Diploma in Horticultural Practice

Learn everything you need to know about horticulture as you rotate through 10 departments at RHS Garden Wisley

Diploma students

About the diploma

The diploma is made up of two levels (known as Level 3 and Level 4) and can only be studied at RHS Garden Wisley. As part of this two-year course, Level 3 is studied in year one, and Level 4 in year two.

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Applications are now closed

Applications for the RHS Diploma are now closed. Our 2025 recruitment will open in December 2024.

Want to know more?

Hear first-hand from our current Diploma students about what’s involved in the two-year programme.

Missed our free virtual event?

If you are a student, graduate, or horticulturist looking to further your horticultural knowledge and career, and you missed our free Virtual RHS Diploma in Horticultural Practice event, you can now watch a recording of the virtual event, to discover more about the work-based RHS Diploma and how to apply.

Watch online

What you will learn and when

RHS Level 3 & 4 Diploma in Horticultural Practice

We teach our RHS Diploma in Horticultural Practice as a two-year course at RHS Garden Wisley.

Year 1 – Level 3 

You will learn about the following areas of horticulture:
  • Horticultural operations
  • Plant care
  • Establishment and maintenance
  • Horticultural taxonomy
  • Botany and plantsmanship
  • Horticultural history
  • Philosophy and design
  • Productive growing propagation
  • Soils and growing media

You will have the opportunity to design and tend your own allotment and visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Year 2 – Level 4

You will study:
  • Horticultural management
  • Ornamental planting
  • Horticultural taxonomy
  • Botany and plantsmanship II
  • Plant health II
  • Garden design
  • Landscape construction
  • Propagation and protected growing environments
  •  Research project
Diploma student in the garden

Programme of work

Diploma students rotate through 10 departments in the Garden. The course also comprises a detailed lecture and masterclass programme, and students complete various pieces of assessed coursework.

Additional qualifications

Diploma students also complete a number of short practical-based national qualifications, which include:

  • FEPA PA1 & PA6aw (pesticides)
  • Tractor driving
  • Strimming and brush cutting
  • Using a hedge trimmer
  • Tree assessment course
  • Manual handling course 

Applications and entry requirements

Applicants are expected, as a minimum, to hold a Level 2 horticultural qualification. This could be a National Certificate in Horticulture, Horticultural Operative Apprenticeship Standard, a Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture such as a City & Guilds RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture or RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth and Development.  (See our Level 2 qualifications.)

Applicants should have

  • GCSE qualifications in English and maths (or equivalents)
  • At least six months of practical work experience in a professional horticultural environment
  • Experience using basic horticultural machinery, equipment and/or tools
  • Enjoy working on own initiative as well as part of a team
  • An openness to working with new individuals across the garden on a regular basis
  • Experience of working with customers/visitors in a professional environment, and of giving good customer service
  • A flexible approach to working (e.g. weekend work will be required on a regular basis, and evening work will be required from time-to-time)

Please note: You must have the right to work in the UK to apply. The RHS is unable to sponsor any visa applications. A good working knowledge of the English language is essential and evidence to that effect will be requested.

Applications are now closed

Applications for the RHS Diploma are now closed. Our 2025 recruitment will open in December 2024.

Learner life at RHS Gardens

Training away from home can be daunting but we’re here to help you. We can support you with:
  • Getting free access to our amazing libraries
  • Accommodation – single en-suite rooms with shared kitchen and lounge facilities, available at RHS Garden Wisley (for a deduction in your gross salary)
  • Connecting you with like-minded individuals who are passionate about plants and horticulture
Find out more

Apprentice gardeners working in the gardens

Got a question?

Email our dedicated team and they’ll help you get your learning under way.

Email the team

You might also be interested in...

Learners working in the gardenSchool of Horticulture CeremonyRHS Learner
  • Learner stories: See what our current and past learners have to say about their training at the RHS – read the stories
  • Supporters: Our work-based training programmes are only possible with funding from our supporters – find out about our supporters
  • Careers in horticulture: If you’re looking to change careers or just starting out, the world of horticulture has dozens of roles – explore more careers

Application dates

Applications coming soon:
15 April 2024 - Professional Work Placement vacancies open

  • RHS Garden Bridgewater
  • RHS Garden Harlow Carr
Applications are now closed for:
  • All 5 RHS Gardens
Professional Work Placements (PWPs):
  • RHS Garden Harlow Carr
  • RHS Garden Hyde Hall
  • RHS Garden Wisley
  • RHS Garden Rosemoor
RHS Level 3 & 4 Diploma
  • RHS Garden Wisley

Our 2025 recruitment will open in December 2024.

RHS opportunities

Carrying hellebores in the gardenJoin one of the largest industries in the UK – working in horticulture is a great way of life and has opportunities for everyone.

RHS Careers

Courses & workshops

Learn a new skill or brush up on old ones with a workshop or short course with the RHS.

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Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.