Course CodeVHT033
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

Learn a lot More about Plants

  • Identifying them
  • Growing them
  • Using them

Plants are one of our greatest resources. They provide us with food and raw materials for more than what most people realise from clothing and cosmetics to medicines and fuel. Without plants, weather conditions would be more extreme and soils would erode much faster.

The knowledge derived from this course will make you so much more capable of working with plants and plant derivatives. You may decide to do this course purely to follow a passion for plants; or you may have some other career or business purpose in mind. Whatever your reason; this is a course that can enhance knowledge you may already have; or open up a whole new world if you have not studied plants in any depth before.

Become an Exceptional Horticulturist

This course will greatly expand the number of plants you can identify, and your familiarity with all of those plants. 
You have a very unique opportunity to choose modules that focus on particular types of plants; and in doing so, build a level of expertise with each of your chosen specialisations.
Graduates from this course have unique knowledge, skills and awareness that sets them apart from the average horticulturist.
You may work in landscaping, garden care, nursery production or some other area of horticulture. Whatever the case, knowing more plants will allow you to make better choices about what to work with.

Whether you are working with trees, shrubs, perennials, crops or anything else; there will always be criteria to be considered and compromised to make when choosing what plants to work with.
A landscaper for example, may be need to consider the following:

  • How tall will it grow? The stated height on plant labels are guidelines, not hard and fast rules – often trees will grow considerably taller or smaller.
  • How dense? The denser the crown, the better its shade provision.
  • How wide? Broad-canopied trees need lots of space but they provide excellent shade compared to narrow, columnar trees. Some low growing shrubs are wider than they are high.  
  • How low does the foliage grow? If the foliage grows low to the ground, it may take up to much space, or you may have to spend time pruning back branches to provide good access beneath the tree.
  • Does it cause root problems? Think about nearby drainage pipes, foundations, paths, etc.
  • Is it hardy? Does it have good resistance to stress, pests and diseases?
  • Does it drop leaves, branches, fruit, sap/resin or cones? All woody plants drop leaves, but some drop them all at once in autumn (deciduous trees), and although they make a huge mess, at least it’s all over and done with in a few weeks (and you have the bonus of a pile of leaves for composting and mulching). Others continually drop messy leaves throughout the year.  Some can be quite hazardous in small backyards, dropping whole branches, pine cones or large and messy fruits. Some plants, particularly some conifers, will drop resins or sap that can be sticky or difficult to remove, or even damage some surfaces such as painted areas, or car enamel.
  • Does it pose a safety or health risk, such as having thorns, causes allergies, have irritating sap, or dropping branches? 

In order to answer all of these questions with respect to the plant you select; you will need to know a lot about each and every one of the options you consider. When you realize that there could be hundreds of options to consider, you start to understand how complicated it can be to make really good plant selections. Very few people reach this level of expertise; but with this course as a foundation, you can be on a pathway to develop expertise of that standard.

Learn More By Observing

When we study plants growing in gardens or nature; it is possible to discover how they interact with each other, Plants always affect the other plants growing around them in many ways. They compete for water and soil nutrients; but they also provide shelter for each other. A tree reduces the impact of climate on plants below it's canopy; and plants below the canopy have shallow root systems that hold the soil together and reduces the likelihood of soil erosion. There are many interactions such as this to be observed.

In ‘natural’ ecological conditions plant associations occur in a variety of ways. At a broad level, indigenous plants are distributed geographically (phytogeography) – put simply, different plant species grow in different spots around the planet. In individual geographical locations, plant communities form diverse associations based on local climates, mutualism, commensalism, mutualism and amensalism. Plants may grow in situations where they are mutually assistive, plants may directly compete with one another, or plants may aggressively exploit ecological opportunities. For example many rainforest plants are capable of germinating and remaining in a juvenile state of development until a gap in the canopy provides enough light for vigorous growth and development. Vegetation is frequently classified by associations – particular plant species will frequently grow together due to geology and soil type, rainfall, and solar radiation levels.

The principles of plant association and competition, and phytogeography, have all been utilised in agriculture and horticulture world wide. Some examples of this utilisation include:

  • Breeding of plants for particular growth and yield potential variables;
  • Inter cropping, seasonal rotations and other cultural methods;
  • Global production of staple commercial crops such as wheat, rice, legumes and vegetables.



The underpinning foundation for Plant Knowledge is to learn about families.

Watch this video as an introduction to one important family - "Ericaceae".  When you can identify and place plants within a family, that gives you a starting point and context for identifying and growing the,


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