W. Va. Master Gardener Program

Basic Certification

The West Virginia University Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer education program designed to meet the horticultural needs of citizens of West Virginia.

During the 12-week intensive program, students receive basic training in a broad spectrum of horticultural topics. Once the students complete their training, pass the test, and complete their initial mandatory service ours, they become a valuable asset in expanding WVU Extension’s horticultural programming efforts.

Aspiring Master Gardeners will receive 40 hours in many different program areas. These include:

  1. Botany – Introduction to the classification of plants and their nomenclature. Learning about plant parts and their function. Getting to know basic principles of plant physiology, environmental factors influencing plant development and growth and plant nutrition.
  2. Plant Propagation – An introduction to the processes of sexual and asexual plant multiplication to increase their numbers, perpetuate the species and /or cultivars.
  3. Entomology – Getting to know the basics of the “Bug World”. Learning how to tell apart the “Good Guys” from the non-welcomed visitors to our gardens. Learning to recognize the symptoms of various insect injuries and best methods for their control.
  4. Pesticides and Pest Management – Understanding pesticide labels, their formulations, safe use of pesticides, safe storage of pesticides, alternatives to pesticides, principles of integrated pest management (IPM), environmental impact of pesticides, etc.
  5. Plant Diseases – An introduction to the most common plant diseases and environmental conditions favoring disease development. Learning how to recognize common symptoms and their causes as well as ways for their prevention and control.
  6. Soils and Fertilizers – Deals with introduction to soil science. It offers opportunity to learn about soil profile, types of soils, their texture, structure and other physical properties. It provides information about mineral nutrients necessary for plant development and good health as well as how to deal with their deficiencies through soil amendments and fertilizer applications.
  7. Turfgrass Management – Provides instructions from proper grass selection for the given area to establishment and maintenance of a healthy and vigorous lawn.
  8. Vegetable Gardening – From planning and establishments to maintenance and harvest.
  9. Gardening Equipment – Hand tools and power tools, carts and wheelbarrows, watering equipment, soil-testing equipment, seeding and planting tools, environmental and monitoring tools, trellises and cages, harvesting equipment, choosing, purchasing and maintaining tools.
  10. Tree Fruits – An introduction to establishment considerations, site, rootstock, variety, insect and disease complex and mineral nutrition.
  11. Small Fruit – An introduction to growing blueberries, grapes, brambles, strawberries, gooseberries, currents, elderberries and other less common small fruit from establishment, insect and disease complex management to mineral nutrition considerations.
  12. Pruning – Learn basic principles for pruning ornamentals and small and tree fruits.
  13. Landscape Design – Considerations for the good, well balanced landscape design.
  14. Woody Ornamentals – Selecting plants: groundcovers, trees and shrubs; planting, and transplanting; caring for the ornamental plants/ insect and disease complex and mineral nutrition.
  15. Indoor Plants – Selecting the plants, transporting them, acclimatization, environmental needs, selecting proper containers, repotting, training and grooming, caring for potted plants, plants with specific light, temperature and cultural requirements, insect and disease complex.
  16. Herbaceous Plants – Flower gardening with annuals, biennials and perennials with emphasis on culture and maintenance, propagation and dealing with the insect and disease complex.
  17. Garden Animals: Friends and Foes
  18. Communication and Teaching Methods – This section is providing tips on improving personal communication skills (one-on-one, telephone or public speaking), writing tips, public presentations, advertising and publicity, radio and TV techniques, teaching methods and techniques.