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Course Title: RHS Level 3 Principles of Plant Growth, Health & Applied Propagation

RHS Level 3 Principles of Plant Growth, Health & Applied Propagation

Horticulture Course
Price:£415 Qualification: RHS Certificate
RHS Level 3 Principles of Plant Growth, Health & Applied Propagation

RHS Level 3 course in Principles of Plant Growth, Health & Applied Propagation. Expand your knowledge and qualifications with this fantastic RHS course. This RHS course will help develop your ability to describe the principles of plant taxonomy, structure, function and growth, the management of plant health, and plant propagation.

Develop your ability to describe the principles of plant taxonomy, structure, function and growth, the management of plant health, and plant propagation.

Course Structure for RHS Level 3 Principles of Plant Growth, Health & Applied Propagation

To obtain the RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation, you will need to pass four unit exams. These are held by the RHS in February and June every year and you should be aware that there are deadline dates by which you need to apply to take them and that the fees are paid separately. Students should register as an external candidate with an RHS Approved Centre to take exams, or contact qualifications@rhs.org.uk for details. To help fully prepare you for the exams, there are past test papers readily available.

The four unit exams are:

  1. 1 Plant Taxonomy, Structure and Function
  2. 2 The Root Environment, Plant Nutrition and Growing Systems
  3. 3 The Management of Plant Health
  4. 4 Understanding Applied Plant Propagation

Course Duration:

The Total Qualification Hours (TQT) for the course is 180 .

We encourage our learners to work at their own pace and so there are no assignment deadlines or end date, by which the course must be completed by. Apart from the RHS exam dates deadlines, you are in control. If you start and then something happens in your life that stops you from continuing, don’t worry. Just take a break and recommence your studies for the following year’s exams or even for the year after that.

Learning Materials:

You can be assured that all of the course work and resource materials (revision workbook, PowerPoint presentations etc.), have been written by experienced professionals who have prepared everything in line with up-to-date RHS guidelines for learning providers.The syllabus is broken into the four units and because many people choose to spread their exams over the two examination months available, it means you can target your learning to those you want to take first. Please contact us if you just want to take one unit at a time.

Everyone gets online access to ADL’s learning platform and the learning materials, which can be downloaded in a pdf. format to study offline. You can also choose to have the course posted to you on a USB memory stick and/or opt for the correspondence add-on option, if you would like the learning materials in book form.


At ADL we pride ourselves on the quality of the unlimited admin and tutor support we provide to our students. Our support team are there to help you with anything they can, whilst our tutors are seasoned industry related professionals, suitably qualified in horticulture and very happy to share their wealth of experience.

Studying from Abroad:

If you are intending to study from abroad (other than Ireland), you will need to email qualifications@rhs.org.uk to request an exceptional supervision form before applying to take the exams. This means that you can complete the course from abroad and get an internationally recognised qualification from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Tuition Fee Includes:

All course learning materials
Mentor support from horticultural Professionals
Marking and grading of up to four past RHS exam papers per course taken
Free student membership of the RHS for 12 months

We will also include our new online 20 Hour course in Plant Taxonomy worth £99.00 free of charge.

The course is crucial for the correct scientific identification of plants. Without this level of taxonomic knowledge, you risk mis-identifying plants. That can mean growing a less productive species, or even worse growing a plant with higher levels of toxins and being unaware you are doing so.

