Nursery Hands Course

Develop the knowledge and skills for working in a plant nursery.

Understand the scope and nature of nursery work, from watering and pest management to potting and dealing with customers.

  • Learn about plant identification and taxonomy.
  • Study greenhouse management, heating and cooling, and irrigation.
  • Understand plant propagation techniques, plant nutrition, and different growing media.
  • Learn about sales methods relevant to the industry.

“Those who seek to enter the nursery industry or who are currently employed in a nursery will find this course invaluable. From plant identification to propagation, nursery structures to irrigation, this course has it all. Graduates will be accomplished in all aspects of nursery work from the ground up to marketing.” - Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.


This course has been divided into eleven lessons as follows:

1.  Introduction to the Nursery Industry.  Production systems, transport regulations, PVR.

2.  Plant Identification and Taxonomy.  Systematic botany, plant families, leaf and flower parts.

3.  Nursery Structures and Buildings.  Greenhouse management, structures for nurseries.

4.  Potting Mixes.  U.C. soil mixes, understanding soils, growing media.

5.  Seed Propagation.  Quality, sources, storage, germination treatments.

6.  Cutting Propagation. Stock plants, hormones.

7.  Other Propagation Techniques.  Tissue culture, division, separation, layering, grafting.

8.  Plant Nutrition in the Nursery.  Nutrition management.

9.  Pests and Diseases Control.  Hygeine.

10. Other Nursery Tasks.  Nursery irrigation, modifying plant growth.

11. Marketing and Sales.  Sales methods.

Course Duration - 100 hours


One of the first things for anyone to learn when they work in a nursery is the importance of cleanliness.

Plants like people can become infected by disease and die; and sick or dead plants are a financial loss to the nursery. Nursery hands need to understand both the importance of avoiding disease, and the ways a nursery minimises disease issues.

Diseases among young plants are potentially a catastrophe. It is possible to grow plants for years, paying little attention to disease control and have little trouble. However, if you do get a disease problem it can become epidemic and destroy a large proportion of your stock in a very short space of time (even a day or two).

Disease can spread many different ways:

  • By dipping cuttings in hormone or water
  • Through irrigation or rain water
  •  Soil on the hose if it's dropped on the ground
  • Soil on the bottom of pots/trays
  • On tools, clothes, shoes and workers hands
  • Contaminated soil mixes or pots
  • Infected plant material, etc.

A major concept in avoiding disease is recognising where they may originate from and stopping them from ever being introduced into the nursery. There are many prophylactic measures that can be adopted.

A system developed by the University of California (U.C.) is often used to set guidelines for managing disease (summarised as follows):

  • Use a U.C. system type Soil Mix (explained in the course).
  • Good drainage must be provided. This allows for a proper balance between oxygen and water to be maintained in the root zone.
  • Leach the soil (to remove salt build ups and disease organisms from the soil).
  • Sterilise the soil before use (making it free of disease and weed seeds).
  • Use good quality water (free of disease/unwanted chemicals).
  • Undertake frequent light fertilising (to maintain nutrient levels and replace any nutrient lost by leaching).
  • Disease free plant material.
  • Clean out containers (pots, trays, etc. are thoroughly washed out using a chemical such as bleach, Biogram, Jeyes Fluid, TCP or Detol to kill disease). The agent is most often diluted with water, but always read instructions before use.
  • Adhere to strict sanitation practices (thorough cleanliness is practiced; benches are washed with chemicals, tools dipped, workers walk through foot wash to clean boots, wash hands before work, etc).

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Fee Information (S2)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $781.66  1 x $710.60
B 2 x $416.96  2 x $379.05

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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All orders processed in Australian dollars.