Study about herbs, uses for herbs, growing herbs, grow your own herbs, create or improve a business in the herb industry. Learn how to grow edible and medicinal herbs.

Course Code: VHT002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 700 hours
Qualification Certificate
Get started!

Train to be a Professional Horticulturist specialising in Herbs.

Accredited by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.

Course Structure

The objective of the course is to:

  • understand the binomial system of plant classification and to develop resource contacts for information about herbs.
  • develop a broad perspective of the scope of herb species and varieties, their culture and uses, and an insight into which varieties are more commonly available.
  • make a detailed study of the most commonly grown herb varieties.
  • know how to make a wide range of herb crafts and cook a wide variety of herb flavoured foods.
  • make an awareness of medicinal and toxic chemical properties of herbs (both in general and selected specific terms).
  • develop an awareness of the work procedures involved in operating a herb farm and how to harvest and provide post harvest treatments to herb produce.
  • develop knowledge of how to plan and manage a maintenance program in an ornamental garden or park.
  • design and implement a marketing program for a business operating in the herb industry.

Certificate in Horticulture involves:

  • CORE STUDIES - involves at least 350 hours, divided into 15 lessons, approximately half of the course.
  • STREAM (ELECTIVE) STUDIES - a further 350 hrs of study, specifically on herb identification, using herbs, herb farming and landscaping with herbs.

Stream Studies:

Through these specialised stream studies, the student will attempt to achieve the following objectives:

  • List and describe a range of contacts and resources.
  • Use prescribed reference books and other resources to gain relevant information.
  • Review the way plants are classified.
  • Compile a list of dried herbs commonly sold through retail shops.
  • Explain the differences in the way plants perform in different microclimates within the same area.
  • Visit and report on the operation of a herb farm.
  • Prepare lists of herbs suited to growing in different situations.
  • Explain the benefits of organic growing.
  • Describe appropriate weed control methods to use when growing herbs.
  • Demonstrate competence to harvest, dry and store herbs.
  • Demonstrate and make up three different herb crafts.
  • Describe how different herb crafts are made.
  • Cook a complete meal using herbs to appropriately flavour all courses and beverages.
  • Produce a saleable culinary herb product (eg: herb biscuit or confectionary).
  • Describe the use of herbs in different types of beverages and foods.
  • Describe different herb medicines.
  • In broad terms, compare herbal medicines with pharmaceutical.
  • Develop a "safe" preventative program of herbal medicines using only herbs and dosage levels which are widely and clearly accepted as having no side effects.
  • Describe a herb farming venture which has a high viability potential.
  • List herb products which are in high demand.
  • Describe a program to market produce from a herb farm.
  • Undertake harvesting and drying several different herbs, under a variety of different conditions.
  • Describe the harvest and post harvest requirements of different herbs.
  • Describe several problems which affect post harvest quality and explain how quality is affected.
  • Record methods of obtaining herbal oils.
  • Prepare a detailed maintenance program for an ornamental garden.
  • Describe maintenance procedures for a variety of different ornamental garden situations.
  • Conduct simple inexpensive tests on three different potting mixes.
  • Analyse and report on the results from soil tests conducted.
  • Describe suitable soil mixes for container growing different types of plants.
  • List a range of both natural and artificial fertilisers.
  • Describe fertiliser programs to be used in different situations with ornamental plants.
  • Write an advertisement.
  • Design an promotional leaflet to promote a plant variety.
  • Explain basic management procedures and basic staff management skills.
  • Develop a business plan and prepare a budget.
  • Design a workplace (in a herb related business) to optimise efficiency and workplace safety.
  • Gather appropriate information required prior to preparing a landscape design.
  • Draw a sketch plan for an ornamental garden.
  • Describe various ways container plants can be used to create different landscape effects.
  • Calculate how to estimate materials and labour in order to quote for a landscape job.
  • Analyse existing garden designs and the garden's effectiveness.
  • Prepare detailed drawings for the construction of at least one garden feature (eg. A seat, wall).
  • Explain the differences between furnishings and other features which can be incorporated into a garden.
  • Analyse an existing park and show how redevelopment would improve the facility.
  • List the choices available in surfacing treatments, advantages and disadvantages of each, and where it might be most appropriate to use each.
  • Be familiar with alternative materials and their respective characteristics in terms of quality and cost.
  • Produce and photograph how to use herbs to create topiary and hedging.
  • Conduct detailed studies of a range of commonly grown herbs (including Mints, Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Garlic, Chamomile and Parsley).
  • Analyse a range of herbs (at least 150 varieties), their identification, culture and use.

Core studies:

Core studies cover the following:

1. Introduction to Plants- Nomenclature and taxonomy, the plant kingdom, genus, species, hybrids.

2. Parts of the Plant- How plants grow, plant structure, parts of the flower and leaf, modification of stems and roots.

3. Plant Culture - Planting- How to plant and protect newly planted specimens, terms like: annuals, biennials, perennials, deciduous, evergreen and herbaceous plants.

