Introduction to Horticulture for Horticultural Therapists

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HTC 100

       Course Name: Introduction to Horticulture for Horticultural Therapists

       Credits: 3 (1 lecture; 4 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Program admission and concurrent enrollment in HTC 101 and HTC 110.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course provides introduction to horticulture required for understanding of horticultural therapy.  Content includes plant classifications and structure, plant growth and development, and appropriate soil composition for indoor and outdoor plants.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Define horticulture, list and describe the different areas of horticulture, and outline the different branches of horticulture.
  2. Identify who started the binomial system.
  3. Understand the language used in scientific classification and how plants are organized using scientific names.
  4. Distinguish between annuals, biennials and perennials.
  5. Understand the growth habits of woody, herbaceous, deciduous and evergreen plants.
  6. Understand the environmental requirements for plants to grow.
  7. Understand the structure and function of the different parts of the plant.
  8. Give examples of practices commonly used in horticulture to achieve a desired response in plants and explain how and why the practice produces the desired response.
  9. Identify major plant hormones and understand their role in the growth of plants.
  10. Use basic horticultural vocabulary to describe how plant growth and development at the cellular level translates into plant growth.
  11. Demonstrate an understanding of the essential indoor and outdoor plant vocabulary used by horticultural professionals.
  12. Propagate, grow and care for indoor plants used in horticultural therapy programs.
  13. Address pest and disease problems for indoor and outdoor plants using least toxic methods.
  14. Demonstrate elemental understanding of outdoor garden soils, amending and fertilizing for optimal plant health.
  15. Plant, care for, harvest and use products from the garden in HT programs.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Plant Classification, Structure and Function
    1. Classification
      1. Scientific Classification
        1. History
        2. Binomial nomenclature
      2. Based on life cycle
        1. Annual
        2. Biennial
        3. Perennials
      3. Based on Growth Habit
        1. Woody
        2. Herbaceous
        3. Deciduous
        4. Evergreen
      4. Based on Environmental adaption
        1. Temperature
          1. Hardy vs. Tender
          2. Hardiness Zones
        2. Water requirement
        3. Soil requirement
      5. Based on Usage
        1. Edible
        2. Ornamental
        3. Industrial – paper, wood, cotton
        4. Medicinal
    2. Structure and Function
      1. Growth and reproduction
        1. Harvest Energy
        2. Obtain water and nutrients
        3. Adapt to changes
          1. Pathogens
          2. Environmental changes
      2. Photosynthesis: function of leaves
      3. Acquire water and nutrients: function of roots
      4. Move water and nutrients through the plant: function of the vascular system
      5. Reproduction
        1. sexual: function of flowers
        2. asexual: function of leaves
    3. Leaves, Stems and Roots
      1. Leaves
        1. Organs
        2. Tissues
        3. Cells
        4. Organelles
        5. Leaves role in photosynthesis
          1. Light reaction
          2. Calvin Cycle
          3. Respiration
          4. Morphology, arrangement, and modification
      2. Stems
        1. Variety
        2. Functions
          1. Support
          2. Transportation of material through the plant
        3. Meristems
        4. Tissue of the Stem
          1. Epidermis
          2. Cortex
          3. Pholem
          4. Xylem
          5. Cambium
        5. Stem Modifications
      3. Roots
        1. Functions
        2. Growth
        3. Tissue of root
        4. Root modifications
  2. Plant Growth and Development
    1. Manipulating plant growth
      1. Pruning
      2. Shaping
      3. Training
    2. Plant growth at the cellular level
      1. cell division
      2. cell enlargement
    3. Primary growth
    4. Meristems
    5. Cell expansion and elongation
    6. Cell differentiation
    7. Plant Hormones
      1. Auxin
      2. GA
      3. Cytokinins
      4. Abscisic acid
      5. Ethylene
    8. Plant growth regulators
    9. Branching of shoots
    10. Pinching
    11. Secondary growth
  3. Indoor Plants–Selection, Growth and Use
    1. Essential tools and equipment
    2. Essential indoor plant cultural requirements:
    3. Air
    4. Water
    5. Nutrients, Essential nutrients Macro nutrients Micro nutrients Mobile vs. immobile nutrients Nutrient deficiencies Fertilizer calculations
    6. Temperatures and humidity
    7. Facts of Light
      1. quality – spectrum useful to plants
      2. intensity
      3. compensation point
      4. saturation point
      5. horticultural practices and light
      6. supplemental lighting
    8. Soil mixes for indoor HT programs
    9. Fertilizers and fertilizing
    10. Growing plants using plant light carts
      1. Indoor plant selection criteria for HT programs
      2. Plant propagation: seed, cutting, offshoots, division, etc
      3. Plant problems
      4. A selected list of indoor plants for HT programs and their use in activities (talking head demo of activities?
  4. Outdoor Plants and Gardening
    1. Essential tools and equipment
    2. Essential Outdoor Plant cultural requirements: Light, Air, water, nutrients, temperature and humidity
    3. Soils and soil mixes for outdoor HT programs
      1. Ph
      2. Drainage
      3. Structure
      4. Components
      5. Role of organic matter
      6. Fertilizers and Fertilizing: organic/inorganic
      7. Spring soil preparation
      8. Fall amending
    4. Outdoor plant selection criteria for HT programs
      1. Plant selection criteria
      2. Annual flowers
      3. Vegetables
      4. Herbs
      5. Permanent plants: perennials, trees and shrubs
    5. Outdoor Gardening
      1. Containers and Raised beds vs. in ground
      2. Planting – seed vs transplants
      3. Maintenance
      4. Harvesting
      5. Weeds
      6. Watering
      7. Problem insects and diseases
      8. Use of garden products in HT activities

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lecture/discussion with extensive hands-on activities in the Garden.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Grow ten different indoor plants and journal experience; deliver our indoor activities with a group.
  2. Grow 12 outdoor plants (four each of annual flowers, vegetables and herbs used in HT programs). Journal experiences weekly in a manner that will guide future HT program plant selection and use, i.e. bloom/harvest dates, weather, productivity, problems, tolerance to low moisture, general performance, sensory appeal etc.
  3. Deliver CBG Outdoor Activities at home with patients, family.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

  • Textbooks:
    1. Simson S., Straus M., Horticulture as Therapy: Principles and Practice, Haworth Press, Binghampton, NY, 1998
    2. Hessayon, D.G., Expert Garden Series, selected publications, Sterling Publishing, 1990 and subsequent.
  • CBG Activity Plan manuals
  • Local cooperative extension publications about outdoor gardening( best localized info)
  • Or materials of comparable content

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

May vary with individual instructor but will include: written exams, journal project, program of plantings.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at