No previous experience or accreditation it required to be a landscaper in the state of Florida. So when homeowners are searching for service providers, it is important that they question potential companies about their skills.


One good measure is completion of voluntary certifications such as the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) Certified Horticulture Professional (FCHP). The FCHP program has been the industry’s standard for measuring horticulture and landscape knowledge since 1984. The training is also useful for property managers, homeowner associations and retail garden center employees, or anyone that wants to know more about Florida’s plants and their care.


Plants are complex and variable living things that range from microscopic to the largest of living organisms. With steady population growth in the state of Florida, environmental damage risks created by the use of improper products and practices has continually risen. State and federal natural resource protection agencies have restricted certain horticultural practices, as well as, fertilizer and pesticide application. It takes scientific knowledge to maintain lawns and landscapes, not just a “green thumb” in order to keep plants healthy while reducing contamination to the soil, air and water that we all need.


The Florida Certified Horticulture Professional training covers 16 areas, including identification, fertilization, irrigation, pest management, safety and business practices. Lecture and hands-on activities are utilized at each session. The 70-hour course will enhance anyone’s knowledge and will provide the basis for professionals to deliver a skilled service to clientele.


If you are a green industry worker or a concerned citizen interested in attending a FCHP preparatory course, there is an opportunity in Crestview. Beginning Jan. 16, and continuing for 10 weeks to March 19, the Okaloosa County Extension office will be providing training for $175, which included the newest hard copy manual. Contact Sheila Dunning, 850-689-5850 or sdunning@ufl.edu, for more information.


Sheila Dunning is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.