<small>Certificate in </small><span>Horticulture (Crops)</span>

Certificate in Horticulture (Crops)

Course Code VHT034
Qualification Certificate
Payment Options Upfront & Payment Plans
Delivery Online & Correspondence
Duration 600 Hours

Certificate In Horticulture (Crops)

“This is beyond what you would learn in a Trade Certificate in Horticultural Crop Production. It teaches you everything a tradesman would learn about plant culture; and more science, plus more plant identification than what an average tradesperson whould know” - John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Supn, FIOH, FPLA, Professional Horticulturist for over 40 years, Garden Author and educator

The core units consist of the following lessons:

  1. Introduction To Plants
  2. Parts Of The Plant
  3. Plant Culture - Planting
  4. Plant Culture - Pruning
  5. Plant Culture - Irrigation & Machinery
  6. Soils & Media
  7. Soils & Nutrition
  8. Seeds & Cuttings (Propagation)
  9. Other Techniques (Propagation)
  10. Identification & Use Of Plants - Landscape Application
  11. Identification & Use Of Plants - Problems
  12. Identification & Use Of Plants - Indoor & Tropical Plants
  13. Pests
  14. Diseases
  15. Weeds

The purpose of this study area is to explain the binomial system of plant classification and demonstrate identification of plant species through the ability of using botanical descriptions for leaf shapes and flowers.

2. PLANT CULTURE (60 hours)
The purpose of this study area is to demonstrate the ability to care for plants so as to maintain optimum growth and health while considering pruning, planting, and irrigation.

The purpose of this study area is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to identify, work with and improve the soil condition and potting mixes, and to evaluate fertilisers for use in landscape jobs to maximize plant growth.

4. INTRODUCTORY PROPAGATION (40 hours duration)
The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's understanding of propagation techniques with particular emphasis on cuttings and seeds. Other industry techniques such as grafting and budding are also explained. 

The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's range of plant knowledge and the plant use in landscaping and the ornamental garden, and the realization that plants have optimum and preferred growing conditions.


  • Select plants appropriate for growing in different climates.
  • Select plants appropriate to use for shade, windbreaks, as a feature, and for various aesthetic effects.
  • Categorise priorities which effect selection of plants for an ornamental garden.
  • Explain the differences in the way plants perform in different microclimates within the same area.
  • List and analyze the situations where plants are used.

The purpose of this study area is to introduce and help the student in identifying, describing and controlling a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in ornamental situations and safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals are explained.


The three specialist units include:

1. Outdoor Plant Production

2. Protected Plant Production

3. Another Crops Module chosen from the following options:

  • Cut Flower Production 
  • Fruit Production Temperate Climate
  • Fruit Production Warm Climate
  • Commercial Vegetable Production 
  • Nut Production 
  • Mushroom Production 
  • Berry Fruit Production 
  • Viticulture

Fees do not include exam fees

There are two exams for the core and 3 for the stream (one for each stream module)

