Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist

Getting MCH certification benefits you, your business, and your customers.

The Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist program serves MNLA members by providing opportunities to increase knowledge and promote best practices across the green industry. MCH certification is available to any qualified nursery, landscape or “green industry” professional who agrees to our code of ethics and completes an application for certification. This credential is earned by passing, with successful scores, a multiple choice written exam and a Plant ID exam. We provide all the study materials you need.

This credential requires both study and experience on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Identification and classification of both native plants and ornamentals
  • Hardiness zones, soil science, and regional growing conditions
  • Landscaping, hardscaping, and use of materials and equipment
  • Planting and pruning trees and shrubs
  • Turf care, irrigation, protecting groundwater
  • Mulch, fertilizers, chemical and natural treatments
  • Pest management, plant diseases, weed control
  • Safety, sustainability, conservation, and environmental impact

The MCH designation provides credibility that helps customers choose who to work with in an industry with a wide range of skills and competencies. An MCH must commit to continuous education to learn the latest industry developments, newest products, and best practices. They go the extra mile to make sure their customers are successful.

  • The MCH credential opens doors with potential clients and employers.
  • MCH educational programs and events present the latest industry developments, newest products, and best practices, as well as provide professional networking opportunities.
  • Every MCH is backed up by a network of other capable, MCH certified industry professionals dedicated to setting the highest standards of service.

“The customer quickly realizes that, as an MCH, I bring a number of talents to the table. This is an advantage which becomes very useful in crafting a comprehensive approach to managing their landscapes.”

—Charles Scherzi, Jr., MCH 

The MCH program welcomes anyone interested in working in the green industry professionally. Applicants must have a minimum of three years full-time employment in the industry, or two years of experience plus an associate's degree or higher in horticulture or a related field.

Employment Eligibility: Total of three years employment in the commercial horticultural industry, except for seasonal lay-offs, or two years if meeting educational requirements.

Education Eligibility: Successful completion of two or more years of a post-high school course in horticulture (only needed if your employment history is less than three years).

Purchase the MCH Training Manual:

Click here to purchase the printed or digital version online.

Click here to download a mail-in payment form to purchase the printed version.

As horticultural professionals, this is your opportunity to gain the advantage over the competition.

As a landscape contractor, retail or wholesale nursery, grounds maintenance service or landscape designer, the MCH program gives you the ability to quickly and definitively show prospective customers that you have qualified staff and you are a qualified, professional company.

  • The MCH designation is a reliable independent credential that consumers can count on when choosing who to work with.
  • An MCH understands the big picture because their certification demands interdisciplinary competence. They can offer practical and comprehensive solutions to a wide range of problems.
  • An MCH must commit to continuous education to learn the latest industry developments, newest products, and best practices, so your business will never be "the last to know.”
  • Achieving MCH status breeds confidence and self-worth, and enables the consistent delivery of the highest quality service to the customer.

“My clients trust me. As an MCH, I am not only giving them the benefit of my horticultural knowledge and experience; but that the services that I am offering them are both honest and fairly priced. I see the MCH continually elevating the bar across the industry.”

—Charles Scherzi, Jr., MCH

Applicants must have a minimum of three years full-time employment in the industry, or two years of experience plus an Associate’s Degree or higher in horticulture or a related field.

This credential is earned by passing, with successful scores, a multiple choice written exam and a Plant ID exam. Preparation for the exam is facilitated by a self-study program provided in the MNLA Resource Guide. The Guide covers a wide range of nursery, landscape, tree, lawn, insect, chemical, and environmental topics. The cost of the Guide is $89 for MNLA members and $139 for non-members (plus $15 for shipping & handling when ordering the printed version).

Please note: Each individual who registers for the MCH Exam must purchase their own copy of the MNLA Resource Guide. Furthermore, your "Book Identification Number" from your exclusive copy must be included in your MCH Exam application. To purchase a copy of the MNLA Resource Guide, click here.

The MCH Exam consists of two parts: the first is a 150 question multiple-choice test. The second is a plant identification test. A grade of 70% or above is required on each section of the exam in order to achieve certification. The exam is offered twice each year, usually in February and August. The exam fee is $55 for MNLA members and $75 for non-members.

Check our event calendar frequently for the next available exam.

Professionals who receive this credential must earn annual continuing education credits in order retain the MCH status.

“Working in a country club/golf course atmosphere, my boss relies on me to make intelligent and timely decisions as to when to trim along the fairway, or when to spray for wooly Adelgid, B leaf Miner, or even something simple but important, like checking soil PH/nutrient levels in the many gardens.”

—Daniel Zima, MCH

Take advantage of the work done by MNLA and the MCH Board to educate customers about the professionalism our organization brings to Massachusetts consumers.

For several years, the MCH community specifically asked for a brochure to explain why it makes sense for consumers to work with a certified professional. We’ve responded with a trifold hand-out, Ask an MCH Brochure.

The Let’s Get Noticed Challenge is an opportunity for you to make a difference by including the brochures in your business proposals, as a hand-out to potential clients, or in a display at the Garden Center.

Brochures are available now!

Order your package online or by mail in the following quantities and includes postage: 50 brochures $25.00 100 Brochures $45.00 200 Brochures $75.00

Download the Ask an MCH brochure for more information or visit our online store to purchase printed versions!

What is Emeritus Status?

Emeritus status allows MCH’s to continue to use their designation(s) upon retirement from the profession without having to recertify on a yearly basis.

Who Qualifies?

MCH individuals may request emeritus status if they are age 55 or above and/or are retiring from the green industry and maintained certification for at least ten (10) years prior to retirement. MCH’s who intend to continue working in the green industry (perhaps as a consultant or lecturer) are not considered retired and are not eligible for emeritus status.

How To

To request emeritus status, please complete the form online (MCH Emeritus Request) outlining your intent to retire to the MNLA office, attention MCH Board, and include documentation of age (a copy of one’s driver’s license is sufficient). The letter (which may be e-mailed, mailed or faxed) must include your name, designation(s) and retirement date.


MCH individuals awarded emeritus statuses with the exception of hardship are expected to attend at least one (1) MNLA event each calendar year to maintain their certification.


The processing fee is a one- time fee of $89.00 which will be contributed to the continuation of the MCH program.

Click here to download these rules and regulations along with a mail-in Emeritus request form that can be sent with a check made payable to MNLA.

MNLA offers reciprocity with other state associations in the green industry. If you hold a current horticulture certification from another state, please click here to inquire via email.

Partner programs

Plant Something MA

consumers planting something

Plant Something MA is a project of MNLA which includes professional environmental horticulturists—people who grow, care for, design and install plantings and landscapes in your community.

Growing Wild

Growing WIld: native plants in massachusetts

Growing Wild helps reverse the loss of biological diversity, foster and protect endangered species and add to the natural beauty of our Commonwealth—right in your own backyard.

Not an MNLA member?

annual meeting of the Massachusetts nursery and landscape association

There are many reasons to join MNLA.

MNLA provides access to green industry speakers on the cutting-edge and up-to-date information. Our dynamic community is made up of folks from all walks of life. Colleagues share advice and insights. Passion for the betterment of our community drives member participation in MNLA. Individual contribution is valued. Get involved! Join a committee or volunteer at an event. Make our industry—and your business—better!

annual meeting of the Massachusetts nursery and landscape association