University of Maryland Extension

Become a Master Gardener

University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener Program is designed to train participants as volunteer horticultural educators to support the University of Maryland Extension mission by educating residents about safe, effective and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities.

Who Can Become a Master Gardener?

Any Maryland resident, 18 years of age or older, who likes working with people and plants and has a thirst for knowledge.

Why Join the Program?

By joining the program, you'll have the opportunity to learn new gardening skills as well as hone your existing skills. You'll also learn how to solve gardening problems, and be able to teach others to do the same. Best of all, you'll meet new people who enjoy gardening just as much as you do!

What are the Steps to Become a UME Master Gardener?

Step 1

Determine the Master Gardener Basic Training class dates in your County/City.  Basic Training classes are typically offered once a year at each UME County office.  Class dates and times vary by county.

Note: We strongly recommend that you complete the Basic Training classes in the same county in which you reside. In particular cases, you may be able to take the Basic Training classes in a different county than where you reside.

Step 2

Contact the UME Master Gardener Coordinator in the selected County/City to learn more and receive an application package.

The fee to enroll in a UME Master Gardener Basic Training course differs by county and ranges from $150.00 to $300.00. This fee pays for the mandatory UME Master Gardener Handbook and covers additional costs to support the program. Scholarships may be available to offset the fee in select locations. For more information, please contact the Master Gardener County Coordinator.

Step 3

A Master Gardener Trainee is required to attend at least 75% of the UME Master Gardener Basic Training classes and pass the final exam. Master Gardener Trainees are taught about a variety of horticultural subjects by specialists, educators, and other horticulture professionals. Topics may include:

  • Botany

  • Composting

  • Diagnosing Plant Problems

  • Ecology

  • Entomology

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

  • Lawn Care
  • Vegetable, Fruit, & Flower Gardening
  • Organic Gardening
  • Pesticide Use and Safety Precautions
  • Soils and Fertilizers
  • Tree and Shrub Care

Step 4

Once a Master Gardener Trainee has completed the UME Master Gardener Basic Training and the passes the final exam, he or she becomes a Master Gardener Intern.  Interns must complete at least 40 hours of approved volunteer service before achieving the status of Master Gardener.  

To remain a Master Gardener, each calendar year individuals must complete

1) a minimum of 20 hours of approved volunteer service, and
2) a minimum of 10 hours of approved continuing education.

Continuing education hours may be completed through classes, webinars, seminars and other educational activities offered by UME, plant societies, botanical gardens and arboreta, colleges, nature centers, etc. Subject matter presentations made at Master Gardener membership meetings are also valid.  The State office also coordinates continuing education opportunities via the state sponsored Advanced Training classes and the Master Gardener Annual Training Conference.

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