Program calendar icon Program Length

  • 9 Months

Program credential icon Credential

  • Certificate

Program location icon Location Offered

  • Nanaimo

Got a green thumb? Get ready for a rewarding career in horticulture. The Horticulture Technician program prepares you for many jobs in the field. And you get to train in working gardens and greenhouses.

At the G.R. Paine Horticultural Centre, a 32-acre site you’ll grow bedding plants, ornamental nursery materials, native plants and forest seedlings. You’ll also work at Milner Gardens and Woodland, a 70-acre estate in Qualicum Beach.

Half your time will be spent in hands-on learning about landscaping and landscape design, nursery work and greenhouse production. You’ll also gain some management skills.

The Horticulture Technician Foundation Certificate Program

The curriculum of this one-year horticultural foundation program has been designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of horticultural principles and practices. The program covers a broad spectrum of horticultural practices including plant propagation techniques, greenhouse production, nursery crop production, landscape design, landscape construction, and plant identification. As well, pest and disease management, pruning techniques, and maintenance practices are investigated. Throughout the program, special emphasis will be placed on many aspects of sustainable horticultural practices.

The curriculum used in this program meets the provincial standards set for all one-year horticulture foundation programs.

Approximately 50% of the program will be spent in actual “hands-on” training on- and off-campus. This includes three months working in the industry.

The program is taught at the G.R. Paine Horticulture Centre, on a 5-acre site near the Nanaimo campus. The site contains a “Harnoise Nordique” style greenhouse, a headerhouse, a classroom and lab facility, as well as a containerized nursery. Students also practice their skills at the Milner Gardens and Woodland, in Qualicum, a garden estate environment where they participate in the day-to-day, season-to-season operational activities.

Spring SemesterCredits
HORT 100T  - (Greenhouse Environment and Control)2
HORT 110T  - (Horticultural Botany)1
HORT 115T  - (Introductory Plant Identification)2
HORT 125T  - (Landscape Maintenance and Turfgrass Management)2
HORT 130T  - (Landscape Construction Techniques)2
HORT 135T  - (Greenhouse Production)2
HORT 140T  - (Practicum I)1.5
HORT 145T  - (Field Trips I)1
HORT 160T  - (Horticultural Skills and Practices)3
Semester Credits16.5
Fall SemesterCredits
HORT 101T  - (Plant Propagation)2
HORT 112T  - (Pest Management and Weed Control)3
HORT 116T  - (Advanced Plant Identification)2
HORT 120T  - (Irrigation Systems and Design)2
HORT 131T  - (Landscape Design Techniques)3
HORT 132T  - (Estimating and Business Practices)1.5
HORT 141T  - (Work Experience)2
HORT 146T  - (Field Trips II)1
HORT 150T  - (Soils and Growing Media)2
HORT 161T  - (Horticultural Skills and Practices)2
Semester Credits20.5

All program courses must be successfully completed before certificates will be issued.

  • General Trades admission requirements apply.
  • English 12 with minimum “C” grade, or equivalent, or successful completion of English assessment test.
  • Minimum “C” grade in one of Principles of Mathematics 11, Applications of Mathematics 11, Foundations of Mathematics 11, Apprenticeship and Workplace Mathematics 11, or successful completion of assessment test.
  • Letter, at time of application, indicating reasons for applying to the program and outlining any previous horticultural experience, as well as future career goals.
  • Interview.
  • Fitness required to participate in physical aspects of the program and industry.

Notes on Admission

  • Availability and willingness to participate in plant roster duty on weekends.
  • Previous experience in commercial or industrial horticulture is recommended.
  • Successful candidates will be selected from qualified applicants on the basis of the personal statement and outcome of the personal interview. Phone interviews may be arranged for out-of-province applicants.

Notes on Completion Requirements

  • A Pesticide Applicator’s Certificate must be completed prior to graduation.
  • An Occupational Level I First Aid Certificate must be completed prior to graduation.

Graduates of this program may find employment in the following industries:

  • landscape maintenance and installation companies;
  • municipal and regional Parks Departments.
  • floriculture and vegetable greenhouse operations;
  • ornamental and forest seedling nurseries;
  • garden centres and horticultural retail outlets;
  • landscape design firms;
  • turf enterprises;
  • golf courses;
  • horticultural supply companies;
  • irrigation design and installation firms;
  • arborist assistant;
  • small scale agriculture;
  • community supported agriculture.

Successful completion of this program enables graduates to continue their studies in Apprenticeship or a two-year Diplomaprogram at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley.

Domestic Fees

Tuition and Other Mandatory Student Fees

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Fees Amount
Tuition (10 months x $499.20 per month) 4,992.00
Supply fee 179.27
Student Activity fee (4% of tuition and supply fee) 206.85
Student Services fee (10 months x $22.05 per month) 220.50
VIU Students' Union fee (10 months x $27.60 per month) 276.00
Health and Dental Plan fee ($265.00 per year) 265.00
Books and supplies (approximate costs) 1,000.00

* A detailed summary of special expenses will be provided at the student interview.

The VIUSU Health and Dental Plan fee is assessed for all students enrolled in 6 credits or more per term, or in Trades/Vocational programs of 5 months or longer.  

All fees are subject to change without prior notice and are expected to increase by 2% each year on April 1.

Domestic (Canadian)

Program Start Date Accepting Applications Campus
Anticipated intake for someone applying today:
Application Fee:
Testing Required:
Admissions Assistant:
Name: Jenny Carpen-Rouget
Phone: 250.753.3245 ext. 2283
Chair Contact:
Name: Christine Quist
Document Deadline:

November 15, 2024.

Note: The program fills up quickly so it is best to send the documentation as soon as possible.


VIU Horticulture Program Information Session April 27 from 11 to 11:30 am

Ready to sow the seeds of your future career? Join the VIU Horticulture Technician Foundation Certificate Program Information Session for the January 2025 intake.

  • Learn about courses and class activities!
  • Explore the diverse career opportunities in horticulture.
  • Tour the G.R Paine Horticulture Training Centre!
  • Meet instructors and current students.

G.R. Paine Horticulture Training Centre, located at 2324 East Wellington Road, Nanaimo, V9R 6V7

Here is the link for more information and to register. 


Further information on this program can be found on the Department website.

Visit the Department Website

Previous versions of this program can be found in the Program Archive.