4. Plant Culture - Pruning- Purpose for pruning, rules for pruning, how to prune.

5. Plant Culture - Irrigation and Machinery- Different irrigation systems, components of an irrigation system, designing an irrigation system, maintenance in the garden and for tools.

6. Soils & Media- Soil classifications, testing soil, potting mixes, the U.C. System, ingredients of potting mixes.

7. Soils & Nutrition- Fertilisers - deficiencies and toxicities, N:P:K ratios, salting, fertiliser programming, compost.

8. Propagation - Seeds & Cuttings- How to propagate plants with the two easiest techniques, propagating mixes, cold frame construction, after care for young plants.

9. Propagation - Other Techniques- Other methods to increase plant numbers - budding, grafting, layering, division and tissue culture.

10. Identification and Use of Plants- How are plants used in the landscape, how to choose and purchase plants, selecting plants suitable for the climate and site.

11. Identification and Use of Plants- Problems with plants and choosing plants for problem sites.

12. Identification and Use of Plants- Indoor and Tropical Plants, flowers, herbs, bulbs, ferns.

13. Pests- Identifying and controlling pests, chemical and natural methods for control, chemical safety precautions.

14. Diseases- Identifying and controlling diseases, plant pathology, fungi, viruses, non pathogenic problems, interactions with the host and the environment.

15. Weeds- Identifying and controlling weeds, chemical terminology.

Identifying Herbs Starts with the Families

A large proportion of common herbs fall into one of the following four different plants families. Within these families there are many species and varieties that are used for a range of purposes some are used as herbs.

LAMIACEAE (MINT Family) - has over 250 genera and around 6500 species within it, all these plants have aromatic foliage and many are used as herbs.
They include: balm, basil, catnip, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, all the mints, oregano, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, savoury, and thyme.
The leaves of the Lamiaceae herbs are used for culinary purposes, the oils from this group tend to have insect repellent qualities.

APIACEAE (PARSLEY/Carrot Family) - has 300 species and about 3000 species. They include: angelica, anise, caraway, dill, fennel and parsley
The leaves and seeds of the Apiaceae herbs are used for culinary and some for medicinal purposes i.e. dill and angelica.

ASTERACEAE (DAISY Family - has over 900 genera and a staggering 20,000 species some of which are used as herbs. They include: chamomile, feverfew, Lad's Love/Southernwood, mugwort, pyrethrum, tansy, tarragon, wormwood and yarrow. The flowers of the Asteraceae are used for teas with valuable medicinal properties i.e. chamomile, insect repellents i.e. pyrethrum, southernwood, culinary purposes i.e. the leaves of tarragon.

LILIACEAE (LILY Family) -has approximately 280 genera and 4000 species those used for herbal purposes includes: garlic, chives, shallots and squill.
The leaves and bulbs of most of the herbs from the liliaceae family are edible. However there are exceptions i.e. squill which is poisonous in large quantities, but is used in minute quantities in cough medicines.

Many herbs of course are classified within different family groups then those mentioned above, in fact most plant families will have some plants within them that are used for medicinal or other herbal purposes i.e. Lauraceae- Bay Tree, Myrtaceae - Sweet myrtle, Candleberry, Cistaceae- Labdanum, Salicaceae- White willow, Capricoliaceae- Elder, Iridaceae- Saffron Crocus, Zingiberaceae- Ginger, Violaceae - Sweet violet, Ranunculaceae- Nigella, Onagraceae- Evening Primrose etc.

An Introduction to Herbs

by John Mason, Principal of ACS Distance Education
Herbs have a history almost as old as man himself. Used as much for medicines and foods as their colours and scents, herbs have a practical charm unmatched in the world of plants. No garden is complete without them and no kitchen could be considered fully stocked.
The scientific definition of a herb is a plant which has no persistent stem above the ground; that is, the leaves and stem die back to the roots after a period of growth. By this definition, strictly speaking, you would call plants such as daffodils and dahlias herbs along with plants such as mint and garlic. The more popular definition of a herb is any plant whose roots, stems, leaves or flowers are used for culinary flavouring, medicinal or perfumery purposes. Herbs then, are essentially plants which are grown because of the beneficial characteristics of the oils or other chemical components to be found in their tissues.
Herbs have been gathered or grown and used in all parts of the world for thousands of years. They are some of the easiest, hardiest and fastest garden plants to grow and there is generally little cost involved in growing them, apart from your own labour. These factors, coupled with a growing preference today for natural alternatives to chemicals, have resulted in a revival of interest in the use of herbs.
Herbs have long been associated, in many different cultures, with things magical or supernatural, perhaps due to the seemingly miraculous healing power of some herbs.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used herbs as did most other early civilisations but most of the herbs we commonly use today were developed by European herbalists during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. By the mid 16thcentury, most European households grew at least 50 different varieties of herbs in the garden.
Many medicinal uses of herbs have been thoroughly tested over the centuries and their credibility firmly established. In recent years there has been considerable interest from scientists and enthusiastic amateurs in determining just what effects herbs produce and what components of herbs cause these effects. Much effort is also being spent in introducing new herbs into widespread cultivation.
Herbs are among the easiest of plants to look after, but that doesn’t mean you should plant them and forget them.  There is no one ideal set of growing conditions for herbs. They come from many different plant families which have adapted to different types of environments all over the world – consequently they all require different growing conditions. One of the things they do have in common however is that they generally have a scent, and in most cases a sunny position is needed to fully develop the oils or chemicals which give herbs their characteristic scent or taste.
The ideal growing conditions for most herbs are similar to those required by vegetables, namely raised beds, moist but well drained and mulched soil, full sun for at least part of the day but not too exposed to frost and wind, and generally fertile, weed-free soil. Some herbs, however, do prefer soils that are not over-fertile.

