University of Maryland Extension

Becoming 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!

How Do I Become a Master Gardener?


Basic Training is conducted in each county.  In Howard County, annual training classes are typically January through March, Monday and Wednesday mornings.  Applications are accepted in fall of the previous year.  There is a fee which covers the cost of the Basic Training manual and other associated costs of training.  To obtain an application, contact MG Coordinator Georgia Eacker at  geacker@umd.edu.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

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

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