Course CodeBHT316
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Perennial Flower Gardening Course

  • Learn to identify, select and grow perennial plants for floral and foliage displays.
  • A course for nurserymen, gardeners, garden designers, plant breeders, plant collectors -anyone with a passion for perennials.


Scope of the Course

This course is broad in scope, covering all types of perennials. It provides a pathway to learning about perennials that also allows each individual student to make choices about the types of perennials they wish to focus their attention on.

In many of the tasks you carry out, you will have an opportunity to focus on the genera that most interest you; and receive mentoring from horticultural experts, to help develop your knowledge with respect to those genera.

Perennials cover a wide range of plants including both ornamental and useful plants. There are perennial plants for all situations.

Botanists may call perennials any plants that live for several years (ie. anything that is not an annual or a biennial). Gardeners and horticulturists however, generally refer to perennials as plants which have softer tissue (ie. are not woody), as well as living for several years.

The term biennial is also sometimes used, referring to a plant that lives for and completes its life cycle in 2 years. A perennial may therefore be distinguished from annuals and biennials as having a longer lifespan than those two types of plants.

Horticulturists and gardeners commonly think of two types of perennials:

  • herbaceous perennials
  • evergreen perennials

Herbaceous perennials die back for during part of the year. Commonly, the whole of the top of the plant may die back, leaving a crown or swelling at ground level, and the roots below. Some however may only loose part of the top growth. Evergreen perennials maintain leaves (at least some) throughout all seasons.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Physiology
    • Information sources
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Watering
    • Feeding
    • Pruning, etc.
  3. Propagation and Hybridization
    • Seed
    • Pricking out seedlings
    • Cuttings
    • Factors affecting cutting strike
    • Propagating media
    • Types of cuttings
    • Hardening off young plants
    • Division
    • Separation
    • Layering
    • Potting mixes
    • Potting up
  4. Review of Major Types of Perennials
    • Herbaceous perennials
    • Establishing herbaceous plants
    • Popular bulbs, corms and tubers
    • Supporting herbaceous plants
    • Herbs in a perennial border
    • Wildflower meadows
    • Maintaining herbaceous borders
    • Perennials for different purposes/uses
    • Artemisia
    • Lavandula
    • Scented Geraniums
    • Ornamental; grasses
    • Bamboos
  5. Pests and Disease
    • Plant pathology
    • Parasitic and non parasitic problems
    • Conducting an inspection and identifying problems
    • Tell tale symptoms
    • Common terminology
    • Common pests on perennials and their management
    • Diseases
  6. Water Management
    • Significance of water
    • Infiltration and water retention
    • Water needs for perennials
    • Watering methods
    • When to water
    • Testing water needs
    • Reducing water needs
    • Watering perennials in pots
    • Drip irrigation
    • Hydroponics Introduction
    • Types of hydroponic systems
  7. Landscaping with Perennials
    • Designing the garden
    • Landscape principles and components
    • Landscape effects
    • Design styles
    • Flower bed design
    • Colour themes
    • Cottage gardens
    • What perennials to grow in cottage gardens
    • Scented plants
    • Landscaping with bulbs
  8. Further Uses for Perennials
    • Cut Flowers
    • What flowers the longest
    • Harvest and storage
    • Growing Carnations
    • Chrysanthemums
    • Herbs
    • Herb crafts

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.


  • Describe the identification of Perennial Plants
  • Determine sources of further information for identifying and growing different varieties of perennials.
  • Discuss a variety of cultural techniques used to improve success in growing of different perennial plants
  • Determine the propagation of different perennial plants.
  • Discuss the horticulture of a range of commonly grown perennial genera.
  • Discuss the management of pests and diseases occurring on a range of perennial plants.
  • Manage irrigation and drainage to ensure optimum water levels are maintained for healthy growth in perennials.
  • Determine appropriate use of perennials in a range of horticultural situations.
  • Describe a variety of uses for perennials.

Some Perennials to Grow


Garden-gate Plants:

Tall Bearded Iris

Flower colour range, season spring/summer, height 60-90cm

Day Lilies (Hemerocallis)

Flower colour range, season early/mid summer, height 75cm



Border Plants:


Dwarf flowers in summer, tall flowers in autumn

Anthemis tinctoria

Yellow/cream, 30cm


60cm, early summer, attractive foliage and flowers


Yellow/brown, late summer-autumn, 60-125cm


Yellow, 1.25m, late summer



Accent Plants:

Cynara carduncaulus

1m high, 2m wide, attractive foliage

Miscanthus sinensis

2m, decorative foliage (many cultivars)


To 1.5m, strap-like attractive foliage (many cultivars

Romneya coulteri

2m, white/yellow flowers summer-autumn (sheltered position)


Cream bells in summer-autumn, 2m, attractive rosette foliage



Foliage Plants:

Arum italicum

Attractive foliage, 45cm ( a weed in some countries)

Bergenia cordifolia

Round leathery, 25cm very drought tolerant

Eomecon chionanthum

Fig like leaf, ht.30cm

Dianella species

Flax-like small plant, 70cm (blue flowers and berries)

Diplarrhena morea

Iris-like foliage, 75cm

Heracleum mantegazzianum

Large, coarsely divided, 3 high


Especially the variegated leaf variety, reed-like foliage,

Lavatera olbia

Vine-shaped leaves, 2m

Melianthus species

Grey-green fingered foliage, up to 2m high

Orthrosanthus multiflorus

Iris-like foliage, 75cm

Paeonia species

Deeply divided foliage, ht up to 2m

Patersonia glauca

Iris-like foliage, 45cm

Perennials for under Trees:


Cyclamen sp.

Attractive foliage and flowers, bulbous

Euphorbia robbiae

Rosettes of dark rounded foliage

Helleborus sp.

Divided leaves, low habit, attractive flowers

Pachysandra terminalis

Low, evergreen, dense, 10cm high



Find Out More about Perennials -Talk with one of our Horticulturists.
Explore the potential of these plants; and how you can learn about perennials through this course.

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.
Marie BeermanMarie has over 10 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants". Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Ldscp. PDC
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

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.
HerbsHerbs are fascinating plants, mystical and romantic. They have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more.
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.



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