Key Facts:

  • Ideal qualifications for entry into horticultural employment, improving practical skills or further study
  • Course covers a range of wide range of horticultural topics and up-to-date working practices
  • Appropriate for career change or to gain a better knowledge
    Suitable for part-time study
  • Each unit is assessed by examination or set practical activities
  • Examinations take place in February and June
  • Practical courses provide hands-on experience of practical skills
  • No entry requirements
  • Qualification consists of mandatory units (for theoretical and practical-based qualifications) with some optional units to develop specialist practical skills

Important Links: 

  • RHS Website please click here
  • RHS Examination dates for 2019 please click here
  • RHS Examination fees please click here
  • RHS approved UK Examination Centers please click here.
  • RHS Level 3 Qualification Specification for this course (last update January 2018) please click here
  • RHS Statement of Qualification Purpose please click here

Previous Student Comments:


“I am delighted to report that I passed the exam and received a “Pass with Commendation.” I appreciate very much the detail that you went into, in the the correction of my assignments and I found your advice and extra subject information invaluable in advancing my interest and knowledge in horticulture”. Go raibh mile maith agat! (a thousand thanks!) Colin, RHS Certificate II , Ireland.

UNIT 1 Plant Taxonomy, Structure and Function

Outcome 1: Understand the Plant Kingdon & the Taxonomic Hierachy

1.1 Describe the major groups of the Plant Kingdom
1.2 Describe features of plant classification and nomenclature relevant to horticulture

Outcome 2: Understand the Structure and Function of Plant Tissues and Organs in the Life of the Plant

2.1 Identify a range of plant tissues and describe their structure and function
2.2 Identify and describe types of inflorescence
2.3 Describe plant adaptations for pollination
2.4 Describe fertilisation and the structure of fruits

Outcome 3: Understand Photosynthesis, Respiration, Water/solute Relations in the Plant and their Relevance to Horticulture

3.1 Describe the process of photosynthesis
3.2 Explain how the rate of photosynthesis can be manipulated
3.3 Describe the processes of respiration
3.4 Explain the movement of water and solutes through the plant
3.5 Explain the inter-relationships between photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration and describe their control in horticultural situations
3.6 Explain how plants are adapted to different habitats

Outcome 4: Understand the role of Plant Growth Regulators in Plant Development and their Relevance to Horticulture

4.1 Describe the properties and key effects of endogenous plant growth regulators (PGRs) and their interactions
4.2 Describe the use of synthetic PGRs in horticultural situations
4.3 Describe tropic plant movements
4.4 Describe how flowering is controlled in plants

UNIT 2 The Root Environment, Plant Nutrition & Growing Systems

Outcome 1: Understand Formation and Properties of Soils and other growing media

1.1 Explain the process of soil formation and development
1.2 Review the properties of soil organic matter, colloids, and mineral components
1.3 Compare a range of soil structures and describe their effects on plant growth and soil management
1.4 Compare the physical and chemical properties of a range of substrates and constituents used for growing media

Outcome 2: Understand the relationship between plant growth and air and water in soils and other growing media

2.1 Describe the relationship between air and water content in the pore space of soils and growing media and how this influences their management

Outcome 3: Understand the Role of Living Organisms in Soil Processes

3.1 Summarise the biological activity that takes place in soils during the production of humus from organic matter
3.2 Describe the carbon and nitrogen cycles and summarise the role of nitrogen-fixing organisms
3.3 Compare the roles of the rhizosphere and mycorrhizae in aiding healthy plant growth and treatment of root zones with added mycorrhizae

Outcome 4: Understand the role of nutrients in plant growth

4.1 Explain how specific nutrients affect plant growth
4.2 Explain how various factors affect the availability of plant nutrients in soils and growing media

Outcome 5: Understand organic growing

5.1 Describe how organic status is certified in the UK
5.2 Discuss the benefits and limitations of certified organic status for growers
5.3 Identify management techniques available to the organic grower

UNIT 3 The Management of Plant Health

Outcome 1: Know the characteristics of a range of pests, diseases and weeds of horticultural significance

1.1 Describe symptoms and damage caused by a range of pests, diseases and weeds in specific horticultural situations
1.2 Describe the life-cycles of a range of plant pests and diseases
1.3 Describe the biology of a range of weeds

