Study how to grow Australian native plants and wildflowers: learn to plant, grow and propagate native plants at home. Online course with lots of pratcical components as well as theory.

Course Code: BHT225
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn all about native plants and wildflowers and develop your passion

This course focuses on smaller growing Australian plants

Develop your ability to identify, select, cultivate and explain commercial applications for appropriate varieties of low growing Australian native flowering plants in a variety of situations.

While the plants of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas have been explored and cultivated for many hundreds of years; Australian indigenous plants are relatively, recent discoveries. As such, there's still a lot to be explored and discovered about these unique plants. Breeding and commercial development of Australian plants is still in it's early stages.

For landscapers, nurserymen, flower growers and horticulturists; this is a great area of study.

  • Explore the world of Australian plants in greater depth than you have before.
  • Grow your ability to identify and understand a wider range of plants
  • Expand your awareness of potential uses for Australian plants in gardens, as cut flowers, edibles and beyond.




Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and Nature
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Resources, sources for further information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs, etc.)
  2. Growing Conditions
    • Plant Relationships
    • Understanding Environmental Zones across Australia
    • Soils; composition, colloids, peds, texture, chemical properties, pH and nutrient availability
    • Improving Soils
    • Natives on Low Fertility Soils
    • Diagnosis of Nutritional Problems
    • Inspecting Plants and diagnosing health issues
    • Preventing Problems
    • Pests and Diseases on Natives
    • Planting, staking, mulching, watering
    • Planting; different tequniques for plant establishment
    • Pruning Australian Native Plants
    • Water Management -review
    • Propagation Technique -review
  3. The Heaths and Similar Plants
    • Scope and Nature of Heaths
    • Heath habitats
    • Epacridaceae; the Epacris Family
    • Proteaceae, Myrtaceae, Thymeleaceae, Dilleniaceae
    • Glossary of botanical terms used to describe plants
    • Introductory Plant Morphology
    • Review of plant genera and many of their species:
    • Grevillea
    • Hakea
    • Hibbertia
    • Hypocalymma
    • Isopogon
    • Leptospermum
    • Melaleuca
    • Micromyrtus
    • Pimelia
    • Richea
    • Telopea
    • Thryptomene
    • Verticordia
    • Acronidium
  4. The Daisy Family
    • Characteristics of Asteraceae
    • Floral Structure of Asteraceae
    • Review of culture and distinguishing characteristics of various Asteraceae genera, including:
    • Heichrysum and Bracteantha
    • Helipterum
    • Olearia
    • Orthronathus
    • Rhodanthe
  5. The Legumes
    • Common characteristics of all legumes
    • Distinguishing Fabaceae, Caesalpinacea and Mimosaceae
    • Acacia
    • Albizzia
    • Eutaxia
    • Goodia
    • Hardenbergia
    • Hovea
    • Indigofera
    • Kennedya
    • Pultenea
  6. Other common groups
    • Alogyne
    • Bauera
    • Burseria
    • Clematis
    • Correa
    • Crowea
    • Dampiera
    • Hibbertia
    • Hibiscus
    • Lobelia
    • Leschenaultia
    • Pandorea
    • Pittosporum
    • Pratia
    • Prostanthera
    • Rhagodia
    • Sollya
    • Viola
    • Westringia, etc.
    • Basic Landscape Design; Design Procedure, Drawing a plan
    • Native Plants for Specific Situations; long flowering species, climbing species, etc
  7. The Monocotyledons
    • Blandfordia
    • Bulbine
    • Caesia
    • Calectasia
    • Calostemma
    • Carex
    • Cordyline
    • Dianella
    • Lomandra
    • Danthonia
    • Patersonia
    • Stypandra
    • Anigozanthus
    • Xanthorrhea, etc.
  8. Commercial Applications: Growing Native Cut Flowers
    • Production Plan for Cut Flowers
    • Selection Criteria for Plants


