Course CodeVHT014
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours
Become a Herb Expert 
  • Earn an income from herbs
  • Learn to grow and use herbs from experts with decades of experience
  • Study at your own pace and explore options for business and career
This course has been developed as a broad based foundation for anyone working or wishing to work in the herb industry; on a herb farm or nursery growing herbs; in the design, development and maintenance of herb gardens, or in the manufacture and marketing of herb products.
It is an ideal starting point for anyone with aspirations to start their own business, or anyone with a burning passion to learn more about herbs, and explore the possibilities for being involved with them more in the future.


There are thirty lessons including a special project in this course, each requiring about 16 hours work.

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of Herb Varieties
  3. Soils & Nutrition
  4. Herb Culture
  5. Propagation Techniques
  6. Pests & Disease Control
  7. Harvesting Herbs
  8. Processing Herbs
  9. Using Herbs: Herb Crafts
  10. Using Herbs: Herbs for Cooking
  11. Using Herbs: Medicinal Herbs
  12. Herb Farming
  13. Herb Garden Design
  14. Constructing a Herb Garden
  15. Managing a Herb Nursery
  16. Lavenders
  17.  Mints
  18. Lamiaceae Herbs
  19. Garlic
  20. The Asteraceae (Compositae) Herbs
  21. The Apiaceae Family
  22. Other Herbs
  23. Topiary & Hedges
  24. Producing Herb Products  A
  25. Producing Herb Products  B
  26. Producing Herb Products  C
  27. Marketing in the Herb Industry
  28. Budgeting & Business Planning
  29. Workforce Design & Management
  30. Major Research Project

Exams: Two exams must be sat and passed; one for the first 15 lessons and the other for the last 15 lessons.

The Diversity of herbs is Staggering

There are thousands of different types of herbs. Some people work with just one type (eg. culinary herbs) or produce products from just one type (eg. lavender products). Others in the herb industry may deal with all sorts of different herbs (eg. landscapers who create herb gardens, nurseries that grow and sell a wide variety of herb species).

Perhaps the first point to make is that, even though generalisations might be able to be made about growing herbs, every type of plant is a different type of plant. Every species has its own cultural requirements. It must be treated in a certain individual way and, depending on the climate and location in which it is grown, it will respond differently to different types of treatments.In a nutshell we can say: 'Every plant is an individual'.

Herbs are, in the main, relatively easy to grow when compared with other types of plants. Most herbs are relatively tolerant of occasional exposure to extreme conditions such as wind, sunburn, frost or wet feet. They may deteriorate, but usually they regrow. (There are exceptions though). Some herbs are weeds in some parts of the world. You should be very aware of the vigour of the herbs you grow, and their potential to become a weed.
In particular, watch the seedlings of vigorous herbs....if not controlled, they can become a serious problem to both your garden and neighbouring properties.

Most herbs propagate relatively easily either by division, seed or cuttings. Many self seed and can virtually take over a garden if not controlled. Others (eg. most of the mints) will spread naturally and can virtually take over this way. This vigorous and prolific habit of some herbs has led them to be looked upon as almost 'weeds' in some quarters. On the other hand, this vigorous type of growth can, if used skilfully, be used as a form of weed control. It often boils down to 'the individual's personal perception of what a garden should be'.

In a garden situation, if you don't mind herbs being 'mixed' up with other plants then there is no reason why they shouldn't be planted with your 'roses', 'azaleas', or 'natives'. Many people however, prefer to treat their herbs separately, creating a special area which becomes the exclusive domain of their herbs. This type of 'special' herb garden is historically part of the formal kitchen garden which was an essential part of life up until a century or so ago. Here the herbs were arranged in regular shaped beds divided by gravel or paved paths. The design was always symmetrical; a circle, square or rectangle divided into symmetrically balanced beds divided down the centre by a path. This type of formal herb garden is today making a comeback

Exams: There are four exams for the course; one after lesson 7, another after lesson 15; a third after lesson 22 and the final at the conclusion of the course. 



