RHS Level 3 Certificate in The Principles of Plant Growth, Garden Planning and Applied Propagation ( NEW for 2023)

Full CourseLocationPrice
RHS Level 3 Certificate in The Principles of Plant Growth, Garden Planning and Applied Propagation ( NEW for 2023)Home£825.00
Course ModulesPrice
NEW RHS Level 3 Principles Unit 1 (DL including exam fees and registration for both units)£675.00
NEW RHS Level 3 Principles Unit 2 (DL)£375.00

Enrol for this course or module

This Certificate is the theory element of the new RHS Level 3 qualification. It is available as distance learning (online or correspondence).

The new Level 3 Diploma consists of

  • a new practical Certificate assessed by practical examination, professional discussion and an online short-answer test
  • a new theory Certificate which covers two Units (each of four topics) assessed by two online examinations

If you successfully complete  these two Certificates, you will be awarded an RHS Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture.

A third element, a Level 3 Award in Horticultural Investigation, can be added which will complete a full Level 3 Diploma.

You can watch/listen to a short voiced powerpoint on how the course for the new Certificate is arranged, and on how the exams work. 

The RHS has moved in a new direction with its horticultural qualifications, to look at horticulture as the management of the green spaces which are increasingly important in an urbanised world.

It states:

'The horticultural industries span many disciplines, from the production of plants for planting through to the production of fruit, salads and vegetables.
An important sector of this industry is the management of gardens and designed landscapes. The horticulturists who work in such settings are involved in the scientific study of plants, the preservation of heritage, the propagation of new plant material, and the pursuit of best practice to inform their management decisions.
The World Health Organisation report Urban Green Spaces and Health highlights the importance of such gardens and designed landscapes in the promotion of mental health and wellness.
Put simply people need plants. Plants need horticulturists.

The purpose and content of the Level 3 supports specialist / industry-specific pathways informed by the findings of the Ornamental Horticultural Round Table Group (OHRG).

It is aimed at those progressing in horticultural roles or having a specialist personal interest in the supervision and development of gardens and landscapes, for example public gardens, botanical gardens, heritage gardens, private gardens, maintenance and landscaping along with community green spaces. This qualification thus meets the needs of the amateur gardeners and professional horticulturists alike.
It also provides learners the opportunity of personal development, including the changing of careers and engagement in their learning and offers an opportunity to develop transferable skills such as problem solving, implementing management plans / programmes, and communication as part of their applied learning.'


What will I study?

The RHS Level 3 Certificate consists of 8 Topics.

Unit 1:

Horticultural Heritage 1. The history of horticultural space 2. Key influences on the development of horticultural space 3. The importance of horticultural heritage 4. The impact of horticultural heritage on gardens management.

Plant Knowledge 1. The role of exploration on plant diversity 2. Plant information sources 3. Applied plant knowledge 4. Managing plants within botanic and other gardens.

 Plant Selection and Cultivation 1. Selecting plants for a purpose 2. Plant procurement 3. Combining plants 4. Planning plant maintenance.

 Plant Propagation 1. Propagation facilities 2. Planning propagation 3. Advanced propagation techniques 4. Development of propagation protocols

Unit 2:

Garden Styles and Specialist Areas 1. Garden styles and areas 2. Planting styles 3. Hard landscaping elements 4. Management of trees.

Productive Growing 1. Growing systems 2. Selection of crops and planning cropping 3. Optimising yield 4. Research and development in productive growing. 

Gardens Management 1. Managing people in a garden 2. Managing material resources in a garden 3. Planning projects and maintenance activities 4. Maintenance standards.

Gardens, People and Spaces 1. Gardens and visitors 2. Gardens and their communities 3. Wellbeing 4. Feedback and evaluation

The Qualification-wide outcomes embedded within the course follow on from level 2 and consist of health and safety, sustainability, best practice and equality and diversity.

What is covered?

click here to download the syllabus for the Certificate.

How is it delivered and assessed?