ACS operates a student bookshop that supplies a range of horticulture texts to supplement our courses.
Many are written by the principal (well known gardening author John Mason), or other staff. All have been reviewed and approved by our academic experts (to be accurate and relevant to students studying our horticulture courses).
STARTING A NURSERY OR HERB FARM 3rd edition  by John Mason   (publisher: ACS)  EBook http://www.acsbookshop.com/products/2242-starting-a-nursery-or-herb-farm-pdf.aspx

by John Mason (publisher :andlinks Press)  Printed Book
PROPAGATING FROM CUTTINGS  by John Mason (publisher: Kangaroo Press)   Printed Book
STARTING A GARDEN OR LANDSCAPE BUSINESS 2nd Edition  by John Mason  (publisher: ACS)  EBook http://www.acsbookshop.com/products/2241-starting-a-garden-or-landscape-business-pdf.aspx

GROWING AND USING VEGETABLES and HERBS  by John Mason  (publisher: Kangaroo Press)  Printed Book
COMMERCIAL HYDROPONICS 3rd Edition  by John Mason  (publisher: ACS)  Ebook



Getting a job is always helped by study of any kind; but it is important to understand that being employed in todays world is affected by many things, and while important, doing a course is only one factor.

The biggest advantage of doing a course today is what you learn. Employers, clients and customers always gravitate toward capable people. A qualified person who knows less, will always be less impressive than an unqualified person who knows more. The important message here is that you should above all, study to learn first and consider the final certificate as a bonus, rather than the main purpose of your study.

Are you studying the right course?

A good course will help you to not only gain knowledge in the field of study it will also help you to experience actual situations that you may encounter in the work place. This is called ‘Experiential Learning’ many courses concentrate on ‘Competency Based Learning’ – just ticking you off against a known list of tasks. Experiential or Problem Based Learning will help you to develop those problem solving skills that are much sought after in employees by commerce and industry.

Are your studies broad enough?

To narrow your focus on one industry sector narrows your opportunities; but to have some specialist knowledge sets you apart from the competition. The best course gives you both the specialist and general knowledge.This Certificate idoes that.

You develop those under-pinning horticulture skills that are needed in any inter-industry sector whether you are designing gardens, working in a nursery, working as a gardener etc. You then learn more specifically about herbs. On graduation you are prepared to work in just the herb industry if that is where opportunities emerge; but also well prepared to work in any other branch of horticulture if you find better opportunities in some other section of this industry.

Are you lifting your profile?

No matter what job we are in or hope to get into, networking is the best way to get your name out there and be noticed. Join online social media groups such as linked-in to establish a profile. Make sure you keep it up to date and list your educational and work experience, you would be surprised how many job offers come through these types of networks. Network with industry – attend seminars, industry exhibitions, garden shows etc. and make yourself known; someone may remember you later!

Are your communication skills good?

We all remember a good communicator. Communication is not just about being able to hold a conversation with someone though, it also includes writing and technology skills. Today it is essential for everyone to have basic computer skills, good telephone techniques, a respectful way of speaking with others and knowing what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour in the workplace.

Are you well-presented?

In some horticultural jobs it is almost impossible not to get dirty! Flower growing or crop growing or landscaping is all dirty work. However when presenting yourself for jobs you should be dressed in clean appropriate attire for the job interview you are attending.  A tidily presented person will stand out and be more likely to get ahead in their jobs than one that turns up at work in yesterday’s dirty clothes. If you are running your own business good presentation also evokes a feeling of confidence both from you to the customer and from the customer to you.

Have you chosen the right school?

Not all education providers are equal – some will push you through your course just to get you to the end. Others require you to study within set time frames and others give you little support. Many are more about getting that government funding than they are about educating their students.

Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

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

Accredited ACS Global Partner

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 the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

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

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

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

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

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.