What is a Herb?

Strictly speaking 'herb' is simply a shortening of the word 'herbaceous', which in horticulture (or botany) means the type of plant which does not have a 'woody stem'.  Herbaceous plants have softer tissue in the stem and tend to die back to ground level each year after flowering to regrow a complete new 'top' the next season.  Many of the plants we refer to as herbs are like this, but not all.
The word 'herb' in the context of this course, and in the context it is commonly used today, refers to those plants which are useful because of their aromatic, medicinal, cosmetic, flavouring or repellent qualities.  Herbs are plants which are used for 'food, medicine, scent, flavour etc'. In this sense an herb can range from tiny small prostrate shrubs up to large trees, for example those having aromatic leaves.
One critical aspect of using herbs must be the ability to identify the plant you are going to use, accurately. Plants are not always named correctly in nurseries, nor are they always described correctly in books.


PLANT NAMES: Plants are given two different types of names: 
  • Common Names..... These are English language names usually given to plants by amateur gardeners as a descriptive, easy to remember tag. Many plants have more than one common name, and sometimes the same common name can be given to several quite different plants. This along with the fact that there is no real control over common names makes them inaccurate & unreliable for plant identification.
  • Scientific Names.....based on Latin language, these names often seem more complex than common names at first glance; however they have a system to them which can make plant identification much easier. The system of scientific naming is strictly controlled and coordinated by botanists throughout the world. Scientific names should always be used in preference to common names.

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 are divided again and so the division of group to sub group & sub group to further sub groups goes on....until you finally have only one type of plant in each group.

The largest group which herbs fall into is the Mint (Labiatae or Lamiaceae).  The Daisy (Compositae or Asteraceae), Umbel (Umbelliferae or Apiaceae) and Lily (Liliaceae) families also encompass large numbers of common herbs.

There is a distinct advantage in knowing which family groups a particular herb falls into:

  • Identification of herbs becomes easier.  There are certain characteristics which are the same for all types of plants in the same groups (eg. Mint family plants all have "squarish" shaped stems).
  • The way in which plants in the same family are used is usually similar (eg. It is usually the leaves of mint   Lamiaceae (Labiatae)   family plants which are used for flavour or fragrance.)


This course will expand your mind so you can better see and understand the huge range of possibilities for working with herbs. You may only ever work with herbs on a small scale; but for others, herbs may become both your passion and sole source of income.
Possibilities may include:
  • Propagating and selling herb plants (production nursery, specialising in herbs)
  • Running or working in a herb shop (A retail outlet selling all types of herb products from home wares to perfumes, culinary and medicinal herb products, crafts, etc.
  • Farming and selling fresh culinary herbs, dried herbs or extracted herb oils 
  • Working as a consultant , in education or the media, writing and talking about herbs
  • Herbal therapies -aromatherapy, massage etc.
  • Manufacturing and wholesaling of herbal products.
The vast majority of herb studies graduates will run their own business – but some do work for others e.g.  in retail nurseries, on herb farms or as advisors.

Meet some of our academics

Adriana Fraser Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and 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, completed a Advanced Diploma in Horticulture amongst other qualifications. 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. She has a passion for plant knowledge and sustainability and a natural understanding of how people learn about horticulture and has taught in various institutions and organistions as well as ACS. 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.
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.
Maggi BrownMaggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having worked for 20 years as Education Officer at the "Garden Organic" (formerly HDRA). Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS, Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Rosemary Davies Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences. Initially she worked with the Department of Agriculture in Victoria providing advice to the public. Over the years she has 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

Check out our eBooks

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.
Growing & Knowing LavenderWritten by John Mason, this ebook is 117 pages of wonderfully illustrated pages that explain the different lavenders, different names and growing conditions. This ebook also looks at uses for lavender in the garden, home and even business opportunities.
Scented PlantsScented plants can be either a delight or a curse. For many people, there is nothing more pleasing than a garden filled with fragrance, but for others who suffer allergies, certain plants can make them physically ill; sometimes very seriously.
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.



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