Course Description

Our Master Gardener courses are online, independent study courses.  Students work at their our pace and have 6 months, per course, to complete all assignments and quizzes.  Students have six months to complete the course, but your schedule for completion is up to you. Students who are most successful with this approach to learning are those who are self-directed and self-disciplined.

The Science of Gardening is a web-based distance education course and is part of the Master Gardener Training Program. This is an exciting way of learning, giving you the opportunity to work at a pace that is convenient to you.  It will help you understand the relationship between the plants and their environment. Once you have grasped this, you will be able to modify conditions to better suit the plant and to anticipate problems based on the ecosystem. You will be much better prepared to garden sustainably.

Course Outline

This course will give you a comprehensive understanding of a plant's basic functions, its interaction with its surroundings and its responses to changes in its environment. It will lead to an understanding of the scientific basis for many of the principles and practices of gardening.

Topics include:

  • Soil systems
  • Plant physiology
  • Plant nutrition
  • Plant propagation

Marking Scheme

Quiz 1 - The Soil System 15
Assignment 1 - Soil Texture Test 10
Quiz 2 - Plant Physiology 15
Assignment 2 - Translocation 10
Quiz 3 - Plant Nutrition 15
Assignment 3 - Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms 10
Quiz 4 - Plant Propagation 15
Assignment 4 - Seed Germination and Transplanting 10
Total 100

Successful completion of the course requires a passing grade of 60% in each of the four sections. This is a combination of your grades from your tests and assignments. Students are required to complete all tests and assignments within the course.


Required Text: Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon.  There are numerous editions in print, but all will serve our purposes. You may borrow the book from your local library or buy it locally or on-line.

Technical Requirements: Internet (High Speed preferred)

Course Dates: Courses start three times a year, October 1st, November 15th, and February 1st. The registration deadline is one week prior to the start date of each course.

Number of Courses: Students are to take ONE course at a time per intake, unless otherwise approved by Extended Learning.

Refunds: Course refunds are eligible up until the registration deadline. After the registration deadline, there are no course refunds.


It is recommended that the Master Gardener Program Courses be taken in the following order:

  1. The Science of Gardening
  2. Maintaining the Garden
  3. Plant ID and Use
  4. The Art of Gardening

Recommended For

Anyone who has a passion or interest in gardening in your backyard or community. 

Anyone interested in working towards becoming a Master Gardener within the Master Gardener Association of Alberta.

Anyone looking to expand on their gardening knowledge.


"I have been gardening for years and had never put much thought into the "science" behind it. This course was very informative. I really enjoyed it but my favorite was the hands-on assessments. Good fun!"

"Colleen has a wealth of knowledge. Her email responses were always very prompt and helpful. I also enjoyed the live sessions, and the feeling of 1 on 1 during office hours. I am so happy to have had her instruction through this course and look forward to the next 3!"

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrolment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrolment opens.
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