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Course CodeVHT003
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)150 hours

This course was developed and run as the RHS Certificate II  up until July 2010, when it was replaced by the RHS due to changes in the UK accreditation system. Due to popular demand from students, we continue to offer this as a "foundation certificate" examined and awarded by ACS Distance Education in Australia (It no longer holds any endorsement from the RHS).

There are ten lessons in this course:
1. The Plant Kingdom (part a)
2. The Plant Kingdom (part b)
3. The Plant Kingdom (part c)
4. Plant Propagation
5. Outdoor Food Production
6. Garden Planning
7. The Root Environment and Plant Nutrition
8. Protected Cultivation
9. Horticultural Plant Selection, Establishment and Maintenance
10. Horticultural Plant Health Problems


The average person can complete this to a minimum required level in around 150 hours. Some students may spend longer in preparation for the exams.


  • Demonstrate a broad range of horticultural knowledge; communicate clearly and coherently in writing on horticultural matters; and relate horticultural science to its practical application.
  • Understand the classification of higher plants and appreciate the internal structure of higher plants.
  • Understand the external structure of higher plants
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand the fundamental physiological processes within the plant including photosynthesis, respiration, water movement, pollination, fertilisation, seed formation and germination.
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand basic cultural operations and production methods necessary to obtain outdoor food crops.
  • Understand basic surveying and design principles and apply them to basic garden design and planning requirements.
  • Develop an understanding of the constituents, properties and management of soils and growing media.
  • Develop an understanding of environmental control and plant cultivation in greenhouses and other protected environments.
  • Develop an understanding of plant selection, establishment and maintenance of a range of ornamental plants.
  • Develop an understanding of pest, diseases and weeds that affect horticultural plants, and the cultural, biological, chemical and integrated systems used to control those problems.


On the course you will do the following activities and more:

  • Draw and label a diagram of a plant cell.
  • Draw a diagram showing where active cell division is located within plants.
  • Draw two diagrams (one of a monocotyledon, the other a dicotyledon), showing the external differences between a monocotyledon and a dicotyledon.
  • Identify plants with botanical keys.
  • Dissect two different flowers and identify their parts.Collect and identify different types of fruits.
  •  Collect different leaves, draw and describe them.

  • Sow different types of seed, draw and describe the changes occurring to the seed.

  • Try to find as many examples of modified plant parts that you can.

  • Compare different pollination methods

  • Define botanical concepts and terms
  • Develop a crop rotation system for a vegetable garden - submit with your assignment.
  • Visit an orchard and discuss suitable cultivars and root stocks selection, fertilisation, certification schemes available for fruit plants, pests and diseases control, crop production and harvest methods
  • Find articles, plans or real life gardens that represent the following five styles (one garden for each style): formal, informal, productive vegetable and fruit garden, greenhouse or conservatory garden and walled garden (or courtyard).
  • Study and compare different landscapes
  • Identify the soil layers (soil horizons) of the soil profile.
  • Take a soil sample for later analysis.
  • Contact irrigation suppliers and compare irrigation systems.
  • Draw a diagram outlining the carbon and nitrogen cycles.
  • Visit a fertiliser supplier or garden centre and collect/gather information in relation to the various types of fertiliser available.
  • Contact growing structure suppliers and manufacturers, i.e. home greenhouses, conservatories, cloches, and any other growing structures. Collect brochures and catalogues on the products they sell. Try to include information on heating, irrigation, cladding, etc.
  • Visit a commercial greenhouse and take photographs of equipment they use to assist with environmental control including heating, lighting, ventilation, misting or fogging systems.
  • Investigate the type of pots and potting mixes available in the market.
  • Investigate the current legislation in your area regarding the approved use of chemicals for the control of fungi, pests and bacteria and legislation in relation to runoff and other environmental factors associated with greenhouse production.
  • Investigate the health and safety issues and risk associated with greenhouse production.
  • Research a range of plants suited to greenhouse growing or those that start their life in a greenhouse.

  • Compile the list of plants above; include the botanical name, description including flowering time, propagation techniques, potting, feeding, watering trimming/pruning/deadheading, tying/staking, harvesting, cultural requirements for each plant, and any associated pest and disease problems.

  • Interview a local horticulturist, landscape contractor, nursery person or garden designer regarding the selection and establishment of plants in your local area.
  • Find and identify 15 weed species growing in your locality.
  • Research the pests and diseases that commonly attack plants
  • Investigate the chemical, cultural and biological control methods used to control those pest and diseases in your locality.
  • Research two examples of IPM successfully implemented to protect crops in your region or country.
  • Find six plants with significant health problems. For each plant, conduct a plant inspection and attempt to diagnose the cause(s).

EXAMS:  2 Exams


  • Recognised by International Accreditation and Recognition Council
  • Highly qualified and respected staff
  • A range of memberships and affiliations in the UK, Australia and elsewhere.
  • Affiliations and articulation arrangements with a range of other colleges in the UK and Australia.

Meet some of our academics

Adriana Fraser Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preached; developing large gardens and always growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs; and making her own preserves. In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certificate in horticulture; and a few years later, completing an Advanced Diploma in Horticulture. Adriana has worked across a broad spectrum of the horticulture industry; and has developed a strong network of contacts in horticulture around Australia and beyond. She has written and contributed to many books and magazine articles; and at one stage managed the national collection of Thyme. She has a passion for plant knowledge and sustainability and an inert understanding of how people learn about horticulture. Adriana has been a tutor with ACS since the mid 90's and based on the feedback from past students has been an overwhelming success in helping people develop their skills and further careers in horticulture.
Diana Cole Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Permaculture Design Certificate, B.A. (Hons)-Geography, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development Diana has been an enthusiastic volunteer with community garden and land conservation projects since the 1980's. She has worked full time in horticulture since 2001, as a nursery manager, landscape and garden consultant, and a horticultural teacher (both with ACS and in the classroom with a local college where she lives in England).
Gavin Cole Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. In the mid 90's he worked as a manager and garden designer with the well respected UK company -The Chelsea Gardener. A few years later he formed his own garden design business, at first in the UK, and later operating in Queensland Australia. He has since moved to, and works from Adelaide. Apart from his work in landscaping, Gavin has been a prolific garden writer and a tutor with ACS Distance Education since 2001. He is currently part of the team of garden experts that produce Home Grown magazine.
Yvonne SharpeRHS 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.

Check out our eBooks

Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmIt's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. To work efficiently and profitably, a nursery or herb farm must be both well organised and properly managed. As with any business, it is essential to be confident enough to make firm decisions as and when needed. This e-book is your ticket to a fragrant future.
Garden Design Part 1This stunning full colour Garden Design ebook is full of useful tips, information and inspiration. It contains around 300 colour illustrations! It is comprised of three parts: Design, How a Garden Functions and Aesthetics (making it look good).
Getting Work in HorticultureFind out what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse the industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest, can be an exciting and satisfying experience.