Duration: 700 hours


  • Explain different cropping systems and their appropriate application for the production of different types of crops.
  • Evaluate and explain organic plant production, and the requirements in at least two different countries, to achieve organic certification.
  • Explain the function of soils and plant nutrition in outdoor cropping systems.
  • Describe the commercial production of a range of nursery stock.
  • Describe the commercial production of a range of tree fruit crops.
  • Explain techniques used to produce a range of soft fruits.
  • Explain techniques used to grow a range of vegetables.
  • Explain the commercial production of outdoor-grown cut flowers.
  • Describe the commercial production of herbs, nuts and other miscellaneous crops.
  • Identify the risks that may occur in outdoor crop production.
  • Describe and Evaluate the type and shape of modern growing structures.
  • Describe and evaluate environmental controls in protected cropping.
  • Explain the nature of solar radiation, transmission properties of glass and its substitutes.
  • Determine the water requirements of a crop; and methods of irrigation.
  • Relate horticultural principles to the production and harvesting of a range of crops.
  • Evaluate the factors involved in marketing protected crops.
  • Evaluate the factors involved in marketing protected crops.
  • Undertake risk assessment for a protected crop.
  • Describe the relevant identifying physical features of flowering ornamental plants.
  • Demonstrate how to use prescribed reference books and other resources to gain relevant information.
  • Dissect, draw and label two different flowers.
  • Collect and identify the shapes of different leaves.
  • Demonstrate how to identify between family, genus, species, variety and cultivar.
  • Describe how to prune different plants.
  • Demonstrate how to cut wood correctly, on the correct angle and section of the stem.
  • Describe how to plant a plant.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of different irrigation equipment, sprinklers, pumps and turf systems available by listing their comparative advantages and disadvantages.
  • Demonstrate competence in selecting an appropriate irrigation system for a garden, explaining the reasons why that system would be preferred.
  • Define water pressure and flow rate and how to calculate each.
  • Explain the need for regular maintenance of garden tools and equipment.
  • List factors that should be considered when comparing different types of machinery for use in garden maintenance.
  • Describe the soil types commonly found in plant culture in terms of texture, structure and water holding and nutrient holding capacity.
  • Describe methods of improving soil structure, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, drainage and aeration.
  • List the elements essential for plant growth.
  • Diagnose the major nutrient deficiencies that occur in ornamental plants and prescribe treatment practices.
  • Describe soil pH and its importance in plant nutrition.
  • Describe the process by which salting occurs and how to minimise its effect.
  • Conduct simple inexpensive tests on three different potting mixes and report accordingly.
  • Describe suitable soil mixes for container growing of five different types of plants.
  • List a range of both natural and artificial fertilizers.
  • Describe fertilizer programs to be used in five different situations with ornamental plants.
  • Demonstrate propagation of six (6) different plants by cuttings and three from seed.
  • Construct a simple inexpensive cold frame.
  • Mix and use a propagation media suited to propagating both seed and cuttings.
  • Describe the method and time of year used to propagate different plant varieties.
  • Describe and demonstrate the steps in preparing and executing a variety of grafts and one budding technique.
  • Explain the reasons why budding or grafting are sometimes preferred propagation methods.
  • Explain in general terms the principles of pest, disease and weed control and the ecological (biological) approach to such control.
  • Explain the host-pathogen-environment concept.
  • Describe a variety of pesticides for control of pests, diseases and weeds of ornamental plants in terms of their active constituents, application methods, timing and rates, and safety procedures.
  • Photograph or prepare specimens, identify and recommend control practices for at least five insect pests of ornamental plants.
  • Photograph, sketch or prepare samples, identify and recommend control practices for three non-insect ornamental plant health problems (e.g. fungal, viral, bacterial).
  • Describe the major ways in which diseases (fungal, viral, bacterial and nematode) affect turf, the life cycle features that cause them to become a serious problem to turf culture and the methods available for their control.
  • Identify, describe and recommend treatment for three different weed problems.
  • Collect, press, mount and identify a collection of ten different weeds, and recommend chemical and non-chemical treatments which may be used to control each.
  • List and compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of different weed control methods.

Tips for Biological Control (from our staff)

There are ways to grow plants without using dangerous chemicals. The finished product might have a few chew marks, but it will also be a much safer plant for you and your family to be around or use.

Natural or biological control is when we use living things such as predators or parasites to attack, harm or deter pests, diseases or weed problems.  The concept of natural control is not new.  In the late 1800’s the California citrus industry was nearly wiped out by a parasite known as Cottony Cushion Scale (Icerya purchasi). This scale is apparently an Australian native transported to California on acacia plants: it took around ten years to become a serious pest of the citrus groves in southern California.

The importation of a small number of Vedalia (Rodolia cardinalis)beetles (related to ladybird beetles) from Ireland virtually eradicated this pest very quickly, and now keeps it in check to this day.  A similar case occurred when a tiny moth known as Cactoblastis cactorum was introduced to Ireland to control Prickly Pear cactus which at one stage, early in the 20th century, covered tens of millions of acres of pasture and semi arid land, particularly in Queensland and NSW.

Four main approaches to natural control are:

1. The introduction of parasites and predators, where natural enemies are introduced to control exotic pests or weeds, as in the case of Cottony Cushion Scale, which was introduced to California, from overseas, without its natural predators.

2. Conservation of existing natural enemies by, for example, changing spraying programmes such as using selective chemicals, or by changing the time of day when spraying takes place, as some insects are active at different times of the day, and by reducing the rates of the chemicals that we use: Note: it is not always possible just to stop spraying – it is often necessary to build up the natural enemies to a useful level first.   Another method of conserving natural enemies is to change the way in which you crop your plants. This can be done by such methods as staggering planting times to reduce the impact of having a crop all at one stage when it may be more prone to attack or infestation; by the use of companion plants; by increasing crop diversity, by mixing crop species and by maintaining groundcover in orchards to promote parasite habitats.

3. New natural enemies can be developed by scientists either growing larger numbers of predators or parasites or by adding additional numbers of natural enemies collected or purchased from elsewhere.  The production and marketing of biological control agents has now become a major business in Europe and the USA, with small scale activity also in Australia.

4. Companion Planting: This involves growing plants together to provide a beneficial effect; where characteristics of one plant might help deter pests or diseases which normally attack its neighbour, or may act as host to organisms that are predators of particular pests and diseases: Note that different growing conditions and locations may affect the success or failure of companion planting.  Examples are:

Coriander, (Coriandrum sativum), repels aphids, spider mites and potato beetle: The roots of French Marigold (Tagetes patula) exude a substance which spreads in their immediate vicinity killing nematodes: By planting carrots and leeks together insects are confused by the blending of scents and the leeks repel carrot fly and carrots repel onion fly and leek moth.

