Horticultural Therapist

Job Description:

Horticultural therapists use gardening to improve their clients' health and wellbeing.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

In your day-to-day duties you may:

  • develop clients’ practical or social skills, confidence or self-esteem
  • help clients to learn or re-learn basic skills, including numeracy and literacy
  • provide outdoor activity and exercise to restore strength and mobility after injury or illness
  • support clients to take horticultural qualifications or to move into work
  • work closely with other professionals like psychologists and social workers
  • manage staff and volunteers
  • draw up proposals for projects


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Horticultural Therapist, you will need a combination of education and training in horticulture, therapy, and related fields. While provide a foundational level of education, you’ll typically need to pursue further education, certification, and practical experience. Here’s a list of relevant subjects and other considerations to help you on the path to becoming a Horticultural Therapist:

  1. Mathematics: Basic math skills are important for tasks like measurements, budgeting, and horticultural calculations.
  2. English: Strong communication skills are essential for working with clients, documenting therapy sessions, and writing reports.
  3. Biology: A foundational understanding of biology, especially plant biology, can be beneficial for understanding plant growth, soil science, and plant-related therapy.
  4. Psychology: While not a subject, consider taking psychology courses, as they provide a fundamental understanding of human behaviour and can be highly relevant to therapeutic work.
  5. Environmental Science: Knowledge of environmental science can be valuable for understanding sustainability, conservation, and the therapeutic benefits of nature.
  6. Health and Social Care: Courses in health and social care can help you understand the needs and challenges of individuals who may benefit from horticultural therapy.

Post School

You may be able to get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations
  • volunteering


You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree course in horticulture, although this isn’t always essential.

Some universities offer horticulture courses that include modules on social and therapeutic horticulture.

You could do a degree in a relevant subject and take further training in social and therapeutic horticulture. Relevant degree subjects include:

  • occupational therapy
  • social work
  • mental health or learning disability nursing
  • teaching


You may be able to work towards this role through getting horticultural skills from an intermediate horticulture operative or a higher horticultural supervisor apprenticeship. You could also consider an occupational therapy degree apprenticeship.

With experience you could then take further specialist training courses in social and therapeutic horticulture.


It can be really useful to get experience of working on a horticulture project, or as a horticultural support worker, on a paid or voluntary basis. You’ll get a better understanding of the role, and make contacts who could help when looking for work.

Career tips

You may have an advantage if you are moving into this career from other areas of horticulture or jobs such as social care, occupational therapy, nursing or teaching.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 37-39 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends managing your own hours.

You could work in a garden, on a country estate or in a therapy clinic. Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding.

Career Path & Progression:

You could use horticultural therapy as part of a wider role, like occupational therapy. With experience and further study, you could move into a supervisory role, or research.

You could become self-employed or teach and supervise trainees of therapeutic horticulture techniques.