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Wholesale Nursery Management 100 Hours Certificate Course


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Wholesale Nursery Management 100 Hours Certificate Course

Price: £325.00Course Code: BHT212 CLD
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Wholesale Nursery Management 100 Hours Certificate Course

Wholesale Nursery Management course online. Learn to produce great plants in a commercially successful way. Managing a production nursery involves more than just propagating and potting up plants.

Even the small nursery must be able to not only produce plants, but do it at a pre determined cost, then sustain those plants before and during marketing. The nursery industry currently has a real need for people with skills and knowledge in managing production in plant nurseries! This course provides a solid grounding for developing those skills.


Learning Goals: Wholesale Nursery Management BHT212
  • Describe how site characteristics influence the establishment and management of wholesale nurseries.
  • Explain management structures and work scheduling in wholesale nurseries.
  • Describe the management of pests and diseases and plant nutrition in production nurseries.
  • Explain the physical and chemical properties of growing media used in production nurseries.
  • Describe the techniques and equipment used to irrigate plants in nurseries.
  • Explain techniques used to modify and influence the growth of plants in production nurseries
  • Describe strategies used by production nurseries to increase sales.
  • Explain criteria for selecting plants and developing a nursery stock list.


Lesson Structure: Wholesale Nursery Management BHT212

There are 8 lessons:

1  Nursery Site Organisation

  • Nature and Scope of Wholesale Nurseries
  • Specialist Nurseries
  • Location and Site Selection Characteristics;market proximity, land cost, climate, isolation, air quality, water etc
  • What to Grow
  • Determining Marketable varieties
  • Site Surveying

2  Management

  • Starting as a Nursery Producer
  • The Mission Statement
  • Controlling Quality
  • Revamping an Existing Nursery
  • Nursery Standards; Cost Efficiency, Quality standards, Size
  • Business Planning
  • Quantity
  • Case Study
  • Production Systems
  • Flow Chart for Growing a Nursery Crop
  • Production Methods
  • Cutting Production Efficiencies
  • Work Scheduling
  • Type and Number of Employees
  • Human Resource Management

3  Nutrition and Pest Management

  • Overview of Nursery Pests and Diseases
  • Identifying Problems
  • Disease and pest management
  • Nursery Hygiene
  • Resistant Plants
  • Controlling Problems through Cultural Practices
  • Physical Control of Problems
  • Biological Control
  • Chemical Control
  • Minimising Chemical Use
  • Conducting Inspections within the Nursery
  • Nutrient Management
  • Fertiliser use and plant nutrition.

4  Growing media

  • Growing Media for Container and Field Grown Plants
  • Understanding soils
  • Soil Testing
  • Improving Soils
  • Potting Mixes and soil-free mixes
  • Components of Potting Media
  • Selecting Potting Media
  • Problems with Potting Media
  • Propagation Media
  • Sanitation
  • Sterilisation techniques.

5  Irrigation

  • Water Supply
  • Town Water
  • Water Courses and Groundwater
  • Rainwater
  • Water Quality
  • Water Treatment
  • Recycling Water
  • Irrigation Systems; overhead sprinkler, drip, etc
  • Pulse Watering, Demand Watering, Precision etc
  • Pumps
  • Scheduling Irrigation
  • Irrigation System Maintenance
  • Use of liquid fertilisers through irrigation.

6  Modifying Plant Growth

  • Plant Uniformity
  • Holding Stock
  • Making Stems Sturdier
  • Making Plants Taller
  • Developing a Compact Root System
  • Creating a denser, bushier Plant
  • Improving Foliage Colour
  • Encouraging Flowering
  • Flower forcing out of Season
  • Using Light to Modify Plant Growth
  • Greenhouses and other protective plant structures.

7  Marketing Strategies

  • Overview of Nursery Marketing
  • Nursery Products
  • Marketing Mix
  • Market Research
  • Marketing Budget
  • Marketing Plan.

8  Selection of Nursery Crops

  • Considering Options
  • Choosing a Plant Variety to Market
  • Developing a stock list
  • Criteria for Selecting Plants
  • Quarantine Concerns
  • Clearing Surplus Stocks
  • Nursery Industry Trends
  • Surveying Customers
  • Terminology

