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Horticultural Internship Programme

Spend up to three months gaining practical work experience at one of the world's leading botanic gardens.
A group of interns jump for joy outside the Mansion at Wakehurst
Horticultural interns, April to June 2011

This three-month, unpaid, hands-on horticultural internship at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is open to applicants possessing some previous experience of working with plants, and who are eligible to work in the UK for the duration of the programme. 

No lectures or formal training are given so some previous horticultural experience is essential. While the practical work is often routine maintenance, you will be able to develop and further your knowledge through working alongside our highly-trained staff within the living collections, by completing a personal study project and by participating in the organised plant identification sessions.

Course content

Horticultural interns will work unpaid for three months in one of the 15 supervised specialist units across the three main sections of the Gardens detailed below.  A typical week will involve working Monday to Friday within the unit, becoming an active and valued member of the team.

On-the-job training will be arranged and delivered by team leaders and trainers with a focus on practical skills using real tasks.

The three main sections, divided into fifteen units, are as follows:

1. Arboretum and Horticultural Services
Arboretum and Arboretum Nursery

2. Great Glasshouses and Training
Palm House, Princess of Wales Conservatory, Temperate House and the Tropical Nursery

3. Hardy Display
Alpine Nursery, Broadwalk Axis, Decorative Nursery, Duke’s Garden, Order Beds & Grass Garden, Queen’s Garden & Main Gate, Rock Garden, Victoria Gate & Rose Garden and Woodland Garden

Course teaching

Training and Assessment
No lectures or formal training in horticulture is given but on-the-job tuition, demonstration and instruction will be provided where required by team leaders or trainers.  No formal assessments are undertaken, however interns are encouraged to undertake their own research projects, relevant to their work placement, outside of normal working hours using Kew’s resources such as the Main Library, Herbarium, staff and facilities in the School of Horticulture.

Practical Placement
The work placement is intended to make two major contributions to the scheme as a whole: the acquisition of craft, technical and employment skills and the opportunity to work with a wide range of plants, developing horticultural amenity and landscape features and environments.

Work Journals
Interns are required to produce a practical work journal to record personal learning on a daily basis. These work journals are evidence of development and learning and will be presented to the Internship Section Coordinator at the end of the programme.

Plant of the Week and Monthly Identification Tests
Interns will complete a plant profile for a single plant that is new or interesting for each week of the semester. In addition, interns are required to learn a minimum of 30 plants per semester. These will be presented as ten plants per month by an ident coordinator and will be assessed with a plant identification test. These tests will incorporate previous months' plants to encourage longer term learning.

Course assessment
No formal assessments are undertaken. In order to complete the internship successfully you must:

  • successfully complete the placement to the required standard
  • undertake all standard training requirements
  • produce a practical work journal for your placement
  • complete all plant profiles for your plant of the week
  • attend the monthly identification test

Successful participants will be awarded an Internship Certificate and a copy of their Manager’s Report on their placement and performance. This is a respected programme managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Horticultural internships are based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew working in a single specialist unit for the duration of the programme. 


There are no fees payable for participating in the horticultural internship, however interns are responsible for financing themselves for the full duration of their programme. Please note that as we are unable to provide intern accommodation you will be responsible for making your own arrangements and funding local accommodation. Information on living costs and staying in the Kew area can be found in this information sheet:


For information about scholarships and funding, please visit the Grants for Horticulturists website.

Additional points to note

Your horticultural work will involve regular plant maintenance (which can include hard physical labour) for which you are required to provide your own steel toe-capped boots and suitable work clothing. All other necessary personal protective equipment will be provided.

Tetanus Risk
All Kew staff and interns working out of doors are reminded of the necessity of gaining protection against the risk of tetanus infection. In the UK a primary course of 3 doses/injections usually takes place in infancy, pre-school and teenage; later boosters, at the recommended 10 year intervals, are given on request or sometimes following an injury.

The current guidance from the Department of Health is that a total of five doses in a lifetime are sufficient to provide you with protective immunity. Further boosters are only necessary if you sustain a deep wound or injury which may be prone to tetanus, especially if contaminated with soil or manure. In which case, clean the wound thoroughly and seek medical advice.

If you think that you may not currently be protected you are advised to seek preventative treatment from your own doctor. We recommend you get this arranged prior to starting the horticultural internship programme.

Working in the UK
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew welcomes applications from overseas candidates for the Kew Internship in Horticulture. We consider all applicants on the basis of their skills, experience and merits and, if required, would look to provide visa sponsorship for the duration of the internship in line with our sponsorship allocation. 

For more information regarding visa requirements please visit the UK Border Agency website for the latest regulations.  Overseas applicants should note that it can take extra time to process applications that require Kew to apply for visa sponsorship.

In order to comply with Home Office regulations Kew is obliged to confirm your visa status. On the first day of your internship you will be required to bring the original copy of your passport and visa allowing you to participate in an unpaid internship.

Apply now