Other approaches to biocontrol that are being actively researched are the development of plants with increased resistance to pests and diseases; the use of natural chemicals such as hormones or sex scents to either attract (to a trap or away from plants), repel or kill the problem pest:  the use of sterile insects to upset reproductive cycles and the use of plant derivatives, such as pyrethrum, as pesticides.

Advantages of Biological Control

a) It does not damage crops, in contrast to some chemicals.

b) It does not leave a residue as is the case with many chemicals.

c) There are no crop-withholding periods, so you do not have to wait to harvest crops.

d) It is less costly than chemicals, and biocontrol may continue to be effective long after the   original application as predator or parasite breeding occurs, unlike chemicals, which are either rendered inert on contact with the ground or have short residual periods.

e) Biocontrol agents often spread outside their original application area controlling pests and diseases over large expanses of area.

f) Pests are unlikely to build up resistance to biocontrol.

g) Biocontrol is usually specific to the targeted pest or disease and generally doesn't affect other organisms.

Disadvantages of Biological Control

a) Often very slow acting in comparison to chemicals and an effective population of controlling agents may take years to build up.

b) The degree of control is often not as high as with chemical control.

c) It is often very hard finding predators or parasites of some pests, particularly ones that are specific to a particular pest or disease, rather than to a number of organisms.

d) The ability of many biocontrol agents to move from one location to another can sometimes be a disadvantage.  A pest or disease that may be a problem in one area may be desired in another.  This can be seen in the case of blackberries which are grown commercially for their berries, but are also a noxious weed in some places.  Blackberry rust, recently bought into Ireland as a biocontrol agent for this plant, may affect the commercial crops.  Another example is the case of Pattersons curse, (Echium plantagineum), which is a noxious weed in some parts of Ireland and a useful pasture species in other parts.  Attempts to release a biocontrol agent for this plant resulted in a Supreme Court case aimed at preventing its release.

The advantages of biological control often outweigh the disadvantages, certainly in the long term if not in the short term.  Biocontrol is, now more than ever before, being actively promoted by many governments, agricultural and forestry departments, etc worldwide.  Even as early as 1988 at least $165 million was saved on pesticide costs, by United States farmers alone, because of biological control.  The benefits to the environment are even greater. 

Learning Cloud Ireland provides students with a range of Horticultural Course majors.

Our world would be nothing without plants. They feed us, keep us warm and dry, clean our air and provide us with a beautiful, green environment to live in. Working with plants, from designing and building a new city park to developing new food crops can be incredibly rewarding and there is a wealth of career options to choose from.

Learning Cloud Ireland provides our students with a range of Horticultural Majors so that you can specalise and target the Career you want. Below is a list of just some of the Horticultural Course Majors available. Remember to request your free information pack to find out more

Finance options

If you are an Irish citizen you may be eligible to receive financial support, meaning you can defer payment of your course fees. Additionally, if you are a resident of Ireland, you may also be eligible to receive a student grant under the Student Grant Scheme

Student support

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As an enrolled student at Learning Cloud, you are entitled to access a variety of non-academic support services from the Student Services Unit. These supports are designed to walk beside you throughout your studies they will assist you in life’s ups and downs to provide you the best opportunity to successfully complete your chosen course.


  • Careers Counselling Service
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  • Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP)

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Learning Cloud programs have been developed in response to industry demand and are specifically designed to equip graduates with work-ready skills. Each participant will be trained and assessed in theory and in practical tasks and Real-world exercises are used throughout the program.

Studies prove, time and again, that college-educated workers earn more than those with only a high school qualification. College graduates often enjoy additional benefits, including greater job opportunities and promotions. Though the proof for greater earning potential exists, some might wonder whether the cost of the education warrants the overall expense in the long run.

College Graduate vs. Non-Graduate Earnings

The National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES) analyses employee earnings data biennially, according to education level. Findings indicate that workers with a qualification earn significantly more than those without. Since the mid-1980s, education has played a large part in potential wages, with bachelor's degree holders taking home an average of 66% more than those with only a high school diploma do. While college-educated workers' wages have increased over the past two decades, those with only a high school education have seen decreases in annual salaries in the same time period (nces.ed.gov).

How else will I benefit from studying with Learning Cloud?

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  • Receive career-focused training with practical, hands-on learning.
  • All course materials are provided and all digital platforms are interactive, work on any device and designed to be fun.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning or Skills Recognition may be available for previous work experience, formal training or qualifications in this field.