University of Maryland Extension

Become a Master Gardener

The University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener Program is designed to train 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 Master Gardener?

Step 1

Determine when the Master Gardener Basic Training will be held in your county/city by visiting our Local Programs webpage. Basic Training classes are typically offered once a year at each county or city 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 Master Gardener Coordinator in the selected county or city to learn more and receive an application package.

The fee to enroll in a Master Gardener Basic Training course differs by county and ranges from $150.00 to $300.00. This fee pays for the mandatory 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 or city cordinator.

Step 3

A Master Gardener Trainee is required to attend at least 75% of the 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 Master Gardener Basic Training and the passes the final exam, they become a Master Gardener Intern.  Interns must complete at least 40 hours of approved volunteer service before achieving the status of Master Gardener.  

To remain an active 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.

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University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.