The quality of this course is second to none, from the in-depth learning you will get to the expert individual mentoring you will receive throughout your studies. The mentors for this course are: 
rosesSusan Stephenson
BSc in Applied Plant Biology (Botany) Univ. London 1983.
City and guilds: Garden Centre Management, Management and Interior Decor (1984)
Management qualifications in training with retail store. Diploma in Hort level 2 (RHS General) Distinction. 
Susan Stephenson is a passionate and experienced horticulturist and garden designer. She has authored three books, lectures at 2 Further and Higher Education Colleges, teaching people of all ages and backgrounds about the wonders of plants and garden design, and tutors many students by correspondence from all over the world.
Susan studied botany at Royal Holloway College (Univ of London) and worked in the trading industry before returning to her first love plants and garden design. She is therefore, well placed to combine business knowledge with horticulture and design skills. Her experience is wide and varied and she has designed gardens for families and individuals. Susan is a mentor for garden designers who are just starting out, offering her support and advice and she also writes, delivers and assesses courses for colleges, introducing and encouraging people into horticulture and garden design.
In 2010, Susan authored a complete module for a Foundation degree (FDSC) in Arboriculture.
Susan holds the RHS General with Distinction. She continues to actively learn about horticulture and plants and (as her students will tell you) remains passionate and interested in design and horticulture.
portrait Stephen Whitaker Tutor HorticultureSteven Whitaker
Diploma in Garden Design (Distinction) – The Blackford Centre, Gold Certificate of Achievement in Horticulture, Level 2 NVQ in Amenity Horticulture, Level 1 NOCN Introduction to Gardening, – Joseph Priestly College, BTEC Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Operations (Merit), Trainer Skills 1, & 2, Group trainer, Interview and Selection Skills – Kirby College of Further Education
Steven has a wealth of Horticultural knowledge, having ran his own Design and Build service, Landscaping company, and been a Head Gardener. His awards include five Gold awards at Leeds in Bloom, two Gold awards at Yorkshire in Bloom and The Yorkshire Rose Award for Permanent Landscaping. Steven has worked with TV’s Phil Spencer as his garden advisor on the Channel 4 TV Programme, “Secret Agent”. 
He is qualified to Level 2 NVQ in Amenity Horticulture and has a Diploma in Garden Design which he passed with Distinction. Steven’s Tutor and Mentor was the Chelsea Flower Show Gold Award-winning Garden Designer, Tracy Foster. He also works for a major Horticultural Commercial Grower in the field of Propagation and Craft Gardening. Steven lives in Leeds where he is a Freelance Garden Designer and Garden Advice Consultant. 


Excerpt From The Course


Soil provides plants with the following:

  • Nutrition: the plant derives much of its food from nutrients in the soil.
  • Support: the soil holds the plant firm and stops it falling over.
  • Water and air: the roots absorb both water and air and so the soil must contain both.  Soil with too much air leaves the plant starved for water.  A soil with too much water leaves the plant starved for air.

Soils vary with respect to the above factors. For example, a sandy soil provides less support than a clay soil.  A clay soil generally provides less air than sand but has a greater capacity to hold water. An organic soil usually has a good ability to hold water, but it does not always provide good support.

Soil is made up of organic particles that were once living plants or animals, and also of inorganic particles that were once rocks which have now broken down through chemical and physical weathering.  As soils play such an important role in the health and growth of plants, a nursery manager should be aware of the following soil characteristics:

  • Texture
  • Structure
  • Porosity

Soil Texture

Sand, loam and clay describe the texture of a soil.  The type of material that makes up a soil affects the movement of water and air through the soil, the root penetration into the soil, and also the looseness and workability of the soil.


The soil profile describes the various horizontal layers that a soil is made up of.  Each soil layer may contain soils of different textures. Soils are not evenly made up of individual particles of sand, silt, clay and humus. These individual particles are found in groups called crumbs or aggregates throughout the soil. You can see these crumbs or aggregates when you sift the soil through your fingers. The individual particles in the soil (sand, silt, clay and humus) hold together more firmly than the various aggregates (groups of sand, silt, clay and humus). Aggregates come in different shapes and sizes and are also arranged in different ways to give soils their characteristic structures. Soil aggregates may include the following:

  • Gravel: particles larger than 2mm
  • Sand: particles between 0.02 to 2mm in diameter
  • Silt: between 0.02 and 0.002mm in diameter
  • Colloids: less than 0.002mm in diameter (these are either clay or organic).

Soil will also include a certain amount of organic matter.

Colloid particles are small enough to disperse in water.  Improving the soil structure has the effect of flocculating the particles, which means clumping the particles together. 

Texture can be classified into 7 classes and 16 grades. The following table gives examples of the various classifications.  The last word in the classification indicates the dominant component of the soil. Loam has an equal percentage of sand, silt and clay.

Classification of soil texture


% of clay


<< 10% commonly < 5 %

loamy sand


clayey sand


sandy loam


light sandy clay loam




silt loam

25% clay 25% silt or more

sandy clay loam


clay loam


silty clay loam

30-35% clay 25% or more silt

sandy clay


silty clay

35-40% clay 25% or more silt

light clay


light medium clay


medium clay


heavy clay

50% or more


Percolation Rates

The rate of water percolation is another way to describe the texture of soil. Percolation is the natural movement of water through the soil, and soils percolate water at different rates. Soil should be watered only as much, and as fast, as the soil can absorb without runoff.

