liquid feeds should be very precise.

 

WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM THIS COURSE

You may or may not work in a nursery before starting or finishing this course; but by completing these studies, your understanding and awareness of how to care for nursery stock will have grown in ways that will increase your value to any plant nursery, retail or production.

This course may:

  • Help you get a job, or advance in a job you already have.
  • Help you start your own nursery business
  • Indulge a passion for growing plants at home; particularly collections of container plants.
  • Improve the operation of a nursery business you own or manage




 
 
 
 

 

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Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

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We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).


What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email acs@oamps.com.au.


Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.


How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.


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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

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.

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

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

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

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





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Gaynor Hartley

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Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA

Jacinda has expertise in psychology and horticulture. She holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. In horticulture she has a Certificate in Garden Design and ran her own landscaping and garden design business for a number of years. Jacinda also has many years experience in course development and educational writing.

Jan Kelly

Dip Hort (Burnley); Cert IV Assessment & Training

Jan has around 50 years of experience in horticulture, including over 20 years as owner/manager of a wholesale/retail nursery. She has worked in both Australia and New Guinea, in many different capacities, including as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer for domestic and development projects, with considerable experience in Conservation & Land Management. Jan has been a trainer of Amenity Horticulture and Landscape Design for 10 years.

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