  • Distinguish between different types of native wildflowers.
  • Determine reliable information about the identification and culture of Australian wildflowers.
  • Specify general cultural practices, including propagation, for different families of Australian native wildflowers.
  • Explain the characteristics, including identification and culture, of heath like native wildflowers; with reference to both proteaceous and myrtaceous plants.
  • Explain the characteristics, including their identification, culture and use, of wildflowers in the Asteraceae (ie. Daisy) family.
  • Explain the characteristics, including identification, culture and use, of different legume wildflower genera.
  • Explain the characteristics, including identification, culture and use, of different Australian native monocotyledons (ie. narrow-leaved plants).
  • Prepare a planting design featuring Australian wildflowers.
  • Develop a cut flower production plan, for a selected Australian wildflower.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish, using illustrations and minimum but adequate comments, between twenty different plant families within which Australian native wildflowers are commonly found,including the following: Asteraceae, Caesalpiniaceae, Dilleniaceae, Epacridaceae, Ericaceae, Fabaceae, Poaceae, Haemodoraceae, Iridaceae, Lamiaceae, Liliaceae, Mimosaceae, Myrtaceae, Orchidaceae, Proteaceae, Rutaceae and Thymelaceae.
  • Prepare a collection of illustrations or specimens of wildflowers
  • Compile a resource file of sources of information on native ildflowers.
  • Develop criteria for distinguishing the accuracy of information, relating to native wildflowers.
  • Determine four reliable sources, of accurately named Australian plant material, including both seed and plants.
  • Develop a procedure for researching cultural information on an unfamiliar species of Australian wildflower
  • Explain different ways to plant different wildflower plants
  • Compare the use of different types of mulches around wildflowers.
  • Explain appropriate techniques for watering wildflowers, in a specified garden.
  • Compare the pruning of two specified wildflowers, from two different taxonomic families.
  • Explain why different wildflower plants have different preferences in soils.
  • Compare the use of different types of fertiliser on wildflower plants.
  • Propagate wildflower plants using a variety of techniques, including seed and cuttings.
  • Identify pests and diseases afflicting different wildflowers.
  • Discuss the culture of different wildflower plants.
  • Distinguish, using illustrations and minimum but adequate comments, between genera which include heath-like native plants, including:
    • Epacris
    • Micromyrtus
    • Thryptomene
    • Verticordia
    • Grevillea
    • Isopogon
    • Melaleuca
    • Pimelia.


Many Australian wildflowers are still top be discovered by the world at large. The diversity and quantity of species that exist, is quite staggering; and for anyone who cares to look beyond the relatively small proportion of species that are cultivated, there is a world of opportunity for gardening, cut flower growing and even crop production.   


Heath like native wildflowers

Native heath-like vegetation is characterised by a dense, low cover of shrubs usually no more than 2.0m high with a few species occurring as small trees. Most Australian heaths belong to the related Epacridacae and Ericaceae families (although the Epacridaceae is much more developed in Australia then the Ericaceae). However heath communities (of plants) include species within genera from other plant families such as Proteaceae, Myrtaceae, Dilleniaceae, Thymelaceae and so on. Genera that have species of heath-like plants include: Hakea, Grevillea, Hibbertia, Hypocalymma, Isopogon, Melaleuca, Micromyrtus, Pimelea and many more.


Heath plants are found in a range of habitats including, open forest, woodland, coastal and alpine areas but are more commonly associated with low growing, exposed vegetation called heath-land. They are not usually found in arid areas or rain-forests. They grow on poorly drained or shallow soils low in nutrients.

General Description

Heath-like plants have leaves that are often stiff and sharply pointed and have narrowly palmate veins. The leaf arrangement sometimes sheaths around the stems, but is usually alternate or spirally arranged. The flowers occur in spikes, racemes or are occasionally solitary; they are usually cup-shaped or tubular having four (or five) spreading lobes. Stamen numbers usually correspond with the amount of lobes however some species have male and female flowers occurring on separate plants. In most cases flowers are small but some such as Epacris have showy flowers. The fruit of heath-like plants is in the form of a drupe (a fleshy fruit with a hard stone enclosing the seed) or as a capsule that splits to release the seed.


The Epacris family - Epacridaceae-

Plants in the Epacridaceae family are mostly attractive, small, woody shrubs that usually grow from 50 nd like plants in Australia. In Europe heath-land plants are known as heathers and the major family for these plants there and world-wide is Ericaceae. In Australia plants in the Ericaceae family are poorly represented this family comprises plants such as Erica, Rhododendron, Kalmia. Pieris etc.   

The Epacridaceae family comprises about 34 genera distributed in Australia, South-east Asia, the Pacific Islands and South America.

Leaves are usually small, pointed, tough, short stalked or sessile; venation is almost parallel
flowers are regular with the perianth in 5’s; Sepals often grade into bracts and the petals are fused into a tube; They have 5 stamens with each of the anthers opening by a single slit; the ovary is superior.

