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In 1985 the Maryland Nurserymen’s Association began its Certified Professional Horticulturist program, a voluntary program for those desiring to demonstrate proficiency in horticulture.  After meeting a combination of educational and work experiences, and studying a comprehensive manual that is the heart of the program, an applicant must pass a rigorous examination in order to be certified.

To raise and improve the professional standards of the nursery, landscape, and garden center industries by giving special recognition to individuals who have demonstrated a high level of competence in the principles and practices relevant to these industries.To encourage and promote the education and training of new employees.To encourage and promote continuing education and training of all nursery, landscape, and garden center employees, including owners and managers.To have this high level of attainment recognized by the gardening public as well as within the nursery, landscape, and garden center industries.

In order to apply for certification, an industry member must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Sponsorship by a Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association member.
  • Three years of full-time employment within the Ornamental Horticulture Industry (2 years part-time, minimum 500 hours per year, will constitute one year of full-time employment), or Two years of full-time industry employment and two years post-secondary education in horticulturally related fields, or One year of employment and four years of post-secondary school education in horticulturally related fields.

Letters of reference must be submitted from previous employers to verify years of employment.

In order to become a Certified Professional Horticulturist, you must:

  • Submit a completed application together with any applicable references and the certification fee (made payable to the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association).
  • Achieve a score on the Certification Exam of at least 70 points.  Examinations will be scheduled by the Certification Board.
  • At the time of testing, sign a Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association Code of Ethics form.

Certification is valid for three years, after which it may be renewed for an additional three years for a minimal fee and fulfillment of a Continuing Education (CE) requirement.  The Continuing Education requirement will be satisfied with the attendance of the Certified Professional Horticulturist at a minimum of two courses over the three-year certification period.  Carry over of credits will not be permitted.  Courses that will be considered as meeting the CE requirement include, but are not limited to:

  • MNLA sponsored events such as field days; educational workshops; management dinners.
  • University of Maryland Cooperative Extension programs.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture seminars or training sessions.
  • Any seminar of educational program sponsored by a national horticulture association, such as ANLA or ALCA.
  • Courses taken to accomplish a degree in horticulture.
  • Horticulture Short Courses offered by colleges or professional horticulture associations.

Certificates will be issued by the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association; however, certification will not be limited to MNLA members and their employees.

Certification examination will be based on the Certified Professional Horticulturist Training Manual of the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association and/or other approved study materials.

Managing or working with a nursery, landscape, or garden center business requires in-depth knowledge of a wide variety of subjects.  For CPH certification purposes, after the eligibility requirements have been met, the candidate need only demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the CPH Board, that the candidate knows and can apply the essentials of the nursery, landscape, and garden center industries.

The examination questions will be based on such essentials as are included in the Training Manual.

The association also sponsors advanced certification in specialties.  These are

  • CPH – Specialist in Plant Identification,
  • CPH – Specialist in IPM and Pest Control,
  • CPH – Specialist in Herbaceous Perennials,
  • CPH – Specialist in Composting and Compost Utilization, and
  • CPH – Specialist in Weeds and Weed Control.

These are offered only to those who have passed the basic examination and are Certified Professional Horticulturists.

The Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH) program is sponsored by the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association.  Responsibility for administering the CPH program rests with an eight-member Board.  The Board is comprised of four appointed members from MNLA, representing nursery, landscape, and garden center industries; one member from the University of Maryland Department of Horticulture; one member from the Maryland State Department of Agriculture; the President, and the Executive Secretary of the MNLA.

CPH examinations are prepared, conducted, and graded by or under the direction of the CPH Certification Board.

The Certification Board has no intention whatever to determine who shall engage in the nursery, landscape, and garden center industries.  That a person is not certified does not indicate that the candidate is unqualified to engage in these industries, only that such a person has not fulfilled the requirements for CPH status or applied for the recognition.

To offset part of the cost of administering the Certified Professional Horticulturist program, a fee of $125.00 will be payable with the filing of the application.  The $125.00 covers enrollment for three (3) years, one copy of the training manual, the examination, and one additional sitting for the examination if not successfully passed on the first attempt.  A $20.00 fee will be required for a third sitting for re-examination.

As a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist, individuals may use the CPH designation with his/her name on his/her business letterhead and on his/her business card.  Certification is for individuals only.  The CPH designation may not be used to imply that a business or firm is accredited.

For further information on CPH or to request an application, please contact:

Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association
P.O. Box 726
Brooklandville, MD  21022