Learn all about Australian native plants - work in horticultural production, planning, management, teaching or media. Become something exceptional in the world of gardening.

Course Code: VHT121
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Become an Australian Plant Guru

Australia has the most diverse range of untapped horticultural assets in the world.

  • Learn to identify and use a wide range of Australian plants
  • Expand your palette for designing gardens
  • Explore new possibilities for cut flowers and edible produce
  • This is a course that can expand your knowledge and skills into areas of horticulture and plant science which you may never have imagined.

It can help you differentiate your skill set from others in the industry; and in doing so,give you a distinct advantage in your career or business ambitions.




Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN AUSTRALIAN NATIVES.
 Australian Natives I BHT113
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 6 modules.

Note that each module in the CERTIFICATE IN AUSTRALIAN NATIVES is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Australian Plants -Diverse beyond belief

There are so many different species of Australian plants, coming from such a wide variety of places. Whatever you might need a plant for, there will be Australian natives that can fit the purpose. The tallest flowering plant in the world is an Australian native; but there are also natives that hug the ground surface. Natives from the highlands of Tasmania grow in places where they are buried in snow while others from inland Australia grow in barren, dry climates where temperatures have been known to approach 50 degrees Celsius.

Whether you are creating a formal or informal garden; a wet or dry landscape; a forest, rockery or anything else, you can learn through this course to identify, select and grow a native for any horticultural purpose you may confront.


Learn to Grow an Australian Plant Hedge

There is such a wide variety of native plants that now you can use them to create a low hedge, a high screen, or anything in between. However, like exotic plants, you should prune the hedges regularly to maintain the shape and promote new, thick growth.  Wherever possible, avoid pruning into old wood since most will struggle to produce new growth from older stems.  

Reliable and hardy, Baeckea produce white flowers in summer, and if planted close together will provide an effective screen. There are currently 12 species of Baeckea with many species formerly in this genus being reassigned to several other genera. Dwarf varieties of Baeckea are now available.

Callistemons have been reclassified to become Melaleucas, however many who work in horticulture still call them Callistemon.

Callistemon species and cultivars are excellent hedging plants as they respond well to pruning (even hard pruning). There are many well-known tried and true cultivars available derived from C. viminalis and C. citrinus with C. ‘Captain Cook’ being a popular larger variety, along with C. 'King’s Park Special’. C. ‘Little John’ is one of the best of the new native plant varieties; this low-growing form of Callistemon viminalis will grow to 1 metre in height and will respond well to hedging.  It can also be grown in pots.  Callistemon ‘Great Balls of Fire’ is another newer cultivar that grows to about 1m high and is excellent as a small hedge. 

Correa alba is an underused native shrub that makes a great low to medium hedge. It responds extremely well to pruning. When left to grow naturally (with regular tip pruning to promote bushiness) it develops into a rounded shrub to 1.5m high with a spread of around 2m. This one is worth considering in a formal native garden as it makes a great hedge. 

Grevillea ‘Clearview David’ is a prickly plant with red flowers and is an ideal habitat for small birds as it protects them from predators. It also provides a high dense screen when tip pruned regularly. G. ‘Lady O’ is ideal as a smaller hedge to 1.5m. G. ‘Lolly Pops’ is a grafted variety which is also a dwarf one that performs well as a small 1m high hedge. For a taller screening plant, G. ‘Majestic' with its large creamy-red flowers is a great choice. It flowers all year and makes a showy dense hedge. G. ‘Ned Kelly’ and G. ‘Robyn Gordon’ are old time favourites that perform well – growing to around 2m high by 1.5m wide. 

Lilly Pilly 
Look for Acmena smithii and Syzygium luehmannii, and cultivars of these species, as these are not prone to psyllid attacks - which can be very unsightly in a hedge.

The fine leaf forms are also the most suitable for hedges. There are also dwarf varieties available now.  The larger forms should not be planted too close to paths as they may drop berries.

Melaleuca species were the street plants of the 1970’s and even today you can still see old stands of these tough performers lining the streets of older suburbs. Melaleuca styphelioides and M. armillaris (Bracelet Honey Myrtle) were the two most commonly planted, with the latter having a lovely weeping form and the former being somewhat stiff and not as attractive. Today though, you can access cultivars that are also great performers but are more suited to the smaller suburban garden. Among these are:

M. 'Compacta' - to 2m tall and 2m wide.
M. linariifolia ‘Snow Storm’ - a smaller shrub growing to about 1.5m by 1.5m (sometimes slightly taller and wider) which does well in full sun to part shade.
M. ‘Silver Dollar’ - to 3-4m tall.
M. ‘Revolution Gold’ - a larger shrub to 4m.


This is one the most versatile of native plants. It tolerates a wide variety of conditions, including coastal sites. It has grey foliage with white or blue flowers and variegated, narrow and dwarf forms are now available. 

A good narrow form that needs little pruning to retain its narrow shape (1.8m tall x 80cm wide) is Westringia ‘Naringa’. This plant is great for screening is narrow spaces. W. ‘Wynyabbie Gem’ at 2m x 2m is an old favourite and a lovely cultivar, but it does need regular pruning to prevent woodiness. W. ‘Blue Moon’ is a small cultivar to 0.75m high with a slightly wider spread. 


  • Nurserymen
  • Garden Designers
  • Landscape Contractors
  • Garden Managers
  • Plant Breeders
  • Teachers
  • Writers, broadcast media presenters
  • Teachers
  • Land Managers
  • Environmental Scientists
  • Planners, Architects, Engineers
  • Anyone working in planning or managing landscapes or the environment -urban or rural.
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

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

Accredited ACS Global Partner

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

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

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.

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

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.

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