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Certificate Program

The South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG), in partnership with the South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS), is excited to announce a Certificate in Native Plant Studies.

This program is based on South Carolina's rich botanical heritage. Through hands-on field-based classes, students learn about native plants and their vast diversity, plant communities and the habitats that define South Carolina from the mountains to the sea, all within the South Carolina Botanical Garden. Participants also learn about the significant benefits of native plants in ensuring biodiversity, and improving soil, water, and air quality, as well as discover the importance of sustainable and appropriate development, become aware of conservation issues facing native plants and plant communities, and become educated environmental stewards.

Where possible these classes take place in the field.

Students will also have the opportunity to travel to and learn about other ecosystems in South Carolina by taking elective classes.

Classes are all taught by qualified professionals. The certificate program is comprised of 88 hours of coursework (7 core classes @ $80 each plus 32 hours electives). Students are not required to pursue a Certificate in order to enroll.

10% discount applies to Garden Friends and SCNPS members - contact Sue Watts at 864-656-2836 or for details.

Class size is limited! 

To register, go to the Events Calendar or click on the links below for a specific program.

To download a brochure, click here.

Please Note: Basic Botany is a prerequisite for all other courses.

Saturday, February 4, 2017
In this introductory botany course develop a foundation of knowledge and a working vocabulary for all other courses in the Certificate of Native Plants. Through classroom lectures and fun hands-on activities explore the basics of plants — their classification, structure, functions, lifecycles, and reproductive strategies. Basic botany is required for all other courses.

In this field identification course, learn about the foliage and flowers of primarily herbaceous plants, although some shrubs will surely sneak in.  Join Patrick McMillan as you explore the many habitats along the Natural Heritage Trail. Learn how to use a key to aid plant identification. For certification, both spring and fall classes are required. Pre-requisite: Basic Botany.

Saturday, June 10, 2017
Enter the forest to explore the giants of the plant world with Dan Whitten, President of the Upstate Chapter of the SCNPS. Become familiar with our native trees, shrubs and woody vines by learning to recognize their bark, leaves, twigs, fruit, and form. Deepen your knowledge through the use of a dichotomous key and by learning to recognize plant communities. Participants will also learn how woody plants are useful as tools, medicines, shelter, and as forage for humans and other animals. Prerequisite: Basic Botany

Saturday, June 24, 2017 
Join Garden Director, Patrick McMillan, to build your knowledge base of major conceptual issues and areas of current research in plant ecology. Explore the biotic and abiotic factors that affect the distribution and abundance of plant species in South Carolina. Explore the SCBG's Natural Heritage Trail to discover the basic ecology of diverse South Carolina habitats. Prerequisite: Basic Botany.

April 29, 2017
Join Rick Huffman, landscape architect, and founder and past president of the South Carolina Plant Society, to learn how native plants are the key to developing a sustainable landscape, and an important way to conserve nature resources. A sustainable landscape is in balance with the local climate, soil and plants and wildlife. Native plants enable you to potentially minimize the resource inputs into your garden, such as fertilizer, pesticides, gasoline, time and water. In this class, we put it all together: planning and design, site and plant selection, soil conditions, irrigation and water efficiency, and maintenance. Prerequisite: Basic Botany.

March 18, 2017
Discover how and why native plants have the potential to transform traditional horticultural practices with Jeanne Briggs, Nursery Manager, South Carolina Botanical Garden.  Subjects include what is native, the importance of soil, basics of plant health, methods of planting and maintaining native plants, and eco-friendly horticulture practices. Learn how to attract beneficial wildlife like birds, bees, and butterflies while balancing elements of design. Prerequisite: Basic Botany.

April 15, 2017
In this field-identification course learn about the foliage and flowers of primarily herbaceous plants, although some shrubs will surely sneak in. Join Patrick McMillan as you explore the many habitats along the Natural Heritage Trail. Learn how to use a key to aid plant identification. For certification, both spring and fall classes are required. Pre-requisite: Basic Botany.


March 15, 2017
In this workshop, explore the botanical world of plant propagation with staff members Allison Kelley, Natural Heritage Trail Manager, and Trenton Miller, Collections Manager. The adventure begins with classroom time pertaining to the many wonderful ways to multiply our beloved natives. We will cover the steps involved in propagation by seeds, cuttings, and divisions. The class will then participate in some hands-on experience practicing some of these techniques. The afternoon will be finished with a hike through the gardens, discussing which methods of propagation are appropriate for each of the wonderful natives we encounter. Pre-requisite: Basic Botany.

Saturday, April 1, 2017
Learning to recognize mountain plant communities can increase your ability to spot their resident plant species. Plant communities tend to be found in similar habitats depending on the local and broader environmental conditions. Join naturalist Tim Lee to explore mountain plant communities in the Jocassee Gorges area and along Hwy 11 corridor to explore how factors like elevation, aspect, slope, rainfall and temperature affect the locations and types of mountain plant communities as well as identifying plants living within them. Pre-requisite: Basic Botany.

Saturday, April 8, 2017
From Blue Vervain and Dandelion to Poke and Wild Lettuce, Nature provides us with an abundance of medicinal plants that are commonly looked upon as nuisance weeds. In this class, we will take a walkabout where you will learn to identify some of these native or naturalized green allies, and discover some of their traditional and current uses. Participants will learn proper harvesting methods then harvest plants and create a fresh plant tincture, create a tincture from dried plant material, a healing salve, and a moisturizing cream to take home. Bring your lunch, water, snacks, pen & notebook, camera, sunscreen and a natural bug repellent (optional). Dress for the weather and wear comfy walking shoes. Pre-requisite: Basic Botany.
Fee: $80 (10% discount for FRIENDS and SCNPS members)
Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
 Earthwise Learning Center located next to Carolina Grassfed Beef at Double M Farm 3456 Hwy 187, Anderson, SC

Saturday, June 17
Spend the day delving into the rich world of ferns ranging from the small Mosquito Fern to the large Royal Fern. Discover which species to expect where: mountains? coastal plain? moist woodland? dryish hillside? Join naturalist Tim Lee to learn about the basic ecology, natural history and identification of ferns through classroom lecture and time exploring the state's diverse habitats as illustrated on the Garden's Natural Heritage Trail.

Future courses include:

Pests & Diseases

Invasives & Exotics

Propagation of Native Plants

Native Grasses

Rain Gardens

Soil Basics

Native Plant Container Gardens

Shoreline Buffers

Ferns and Fern Allies

Coastal Plain Plant Communities

Sandhills Plant Communities

Mountain Plant Communities

Piedmont Plant Communities