The course is  offered online and as a correspondence option; it is also taught at our Ryton centre over an academic year. 

Online learning gives you flexible study  - you can log in to your 'virtual classroom' for each unit: 

Download notes and presentations to read on or offline, or print them out if  you prefer
View interactive materials and 'self-test' quizzes online
Contact your course tutor using the internal messaging system
Upload practice exam papers and questions
Keep in touch with other students on your course through the online forum
Get updates and reminders about exam deadlines

Study at home, or whenever and wherever it suits you. You can download most of the course materials, print them out if you prefer, or take them with you on a tablet on your daily commute.


The two units will each be assessed by a separate examination: examination 1 will cover Unit 1 (topics 1.1-1.4) and examination 2 will cover Unit 2 (topics 2.1-2.4).

For each examination there will be 100 marks available and each will take 120 minutes to complete.

The exams will consist of three sections: section A , 15-20 questions, 20 marks; section B, 12-15 questions, 50 marks; section C, choice of 2 from 4 questions, 2 x 15 marks.

You must achieve at least 50% in each unit and pass both unit 1 and 2 in order to be awarded the qualification. A final grade for the overall qualification will be calculated by amalgamating the marks for each unit and expressed as a percentage. Learners will be awarded the following grades for the complete qualification:
50-64% Pass
65-79% Merit
80%+ Distinction.

Examinations are in February, June and October each year.

You can begin to study online/correspondence theory courses at any point in the year  -  your enrolment is for 18 months. 

We will automatically enter you for the next two practicable examination rounds, one for each unit; so for example no-one enrolling at the end of March would be entered for June, the first exam would be in October, then the second in June.   Access to the course material is for 18 months but extensions of six months can be added, to allow for exam deferral or study for resits. Registration for this qualification with the RHS is for 2 years.

Practice papers will be provided and exam preparation reminders built into each student’s weekly calendar in the online classroom.

Click here to enter the teaching website to  see some examples of course materials in a sample online classroom ( you will be asked to log in as a guest).

What qualification will I get?

On successful completion of both unit examinations, you wil be awarded an RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Garden Planning and Applied Propagation.

What is the cost and venue(s)?

For the new RHS qualifications there are two parts to the cost: tuition and RHS fees. 

Tuition: Online course materials and tuition for both units will cost £575, or you  can enrol on each unit separately.

 RHS fees : The RHS have made a decision that a Centre can only accept you on an RHS course if you commit to the complete assessment process when you start. Their fees for the new Level 3 theory qualification are  £20 for registration  and £190 for examination  and assessment, but additional charges for the online examinations (£20 per exam plus administration) for these will make the total £250.  In the month that you enrol the RHS will invoice us for registration fees and ask us to enter you for examinations,  so these RHS fees are now due at the beginning of the course as an itemised part of the initial payment, and we cannot enrol you for a unit or the complete course without charging you this fee.

This means that the total course cost is either £825 (£575 tuition + £250 exam fees) or you can split the cost by enrolling for the first unit at £675 (first unit £425 tuition + £250 exam fees for both units) followed by £375 for the second unit tuition.

What is the enrolment process?

 You can enrol and buy the course or the two units separately on the website using PayPal; you will be asked to enter your BEST student number if you purchase unit 2 separately to confirm that you have bought unit 1 and enrolled for examinations already.

When you enrol, your username and password should be emailed to you automatically; please check spam filters if you do not see an email within an hour, and contact us if nothing has arrived overnight. 

Please note: the RHS no longer accepts candidates for its examinations unless they are registered with a centre; it is no longer possible to enter as an 'external' candidate after self-study.

What else do I need to know?

It is recommended that learners will have successfully completed a level 2 course such as The RHS Level 2 Certificate in horticulture or a suitable alternative.

What can I do after completing this course?

You can go on to study The RHS Level 3 Practical Certificate, and you can progress to the RHS Level 3 Award in Horticultural Investigation and further develop your horticultural knowledge and skills.