What is the Master Gardener Program?

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. Volunteers receive 40 hours of classroom, hands-on, and virtual instruction in their county of residence so that they can then teach members of their community through workshops, presentations, demonstrations, and more.

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. Active Master Gardeners maintain 20 hours of volunteer service as well as 10 hours of continuing education each year.

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 to Become a Master Gardener?

Step 1: Contact Your Local Master Gardener Coordinator

Determine when the Master Gardener Basic Training will be held in your county/city by contacting your local Master Gardener Coordinator. Basic Training classes are typically offered once or twice a year in the fall (often beginning in September) and in the spring (often beginning in February). Class dates and times vary by county, however, most counties participate in a hybrid online/ in-person format in collaboration with other Maryland counties. For details, contact your local MG Coordinator. 

Note: We 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: Apply

Your local Master Gardener Coordinator will provide you with application materials and help you along the application process. 

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 includes the Master Gardener Handbook and additional costs to support the program. Scholarships may be available to offset the fee in select locations.

All volunteers are required to pay for and successfully complete a full background check through the University of Maryland Extension one month before they can begin training. Because of this, applications for Basic Training begin well in advance of the start of Basic Training. 

Step 3: Basic Training

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, Lawn Care, Composting, Ecology, Native Plants, Soil Fertility, Entomology, Organic Gardening, Lawn Alternatives and more! 

Step 4: Volunteer

Once a Master Gardener Trainee has completed the Master Gardener Basic Training and 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
2) a minimum of 10 hours of approved continuing education
3) a background check every 3 years

Continuing education hours may be completed through classes, webinars, and other educational opportunities offered by UME, eXtension, nature centers etc.

Spring 2024 Collective Training

Applications are closed for the spring training, but please check the Local Programs page to see if your county is hosting a training at a different time of year.