Learn the practical side of horticulture at management level

Take the next step in your career: develop practical skills in the management of a variety of horticultural situations required of the horticultural manager or the management of your own business that you would normally learn working under the supervision of a horticultural expert. A step on from Practical Horticulture 1 but a course that can be taken in its own right by those with fundamental horticultural knowledge.
This course will help you to stay ahead of the competition and fulfill your managerial or business aspirations.
Following is an excerpt from lesson 1:

Work planning and project management is an important aspect of the type of work that would be generally carried out by the professional horticulturist. It may be in diverse areas within the horticulture industry i.e. a planting program, plant sales program, landscape project, re-vegetation project, sports or turf management, irrigation and drainage systems implementation, production planning (crops and nursery), conservation of natural resource areas, conserve a heritage area and so on. Project management may be under the broad direction of superiors in certain situations however self directed application of knowledge that has substantial depth is expected at this level.

Some supervision is required for this course by an independent horticultural expert such as your work manager or other expert. The course contains all the tips to develop excellent practical skills in the management of a variety of horticultural situations. It covers subject areas such as: horticultural calculations, propagation management, hard and soft landscape management, planning - identifying needs for management of horticultural sites, identifying plant tissue and much more.


  • Yes, you can learn practical horticulture by distance education
  • This curriculum is designed to provide very practical skills that every professional horticulturist should have
  • Our school provides one to one tutor-student interaction with highly qualified professional horticulturists, who have decades of  industry experience


Course Structure and Contents

This course has 11 lessons as follows:

  1. Materials and Equipment
  2. Horticultural Calculations
  3. Practical Risk Management
  4. Machinery and Equipment Assessment and Maintenance
  5. Propagation Management
  6. Hard Landscape Maintenance
  7. Soft Landscape Maintenance
  8. Practical Plant Identification Techniques
  9. Pest, Disease and Weed Control
  10.  Identifying plant tissues
  11.  Planning -identifying needs for management of horticultural sites


Duration: 100 hours


How This Course Could Help You

This course builds on knowledge and skills acquired through our Practical Horticulture I module which it is intended to complement, although once again the course but may be taken by itself. The emphasis here is more on planning and managing practical tasks, as well as use of machinery. Graduates will also develop skills in plant identification which is very useful in maintaining and establishing gardens. The course is most likely to appeal to those looking to work in the following areas:

  • Garden establishment
  • Garden maintenance
  • Supervisory & foreman roles
  • General horticulture
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Landscaping




Organise the propagation of a range of plants.


General Characteristics of Media
Media is the term given to the solid material(s) in which plant roots are grown. For good results when germinating seeds or rooting cuttings, the propagating media must have the following characteristics:
• The media must be dense and firm enough to hold the cuttings or seeds in place.
• It should be sufficiently porous so that it drains freely after watering.
• It should retain sufficient water so that the mix does not dry out between watering.
• It must be free from weed seeds, diseases and pests.
• It must be chemically and physically stable.
• It must have adequate air holding capacity.

*Buffer capacity should be good this is the ability of the media to resist changes in pH.
*It is preferable that Cation Exchange Capacity is at least moderate to good.

The most commonly used materials in propagating mixes are sand, perlite, peat, vermiculite, polystyrene and rockwool.

Cation Exchange Capacity
*Cations are atoms which have lost electrons i.e. particles which have a positive charge.
*Many important plant nutrients occur in the nutrient solution as cations (ie. Potassium, calcium and magnesium).
*These particles will attach themselves to media particles which have a negative charge, hence staying in the media and being available to the plant roots for a longer period of time.
*Organic matter such as peat moss, and fine particles such as clay have a lot more negative charges on their surface, hence a greater ability to hold cations (higher cation exchange capacity) than larger sand or gravel particles.
*Media with a very low cation exchange capacity will require more frequent application of nutrients than ones with a higher cation exchange capacity i.e. nutrients are more quickly leached with each irrigation as compared media with to high cation exchange abilities.