This family is often difficult to propagate with low germination rates and cutting strike rates are variable. Current research suggests that mychorrizae taken from soil around which established plants are growing and added to the propagating mix - may have a beneficial effect on the strike rate.


The Protea Family - Proteaceae

The Proteaceae family is made up of approximately 75 genera 45 of which are native to Australia (the rest are from South Africa and South America - however no genera are common to all three countries. Plants have superficial similarities only in plant morphology to those found in South Africa. The name Proteaceae comes from the South African plant genus Protea. In Australia the Proteaceae family include genera such as Banksia, Grevillea, Hakea, Lomatia, Telopea and Stenocarpus.

The Proteaceae family comprise small shrubs to small trees. Leaves are stiff and leathery and often terete and pungent they are usually simple, but also often lobed or deeply divided. The flowers are often characteristically irregular; perianth 4’s in a single whorl; stamens 4; ovary superior. Fruit often a woody or leathery follicle, sometimes aggregated in cones.

Generally plants in this family require well-drained soils and commonly suffer from iron deficiency and phosphorus toxicity in cultivation. Some rainforest genera, including Macadamia, are an exception. They require more phosphorus than other genera in the family. Root rot is also a common problem. Propagation is commonly from seed for most species, with the exception of notable exception of grevilleas, which are grown from cuttings. Many species from other genera have, however, been successfully grown by cuttings or grafting.


The Myrtle Family - Myrtaceae

The family Myrtaceae has more then 3000 species within around 150 genera. They have a wide distribution in tropical and warm-temperate regions of the world such as South East Asia, Central and South America, the Mediterranean region (where the genus Myrtus comes from) and South Africa. Genera found in Australia include: Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Angophora, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, Callistemon, Chamaelaucium, Syzygium, Eugenia etc.

All species in the Myrtaceae family are evergreen, woody plants with essential oils. The flowers are in multiples of 4 or 5. A very notable characteristic of this family is that the phloem is located on both sides of the xylem not just outside as is the case in most other plants.

Leaves are usually simple, usually entire, and alternate to mostly opposite or occasionally whorled. The surface of the leaves is commonly dotted with noticeable oil glands.

Inflorescences are variable according to genera and may be solitary flowers, or umbel-like or raceme-like. Flowers are bi-sexual usually have a base number of 5 petals; petals are very tiny or absent in some genera. Sepals are usually 4 or 5 and often reduced to lobes. The stamens are numerous, brightly coloured and very conspicuous. The ovary is simple and usually half-inferior, from almost inferior to almost superior, 1- to multi-locular; The fruit a loculicidal capsule, nut or berry, rarely a schizocarp or drupe.

Members of this family are generally hardy and adaptable to a wide range of conditions. Most can be readily propagated from seed, and many of the smaller shrub types are often also propagated by cuttings.

Differences between some genera:

  • Eucalyptus - the flower has a fused perianth (the outer envelope of a flower, consisting of either the calyx or the corolla, or both). At maturity they become a deciduous operculum (a cap-like structure which protects the stamens in the bud and is shed when the flower opens). The stamens are many and conspicuous,

  • Melaleuca - the stamens are arranged in five bundles and are the conspicuous part of the flower; woody capsules are sessile and clustered around the stem,

  • Callistemon - have similar flowers and fruit to Melaleuca however the stamens are not clustered into bundles.

  • Leptospermum - the petals are the showy part of the flower; stamens are relatively short and the capsules are usually solitary.


Emerging from this course, you will know more plants, understand how to grow them and recognise opportunities to use them, which may not have even occurred to you previously.

Graduates may already be heavily involved with native plants by the time they finish the course. It may be their passion, or perhaps their work (maybe both).

You may use this course to kick start a small business, perhaps a backyard nursery or growing native cut flowers to sell at a local market or to florists. The course may give you the knowledge to impress an employer and get a job (or promotion) as a gardener or nurseryman.

If you work in garden design and want to concentrate on native varieties -  this course will expand your knowledge and help you to choose the right plant for the right place. It will help you to produce stunning native gardens.

If you are already working in horticulture, this course can be a valuable professional development program building and expanding on the knowledge and experience you already have.

This course is also very useful for those working, volunteering or wanting to work in rehabilitation programs for native parks - or in specialist native nurseries.
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Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

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ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

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ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

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Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

Principal John Mason has been a member of the International Society of Horticultural Science, since 2003

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

John Mason (Horticulturist)

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 edito

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