Outcome 2: Review the Control of Pests, Diseases and Weeds in Horticulture

2.1 State a range of appropriate methods for control of pests, diseases and weeds
2.2 Explain how pests and diseases develop resistance to chemical control
2.3 Review the requirements for the safe use of chemicals used for plant protection
2.4 Describe how biosecurity measures, are intended to prevent the distribution of pests, diseases and weeds

UNIT 4 Understanding Applied Plant Propagation

Outcome 1: Understand how Knowledge of Seed Anatomy, Physiology and Environmental Factors can be Applied to Propagate and Conserve Seeds Successfully

1.1 Explain the function of anatomical features in germinating seeds
1.2 Describe the physiological and environmental factors in seed dormancy
1.3 Describe methods used to overcome dormancy
1.4 Describe methods of seed treatments, preparation and sowing used to enhance germination
1.5 Describe the significance of seed conservation and propagation for planting
1.6 Describe the maintenance of stock plants used for the commercial production of stem cuttings

Outcome 2: Understand the Relevance of Anatomy, Physiology and Environmental Factors to Methods of Vegetative Propagation

2.1 Describe how plant anatomy and plant physiology are relevant to vegetative propagation
2.2 Describe the preparation of a range of propagules
2.3 Describe the propagation of plants by micro-propagation

Outcome 3: Understand Methods of Propagation used in Horticultural Production

3.1 Describe a range of propagation facilities
3.2 Describe the production of a range of plants in the horticultural industry

Optional Recommended Books:

Capon, Brian Botany for Gardeners Rev Edn Timber Press 0881926558 – Good clear plant science.

Adams, C. and Earley, M. Brook, J and Bamford, K. Principles of Horticulture Level 3 Routledge, 0415859093 Previous editions of Principles of Horticulture are useful, and the Sixth Edition was revised for the latest syllabus changes, but now the book has been divided into two and this separate volume covers the level 3 syllabus speicifically. Most useful additional textbook for this course.

Ingram, D., Vince-Prue, D. and Gregory, P. Science and the Garden Wiley-Blackwell; 3rd Revised edition 111877843X This was designed by the RHS to cover the syllabus for the Advanced and Diploma, so although a lot of the material is taken beyond the level required for the exams, making it not as approachable as some other texts, it covers all the required science. For the new level 3 Certificates regard it as background reading, not core.

Clegg, C.J. Green Plants: The Inside Story John Murray 0719575532 – Excellent clear and cheap explanation of introductory science, an AS level textbook. However, remember that some parts will not be necessary for the RHS syllabus – it is not A-level plant science.

Bird, C. (ed) The Fundamentals of Horticulture: Theory and Practice Cambridge University Press 0521707390 Some good information but variable in its level, better for level 2.

Thompson, Ken An Ear To The Ground: Understanding Your Garden Eden Press 01903919207 ‘Forthright, breezy and authoritative…It is about time someone told it how it really is.’ Ursula Buchan. manages to make articles on quite advanced science very readable – and relevant to real horticulture.

Johnson & Smith Plant Names Simplified: Their Pronunciation Derivation and Meaning Old Pond Publishing 1905523823 cheap and useful guide – print quality makes it hard to read

RHS Latin for Gardeners Mitchell Beazley 184533731X Excellent useful book on plant names and origins. Look around book clubs as it can be bought cheaply, sometimes with RHS Botany for Gardeners

The Art and Science of Gardening Explained & Explored Mitchell Beazley 1845338332 an excellent readable set of articles from The Garden covering some up to date areas of plant science, very good background going beyond level 3 in places.

Price: £395
Qualification: Certificate
Estimated Course Duration: 150 hours
Available Learning Methods: Online, USB (+£10) and Correspondence (+£100)
Enrolment Dates: Our courses are self-paced and you can start at anytime

Enrol today and get a recognised qualification from the RHS

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As soon as payment has been confirmed you will be able to access your course materials online within 24 hours. Any further correspondence will arrive at your address between 3-4 days.

For any Questions or to Enrol please call 01227 789 649

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