THE U.C. SYSTEM of Soil Mixes
"The U.C. System of soil mixes, soil and plant treatments and handling operations has been developed since 1941 by the Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Los Angeles, to practically eliminate diseases caused by those organisms and factors which involve the soil. Growers have generally found that they can produce better plants faster, easier, and more dependably by the U.C. system".

DISEASES among young plants are potentially a catastrophe as losses of stock can virtually happen overnight once a disease takes hold.
Disease can spread many different ways:
• By dipping cuttings in hormone or water
• Through irrigation or rain water
• Soil on the hose if it's dropped on the ground
• Soil on the bottom of pots/trays
• On tools, clothes, shoes and workers’ hands
• Contaminated soil mixes or pots
• Infected plant material....etc

The U.C. system is to avoid disease by recognising where it comes from and stopping it ever being introduced into the nursery!
The essence of the U.C. system might be summarised as follows:

1. Use a U.C. system type Soil Mix (see below)
2. Good drainage is provided (This allows for a proper balance between oxygen and water to be maintained in the root zone).
3. Leaching (to remove salt build ups and disease organisms from the soil.
4. Sterilising soil (making it free of disease and weed seeds).
5. Good water (free of disease).
6. Frequent light fertilising (to maintain nutrient levels and replace any nutrient lost by leaching).
7. Disease-free plant material.
8. Cleaning containers (pots, trays etc. are dipped in a chemical such as Biogram or Dettol to kill disease).
9. Sanitation (General cleanliness is practised; benches are washed with chemical, tools dipped, workers walk through foot wash to clean boots, wash hands before work, etc).

U.C. Soil Mixes
Consist of inorganic material (eg. fine sand, perlite, vermiculite etc) plus organic material (eg. sphagnum moss, peat moss, rice hulls, sawdust, shavings bark etc). The use of peat moss is now heavily discouraged, since the mining of peat damages fragile ecosystems, and because peat is essentially a non renewable resource.

Typical mixes are as follows.

Fine sand (particle size of 0.5 to 0.05 mm) and peat moss in the following ratios:

Mix 1. 3 sand : 1 peat substitute.
Most commonly used for bedding plants and general nursery plantings.

Mix 2. 2 sand : 2 peat substitute.
For plants in pots or on benches

Mix 3. 1 sand : 3 peat substitute.
For container plants that are large in relation to their containers, and for cymbidiums.

Mix 4. 0 sand : 4 peat substitute.
For azaleas and similar acid loving plants (sometimes mixed with wood shavings). This fine/sand peat mix has most of the desirable qualities required in a potting soil...

*Readily available in uniform grade
*They are chemically uniform and inert
*Not affected adversely by steam or chemical sterilisation
*Easily made into uniform mix
*Aeration is good
*Drainage is good
*Peat holds nutrients in the mix
*Fertility is low; allowing the nurseryman greater control over the nutrient balance (ie. you start with low nutrition...most of what is put in is what you put in!).
*Water retention is good
*Weight is light...can be moved about easily
*Shrinkage is negligible
*Minor nutrients are usually adequate in these mixes.

Fertilising...You need to apply Dolomite (as a source of calcium and magnesium as well as a balanced NPK fertilizer.

Alternatives...The major disadvantage of the Peat/Sand is the cost of peat (in recent years peat has become more and more expensive).

Vermiculite is a cheaper and quite acceptable substitute for peat (Do not mix vermiculite in a proportion higher than 40% though!).

Pine bark, Lignite (ligna peat), Wood-shavings & Sawdust are acceptable substitutes for peat. You should note that the water holding capacities of these various materials vary to some degree...for this reason you need to vary the ratios with sand accordingly.



Just go to the top of this page for pricing and enrolment options. If you have any questions you can contact us now, by:
Phone (UK) 01384 44272, (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

Email us at [email protected]