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Horticulture - Learn The Basics

Horticulture – Learn The Basics – 150 Hours Certificate Course

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Learn About Horticulture - Learn The Basics


This course has been specifically designed as an introductory preparatory foundational level course, for those whose knowledge or experience of horticulture is limited or non-existent.

The course is an ADL stand alone certificate, and does not form part of the RHS syllabus. However, if you are thinking about undertaking RHS Theory  Levels 2 and 3 courses and feel you don’t have enough horticultural knowledge/experience, then Horticulture – Learn The Basics online, will help you develop the confidence to progress to an RHS qualification.

This certificate is awarded by ADL, and endorsed by TQUK (Training Qualifications, UK), an OFQUAL awarding body.


Understanding our plants and how their relationship to their location, growing practices and the environment is an area which brings huge joy to horticulturalists, gardeners and botanists, whether they are growing plants for personal or commercial use.

This course has been designed to give you a good introduction to many of the principles of good horticultural practice. You will learn, or add to your existing knowledge about plants, how they work, why they do well, or not in some cases.

You will be able to understand and relate to your site, the plants you can effectively grow there and really get to know about horticulture as a subject.


Whether you are looking to expand your knowledge so you can work more effectively in your own site, or obtain a good overview of the subject before deciding which areas you would like to study further, such as RHS Levels 2 and 3, this course will provide a great introduction, whilst also challenging and pushing you to find out more should you wish.

Horticulture – Learn The Basics, includes the study of:

  • plant physiology. 
  • how to grow and maintain types of plants,
  • provide the best environment for them,
  • their affect on the environment and
  • commercial importance of certain practices.
  • protecting plants from pests and diseases,
  • regulation and control of plants commercially and privately,
  • naming, plant breeder’s rights
  • covers some areas of botany with a wider scope.

Horticulture is not botany. Horticulture is more about the relationship between us and plants – the growing of them.


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There are 18 lessons:

1.  Introduction

2.  Lawns and Grassland Part 1

  • site, clearing, levelling and preparation for planting a lawn,
  • different kinds of lawns and their uses
  • grass seed, principal grass genera and species used in lawn seed mixtures, and their characteristics
  • sowing, after care and maintenance

3.  Lawns and Grasslands Part 2

  • Maintenance of lawns
  • Non grass lawns
  • Floral meadows

4.  How Plants Work

  • cells
  • roots
  • stems
  • leaves
  • buds
  • other structures

5.  Vegetables

  •  siting vegetables, soil and fertility, drainage
  •  the vegetable garden layout
  •  climate
  •  cropping
  •  seeds
  •  sowing vegetables
  •  thinning, planting
  •  water, feeding
  •  weeds, mulching, crop protection

6.  Ornamental Plants and Propagation

  • the different types of flowering plants
  • gymnosperms, monocotyledons, dictoyledons, annuals, biennials, perennials, woody, herbaceous.
  • Propagation – cuttings, division, many other kinds, grafting.

7.  Soils

  • types of soil
  • structure
  • mulches
  • fertilisers
  • organic matter and manures CE, AFP etc.
  • base and top dressings
  • lime
  • water

8.  Trees and Shrubs

  • trees
  • shrubs
  • climbers
  • pruning
  • maintenance

9.  Flowers

  • general structure
  • sepals and petals
  • stamens
  • The Carpel – ovary, style and stigma
  • Types of inflorescence
  • nectaries

10.   Pollination and Fertilisation

  • pollination
  • fertilization
  • fruit/seed structure and germination requirements

11. Fruit

  • types of fruit
  • planting and requirements
  • cultivation
  • pruning

12.   Genetics and Breeding

  • the genetic code
  • chromosomes
  • genes
  • mito· sis and meiosis
  • Mendelian inheritance
  • mono and dihybrid inheritance
  • genotype and phenotype
  • F1 hybrids and hybrid vigour
  • Heterozygosity and homozygosity
  • dominance and recessiveness

13.  Pest, Diseases and Disorders

  • damage caused by pests, diseases and disorder
  • identification, symptoms and modes of attack
  • control – chemical
  • control – biological
  • control – organic
  • control – physical
  • control – cultural
  • A large pest
  • A mite
  • A Mollusc
  • Insects with complete metamorphosis
  • Insects with incomplete metamorphosis
  • A fungus
  • A virus
  • A bacteria
  • A nematode
  • environmental disorder
  • nutritional disorder
  • IPM (Integrated Pest Management)

14.  Plant Physiology

  • photosynthesis
  • respiration
  • photoperiodism
  • nutrient cycles
  • CEC, humus and organic material – breakdown pathways (macro & micro-organisms)

15.  Plant Protection and Artificial Environments

  • plant protection
  • why protect?
  • types of protection
  • Controlling environmental factors
  • artificial environments
  • container growing – air filled porosity, stability
  • non-soil growing medium – composts, loam and non-loam based
  • types of containers, modules
  • hydroponics

16.   Water

  • transpiration
  • uptake of water by plant roots – osmosis and diffusion explained
  • conduction of water
  • relative humidity
  • turgor
  • water in the soil – availability, field capacity, wilting point – permanent wilting point.
  • Soil structure, water and nutrients – pores sizes, nutrient uptake effect of water on micro-organisms.
  • Irrigation – types and situations for

17.  Weeds and soil management

  • what are weeds? Invasive plants, cultivated plants as weeds, and why they are successful
  • types of weed
  • treatments and control – organic, chemical and biological
  • green manures, erosion control, soil management

18.  Ecology and the Environment

  • a brief background to ecology
  • changes in agricultural practices and their effects
  • carbon sinks and release
  • conservation in the garden
  • encouraging wildlife and the ‘green’ garden
  • large scale practices to help

Please Note:  There are self-assessments in each lesson and an assignment for each.

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