Sandy soil absorbs more than two inches (5cm) of water per hour. It is very porous, with large spaces between soil particles. Little water is retained and the sandy soil dries out quickly.

Loam soil absorbs from 0.25 inches to 2 inches (6mm to 5cm) per hour. The soil is loose and porous and holds water quite well.

Clay soil absorbs less than 0.25 inches (6mm) of water per hour. Clay soil is dense with few air spaces between particles and holds water so tightly that little water is available for plants.

Soil Structure

Soil structure is described according to shape, size and grade, where grade refers to soil strength and degree of development.

Good structure in a soil means that the mineral particles in the soil are bound together in crumbs, known as peds, of various sizes which are loosely arranged into larger groupings. This gives a well-structured soil its crumbly feel or appearance.  This is known as a friable soil and provides plenty of pore spaces between the crumbs allowing good water penetration, aeration, and ease of penetration for plant roots and other soil life.

Crumb formation can be enhanced in a number of ways:

  • The addition of organic matter
  • The addition of clay in low clay soils
  • The addition of iron and aluminium: for soils low in these elements
  • The addition of exchangeable calcium: usually applied as lime or gypsum.

Crumb formation is reduced with increasing levels of exchangeable sodium which is common in areas with salinity problems. For example, leached clay soils which are high in sodium tend to have poor structure. Soil structure can also be readily damaged by:

  • Over-cultivation or poor cultivation techniques: particularly when the soil is very wet
  • Compaction: for instance, by repeated trafficking of machinery
  • The killing of soil life with repeated applications of chemicals. 

A well-structured soil has aggregates arranged in such a way that the soil is resistant to crushing and compaction. There should be many spaces and channels, known as pores, between the aggregates to allow oxygen to reach the roots as well as movement of excess water through the soil.

Diagnosis of Soil Type

The following table gives a diagnosis of soil type depending on how it feels between the fingers.


Does the soil stain the fingers?

Does the soil bind together?

Does the soil feel gritty?

Does the soil feel silky or sticky?

Does the soil make water cloudy?







Sandy Loam






Loam (or silt)






Clay Loam












Organic soils are soils containing a large proportion of organic matter (more than 25%). These are usually black or brown in colour and feel silky. It is possible to get organic types of all of the above soils.  A simple test of the organic matter content of a soil is to place a small amount in a container of water.  Organic matter tends to float to the soil surface, so the more material that floats, the higher the organic matter content.

Pore Space in Soils and Growing Media

Aeration and drainage of a growing media will mostly depend on the amount of pore space available in the growing media. The pore space can be defined as the percentage of the media’s volume that is not filled with solids. For example, a total pore space of 50% means that in every litre of media there is 50% pore space and 50% solids. Total pore space can vary from as low as 30% in a heavily compacted soil up to 95% in some peat.  Good garden soils contain about 50% total pore space while good potting mixes and propagating media may have up 60-80% total pore space.

Pore shape and size are also important. Large round or irregularly shaped particles result in bigger air spaces than flat or small particles. Large pore spaces allow greater movement of air and water. However, if the growing media consists of just large pore spaces, the water holding capacity of the media will be poor. The ideal situation is a combination of small and large pores spaces that provide good aeration and drainage but sufficient water holding capacity.

Soil Temperature

The rate of absorption of water and nutrients is affected by the temperature of the soil. Too much heat or cold will slow the whole metabolism down. Soil temperature is not always the same as atmospheric temperature. Mulching a plant or adding organic matter to the soil will even out, or lessen, the fluctuations in soil temperature. As with most organisms, plant roots will grow within a particular range of tolerance which will vary from one species to another.

Soil pH

In rough terms, soil pH can be described as a measure of the relative proportions of positive and negative ions in the soil.  In pure water they are equal and so the pH of water is normally 7.  A pH of 7 is neutral.  A scale of 0 to 14 (called the pH scale) is used to record this measurement of pH.


Most plants prefer a pH of 6 to 6.5 (i.e. slightly acid), although, there are many exceptions. Plants may grow outside of their ideal pH range, but they will not grow as well. If the pH is below 4.5 or above 8 it is no good for the vast majority of plants. You should check the pH preferences of individual plants and the pH of the soil into which they are to be planted before adjusting the pH or planting.

Soil pH can be adjusted by the use of chemicals known as soil ameliorants. These are soil additives used to improve soil characteristics.  Ameliorants include Lime (to raise pH) and Sulphate (to lower pH).  However, the soil will tend to buffer, or modify, the effect of these chemicals and so calculation of the amounts required is often difficult.  The general rule is to apply small amounts until the required result is obtained. It is better to add too little than too much!

When lime is added to break up hard clay soils, it will also raise the pH of the soil making it more alkaline.  The addition of organic matter such as manure or compost, which contains weak acids, will cause the pH to drop.  If fresh manure is used it can cause a drastic drop in pH.  Sulphate of ammonia will also cause pH to drop. 


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