Online Non-Credit Courses

Identifying plants begins by learning their language. 

NC State University Department of Horticultural Science is partnering with Longwood Gardens to provide a fully-online introduction to plant identification. These courses will introduce you to the language of botany, plants with global popularity, a few special plants from breeding programs at top horticulture institutions, and cultivation information for key plant species.

By learning the fundamental language of botany, testing it with games, and being exposed to a carefully selected cast of plants that exhibit key identification features, participants will be ready to deduce mystery plants anywhere in the world!



The courses are crafted to suit a range of learning types, including:

  • Photo stories
  • Video presentations
  • Online fact pages
  • E-book
  • Flash-cards
  • Matching games
  • Vocabulary games
  • Hundreds of beautiful images
  • Guided backyard projects

  • Mystery plant challenges
  • Optional quizzes
  • Illustrated vocabularies
  • Conversation forum
  • Badges and certificates
  • Access to the instructor
  • Site navigation assistance



These are asynchronous, fully online, self-paced, non-credit courses.  You may participate anywhere that you have access to the internet.  You will have access to the course resources 24/7 for the entire 6 weeks of the class and for 6 months after the course ends.  There are no required presentations or any set times that you will need to meet online.

Each course counts as a 3-week elective towards Longwood Garden’s Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture and includes 4-month access to the living collection at Longwood Gardens. All you need is proof of course registration and you’ll have the opportunity to view these plants in our seasonal displays and permanent collection!


  • Access to the internet
  • Access to a computer or tablet.  While it is possible to complete much of the course on a mobile device, some of the course activities use Flash applications and will require a full web browser on a computer to complete.  The course was not designed for use on a mobile phone or other devices with a small screen.  A tablet or computer are required for an optimal experience.
  • Access to a digital camera (smartphone is fine) to take images to submit as a part of assignments.
  • Access to PowerPoint, Word, or other software that you can use to add labels to images.

Fees per Class:

  • $195 – General Public
  • Special pricing available to Extension Agents, Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, Extension Master Naturalist Volunteers, and volunteers at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Contact for details.
  • In addition to the course fee, you may choose to purchase an optional print copy of the online eBook that is included with the course.  Book prices may vary per course.
  • Register now for early access to some of the course material!

The Courses

Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers:

Identification and Use

Explore the world of traditional woody plants including flowering trees, shrubs, and conifers by examining 45 plants that do well across the country. Learn cultural information about these structural plantings and their use in the landscape.

More Information


This six-week online class will be offered:

September 9 – October 21, 2019:  REGISTER

July 13th – August 24th, 2020

October 19th – November 27th, 2020


Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants:

Identification and Use

Explore the edible side of the landscape with an introduction to vegetables, fruits, and herbs by examining 45 plants that do well across the country.  Then extend your growing season by learning to identify and cultivate bulbs and houseplants.

This six-week online class will be offered:

September 9 – October 21, 2019:  REGISTER

March 23rd – May 4th, 2020

October 19th – November 30th, 2020


Annuals, Perennials, Vines and Groundcovers:

Identification and Use

This collection of plants will add a burst of color to your landscape with exciting textures and blooms by examining 45 plants that do well across the country. Learn to recognize and use these garden favorites to enhance your landscape.

This six-week online class  will be offered:

March 23rd – May 4th, 2020

July 13th – August 24th, 2020


Helpful Resources

Online Non-Credit Course Lecturer

Preston MontaguePreston Montague
Extension Assistant
Department of Horticultural Science
68 Kilgore Hall, Campus Box 7609
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7609
Phone: (919)-515-7172

Contact Me
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