RHS Theory

RHS Level 3 Certificate in The Principles of Plant Growth, Garden Planning and Applied Propagation

Sorry, there is currently no availability for this course, for further information on when there will be availability for this course, please feel free to contact us.

Enrol for this course

This Certificate is the theory element of the new RHS Level 3 qualification.  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.


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 will be taught on Saturday afternoons at our Ryton  centre over an academic year, starting on 23rd September 2023.

Assessments will be two summative written examinations (one for each unit).

Both unit examinations carry equal marks. Learners have to achieve at least 50% in each unit and must 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.

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)?

Venue will be the Ryton centre (subject to RHS approval during summer 2023).

Important note on 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 are  £20 for registration  and £180 for examination and assessment;  additional charges for the two online examinations are £20 per examination which will make the total £240.  As soon as we register you in the first week of the course the RHS will invoice us for these fees,  so these RHS fees are now due at the beginning of the course as an itemised part of the initial payment.Tuition fees will be £825, RHS registration £20 and examination fees (online)  £220,  total fees £1065.

You will be  able to prepay  £1065 for your complete course; or you will be able to secure your place on the course with a non-refundable booking fee, payable on enrolment, of 25% of the full cost of the course plus an administration fee (£271.25) towards initial RHS registration costs.  Please note: In the event of a place not being available or if the course does not run, the booking fee will be returned to you. 

The remainder of the course fees can be paid in three equal instalments of £271.25 on weeks 8, 16 and 24  (this includes an administration fee of £5.00 for each instalment).

You will receive statements of account during your course but we do not sent  out specific reminders for staged payments.
You can ask us to set up a direct debit mandate when you book the course by saying 'yes' to this on the enrolment form: we will be pleased to send you a mandate form by email. Once this has been returned to us we can request payments from your bank on or about weeks 8, 16 and 24 .

What is the enrolment process?

Click on the 'enrol now' button above and complete an enrolment form.


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.