FAQ for Certification Test, Application & Prep

Frequently Asked Questions for the Virginia Certified Horticulturist (VCH) Exam and Study Preparation

Why should I be a Virginia Certified Horticulturist?

  • You are recognized as a trained horticulture professional with knowledge of the industry
  • Career advancement
  • Pride and confidence in yourself and your work
  • Increased teamwork
  • Demonstrates commitment to the profession
  • Enhance employability and advancement
  • The VCH designation means you are qualified to offer sound, scientific horticultural advice to clients, retail customers, nursery sales, landscape installation; even in lawn or maintenance environments.
  • Creates opportunities to network with other like-minded professionals
  • Gain exposure to a wider range of educational programs, events and those involved with them
  • A VCH credential is recognized and accepted throughout the State of Virginia. You will be qualified to stamp and approve engineer, landscape architect or design plans requiring plants. This is now a requirement by most Virginia City planning boards.

When someone passes the exam, their VCH status can only be used or promoted if they are a current individual VNLA member or if they are employed by a current VNLA member company.

Do I have to be a member of the Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association to take its VCH exam?

  • Anyone can register take the VCH exam. The VCH exam fee for a non-VNLA member is $250.

For VNLA members, what is the fee to take the VCH exam?

  • For VNLA members, the VCH exam fee is currently $55.
  • A VNLA member is someone who has an indiviudal membership and pays their annual VNLA membership dues on their own. Another type of VNLA membership is those who are employed by a VNLA member company.
  • When a VNLA member passes the exam, they receive a VCH badge and certifcate. This is a VNLA member benefit. Non-VNLA members do not receive a VCH badge or certifcate.

When someone passes the exam, their VCH status can only be used or promoted if they are a current individual VNLA member or if they are employed by a current VNLA member company.

Does the Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association (VNLA) offer VCH study materials?

  • The VNLA offers a VCH study manual. For VNLA members, the VCH manual is currently $138. This includes tax and shipping. The total cost may vary ever so slightly depending on the ship-to address zip code.
  • For non-VNLA members, the VCH manual is currently $175. This does not include tax and shipping.
  • The VNLA also offers online VCH study materials. The online access is made possible through a partnership with Virginia Tech and access to its online platform, Canvas.
  • The VCH online study materials is a VNLA member-only benefit. To request access to online study materials, please email the VNLA: vch@vnla.org or info@vnla.org. Please include your full name and name of your employer, if applicable.

I’ve heard that an in-person VCH review class is offered by regional nursery & landscape associations. How do I get more information about an in-person VCH review class and the cost?

  • The Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association is the statewide trade organization and it owns the VCH program.
  • Central Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association (CVNLA)
    Northern Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association (NVNLA)

    Piedmont Landscape Association (PLA) are regional associations. While all of these organizations collaborate with the VNLA, all are separate entities with different tax IDs and board of directors, etc.
  • Visit the website of any of the above regional associations to learn more.
  • To help members (of all organizations) prepare for the VCH exam, regional associations offer in-person review classes at their expense.
  • The regional associations pay review class instructors, secure classroom space, maintain materials and arrange for guest speakers, if appropriate.
  • Taking an in-person review class is a regional association member benefit. The cost for a review class is lower for members vs.non-members. Generally, a regional association membership pays for itself just with this single use. As a member of any of the regional associations, you are able to take advantage of lower member rates at all of their meetings, conferences, etc. Some meetings or events are available ONLY to members. (NOTE: in-person VCH review class fees and policies are subject to CVNLA, NVNLA, PLA policies of membership and fees).
  • Regional associations typically offer an in-person review class each January. The class typically meets one or two evenings each week for five to six weeks.

What do I need to do to register for taking a VCH exam?

  • Registering for the exam is required so the VNLA can accurately track the number of exam registrations against the number of available seats in any of the exam locations. Registration is required at least two weeks before the date of the actual exam. Contact the VNLA office to register and pay for the exam. Email: vch@vnla.org or info@vnla.org  Phone: 804 256 2700
  • VCH exams are typically scheduled annually during March, April and May. The number and locations of VCH exams varies each year.

How is the exam administered?

The exam is proctored at various locations around Virginia. You need to have and bring a valid photo ID. The exam consists of 200 questions and includes multiple choice, matching, true/false and a plant identification section.

How do I study for the exam?

Students can use the VNLA online VCH review materials for each chapter with learning objectives, practice quizzes and additional resources. Chapter 13, Plant ID has PDF files, by plant groups, with photos and plant names of approximately 155 plants. To request access to this member benefit, email the VNLA office with your first and last name and name of your employer:  Email: vch@vnla.org

Review the questions in the manual.  Although they are in a different format, the questions are still pertinent. If you can’t answer any question, take that as a hint you may need to re-read the chapter. You need to understand the information, not memorize the questions.

How do members receive the VCH certificate and badge if they passed the exam?
The certificate can be sent via email or postal mail. The badge is mailed separately. Make sure the information on your registration form shows a correct mailing address and specifically how you want your name printed on your badge.

How do I stay certified?
To protect your certification, you must maintain annual membership in VNLA. You also must continue to add to your education and professionalism. CEUs are Continuing Education Units. CEUs are earned by attending seminars, conferences, workshops, webinars etc. A reporting form and list of acceptable CEUs is available. You need to accrue 30 CEUs every three years. This averages to 10 per year. If you do not keep your CEUs current and reported – your certification will lapse and you will need to take & pass the exam again. Contact the VNLA office with any questions about a CEU reporting form. Email: vch@vnla.org or info@vnla.org. Phone: 804 256 2700.

How do I re-certify?

Every year, submit your CEU report along with copies of your supporting paperwork.  Every three years, you need to re-certify by including the re-certification fee of $30 and a completed re-certification application form. We recommend keeping a folder or notebook to collect a record of activities & events you attend. It is more effective to have event materials on-hand when preparing to submit CEUs. Please call or email the VNLA office with any questions.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions or want more information about the VCH credential?

Please email or call the VNLA office: VCH@vnla.org or info@vnla.org
Phone: 804 256 2700

Thank you for reading!