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.

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, and find all the tools you need to discover more about the work-based RHS Diploma.

Watch online

Applications are open

Applications for the RHS Diploma for a September 2022 start are open from 1 December 2021 until 1 February 2022. For more information on applying, see our ‘How to apply’ section further down.

Apply now


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
  • Manage and build 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 such as a National Certificate in Horticulture, Horticultural Operative Apprenticeship or RHS Level 2 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture.

Applicants should have

  • GCSE qualifications in English and maths (or equivalents)
  • At least three 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 take a look at the job description on our recruitment site for full applicant criteria.

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.

How to apply

Applications for the RHS Diploma for a September 2022 start are open from 1 December 2021 until 1 February 2022.

Apply through our dedicated recruitment site using the link below.

Applicants should choose RHS Garden Wisley in the ‘Location’ box. Then select ‘All’ in the ‘Job category/type’ box.

Please note: If you are invited to an interview, you will be required to prove that you have the right to work in the UK.

Apply now


Learner life at RHS Gardens

Training away from home can be daunting but we’re here to help you. We can support you with:
  • Finding local accommodation
  • Getting free access to our amazing libraries
  • Connecting you with new friends from across the world
Find out more Learner group discussion

Got a question?

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

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You might also be interested in...

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  • 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 are open from 1 December 2021 until 1 February 2022 for students and Specialist Horticultural Placement’s (SHPs) and 1 March 2022 for apprentices.

Apply now

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.

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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.